Vice, Victims and Doug Wilson

Doug Wilson thinks that Lourdes Torres-Manteufel is not a victim; that she was a willing participant in an affair with Doug Phillips, and here’s his logic:

  1. Doug Phillips sexually assaulted her
  2. She cried and asked him to stop
  3. He did not stop
  4. She didn’t immediately leave his house. Therefore, it must have been consensual. Therefore, it’s adultery, not abuse.

In so doing, Wilson is keen on providing apologetics for even the “wrong” kind of patriarchy, claiming that he has to assign blame to the women who are used inappropriately by the “wrong” kind of patriarchy, because to do otherwise would mean they have no agency.

Perhaps Wilson would like to explain what Lourdes was supposed to have done in that circumstance. Her words of refusal were ignored. Should she have tried to kill her host with the bedside lamp? Should she have waited tensely for a few hours, gotten up in the middle of the night covered in his dried semen and run out into the street, screaming like a banshee until the neighbors turned the lights on? Should she have called the police on the house phone? Should she then, no doubt, have had endured Phillips’ immediate assurances to all and sundry that no, she seduced him, no, he didn’t actually do it? “I didn’t violate her,” he would have said “if I had violated her, she wouldn’t be acting so crazy. She’d be in shock. Look at this, look at this little hussy! I invite her into my home, I pay for her and her family to travel all over America, and she tries to slander me. I suppose I ought to sue them and take their mobile home to pay for the court fees.” Or, alternately, “if I had violated her, she wouldn’t be so quiet. She’d be angry at me.”

Undoubtedly, Wilson and I do agree on one topic: all other things being equal, it would have been better for Lourdes to have left Phillips’ home immediately. I imagine this has been a reoccurring theme in Lourdes’ head, too. Why didn’t I leave? Why couldn’t I find my voice, that first night? The second night? Why, God? Why was I silent? Why did I let him do that to me for so long?

This may come as a surprise to Wilson, but not acting in the face of abuse is not limited to Lourdes Torres, and this in no way means that the victims are consenting to the abuse. It is true that such abuse is not limited to women, or to children, or to sheltered women and children; it is true that if you’re “ever likely to encounter more than three men,” you “will encounter this kind of man.” Abuse is not limited to those who have been told to “keep silent” their whole lives, or to women who have been told to “submit” to male authority figures “as to the Lord.” Not that any of that helps; those phrases act as enablers for abusive men, both directly and indirectly. I know for a fact that one of the women in Wilson’s own congregation was shocked at her own response when someone tried to sexually assault her, and this is a woman who nobody would have described as mousy or quiet. She was a vocal proponent of saying no to the wrong kind of man. She was and is physically and emotionally strong, and even so, her first reaction was to stifle her own screams and be polite.

She writes, “All of a sudden I thought, ‘Dear God, I’m about to be raped.’ But get this…and this still amazes me…I didn’t want to scream for fear I’d wake up the other two people sleeping 15 feet away. Pretty dumb, huh? ‘I’m sure I can get him off quietly and then that way no one will have to know. Besides, what would she do if she found out that her boyfriend tried to rape me? He’s probably just doing it because he’s drunk.’ All that eclipsed through my mind in about two seconds. Risking my chastity for the sake of saving others from embarrassment. Pretty stupid. We definitely fought. Really a struggle. I think if he hadn’t been quite as drunk, he may have even won. But my persistence finally made him give up.”

In brief, she never screamed. She didn’t report him to the police. She didn’t make a scene. She was lucky: he was drunk, and she works out. She was lucky: it was a virtual stranger, not someone she’d been taught to respect and revere and submit to. Otherwise it might be her, getting accused of “adultery” on the grounds that she resorted to all the subconscious training that had ever been drilled into her about submitting, not disturbing other people, not “screeching,” not imposing, saving face, obeying without contradicting, all the rest of it.

