“Neither a title, a degree, nor desire makes someone a leader. Being a leader is based upon three elements: a calling from God, character that honors God, and the competencies that enable the person to effectively pursue the vision God entrusts to them.” ~ George Barna
In the midst of reading and thinking about genuine complementarity the past couple of weeks, especially how it looks in its application, I was hit with yet one more example of “mainstream complementarianism” that has been wading in patriocentric waters. This time it is the Gospel Coalition, one of those websites I read often because they frequently offer insightful articles on applying the gospel message within our culture.
A week ago, GC writer, Jared Wilson, ignited a firestorm when he quoted patriocentrist Doug Wilson (no relation) while trying to explain why Christian women are reading 50 Shade of Grey. Basically, he thinks it is because we don’t understand Biblical authority and submission in the marriage bed and he goes on to quote from Fidelity: What it Means to Be a One-Woman Man:
“A final aspect of rape that should be briefly mentioned is perhaps closer to home. Because we have forgotten the biblical concepts of true authority and submission, or more accurately, have rebelled against them, we have created a climate in which caricatures of authority and submission intrude upon our lives with violence.
When we quarrel with the way the world is, we find that the world has ways of getting back at us. In other words, however we try, the sexual act cannot be made into an egalitarian pleasuring party. A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts. This is of course offensive to all egalitarians, and so our culture has rebelled against the concept of authority and submission in marriage. This means that we have sought to suppress the concepts of authority and submission as they relate to the marriage bed.
But we cannot make gravity disappear just because we dislike it, and in the same way we find that our banished authority and submission comes back to us in pathological forms. This is what lies behind sexual “bondage and submission games,” along with very common rape fantasies. Men dream of being rapists, and women find themselves wistfully reading novels in which someone ravishes the “soon to be made willing” heroine. Those who deny they have any need for water at all will soon find themselves lusting after polluted water, but water nonetheless.
True authority and true submission are therefore an erotic necessity. When authority is honored according to the word of God it serves and protects — and gives enormous pleasure. When it is denied, the result is not “no authority,” but an authority which devours.”
– Douglas Wilson, Fidelity: What it Means to be a One-Woman Man (Moscow, Idaho: Canon Press, 1999), 86-87.
To say many Gospel Coalition readers were stunned is to put it mildly. After several big name bloggers reacted and women who had been sexually abused responded, a collective appeal to remove this piece was sent to GC but to no avail. In fact, both Jared Wilson and Doug Wilson responded with their take on the situation: everyone who read and had a problem with these paragraphs is basically too dumb to understand their deep wisdom and obviously we have reading comprehension issues.
I see two aspects to this that I find very troubling:
First, these guys obviously have some weird ideas about sex. (My reading comprehension is just fine.) My college psychology professor would label it “sessual hanup” (imagine his pronounced Chinese accent for the full affect) and I agree. Any man who feels the need to declare the sexual relationship between a husband and wife to be one of authority and submission needs more Motown.
He also needs a better understanding of the Word of God:
“Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman. But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” 1 Corinthians 7:1-5
Wilson has already been coming under the scrutiny of the Wartburg Watch ladies this past week for a variety of reasons, including his pro-slavery stand and involvement with the courtship of a pedophile in his congregation. But Wilson is not the only complementarian/patriarch who has some pretty weird views of marital sexuality. The Bayly brothers (PCA pastors) once wrote about their aversion to birth control, describing the need for men, the “piercers” to “unsheathe their swords” when having sexual relations with their wives, the “piercees.” Gets me in the mood.
And then there is James McDonald’s Valentine’s Day quoting of Victor Hugo in describing the bride in her wedding night chamber as “gently alarmed and sweetly terrified” by “the husband the priest.” Perhaps in other circles, this would be merely a literary contribution but coming from patrios who teach the concept of the husband as “prophet, priest, and king” of the home, and in the context of Wilson’s Fidelity book, which McDonald promotes on his church website, it goes far beyond literature.
My second concern, however, proves just why Doug Wilson and others, including anyone at the Gospel Coalition who supported this article, should not be regarded as leaders of anything. Refusing to answer sincere questions put to them in a straightforward manner, declaring those questions to be the lack of ability people have to read with intelligence, and being so culturally unaware of how someone might react to these words, especially a woman with the burden of sexual abuse in her past, shows, once again, that the paradigm of manly men and their authority structure is more important than “being kind, one to another.”
I am waiting for someone who is a true leader and who holds to complementarianism to take on this recent nonsense. Cue crickets.