Monday, February 2, 2015

Doug Wilson and the "Gospel" of Gender Hierarchy

My lovely research assistant (and wife) brought this to my attention recently.

I have made no secret of my dislike of Doug Wilson. Why do I loathe him? Maybe it is that he wrote a plagiarized pamphlet - and then an entire book - defending Confederate slavery, while ignoring and denying the actual historical facts surrounding the “peculiar institution.” Maybe it is that he is an AIDS denialist. Maybe it is that he teaches that the most “godly” societies of the last 2000 years were the Confederate South and the Middle Ages. Maybe it is his view of marital sex as a display of male dominance and the enactment of a rape fantasy for both parties. Or, maybe, it is the fact that he sounds very much like a narcissistic bully.

Well, Wilson is at it again, with a (purported) teaser for his new book How To Exasperate Your Wife. I’m not sure from the post whether Wilson wrote the entire book, or just a chapter. Whatever the case is, he has written this little “Chiastic Catechism on Biblical Sexuality,” which can be viewed through this link. (It is a “do not link” so that it doesn’t give Wilson any hits to raise his spot in search engines.)

Wilson, of course, has made no secret that he is a follower of Rushdoony, the father of Reconstructionism, and that he advocates Patriarchy. This little bit on his views on sexuality and gender, however, are a bit eye opening. Unfortunately, I have been seeing far too much of these views creeping into Evangelicalism as a whole, substituting for the actual Gospel, a new “gospel,” the chief tenets of which are Gender Hierarchy and Gender Essentialism, which in practice amounts to Gender Hierarchy Lite.

So, let’s look through the Doug Wilson version of “biblical” sexuality.

Doug’s words in small print, mine in large.

