Interviewing Vaughn Ohlman Part 1

Interviewing Vaughn Ohlman Part 1 October 19, 2013

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 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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  • Joy

    I’m not sure how relevant my question is and it may be too personal for Vaughn to want to answer – it all depends on the answer. Who is the Jeff Woodward that is doing the “approving”? Why does Vaughn’s stuff have to be approved by him?

  • persephone

    Vaughn is a prime example of my new theory. Physics has found that viewing something actually physically alters it. My theory is that anyone who views the bible alters it. People may go to the same church, claim to have the exact same beliefs, but if they are questioned you will not find any two who agree. Then you add to that the alterations resulting from translations, loss of the original writings, and political pressure on clerks and clergy, and it is impossible for people to see the bible in the.same way.

    Vaughn calls himself reformed Baptist, but then states that he and his wife have developed their own theology. That means he really isn’t reformed Baptist. He is like many in the new fundamentalist movement, each man the head of his own family church, acting as pastor, minister, voice of god.

    I’m not surprised by his choice of jobs, as they are the kinds of jobs chosen by those who believe they know better than the average person, but don’t require the commitment of actually listening, learning and accepting information from others required by a more advanced degree of study. That Vaughn has jumped from job to job also does not surprise me, as it indicates someone who has difficulty accepting direction from others whose views, whether those views have anything to do with the job, he cannot accept. I would not be surprised if he left many of those jobs because he was unable to accept having a woman in a supervisory position over him.

    So, I don’t need to ask Vaughn anything. What can be read between the lines is so much more honest and straightforward than what he writes or says.

  • Madame

    I enjoyed reading this post, and I agree with you, Calulu. However unsatisfactory some (if not many) of Von’s replies are, at least he replies and engages in conversation with us.

  • Vaughn Ohlman

    No, that would not be too personal.

  • Saraquill

    These are my thoughts as I read his passage. They are not intended to be new interview questions.

    -What qualifies as “legitimate background?”
    -“I’m going to avoid all ‘personal’ information that might incriminate others along the way.” Eep. That phrasing implies illegal activities and makes me uneasy.
    -His talking of law and example makes seems like he’s beating around the bush on some topic, and I don’t know why.
    -“…grew up in the era of dating” Spending time with a sweetheart began well before his time. The practices of “smashing” and “bundling” come to mind.
    -“And it was my role, as the husband, to be the one to whom my wife could come for questions. I was to be the spiritual leader in our home.”Why only him? How did he come to this conclusion?

  • Joy

    I don’t mind if you want to answer the question here. I don’t know if my question fits with what Suzanne wants to ask.

  • Vaughn Ohlman

    >> Spending time with a sweetheart began well before his time.

    Truth. Didn’t say it originated with me. However I doubt you would quibble with the idea of that customs for getting married have varied over time and from place to place. A modern ‘date’ could get you killed in some parts of Africa or the Middle East… or back in history.
    Whereas I read a book the other day pointing out it was quite the ‘mode’ for unmarried men to come and watch a lady get dressed for the evening… quite an open thing. If I knew what the custom was called I could do better research on it.

  • Vaughn Ohlman

    No, by all means she can include it in her next set. I am kind of liking this format.

  • Saraquill

    You’re referring to the toilette. It was a semi public event that included administration and politics, not erotica. You can look it up in Professor Caroline Weber’s “Queen of Fashion” for more information.

    As for what you mention about dating and it being forbidden in this region or that time period, do you have any citations? I would prefer something from a university press, or a website that ends in .gov or .edu

  • Brennan

    “I’m not surprised by his choice of jobs, as they are the kinds of jobs chosen by those who believe they know better than the average person, but don’t require the commitment of actually listening, learning and accepting information from others required by a more advanced degree of study.”
    Teachers, nurses, and EMTs? Really? I have family members both in education and the medical profession, and it is laughable how wrong you are. I don’t know what kind of training Vaughn has had (for all I know, “nurse” means medical assistant, “teacher” means unaccredited teaching at the local church school, and “EMT” means volunteering with fire & rescue) but doing any of those jobs properly actually requires a great deal of education, practical training, and skill (to say nothing of time and commitment).

  • Vaughn Ohlman

    Actually what I said was:
    ” A modern ‘date’ ” and “could get you killed”.

    I think that if you will review the various aspects of a ‘modern date’ you will have no need of any particular citations. Include such things as:
    1) No parental permission
    2) No chaperoning
    3) Unrestricted physical intimacy
    4) No specific regard toward marraige
    5) No limitation on race, class, religion, wealth, etc.

    Throughout history many of these things could get you in trouble with this or that culture.

  • Vaughn Ohlman

    Besides which the whole point of the comment was that back then even very conservative Christians dated, whereas now they have invented this ‘courting’ thing.

  • Silver

    I am interested in knowing what the difference is between a reformed and independent baptist is, and how that changes Vaughn’s (and others) views of marriage and child rearing, if that fits into the questions you were going to ask and if its not too personal.

  • persephone

    I’m not saying all, but I am saying that those are positions that are attractive to his type. We’ve all dealt with teachers and nurses and EMTs who believe they know better. LPNs require minimal education. Some schools will accept AAs for substitute teachers. EMT training varies.

    I’m glad that your relatives have made real decisions in their careers, but as I pointed out Vaughn’s jumping from one job like that to the next is an excellent indicator of his issues.

