Yesterday Doug Phillips, one of the major names in the conservative homeschooling world and the quiverfull movement, announced his resignation from Vision Forum Ministries and the cancellation of all speaking engagements. With this, he joins a long list of Evangelical leaders who have engaged in inappropriate extramarital relationships and had to leave their ministries in disgrace.
I can’t say that I’m surprised, there’s a reason I start wondering when the scandal is going to hit when we’re talking about people who spend as much time lecturing on women’s and girls’ modesty as Phillips did. This seems to be yet another example of a leader preaching against something as a way to build a fence around his own temptation. I feel for his wife and children, and I feel for the woman because while it takes two to tango, in this world the other woman often gets the brunt of the judgment and blame.
What is not clear is whether Phillips’ resignation is solely from Vision Forum Ministries, the non-profit arm of Vision Forum, or if it is from the for-profit Vision Forum, Inc. as well. Phillips’ statement of resignation was only posted on the Vision Forum Ministries site. Business is as usual at the for-profit VisionForum.com site, with no indication of Phillips’ resignation. The latest post on Phillips’ blog is an advertisement for a Vision Forum sale, dated today. Not only that, there is no mention either in the statement or on Phillips’ church website about him stepping down from leadership at the church.
As contrite as Phillips’ statement appears to be on the surface, the fact that it’s still business as usual on the for-profit side of his organization makes me wonder whether this is really just damage control to try to get ahead of a bigger scandal. Did Phillips abuse his power? How long did this relationship go on? I think Phillips and Vision Forum owe it to their supporters to give more details.
Here’s Phillips’ full statement:
Statement of Resignation
With thanksgiving to God for His mercy and love, I have stepped down from the office of president at Vision Forum Ministries and have discontinued my speaking responsibilities.
There has been serious sin in my life for which God has graciously brought me to repentance. I have confessed my sin to my wife and family, my local church, and the board of Vision Forum Ministries. I engaged in a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman. While we did not “know” each other in a Biblical sense, it was nevertheless inappropriately romantic and affectionate.
There are no words to describe the magnitude of shame I feel, or grief from the injury I caused my beloved bride and children, both of whom have responded to my repentance with what seems a supernatural love and forgiveness. I thought too highly of myself and behaved without proper accountability. I have acted grievously before the Lord, in a destructive manner hypocritical of life messages I hold dear, inappropriate for a leader, abusive of the trust that I was given, and hurtful to family and friends. My church leadership came alongside me with love and admonition, providing counsel, strong direction and accountability. Where I have directly wronged others, I confessed and repented. I am still in the process of trying to seek reconciliation privately with people I have injured, and to be aware of ways in which my own selfishness has hurt family and friends. I am most sensitive to the fact that my actions have dishonored the living God and been shameful to the name of Jesus Christ, my only hope and Savior.
This is a time when my repentance needs to be proven, and I need to lead a quiet life focusing on my family and serving as a foot soldier, not a ministry leader. Though I am broken over my failures, I am grateful to be able to spend more time with my family, nurturing my wife and children and preparing my older sons and daughters for life. So, for these reasons I want to let my friends know that I have stepped down as a board member and as president of Vision Forum Ministries. The Board will be making provision for the management of the ministry during this time. To the friends of this ministry, I ask for your forgiveness, and hope that you will pray for the Phillips family at this time, and for the men who will be responsible for shepherding the work of Vision Forum Ministries in the future.
For more back story on Doug Phillips, Vision Forum, and their role in the homeschool movement, check out this post on Homeschooler’s Anonymous.