Here are 25 questions, along with some suggested answers.
1. What is the first challenge of biblical masculinity?
To have enough of it to be willing to articulate what it is in public.
Here is the first clue about where Doug always goes with questions of gender. Like others within the Gender Essentialist camp, there is a specific “definition” of what a man must be. For Doug, this is all about dominance, as his writings have made clear. A man is “not female,” or as Mark Driscoll puts it, a man isn’t a “pussy.” So, at minimum, based on this question, a “man” needs to be able to stand up and define manhood for everyone else.
2. Is not the subject of human sexuality filled with nuance?
Yes, it is. And the first sign that you have worked through it with sufficient care is that nobody thinks you have any.
Wilson’s first statement is a lie. He doesn’t actually believe there is nuance at all. Nuance of ways people want to deviate from his extremely rigid view of acceptable sexuality, but no nuance whatsoever as to how he teaches men and women are to be. I get where Wilson gets this idea. (As becomes clear below, he borrows it from a paradox by G. K. Chesterton.) However, it not only comes off as ignorant, it is ignorant. Wilson has a habit of ignoring any indisputable facts that conflict with his own opinions, so this is no surprise. However, he might have at least spent a bit of time reading about intersex individuals (which he could at least call eunuchs) before declaring that if you just work through the issues with care, you come up with a rigid view of human sexuality.  
3. I am beset with sexual temptations. Does God have a solution for me?
Yes. The love of a good woman who is willing to make love to you for the rest of your life.
This one makes some pretty bold assumptions, doesn’t it? Perhaps that there is a woman for everyone who wants one, and that she will be willing to give you sex on demand for the rest of your life. Not surprising, in light of Doug’s views on marital sex that he comes up with an entitled view. But think about it, doesn’t this imply that God has selected a sexual servant for every man as the cure for sexual temptations? (Obviously, this also ignores the possibility that having a woman might not actually help the situation for some men, or the man might not have a woman handy who will agree to be his wife.)
4. But I am not married. What should I do about sexual temptation in that case?
You should find out her name, and ask her.
This answer is related to the above. Hey, are you a horny man? Go out and get a woman! Again, there is the assumption that the only reason a man isn’t married is that he hasn’t gone out and got a woman. Given Doug’s views of male dominance, it might not be a stretch to think that he recommends taking a woman by force if necessary. This also doesn’t really answer the question for the young man who is nowhere near ready to marry. See below for a particularly horrible example of Doug’s philosophy at work.
5. What is the best thing I can do for my children?
On an earthly level, the best thing you can do for your children is to love their mother.
No, Doug, that’s baloney. While it is good to love the mother of one’s children, children need to be loved themselves. That is a bigger priority in their lives.
6. What is the next best thing I can do for my children?
Get a job where you have to work hard, make sure you do in fact work hard, providing their mother with the wherewithal to feed and clothe them, and to provide them all with a godly education.
I hope to write an entire post on this issue, because it is a reiteration of a materialistic view of manhood that permeates Evangelicalism. The number one (in practice) trait that a man must have to be considered “godly” is to be a “good provider.” For Wilson, this means enough for the necessities, plus the ability to support a stay-at-home wife and either homeschool the kids or send them to a “godly” school. Maybe like one of Doug’s expensive private schools. While Doug tries make it look better by talking about hard work, the bottom line is that low income men cannot meet this standard. “Godliness” is defined by wealth and money.
7. What do I do if I don’t understand my wife?
God didn’t tell you to understand her. He said to love her. Try starting with that.
Part of this is uncontroversial. I believe that husbands are called to love their wives. And vice versa, although Doug doesn’t believe that. On the other hand, part of being loving is to seek understanding. If you want to know how to be loving to your spouse, you need to actually listen to him or her, and understand what he or she is saying. This is Relationship Communication 101, but I suspect it is far too egalitarian for Doug’s taste. Also, I will note that the idea of the incomprehensible woman is part of the stereotype of women as emotional and irrational - not at all like rational and comprehensible men - which is why men should be in charge of everything.
8. Doesn’t the apostle Peter say that husbands are to live with their wives with understanding?
Yes, he does. Mysteries are to be handled with understanding, which is not the same thing as understanding mysteries.
My previous comment applies to this one as well. Also, Doug’s “distinction” here is pretty obvious sophistry.
9. What are the most important things I can do to foster family unity?
Worship together, pray together, eat together, laugh together, and read together.
Hey, something I don’t really have a problem with! I am in favor of all these things, although I believe that unity also comes from mutual understanding of others, respect for differences and boundaries, and mutual love. So Doug is omitting some pretty important factors here.
10. Why are men sexually attracted to other men?
It is the judgment of God upon our culture because we would not honor God as God and would not give Him thanks. Therefore God has given men over to the downward spiral of their renegade lusts fueled by father hunger.
While this particular idea is hardly unique to Wilson, it does show the continued denialism that plagues Evangelicalism when it comes to homosexuality. The historical evidence is clear that homosexuality is a constant over time and geography, and that there is nothing new or unique to our particular culture. Growing evidence shows that it has a genetic component. The fact that Wilson thinks his Bible teaches him differently doesn’t make the evidence to the contrary go away. Beyond that, however, Wilson (and many other Evangelicals) have made a subtle switch from the beliefs of the past. He is citing Romans 1 here, which used to be used as evidence that individual homosexuals became that way because of their own rejection of God. (This was possibly what Saint Paul believed, based on the belief at the time that same sex relationships were a form of hypersexuality.) Now that there is evidence that orientation isn’t a choice made later in life as a result of rejection of God, Wilson and others have turned it into kind of a nebulous cultural curse. Because many in the culture reject God, He smites some random individuals with homosexual desires. (So the devout Christian youth who is mortified to find he or she is gay and doesn’t succeed in “praying the gay away” is cursed because other people have rejected God…) The final part of the statement, though, betrays Wilson’s agenda and his gender essentialism. See, a man becomes gay because of “father hunger,” meaning his dad wasn’t “manly” enough. (Some others have advised fathers of boys to try to beat the effeminacy out of them…) I find it interesting that Exodus International recently closed up shop because they realized that they were not succeeding in changing orientation, and that their blame of parents for their children being gay was not only factually wrong, but cruel.
11. How did God imprint His image on the human race?
He did this by creating us male and female. Any attempts to reconfigure this arrangement are therefore explicit assaults on the image of God.
I think Wilson has crossed the line into heresy here. When most of us think of what God is like, we don’t think, “He is divided into two parts, one male, and one female.” Traditionally, the view has been that “image of God” means that we are moral creatures, capable of choice rather than instinct. Or perhaps that we are capable of moral good. Or that we are sentient creatures, capable of relationships, language, and society. These are all possible ways that we bear God’s image.
One more issue comes to mind here too. I haven’t seen Wilson state it, but fellow Patriarchist Doug Phillips, in his Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy made it clear that males reflect the glory of God while females reflect the glory of males. Furthermore, Phillips is adamant that God is a male. I believe Wilson has made that second point as well, that God must be viewed as a male, never as a female. The traditional teaching would be that God is neither male nor female, but spirit, and sexless like the angels.