Societal training is subtle and insidious. It requires deep cognitive dissonance to teach women that all of their wishes and desires come second to the visions of the men over authority over them, that they are to obey these men “as to the Lord,” and then whine that it goes without saying that these women should really only be submitting if the men in authority over them are submitting to God in turn. In fact, this is actively taught against in many ways. Here is a brief sampling of the quotes I’ve heard from Wilson and Wilson’s apologists: “If he says ‘jump,’ you ask him how high on the way up.” “If your husband is running your family’s finances into the ground, let him do it.” “Win your sinful husband over without a word, with a meek and quiet spirit.” “If he’s sinning against you, you have an independent duty to submit to his authority.” You can’t logically teach those things and simultaneously teach that specific women should actually not have submitted to specific sinful authority because, from your position of detached neutrality, you find it odious now that you’ve examined it after the fact. It might be your only possible cop-out, but it doesn’t add up.

Is Lourdes Torres-Manteufel an adult woman of uncommon spirit and determination? Yes, I believe so. Does this mean she was impervious to the social conditioning she was subjected to? Hardly. She came from a background of relative poverty and low social status. She was in her wealthy pastor and mentor’s home, as his guest and his servant. Her options for alternate employment and education had been limited by the self-same pastor. Her options to appeal to any other “authority” had been limited, also. There was no higher authority to appeal to: Doug Phillips ran the church both as law and clergy, the church was the sum total of her world, and the government was evil.

Why did she not immediately run from him? Because it wasn’t an option then. The laws of gratitude, hospitality, authority, fear, shame and practicality prevented her. Doug Phillips knew this; he had orchestrated it that way. He had a hundred reasons why she could not deny him and why he would be safe from her protests. She showed spirit: she said no anyway. And he ignored her, and continued to ignore her.

Doug Wilson’s denial of the realities that made such a situation possible only ensures that such things will continue to happen, perhaps even in his own community. They already have, of course. I’m thinking specifically of the case where a young teenage girl was molested, and Wilson saw fit to accept the abuser’s “repentance,” and refused the girl communion because, naturally, she wasn’t a victim either; she was a fornicator, and her refusal to admit to such a charge meant she was unrepentant. Unshockingly to probably everyone but Doug Wilson and those who think like him, the same abuser, who for a long time was a member in good standing at Wilson’s church, has now been charged with various domestic violence suits in Latah County, and his own children are being sheltered from him by the courts.

These suits will not stop because Wilson cries “adultery” without addressing how such broad teachings as “if your husband sins against you, you have an independent duty to submit to him, and to teach your children to submit to him” can play into this. Until abusers are held accountable — and I mean really accountable — women will marry “repentant” jackasses with the blessing of pastors like Doug Wilson, and they will submit until they are literally strangled.

 

33 thoughts on “Vice, Victims and Doug Wilson

  1. Hi Katie,

    I’ve been waiting for this post and it did not disappoint. I did not know that Jamin had recently been prosecuted for other domestic crimes – thanks for bringing that to light and for linking to Natalie’s blog.

    What monsters these Dougs and their ilk are, on the same level as any other rape and abuse apologist. Misogyny is a personality disorder, in my mind – and especially unfortunate in the hands of someone in power, even power over relatively tiny groups of people.

    What genuinely bums me out is not that they will continue to be supported in their tiny, fracturing kingdoms, but that they fly under the radar of national media. They don’t have quite the vinegar or drama of a Fred Phelps or Warren Jeffs, and so the type of powerful national and local outrage they could potentially inspire never comes to fruition.

    I know there’s been some good secular attention to Lourdes’ case – Amanda Marcotte is writing about it, it’s been covered by the Huffington Post – but I’d love to see more coverage, and wish there could be a way for “Christian Patriarchy” to be succinctly showcased to the wider American public so that it can be added to the list of religious crackpottery going on in our country, ranked alongside Westboro Baptist and FLDS in Americans’ minds as dangerous to women, children and gays and poisonous in their very existence.

