I was thinking today about Doug Phillips’ affair when something came to my mind that made me rather uncomfortable. It’s fairly common in evangelical and fundamentalist circles to put at least some of the blame on a man’s wife when he has an affair. After all, the logic goes, she clearly didn’t keep him occupied and contented. But within Vision Forum circles, this has actually been taken a step further.
A lot of men are leaving their wives for younger women because they yearn for attention from younger women. And God gave them a daughter who can give them that. And instead they go find a substitute daughter . . . you’ve seen it, we’ve all seen it. These old guys going and finding these substitute daughters.
That’s a statement Vision Forum associate Voddie Baucham made back in 2009. And now, in light of Doug Phillips’ affair, rumored to be with a much younger woman, it’s giving me the willies. Would Voddie say that some of the blame for Doug Phillips’ affair lies at the feet of Doug Phillips’ daughters?
Voddie puts an incredible amount of emphasis on the father/daughter relationship, but then, Doug always did too. Daughters are supposed to forward the vision of their fathers. Daughters are supposed to adopt their fathers’ vision. Daughters are supposed to serve as helpmeets in training to their fathers. Daughters are supposed to orient their lives around serving their fathers just as they will ultimately orient their lives around serving their husbands. Here are some quotes on this subject from Vision Forum luminaries Anna Sophia and Elizabeth Botkin:
Firstly, you must love and honor and cultivate respect for your father. Second, you must seek your father’s heart and vision. Third, you must be able to come up with ways to use your gifts to make your father’s vision a reality, without him telling you what to do. (Visionary Daughters)
I realize that it is most likely God’s will for me to be married someday, and I desire and have the responsibility to be prepared, as much as possible, for this role as God sees fit. I want to be a true helpmeet to my husband, and what an excellent opportunity I have to practice this with my own father! (So Much More)
Voddie simply takes these ideas the next step when he argues that teenage and young adult daughters are to give their middle-aged fathers the attention from younger women that middle-aged men (supposedly) yearn for. And that, somehow, will keep those men from cheating. And so now I have to wonder. Where would Voddie say this went wrong in the case of Doug Phillips?
I don’t know the Phillips girls’ exact ages, but I believe that three of them are now teenagers. Here is a picture of the Phillips family that is several years old:
Would Voddie say these three girls neglected their father? Would Voddie say they didn’t properly meet his need for younger female attention? I’m not trying to be snarky here, I’m really and honestly curious. Perhaps it is easier for Voddie to make huge generalizations when speaking in the abstract, and perhaps when looking at a concrete case will make him change his position.
It is really striking the amount of blame-shifting evangelicals and fundamentalists can engage in when it comes to male marital affairs. Any attempt to blame the women in a man’s life—whether that’s the man’s wife, daughters, or the woman with whom he has an affair—is very, very wrong. And yet, it’s done all the time. Now, Doug Phillips himself has not attempted to blame any of these women—at least, not in his public statements. I’ve actually been really impressed and grateful for that. But then, it’s not usually the the man himself who does the excuse-making and blame-shifting, it’s usually others around him.
As for Doug Phillips’ daughters, I truly hope they are now given the chance to step outside of the bubble they’ve been raised in and forge their own paths. They look like lovely girls, and I wish them all the best.