But, here, Wilson makes it clear that the way we show the image of God is through rigid gender roles. And, as he soon makes clear, through rigid gender hierarchies.
12. What is the most important word in the marriage vows?
In our time, because of the peculiar form our disobedience has taken, the most important word is obey. And it is the most important word whether or not it is included in the vows. Like a father who has abandoned his family, that word can dominate through its absence.
This is the statement that caused my wife to notice the link and forward it to me. I hope to tell the story of our wedding vows soon, because they were part of an important discussion that carried over long into our married life.
Wilson clearly believes that marriage is a hierarchy, with the man as the dominant leader, and the wife as the obedient subordinate. And here, he is explicit. The problem with our world and with our marriages is that the wife is not obeying.
I would disagree with Wilson both philosophically and practically. From the practical point of view as a divorce attorney, I would say that I haven’t had a nasty Christian divorce case wherein the wife was disobedient. Oh, she was sure to submit, often while being a martyr to the cause, and complaining about it to everyone who would listen.
Thus, both practically and philosophically, I would say that the most important word in the marriage vows is “love.” I believe Saint Paul agrees with me on that point. I also believe Christ taught that love was the greatest commandment too, come to think of it. A little “love, honor, and cherish” would do much more good than more of “obey.”
13. What is biblical masculinity?
It is the glad assumption of sacrificial responsibility.
Nice euphemism there, Doug. In the last several decades, “Complementarians” have tied themselves in pretzel forms trying to show that hierarchy isn’t really hierarchy, and that hierarchy is actually “equality.” One of the favorite ways to do that is to use euphemisms like “servant leader” and “sacrificial responsibility.” It’s easy to tell that these are being used to disguise and sugarcoat the real point, because they don’t just stop with “servant” and “sacrifice.” Why? Because women can and are expected to serve and sacrifice too, of course. But they don’t get to lead and be the “responsible” party. Again, this is a euphemism for being the one in charge. He who has the responsibility has the power. “I’m taking responsibility of this decision, dear.”
So, once again, the definition of being “masculine” is to be the boss. To have subordinates. The “gospel” of Gender Hierarchy.
14. How do I acquire the authority to live like this?
Authority naturally flows to those who take responsibility. Authority routinely flees those who seek to blame others.
The second statement is true. The first is half true. Simply taking responsibility doesn’t make one a leader. We all should take responsibility for our own lives, but taking responsibility doesn’t give us power over others. I would note that by this same token, a woman who takes responsibility should also get that authority, right? Except that in Wilson’s world, men take responsibility...away from women.
15. What is the confessional issue of our time?
The confessional issue of our time is human sexuality, biblically defined.
I have heard Wilson make this point before, in a more expanded manner. His belief and teaching is that the most crucial issue of our time is sexuality. By that, he means a “confusion” between men and women and their roles. In other words, men aren’t being “men,” and women aren’t being “women.” And believe me, by that, he means that men are not dominating and ruling and being “masculine” by his cultural definition (see also Driscoll, Mark), and women are not being submissive and staying at home and serving men. Wilson blames homosexuality on the same source. If men and women knew their defined traits and roles, then gays wouldn’t be “confused” about their attractions.
16. Why are women sexually attracted to other women?
This also is the judgment of God upon our culture, and is the result of men — fathers, brothers, cousins, boyfriends, husbands, and ex-husbands — mistreating girls and women. Women ineffectively try to build a fortress that will protect them from rebellious male sexuality, but it cannot work. Despite this protest, many self-identified lesbians remain sexually accessible to selfish men, and the “burned by men” phenomenon just gets continually worse. This too is fueled by father hunger.
This is where Wilson veers from being merely offensive to feeding a pernicious belief about lesbians. Never mind that it is untrue (not that Wilson actually believes any sociological research), which Wilson could have discovered by actually listening to any number of lesbians who were not abused: this belief encourages the rape of lesbians.
The basic idea is that women only become lesbian because of a bad sexual experience (usually molestation or rape) with a man, leading them to reject sex with men. The cure for it, naturally, is to have sex with a “real” man, which will lead to a restoration of the natural desire for sex with men. Again, no connection with reality, and a rather dismissive view of female sexual autonomy which pervades Wilson’s teachings on sex.
17. What are the most important things I can do to foster marital unity?
Worship together, pray together, eat together, sleep together, laugh together, and read together.
