Interviewing Vaughn Ohlman Part 1

by Calulu cross posted from her blog True Love Doesn’t Rape

A few months ago I decided that I needed to interview Vaughn Ohlman of True Love Doesn’t Wait. I wanted to know how he was coming up with his interpretations of scripture to support young marriage and young motherhood. I’ve read those same scriptures many times over and not come up with the same meanings.

Shot off an email to Vaughn asking if he might just let me interview him for NLQ and he agreed. The ground rules were that I would ask no personal questions nor add or detract from his replies.

Which made coming up with the first set of questions nearly impossible as I wanted to ask background questions, not to dig up dirt in a gossipy fashion, but to see how the foundation of his life was laid and how his beliefs now had been shaped by his past. Sometimes testimony leads to an understanding of theology. So I hemmed and hawed, trying to come up with the least offensive versions of the questions, knowing that Vaughn might not answer any of them. Started with easy softball questions.

Let me state here for the record that there is something I like about Vaughn, unlike other fundamentalist Christians he will talk to people who are at the other end of the religious spectrum. Unlike most that will just hurtle names/insults/same old stuff Vaughn will engage and talk. I think we have to respect that even if we don’t agree with all of his views. He is a rarity in that.

Here are the questions I asked:

  1. Were you raised in a religious household? If not what age were you saved at?

  2. What denomination were you raised in?

  3. How did that affect your views of the Bible and religion as you grew older? Were there things you rejected or felt the need to delve into deeper?

  4. Once you married and started having children how did that impact your beliefs?

  5. Did you find your wife through courtship or the church?

Vaughn did answer them in a fashion that did convey background without scads of personal things I didn’t want to know in the first place.

Qivering Qestions 1-5

Suzanne Calulu, of ‘No Longer Qivering’ has asked to do an interview with me. Before we got started we set up some ground rules, namely:

a) There would be no personal questions. I do theology, not testimonial.

b) That I would not be asked if I still beat my wife (ie loaded questions).

I am also participating with the understanding that my words won’t be edited, but posted in full, which is fairly standard policy on her site. Now she has sent me her first set of questions.[3] I am a little afraid she has already violated the ‘no personal question’s’ thing; but her questions seem like legitimate background. I’m going to answer these with a couple of twists: I’m going to avoid all ‘personal’ information that might incriminate others along the way, and I think I will combine all my answers into one long prose segment.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

So, beginning at the beginning… I was born. No, don’t think I will go there. My early life was a bit confused, and involves an aircraft accident and all sorts of other otherwise interesting details. My life as she wishes to know it could be said to start when I was eight years old, and I was baptized. In an independent baptist church somewhere West of the Mississippi and North of Texas.

That was the church were my religious identity could be said to have been formed. Independent Baptist, the kind of church with Sunday School, Daily Vacation Bible School, the whole nine yards. I can remember our pastor going out into the local fields to try to talk little leaguers into coming to DVBS and trying to get our numbers up. One thing that the NLQ audience will appreciate is that we sang the songs ‘The B-I-B-L-E’ and ‘Tho none go with me…’.[1] And, of course, we memorized hundreds of verses.

This church, camp, and, later, Christian school laid the basic foundation of my religious philosophy. The foundation: the Scriptures. My life goal: to glorify God. (BTW a bit of a note along the way. I think one kind of funny issue that I have with the NLQ crowd is that they fail to realize that we have different life goals. For many of them (perhaps not all) their goals are ‘to be happy’ or ‘to be an important person’ or somesuch. We all need to realize that different life goals will require different methods to get there. We often argue as if we forgot that.)

Meanwhile life was changing around me. I suppose it has done for everyone, but I can’t help thinking that the difference was particularly large for my generation. When I was in elementary school practically every house in our neighborhood had kids in it, a mother who stayed home, both a father and a mother (who both happened to be the non-divorced parents of the child) living in the home, etc. Watching television was kind of a rare event, we mostly played out in the streets and fields, often not coming home until dark. Nope, no computers. Pretty much everyone went to church; even if it wasn’t ‘as good’ a church as we went to. It was a pretty Protestant area… I don’t even remember knowing any Jews or Catholics (I know a lot now!). Pretty much everyone would have agreed with my life goals, even if they didn’t really commit to it.

Which is not to say that I have remained where I grew up. The foundation is the same, but it has been much built on. I am no longer an ‘independent’ baptist, but a reformed baptist, a difference in theology of much importance but probably of little interest to the NLQ readers.

Oh, and camp, which I mentioned earlier, was really important. Going to public school for my early years, my Christian faith was pretty much of a ‘Sundays and Wednesday night’ thing… well, along with Bible stories at night for story time. But camp was different. Starting as a camper, and then moving to a counselor, camp was a time where Christianity was a 24/7 thing. Especially once I did become a counselor and was literally responsible for ‘counseling’ young people in the faith.  Nothing makes your ‘knowledge’ seem inadequate as having to teach, eh? I have found the same thing as a schoolteacher, nurse, EMT, etc.