    I think more attention to this case could lead to lasting positive legal ramifications that would help women and children trapped in these type of closed religious societies when they face abuse, whether it’s in the FLDS or the Amish or patriarchal quiverfull homeschoolers or David Koresh-style cults or Scientology or fundamentalist, sharia-implementing Muslim families. I keep hoping the latter will shine a light on the formers and our legal system will become increasingly conscious of how these types of group operate and how to support victims within them and how to effectively prosecute leaders who use these social structures as means to control and abuse the vulnerable.

    1. Yes. I would publish more on Jamin, but I don’t want to expose his (ex?)wife or his children to public scrutiny. My sister is helping babysit the kids while they go to court and such, and from the sound of it things are getting ironed out legally. It’s a really sad situation all around, though, which makes it all the more horrible that Natalie’s abuse was shoved under the rug to the extent that it was.

      Also, I hope for everyone’s sake that Jamin never “repents” of his sins in a way that his pastors finds compelling. It’s just too risky, considering their obvious unqualification to determine how safe he is. Fortunately, domestic abuse is something they take seriously. Unlike underage molestation, apparently.

  2. Doug’s obviously a total creep. By his own admission, he cheated on his wife and the mother of his eight kids.

    Nevertheless, Lourdes’ case seems to be as much about her inability to consent to anything at all as it is about the alleged sexual assault.

    Let’s do a thought experiment: If Doug had been single, would it have been wrong (legally or morally) for him to go to Lourdes’ dad and ask him for permission to court her and then marry her?

    Or, to be more basic, can pastors ever date or marry members of their congregations? If there’s no inherent problem with this, at what point does it become a problem? The age of the parishioner when they met? The marital status of the pastor? The degree of sexual contact between the two before marriage? The upbringing and social exposure of the woman? Whether or not the pastor was employing the woman outside of church? The type of church government involved?

    If Doug’s version of events has any merit, this is a hard case, and hard cases make bad law.

    Also, as a related question, alleging that Vision Forum was a “Total Institution” along the lines of a prison or mental institution doesn’t hang together very well for me. Your cousins have internet, they watch movies, and they’re aware of the mores of secular society, no? Just because they choose to spend time with other people of the same belief system doesn’t make them like the FLDS or the Peoples Temple, and we have freedom of association and freedom of religion in this country. My impression is that they have more exposure to the outside world than Hasidic Jews or the Amish do, and most people think those groups are “cute” and not “scary havens of abuse.” What’s your take on the “Total Institution” claim?

    Thanks.

  3. I wrote a short response of my own to share with my friends, but I think this says it much better. Thank you; I’m glad I found this.

    I wish there was something to convince Doug Wilson and others of the importance of recognizing this kind of abuse. It hurts to see people who are apparently well intentioned missing the point in such harmful ways. When will we start helping the abused instead of the abusers?

  4. @rlkittiwake:

    You seem to indicate that Lourdes’ age and relative ability to consent to other types of sexual relationships – i.e., she could have legally married someone at age 23, when she reports Doug first assaulted her – invalidates or at least complicates the legal claim that his grooming of her and the subculture she grew up in deprived her of the ability to give lawful consent to Doug. You can nuance or correct this interpretation of your questions as needed – I’d be curious to read what you have to say. Are you of the opinion in general that sexual grooming is a process that cannot happen to adults?

    Katie will probably be able to better engage you otherwise, but I am curious about your response to this.

    1. I’m not saying that her being an adult invalidates her ability to give consent given the circumstances she was raised in; I am saying that she did have some agency here, but to what degree she was able to exercise that agency is open to question.

      One woman’s “grooming” is another woman’s “seduction,” and seduction is no longer a crime in the US. The supposed “grooming” process in this case apparently took 6 years, which seems like some pretty weak technique on Doug’s part, especially if Lourdes was as malleable as she’s now claiming she was.

      As far as Lourdes being an adult, I have a totally different case fresh in my mind that is influencing my thinking in this area.