As with the promotion of family unity, this list isn’t wrong, but it is incomplete. In Doug’s world, marital unity occurs when the wife submits to the husband, and he gets his way in all things. (Including the bedroom.) That is one form of unity, I suppose. Stalin liked that kind of national unity.
For those of us in Egalitarian marriages, however, we experience unity in a different way. We both work together toward shared goals, and we discuss disagreements until we find mutually beneficial and mutually agreeable decisions. Of course, we also do Doug’s list, but while they are important to bonding, the real work of unity comes as a result of mutual respect, love, and discussion in which neither of us holds a trump card.
18. How can I communicate to my wife how hard it is to take this kind of responsibility?
You shouldn’t try. It is more important for you to be a protective father to her than for her to be a comforting mother to you. Your wife should know that you are faithful. She may or may not know how hard it is. If you are not a whiner, you will not make a point of letting her know.
Wow. This is one where Wilson just gets weird. Most of us outside of the Patriarchy bubble would find the idea that husbands are a “protective father” to our wives to be uncomfortably inappropriate. It’s kind of sexually icky too, smacking of incest fantasies. And, again, it reflects Wilson’s view of marriage as a hierarchy, where the man has to be on a pedestal above her, never letting the facade of masculinity drop so she can see his human struggles. It also betrays his belief that women are like children, and need to be treated as such. (His “feud” with Rachel Held Evans is a further example of how he treats women like children.)
This seems so counter to how a good marriage should be. Obviously, I do not want my wife to be my mother. But I don’t want to be her father either. We are partners, best friends who carry each other’s burdens. There are times when I lean on her for emotional support and encouragement. And there are times when she leans on me. Life is hard. But it isn’t as hard when you have someone to lean on.
19. What do I do when my wife doesn’t understand me?
She is not supposed to understand you. She is supposed to respect you.
This corresponds to #7 above. Again, Wilson assumes that a mutual understanding isn’t the goal - or even possible. The woman is to respect. And obey, of course. The man is to love.
There are a few other problems inherent in the question and answer as well. First, the question itself tends to, in the context of Wilson’s view of gender, assume some things. When a “man” asks this question, he is assuming that if she could just understand him, she would agree with him. (You know, the male leadership role, which results from his god-created intellectual superiority.) Hence the answer: she doesn’t have to bend her little mind around your decision, she just has to respect it and obey, whether she understands it or not. (See my recent post on the Evangelical obsession with unquestioning obedience.) I hate to break it to Wilson, but a woman can fully understand you and still disagree.
The other damaging assumption here is that understanding isn’t desirable or possible. Men and women are just too different to be able to communicate and understand each other, so we need to just go with the god-given hierarchy with men in charge. As I noted regarding #7, learning to communicate and understand is actually Relationship Communication 101, but that assumes an equality that Wilson is unwilling to grant.
20. What is the second best thing I can do for my wife?
Dinner for two at Angelo’s, followed by a leisurely walk on the beach in the moonlight.
I’m fond of both Italian food and moonlight walks on the beach. So is my wife. However, chocolate would need to be included. The arrogance with which Wilson states this is irritating. Would it have been too hard to go with “ask her what she would like”?
21. What is the best gift I can give my wife?
On an earthly level, the best gift you can give your wife is to be a true and faithful father to her children.
Now, I have no doubt that it makes my wife happy when I parent my kids. Any decent mother would be thrilled to see a father do that. But to say that this is the “best gift” assumes that a woman identifies primarily as a mother, and that her own needs are not that important. This fits in very much with the ideals of Patriarchy, which does tend to view women as not having dreams or desires of their own. Or at least that these dreams and desires are irrelevant because she should be pursuing her role as a wife and mother instead.
22. What do I do about remaining sexual temptations, despite the fact that I am married?
Recognize that you answer to Christ for your sin, and not primarily to your wife. Unrepented sexual sin, including your internal lusts, is a violation of your marriage vows, but it is a more profound violation of your baptism. Deal with it on that level first.
For the most part, I agree with this one. However, Wilson does miss one key point, which is that lust is, at its heart, and objectification of women. Wilson seems to feel that that is okay if directed toward one’s wife, but not okay outside of it. Perhaps rather than just “repenting” in the sense of deciding one was wrong to lust,  one should reexamine one’s views of women and their bodies as existing to gratify men.
23. So having repented, what do I do about it?
Recognize that you are not yet devoted to your wife as a complete woman. If she is your wife in the bedroom, but everywhere else is a servant (or dominatrix), you need to confess your overall husbandly neglect of her, and ask God to dismantle the standing wall of partition you have built up between the two of you. Sexual lusts grow on that wall like ivy.