James 5:10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.

Luke 6:2-4 And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days? And Jesus answering them said, Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungred, and they which were with him; How he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the shewbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone?

Another issue that was drilled into me during those years, and that forms such a gulf between myself and the NLQ crowd was the role of Biblical examples. I can’t really count how many times I have been lectured about the ‘fact’ that the Biblical narratives ‘aren’t law’. I think there are a dozen or so in just our most recent exchanges. But that kind of misses the point. Of course they aren’t law. They are examples.

In pretty much every field I have ever worked in (camp counselor, teacher, administrator, EMT, nurse) we have had both ‘law’ and ‘example’. And you spend about 1% of your time worrying about the laws, and about 99% following examples. In God’s Word we have law: Two great commandments: Love God and Love your neighbor. Then ten commandments which give us some flesh for that: Worship God alone, no idols, no blasphemy… honor your parents, don’t kill, don’t steal… etc.

And then we have voluminous case law and descriptions: what is incest (a violation of ‘thou shalt not commit adultery’), what is theft in this case or that case, etc.. But then, and this is really a huge portion of Scripture, even the part we traditionally call ‘Law’ (ie the Torah), we have ‘examples’. We have Godly man after Godly man, struggling to serve and glorify God, and we get to watch how they did things. Only a fool would call their examples law, but only a greater fool would dismiss them as irrelevant. Just as only a fool would ignore their nursing mentors because their actions ‘weren’t law’. And in the case of our nursing mentors you are merely dealing with fallible human beings. In the case of Biblical examples your are dealing with fallible human beings, specifically chosen by God to have their actions included in Scripture!

Proverbs 5:15-19 Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets. Let them be only thine own, and not strangers’ with thee. Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.

So, moving along in my life, one area of our theology that has changed over the years comes in the area of marriage; especially the path to marriage.

My wife and I both grew up in the era of dating. There was not even any other option. Indeed I was expected to ‘recreational’ date. I wasn’t expected to have sex, that is intercourse, before marriage, but there were few other boundaries. We met at an airport on our way to a Missionary training course, where we spent the next few weeks… by the end of which we were all but engaged.

Getting married really forced both my wife and I to examine the Scripture much more seriously, as we started with rather different theological viewpoints. We both believed that Scripture was the place to go for the answers, though, and developed our theology together over the years. There is nothing that makes differences as important as living with someone as man and wife who holds different views.

And it was my role, as the husband, to be the one to whom my wife could come for questions.[4] I was to be the spiritual leader in our home. So I was bereft of excuses and really had to buckle down and study.

Psalms 127:3-5 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

Having kids, and having them grow up, was the real impetus for our study on marriage. By this time a lot of our theology had really settled down: we were basically theonomic, full quiver, homeschooling, moving toward family integrated, etc. etc. We had just become familiar with such names as Doug Phillips, Vodie Baucham, Paul Washer, etc. But we really hadn’t studied much on the idea of how to get married.

As we studied more and more of what the modern (conservative, family integrated) church was teaching on the path to marriage the more we saw that it had very little, if anything, to do with what Scripture taught. Law, teaching, example… none of it were reflected in this new thing called ‘courtship’. Oh, their rejection of dating made a lot of sense, dating is even less Scriptural. But this courtship thing?

The more we explored the more we found doctrines that the church has historically believed, that the modern church had thrown out. And so we kept studying and writing… and, through one thing and another, ended up where we are now.[2]

Well, there we go. I think I have answered pretty much all of her questions and, along the way, laid the foundation for the  issues of why I believe what I believe. The foundation is Scripture, the goal is to glorify God. Our search revealed a very different path to marriage than the world (dating) or the church (courtship) is currently teaching. So this we practice, and this we teach.

[1] Actual title ‘I have decided to follow Jesus’. The reference cited is from one particular verse.

[2] See http://truelovedoesntwait.com for more information on where that is.

[3] 1. Were you raised in a religious household? If not what age were you saved at? 2. What denomination were you raised in? 3. How did that affect your views of the Bible and religion as you grew older? Were there things you rejected or felt the need to delve into deeper? 4. Once you married and started having children how did that impact your beliefs? 5. Did you find your wife through courtship or the church?

[4] 1Co 14:34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. 1Co 14:35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

Written by: Vaughn Ohlman

Approved by: Jeff Woodward: Caveat: While I agree that examples are very important, in the mind that “they aren’t law”, one must be careful to objectively consider whether any given examples is appropriate to follow or not–that is, whether they are “good” or “bad” examples. This is only possible by comparing their actions with relevant (explicit) biblical laws.

(Vaughn would encourage the reader to read our paper, “Our Hermeneutic” to see how we work this out in practice.)

Is there something, dear readers, that you would like to ask Vaughn that falls within his guidelines? Post it in the comments and I’ll add it to the question list I’m working on now.

Comments open below

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce

 

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