      I have a friend whose 22 year old son worked at a middle school. He was arrested for sending naked pictures of himself to a student at the school, but since the men in charge of the case thought the girl was very “mature” for 14, the charges were reduced to a misdemeanor. I think this is outrageous, and he should have been charged with something more serious. 14 is 14, and even if the girl’s been sexually active since forever, it’s still totally inappropriate for an adult to sext with someone that young. (The age of consent is 18 in my state, and it’s 17 in Texas.)

      Lourdes may have been a very sheltered and naive 21 year old, but treating adult women like they’re children is as disturbing in its own way as treating children like they’re adults.

      (I’m playing the devil’s advocate here a bit. Note that none of this changes the fact that Doug was 100% wrong in taking advantage of her. Much like my friend’s son, Doug was the mature party and even if Lourdes instigated everything (which I don’t think she did), Doug was still responsible for his actions, which were at the very least sleazy and at most criminal.)

  5. In my mind, the power imbalance had less to do with Doug being a pastor and Lourdes being a congregant than it did a host of other things. I do think it’s possible for pastors to date their congregants without it being abusive. Their specific circumstance was weighted so heavily towards power imbalance, it would have been impossible for anyone to freely give consent in her position. The operative word here is “freely.” Saying Lourdes was not free to give consent does not infantize her; it merely points out the psychological coercion that takes place when one party has nearly all the power and the other party really has very little. This is why “fraternization” is against the law in military spheres and why there are laws against sleeping with your counselors. Hierarchy of any kind creates structures that can result in the higher-ups preying on their subordinates. That doesn’t mean it happens every time, obviously, or that there might not be mitigating factors.

    I didn’t realize to what extent this was a problem in this particular situation until I read Lourdes’ legal complaint. In the years leading up to him actually accosting her in her bedroom, Doug found numerous ways to strengthen the power imbalance rather than mitigating it. Whether this was specific to her or merely his way of treating all women, I don’t know. But the results were obviously not pretty.

  6. The issue with using her age as evidence of her ability to freely consent is that it sets a precedence that adults cannot be groomed or cannot be in positions of serious power differences. Fortunately, this isn’t how the law interprets these kinds of cases – people have been prosecuted for sleeping with employees, legal-age university students and others when there’s sufficient evidence to prove the power difference played a significant enough influence on the victim’s ability to consent.

    In other words, as important and binding as age of consent laws are, they are not the final word on consent and sexual exploitation.

  7. Hi Katie,

    I appreciate your willingness to speak out, but I’m afraid your post is shrill, slanderous, and wrong. (And many of the comments are worse.) In order to avoid publicly libeling a brother in Christ, I would urge you to at least accurately state Doug Wilson’s position, including what he says here:

    “Everyone who automatically assumes that Torres-Manteufel was *necessarily* the victim is ironically buying into a view of the world that assumes that grown women are not responsible for what they say or do.”

    Wilson states that, given ALL the circumstances of this disgusting relationship (circumstances which you neglect to mention at the start of your post), Torres-Manteufel cannot be a 100% victim. She can’t claim victimhood the same way that a ten-year-old little girl snatched out of bed and raped can claim to be a victim. There were many gutsy reactions available to Torres-Manteufel (none as histrionic as you suggest), yet she chose none of them. Though Philips is clearly the monster here, Torres-Manteufel has essentially become the woman who did not cry out in the city (Deuteronomy 22:23-24). She should have conducted herself like Tamar–before, during, and after.

    As for submission, Wilson exhorts everywhere for wives to submit to their husbands as unto the *Lord.* Submission to the one below stems from submission to the One above. But Wilson also clearly argues that submission to God leads to godly resistance against those who do NOT have authority–or against those who command their wives to sin.

    Obedience to God therefore looks like two things: obedience to husbands, and disobedience to tyrants. Wilson teaches both very plainly, so you can’t point to his teachings on biblical submission as part of the supposed oppressive atmosphere that somehow convinced Torres-Manteufel she couldn’t punch a cad in the nose.