Okay, fine. Except that Wilson has done much in the previous questions to erect those partitions. Don’t try to understand your wife. That’s impossible. Don’t show your weaknesses. After all, you are a “protective father” to her. Don’t expect her to understand you. Expect her to respect and obey you. If anything, this builds up walls that cannot be breached. And, as Wilson correctly points out, lusts grow on that wall. Why? In my opinion, we are wired to desire intimacy, not just sex. A relationship that has a hierarchy can never be truly intimate, because intimacy requires equality. I can have a relationship with a boss, but it can never be truly intimate, because the difference in power and authority interferes with either of us being truly vulnerable and open with each other.
Some have theorized that this insistence on hierarchy within marriage has led to a problem of “emotional incest” within patriarchal families. The desire for an equal and intimate relationship, with mutual, voluntary respect and love continues, and finds an outlet outside of the marriage if it cannot be satisfied within it.
24. What is the great danger sign that preachers and teachers in the church are compromised on the topic of sexuality?
The great danger sign is carefully-parsed, visible nuance, coupled with an unwillingness to attack sexual sin, particularly the perversions. As Chesterton noted, to be carefully wrong is a distinguishing mark of decadence.
And we all know what Wilson is referring to here. Preachers need to be calling out the fags.
25.  All of this is a high challenge. Will I be able to incorporate these truths into my life?
That is up to you. But even if you do not believe yourself to be enough of a man, you can at least make the effort manfully.
Once again, “manliness” does not admit weakness. There are no cracks in the facade.
I think it is crucial to understand Wilson’s teachings on marital sex in order to understand the dynamics here as well. There is ample evidence that Wilson is a bully, and an entitled narcissist, and that he behaves that way in the bedroom as well, if his teachings are any indication.
Let’s start with the infamous passage from Fidelity, which Wilson in his prologue recommends that men not let their wives read.
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." (emphasis added)
Wilson is pretty clear. Marital sex is to be about “authority” and “submission.” And because we don’t acknowledge that, there is violence against women.
There are so many things in here that do not reflect reality that it is hard to know where to start. First might be the simple fact that the rates of violence against women and rape are actually lower in cultures that are more egalitarian. (I discussed this previously.) That in itself should be enough to establish that this is bullshit. However, there is more.
I find Wilson’s statements to reflect, not reality, but Wilson’s own twisted and violent heart. Oddly enough, many - perhaps most - couples find sex to be what he claims it cannot be: an egalitarian pleasuring party. I would call it “being a good lover.” Doug, if your woman isn’t getting mutual pleasure out of sex, it isn’t because of “the way the world is,” it’s because you suck in bed. Man up and learn to pleasure a woman, dude.
Then, there is the whole “penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants” versus “receives, surrenders, accepts.” Not only is this breathtakingly sexist, it isn’t the reality that most couples experience. One could easily enough flip the script and make the mechanics of copulation sound like an act of female dominance. (“engulfs, milks, melts”) But neither really reflects the inherent nature of becoming one flesh. For many of us, it is a mutual coming together in an ecstasy of mutual love. (Wait, that sounded a bit like “egalitarian pleasure fest.”)
And what about this “rape fantasy” business? Huh? Okay, I am sure some people have fantasies of raping or being raped. And many others probably have some sort of dominance/submission/roleplay fantasy. And, if that is what gets a couple off, whatever.
However, that isn’t me, and it isn’t my wife. I do not and have not had rape fantasies, and certainly do not find it to be erotically necessary. At the risk of TMI, I find a fantasy of a woman desiring me to be more of a turn on. Furthermore, I find that making sex about power and hierarchy to be a turnoff. I love and have always loved the mutuality of our relationship, in and out of the bedroom.
At one point, Wilson said that “sex is something I do to my wife, not with my wife.” As with so much of this, it reveals Wilson’s inherently narcissistic view of life, marriage, and sex. He is the hero of his own story at all times.
If this were just about him, then I could feel sorry for his wife and leave it at that. Unfortunately, this man has a large following and an empire. He is also a close buddy of John Piper, who has an additional large following. When Piper speaks highly of Wilson’s theology, it is important to remember what goes with it. Unfortunately, this “gospel” of Gender Essentialism and Gender Hierarchy has become pervasive throughout Evangelicalism, with an increasing emphasis on being “manly” in a particular cultural sense, and “feminine” in the sense of subservient and unassertive. This is a significant reason why many preachers, like Wilson, view “feminism” as the enemy of Christianity. Because, to them, deep down, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is really just the “gospel” of gender roles.  