  • You think modern dates have “Unrestricted physical intimacy”? Every woman I know restrict, or have restricted, physical intimacy in dating. Every woman in the world who would not jump into bed at the beginning of their first date with someone do not practice “unrestricted physical intimacy”.

    Prostitution is not dating, but even prostitutes who don’t want to do it with a guy who can’t pay the price are not into “unrestricted physical intimacy.”

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    Even if someone does hop into bed pretty quickly with someone else, there are always restrictions. Everybody has sexual boundaries. Having sex with someone, whether it’s on your first date, your wedding night, or your 20th anniversary does not give them permission to do absolutely anything they want, at least not without communication and consent first.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    Okay, fine, in the teaching and medical professions, there are a certain number of people who were only attracted to the work because because it gives them a degree of power over others and, yes, we’ve probably all encountered them. I certainly have. This is true of many types of work. But to imply that Vaughn’s background as a teacher, nurse and EMT* some how indicts his character because that kind of personality type defines or dominates those professions is incredibly offensive and also laughably wrong. And to follow it up with “Well, hey, didja know that that AAs can sub in some areas and that, out of the many different types of nurses, there’s this one that doesn’t require much schooling and some teachers and nurses are jerks?” is pretty lame. If you want to take issue with Vaughn’s beliefs, I’m right there with you but don’t expect to not (rightly) piss a lot of people off by basically saying “Well, he’s been a teacher and a nurse so no wonder!”

    And btw, the many nurses (all of them kind, compassionate and skilled at whatever level of training they had and it takes all kinds) who cared for me during a recent medical emergency did know better than me. And it’s mighty lucky they did, since I certainly had no idea how to care of myself before and after an emergency appendectomy. We’d be in a lot of trouble if medical professionals didn’t know better than us–that’s what training is. And, as a teacher, I also know better than my students about many things–that’s why I’m teaching them–but that doesn’t mean that I don’t listen or acknowledge that I have much to learn from them also. Most of the people I work with understand this too. Exactly which professions are above your scorn?

    *Like Brennan, I don’t know exactly what “teacher,” “nurse,” or “EMT” means in the context of Vaughn’s post.

  • There is something to be learned from the examples of Bible characters. But one thing that need to be stated is that most of their examples is just as sinful and worldly as those set by today’s people. (Arguably more – Old Testament people lived before the Holy Spirit was poured out, and today’s Christians thus have guidance they did not.) When Abraham’s servant went to look for a wife for Isaac, he followed the ways of the world – the world of Abraham’s time.

    Another thing on examples, there is a clear example in the new testament of people doing personal testimony: “I met Jesus”/ “I saw Jesus do this”/ Before I met Jesus I … but now ….”/ “I saw him die and I saw him alive afterwards”/ “He healed me”/ “He told me everything I did.” It is therefore strange if Vaughn, from all these examples of testimonies from the lives of real Christians who had the Holy Spirit influencing them,
    “don’t do testimonials.”

  • persephone

    There are no professions above scorn. Professions are made up of people. I’ve known great nurses and I’ve known horrible ones. I actually had a nurse in the ER one time who could have been Vaughn: he felt it necessary to tell me about how he raised his kids biblically, not sparing the rod; talked to every patient about how important their spirituality, i.e., church attendance, was to their healing; and spent his time more focused on his ministering than on what his patients actually needed. He went on break twice during my three hours there, without making sure to call in orders for tests, or follow through on other orders.

    At one time I worked in a high end department store. One of my coworkers was studying to be a teacher. She knew that she was going to be an incredible teacher, that she just knew how to teach children. I and her other coworkers knew she would be terrible. She finished college, and started student teaching. Once again, we heard how she was going to be a much better teacher than the ones she worked with. Finally, she got a contract. She finished the contract and never went back.

    Peoples’ life paths are a pattern that display their truth. Twenty years ago I found my way into a job that became a career. My life illustrates the failures in my upbringing and my missteps, and bad and good decisions as a result. A work history and job choice is a huge indicator about a person’s life in general, and must be considered with the other knowledge we have about that person.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    There may not be any professions above scorn but the thing I think when I see ‘teacher/nurse/emt’ is someone that wants to help others very much. Compassion for others. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

    That’s not to say there aren’t bad teachers or nurses or emts. I’ve seen more than a few. Husband had a horrible nurse when he had an infection and just about lost his leg. Walked in on just about a fistfight when she stuck him for the fifth time trying to draw blood. He’s an easy draw too. I made her go get someone else to do the draw.

  • Vaughn Ohlman

    Context, context. The context of my comment was not the POV of the woman, but of her society. The issue was not what one would or would not do, but what society would or would not accept.
    When I was a child a brother who caught someone ‘fooling around’ with his sister might well beat him up, and society would applaud. Today he would more probably back out of the room, embarassed.
    In certain countries if a Muslim girl and a Christian boy were caught alone together ‘necking’ they might well both be killed.
    Society. Context.

  • Vaughn Ohlman

    Teacher= certified teacher in Washington State (long expired, graduated in 1984)
    Nurse=Texas LVN, worked in Er, Active liscence
    EMT = Basic EMT, current profession,Texas lisence

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    What made you change it up? Not criticizing, people switch career tracks all the time, I know I changed a few times.

  • Vaughn Ohlman

    I was a teacher when I went to the mission field. Once there I decided to become a full time missionary linguist. My wife and I did missionary work for 15 years or so until she got ill.
    We came back and I trained as an ER nurse and EMT. I am still EMT’ing, I like that better than ER work.