    1. Hi Gwen,

      Ah, yes. I’m being shrill. Thank you. I’ll take that as a compliment. I hope I remember to be shrill every time I see a man slandering or otherwise attacking a woman, be it me or someone else.

      Your quote from Wilson is exactly what I’m protesting here… because it’s, well, slanderous and wrong. People (least of all “everyone”) aren’t calling Lourdes the “victim” because they think grown women aren’t responsible for their actions. It’s an absurd statement and Wilson should be ashamed of his failure to comprehend the actual arguments being presented. Wilson is a deliberately provocative writer and often it is difficult to pin him down on anything; he always claims he never quite said or meant what everyone apparently thinks he meant. It should be fairly obvious from the post, however, that Wilson is rejecting the idea that grown women are sometimes presented with situations where it is legally impossible for them to consent to sexual advances over long periods of time. Fortunately, the law does not agree with this.

      Wilson says: “if his attentions were entirely unwelcome to her, and she was freaked out by the creepster, then we have to ask why she wasn’t down the road at the first opportunity — that night or the next morning — with Doug Phillips receiving notification of her opinion of what transpired via the sound of sirens. That’s not what happened, on anyone’s account, and so I don’t think we should identify her as a victim.”

      So yes, I think I have a pretty good idea of what Doug Wilson is preaching here. I’m also relying on a decade of interacting with the guy and his congregation pretty closely. He doesn’t use “victim” for anyone (besides, possibly, small children), not even the teenage girl who gets molested by one of his Greyfriar students. And this absolutely empowers the abusers in his sphere. If you need evidence, go look up Jamin’s case files. By their fruits you shall know them.

    2. Gwen,

      Your argument makes sense in theory but runs counter to what countless studies have shown about the victims of sexual assault: they often (if not most of the time) do not respond to the situation in the way that we, as rational, objective, third-parties would expect them to. You state:

      “There were many gutsy reactions available to Torres-Manteufel (none as histrionic as you suggest), yet she chose none of them. Though Philips is clearly the monster here, Torres-Manteufel has essentially become the woman who did not cry out in the city (Deuteronomy 22:23-24). She should have conducted herself like Tamar–before, during, and after.”

      Your statement assumes that Torres-Manteufel was a rational actor in the moments immediately prior to, during, and after her assaults, that she had the capacity and necessary state of mind to cry out in protest (something that she apparently did) and or run to the police immediately thereafter (which she apparently did not). She is an adult after all, right?

      The problem is that the psychological and emotional states of minds of an assault victim are definitely NOT ours as rational, third-party observers. There are MANY documented cases of women being the victims of horrific “jump-out-of-the-bushes” forms of stranger rape that are brutally assaulted and then, emotionally numb and psychologically in shock, literally stand up, brush themselves off, and go about their day, never having resisted and never reporting what happened until years and years later (if at all). To say, “They should have screamed! If they didn’t scream they must have liked it (or at least consented to it)” is to ignore the fact that people respond in radically different ways when subjected to intense stress and physical assault. How many of us have frozen in fear or uncertainty when confronted with a scary situation and then thought later, “I should have done x or y or z”?

      The issue of women responding to sexual assault without much (if any) resistance is such a common and pervasive phenomenon that many states have revised their rape laws to remove the requirement that the victim must have resisted in order for the contact to constitute rape. Prosecutors throughout the United States struggled with such resistance requirements because it often meant not being able to convict otherwise heinous men of heinous crimes. This, importantly for our purposes here, was particularly true when the perpetrator was known to the victim (as they usually are): a relative, close friend, mentor, teacher, etc. In those cases, studies have (again) repeatedly shown that women are even LESS likely to resist due to the relationship dynamics and social pressures that usually weigh heavily in such situations.

      We should be incredibly wary of passing judgments on the victims of sexual assault. We should be wise and compassionate enough not to project our own sense of what *should* have happened and what we THINK *we* would have done onto people experiencing significant amounts of distress in the moments at issue. Doing so is not only not un-Christian, it runs counter to everything that we currently know about sexual assault victims as a society.