Note on Wilson and “marriage is the cure for sexual problems”:

The idea that all sexual problems can be cured by marriage is endemic to Evangelicalism, but it can lead to some poor - and dangerous results. A few years back, Wilson took this idea to a particularly troubling extreme when he had a parishioner who had a problem in that he was a child sex predator. He had been convicted twice, in fact. Rather than realize that this problem was not going away, and that this man needed to be kept away from children, Wilson advised him to take the universal cure: get married to a young woman. And presided over the wedding. I pray to God that they are unable to have children. Aka further victims for this guy. Doug, marriage is not a cure for pedophilia. Sorry, it isn’t, and by suggesting that it is you are putting children at risk for further victimization.

Note on Evangelicalism and Wilson:

I mentioned Wilson in connection with “farewelling”. I believe that is important, because Wilson remains an accepted member of the Tribe, despite all of these troubling teachings. What that says to me (particularly in light of those who have been dismissed from the fold) is that Evangelicalism isn’t the least bit troubled by the idea of Gender Hierarchy, doesn’t worry that it enable abusers, and doesn’t notice that its main proponents (Gothard, Phillips, Driscoll, Wilson, and others) tend to show the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder. My father-in-law and I have had an ongoing discussion about this, and he believes that Christians are extremely vulnerable to narcissists, because they are not taught how to recognize them, and because the traits of narcissism match the “virtues” we have been taught to revere.

If I were to give my own recommendation, it would be that the first sign of one of these guys is that they talk about hierarchies. Men over women, adults over children, with an emphasis on unquestioning obedience. This is precisely what narcissists expect from their followers, as it feeds their need for attention and self-importance.

Wilson is a particularly obvious example, but I find it troubling that Evangelicalism is unable to recognize the poison of the “gospel” of Gender Hierarchy and Gender Essentialism. We ought to be disgusted by the teachings of the Doug Wilsons of the world, and recognize that the “gospel” he is teaching is the opposite to the gospel taught by Christ. 

For me of the better discussions of Wilson's problems with gender, race, and sexuality, see this post. The author understands the linkage between his denialism when it comes to slavery and his dangerous teachings on marital sex. 