    3. Gwen: “your post is shrill, slanderous, and wrong.”
      Wow, Gwen. Exaggerate much?
      Because “shrill” is a misplaced and derogatory term that comes off as a mean-spirited attempt at shaming a female.
      I’m glad Katie is so far above it that your blatant shaming tactic didn’t work on her.
      It gives me even more respect for her.

  8. Hi Katie,

    I’ll give a couple thoughts and hope to sign off fairly amicably!

    1) I believe we disagree over whether Torres-Manteufel could or should have resisted in any way sooner than she did. Based on the firm belief that she should have fought harder, neither I nor Wilson can call her a straight-up victim, through and through. But if you disagree with the first part, I can see how you would disagree with the second. I would simply urge you to reconsider.

    2) If Wilson is to be known by the fruits of the marriages he performs, then the godly union, fellowship, and children of the hundreds of weddings he has overseen would far outweigh the treachery of a few hypocrites.

    Cheers!

    1. I don’t think Wilson is defined by the marriages he performs, good or bad. However, I think he has a duty to protect his congregation from abusive men rather than encouraging them to marry young women, and then instructing those women to submit to their husbands.

      If you don’t see that as problematic, I’d urge you to reconsider.

      1. Hello again,

        Wilson most emphatically does NOT encourage the women in his congregation to submit to abusive husbands. I know; I’ve listened to his sermons and/or attended his church for the past 16 years. “Wives, obey your husbands” has limits–and Wilson preaches those limits.

      2. I was speaking in general terms. If Wilson encourages marriage to men who have been known to be abusive (without admitting the abuse, and calling it e.g. “fornication” instead), and simultaneously preaches that wives should submit to their husbands, that is a problem. Also, Wilson does preach that wives have an independent duty to submit to husbands, regardless of them being “blockheads” et cetera. Of course he also says things like “if a woman is in physical danger, she should be moved to safety.” And then he adds that in most cases, her husband should “repent” and they should go back to living together. I also know from personal experience that “physical danger” isn’t enough to invoke sympathy unless the guy has already done something pretty bad. I know because I detailed to Doug Wilson why I was afraid for my safety in a multi-page document, and Wilson’s response was completely dismissive… I think his words were “Oh, this isn’t that bad”… probably because my now-ex-husband claimed he was “repentant,” and that I was at fault just as much as he was. I’m not going to get into the details because they would be difficult to prove in court, but suffice it to say, I was scared, and nobody was going to convince me I shouldn’t be scared. I was the one living it. And I think, honestly, Doug Wilson would have been scared in my shoes too.

    2. The issue with Wilson’s presentation of 1 is that he insists on an entirely one dimensional analysis. Either she liked it, or she didn’t. Either she wanted to go to the police, or she didn’t. But that sort of one-dimensional analysis is *always* false.

      At the moment, when something traumatic happens, we are all Psyche faced with piles of grains to sort, not rational computers whose goals are entirely available to us (and only a modern would deny this). It is only afterwards, that the ants of time have helped her sort the mess she was given. Could it have gone in a different direction, with his wife dying, and them getting married? Perhaps, but it did not. And we know what sort of seed it was only by what sort of plant it developed into. Furthermore, even if it could have gone both directions, that means that its character was on a knife’s edge.

      Second, even granting (which is preposterous and insulting) that she had full access to her own emotions, and that those emotions were favorable toward the situation, it does not follow that those emotions were in any way “her own”. Her vulnerability was not only a physical vulnerability, but an emotional vulnerability, and a vulnerability of the will. NOT, because she was a woman, (actually, I think we err greatly if we think this sort of weakness is bad. It is, in itself, the weakness of the Blessed Virgin at the Cross, and thus, since, as Christ says, we are images of Him, is the weakness of God Himself) but because she is a person, a person who receives from others, and indeed from a man that everyone is told is respectable, so that she receives not only from him, but from the whole community, the effective command (like God’s command to the light to exist) to listen to him and be shaped by him.

      And similarly, after it started, she was not simply a rational agent. (Is anyone? or is it only conservatives and social scientists that still believe that old Kantian lie?) Even granted that she had fully sorted through her own feelings, it is not at all clear to me that “whether she went to the police” is a decent measure of those feelings. Are there no other reasons that she would fail to go to the police than that she was a willing participant? Would not going to the police be a sort of stripping naked for strange men? Would not it be stripping herself naked to a public that would likely judge her? Would it not be stripping herself naked before a community that was very likely (at least from her perspective) to side with him? Pr. Wilson’s unwillingness to grapple with those issues is *extremely* disturbing.

      ________
      Trigger Warning:

      I do not say this to judge the community Philips is a part of. I don’t know enough about that community to do so, and even if I did, I doubt I would know enough to sort out what is good in that community and what is a bending of the good. Christ will, Matt won’t. As Katie said, the vulnerability of her situation is one shared whenever there is a leader, especially one who emotionally stirs us. Thus psychologists could take advantage of their patients relatively easily. But here is where *perhaps* Pr. Wilson has a point: Because of the invisibility of the grooming, it seems to me that it may be that D. Philips himself was unaware of it, and honestly thought the relationship was consensual–and now he feels like all the weight is being thrown on him, when at the time it was them sinning, not him (though that is not necessarily true). That when they have both “successfully” completed Psyche’s task of sorting out what happened, their piles look very different is not at all surprising. Who can untie the gordian knot? Only Christ. Only Christ can save us from this body of death, where the same thing happens differently to different people, and justice cannot be done to both parties at once. Only Christ can save her from her weaknesses, and from the trauma, rewriting the past. And only Christ can save Philips from his sins.

      Perhaps what we should all take from this is that it is very easy for us to take advantage of our power, to do irreparable harm to others (whether that is through tiny sexual advances that we do not even perceive ourselves, or through some other sort of sin), and that we must be on guard to keep ourselves from sin. It is too easy to prowl around like a roaring lion, devouring others, without even realizing we are doing so.

      1. Thanks, Matt, for this well-thought-out explanation. Indeed, I imagine Phillips had convinced himself it was a consensual relationship, as I image Wilson likewise convinces himself of his own views. As you say, abusive situations can become like sorting through individual grains, sifting through the memories and your own feelings of fear and shame.

        I was just talking about this with someone who said “unless you’ve felt it, you don’t really know what sexual fear is like.” Which is true. Such situations are not just about fear, they’re about the shame of telling the tale, and therefore being stripped and violated all over again.

  9. Matthew, I don’t know you, but great analysis – puts the whole situation in a new and enlightening perspective. I get the impression Phillips thought he’d be tarred and feathered if his “adultery” ever became public, but I do not think he anticipated that Lourdes and the wider world of rational people would categorize it as abusive and even criminal. I think he is shell-shocked by that.

    Archaic, ill-informed views of what precisely sexual consent is, and a failure to understand how grooming, coercion and intimidation work, are obviously present in Wilson’s worldview as well – that goes without saying. Evidence in this case and others is ample. I suppose it is why his congregants and supporters, likewise, can’t wrap their heads around Lourdes being a 23-year-old victim of grooming and genuine assault without “crying out” or “fighting back” ?

    It’s hard to believe, given that these patriarchal teachers and their followers also believe and teach that adult women need to be under the protection of a husband or father at all times. I would assume – very confidently, actually – that in a subculture where romantic thoughts are potentially sinful, what happened to Lourdes would be considered even more abusive and outrageous than it normally would. The response would be exacerbated. Phillips would have literal fear of leaving his home alone at night. He’d lose every friend and be ruined forever. Beall would take the children, leave immediately and receive plenty of support. I have a lot of conservative homeschooling Christian friends. Not ‘patriarchalists’, but definitely complementarian evangelical Christians. I can’t begin to imagine their fury if Lourdes were their daughter or friends’ daughter or member of their church. Phillips would be finished. The fact that she was over 18 when it happened and didn’t physically fight back would be the last thing out of their mouths. It’s hard to describe how removed from reality the people downplaying her innocence are to me.