Future post:

After I wrote this, but before I edited it, John Piper really stepped in it regarding men, women, and rape. I’m going to dissect that one in the future. Stay tuned.


  1. You might be interested to know (if you don't already) that he appears to have lifted the phrase "erotic necessity" from That Hideous Strength by Lewis. I read those books when I was in late middle school, and was way too young at the time to understand them completely, but remembered that phrase. So years later when I first encountered the Fidelity quote, I recognized it immediately. Of course Wilson doesn't credit Lewis, but he's already a known plagiarist so should I really be surprised?

    Did he say that "sex is something I do to my wife, not with my wife" in Fidelity? I seem to recall I had heard that before but I must have tried subconsciously to block it.

    On the bright side, at least this masculinity Q&A didn't have any "Doug Wilson cracks himself up but his jokes are completely unfunny and incomprehensible to others" moments. I have one of these almost every time I read anything by him. A moment where you know he was trying to be funny, but you the reader have absolutely no idea what he even meant, let alone why you should be laughing at it. The worst one was in a piece he wrote on "masculine" church music, where he made a statement about progressions from E major to C# minor (or something like that) being a warning sign that your church's music is being feminized. I still have no idea what he was talking about.

    1. I actually wondered if there were any unfunny jokes in this one. It's really hard to tell.

      Regarding the chord progressions, the best thing I have read about that is a post by Eric Pazdziora (who comments below). Here is the link. Needless to say, he is much funnier than DW.

  2. Can we go ahead and make Jeeves memes for everything?

  3. So, I have been reading your blog for a couple of hours now and it is SO refreshing!

    A bit of background: I've recently (within the last year) come out of a fairly fundamentalist evangelical context with spiritual abuse (among others) from the church I had been a part of my whole life. My parents (both saved in the Baptist church) were huge fans of Gothard and homeschooled us for several years (not through Gothard's system, but with plenty of Gothard mixed in). But they put us in our non-denominational church's new Classical Christian private/home-school mash up based directly off Wilson's Logos school. Their teachers came to our school near Seattle, our teachers went there. Our principal & pastor's wife was practically his disciple. We studied Van Tillian Apologetics and views on "Biblical Gender Roles" were reinforced on every level. They were actually ok with the idea of women going to college - if only so they could join in reforming the world before they settled down to have babies. Annnyway, I've been aware and disturbed by the Gothard connection for many years (though my parents still defend him). But reading up on Wilson is just making me cringe... it's all SO painfully familiar! Turns out the school wasn't technically legal and the principal was making ridiculous financial choices which resulted in the school shutting down half-way through last school year. Probably for the best...

    Anyway... I say all of that to say that reading your series on Modesty as well as posts on Fundamentalism (and the Duggars - which was spot on, by the way) has been so helpful. I have read some other "former-fundie" blogs, but as someone in grad school with a mind on academia some of them have felt more rant-y (totally understandable) than they have proper discussions of the philosophical and theoretical issues at hand. And also I'm always glad to hear about egalitarianism from a man's perspective as many people in my life think that my expectation for an egalitarian marriage is futile at best, ant-Biblical at worst. Anyway, thanks for that, and I look forward to exploring your blog more!

    1. That's quite a story!

      If you hadn't noticed, while I loathe Gothard for many reasons, Wilson is the one that just makes me want to scream. I have several friends who think he is all that and a bag of chips, and all I can see is that he is clearly an narcissistic asshole with a frail grasp on the reality of anything. Gah!

      I feel for you regarding the fun of finding an egalitarian man. We do exist, but the Church is often hostile to us as well, trying to force us into a "spiritual leader" role. The best I can say is that if you find a man who is genuinely kind and considerate, he is probably egalitarian in his heart, even if he doesn't know it yet. (I can think of a number of marriages in my grandparents' generation that were egalitarian in function, whatever they said about submission.)

      I will say that being in an egalitarian marriage is amazing. If my wife and I tried to fit the complementarian pattern, it would be a disaster. We are both happier working together as partners.

      Anyway, thanks for contributing to the discussion. Welcome aboard.

  4. About question 10, do you reject Romans 1.26? How do you interpret it? Ive never seen a good explanation of this verse.