    Katie, any comment on this phenomenon? I’m no longer a complementarian evangelical myself, but the ones I at least knew always seemed to take the defense of women seriously, if nothing else. What people are writing about Lourdes literally sounds like it comes from a Christian version of sharia.

    1. Well, I do know a lot of Christians who would label themselves complementation evangelicals on some level. Many of them are in the Moscow community, and I have found that the more likely they are to agree with Doug Wilson’s rhetoric on the subject, the less likely they are to act kindly towards a woman in this situation. Of course, even in this tight-knit Moscow community there are a lot of people who don’t really buy into this, whether or not they actually say so in public, and these are the people I have seen actively helping some of the women I’ve mentioned in this post. I was happy to discover that Jamin’s (ex?)wife has been actively helped by some of these people, and perhaps even more importantly, encouraged not to return to him.

      Outside of such rhetorical influence, I agree; I think a lot of people would be very keen on helping someone like Lourdes. It’s just sad that they’re instructed by people like Doug Wilson to stifle their own compassion and intuition, and instead back away slowly to pass judgement on her.

    2. Ah, Backyardgoodness, you see, that is precisely what is wrong with Vision Forum etal; it IS the Christian version of sharia law. Doug Phillips, Doug Wilson, & Co. are the Taliban, and they can’t understand why they (& their frenzied followers) are the only ones throwing stones at Ms Torres-Manteufel.
      They really ought to just up & run off to the Middle East, & leave the test of us in peace. (The reason they don’t do so, of course, being that they don’t want to take a chance on being on the receiving end of that form of [so-called] “justice”.

  10. More and more often i see scenario like this.

    Wife get punched on the face and also psychological punches and still want to be with that person she still call her “husband” no matter the advice we give to them.

  11. Hi Katie.
    I can’t begin to tell you what a wave of refreshment it is to hear a voice (cousin to the Vision Forum Botkin sisters [who themselves remain silent]) that is actually defending Lourdes! I was linked to this site reading a page about Doug Wilson’s involvement in the case. (Gag)

    I find it very disturbing that Anna Sophia and Elizabeth Botkin are silent regarding their own good friend being sexually assaulted and treated in such an abhorrent manner! And even Stacy McDonald’s apparent defendment of Doug. If one of my friends were to fall victim to a public figure, I would not, and could not keep silent to try to preserve the name the man that violated her!

    And as you pointed out, Lourdes was sadly one of many people that are being exploited and do not have the voice to speak up. This is an extremely common pattern psychologists observe in these kinds of victims. If she was truly the instigator in the affair or an active participant, then what possible motive would she have to tell anyone years into the situation? It took so much godly courage on Lourdes’ part to break free from that bondage she was imprisoned in by Phillips.

    Methodical planning and years brain washing led up to the series of assaults obviously. How can anyone not see that!! My loyal Vision Forum friend recently admitted “ok, so he had a human moment.” No. This man has seriously deep issues of need for control in unearthly ways.

    I have experienced for myself how it feels to be the victim, and be accused as the predator by the predator himself making himself look like the victim. I know what it feels like to be silent about inappropriate behavior, and how hard it is to tell someone about it. (Well, I never did voluntarily tell anyone about it, I was demanded to answer questions about the situation) For me, when the adult man got in trouble, I again fell prey to his conspicuous lies he was spreading about the situation, and I was the one that felt sickly guilty for telling anyone. This was on such a small scale compared to what this young lady is going through right now. I can’t even imagine the distress she must have felt, and probably still is feeling now, and will continue to deal with!

    I pray for Lourdes’ mind to be healed from any form of shame, guilt and fear. Also that people would not be afraid to speak up against Phillips and the injustice and lies that have been going on for years. And thank you so incredibly much, Katie, for advocating her situation in such an informed and truthful manner.

    I’ll close with this quote from Desmond Tutu;
    “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

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