Jul 18 2012

Threads from Henry's Web: Shades of Outrage but Comments Closed

Original post at http://henrysthreads.com/2012/07/shades-of-outrage-but-comments-closed/

I pointed earlier to a post by J. R. Daniel Kirk responding to the post at The Gospel Coalition by Jared Wilson. Wilson has now responded to some of the outrage generated by his original post. But generally his new post says we shouldn’t read his excerpt as saying what it actually says, but should understand it as saying something completely different. He then closes comments.

I have two issues here:

1) The minor one is that the effort to respond and then cut off public discussion. E-mail is an easy way to take on only those you want to, and not have your responses subject to public scrutiny.

2) This is not a good characterization of complementarians that I know. I’m egalitarian. I’m quite willing to argue the issue. But I believe most of those complementarians of my acquaintance would not be any more comfortable with this language than I am. It’s important to recognize nuances of one’s position. It’s easy to make all of our arguments based on what some position might lead to or what might be associated with it.

Wilson tries to maintain that his excerpt is saying nothing more than the ordinary complementarian position (fourth paragraph), and then wonders why people are so perverse as to fail to realize this, especially after the author has said that he really, really didn’t mean what we read his words to say. But unfortunately if language means anything, that summary is inaccurate (the fourth paragraph), and Douglas Wilson’s denial is disingenuous.

Consider this paragraph, the second in the exerpt:

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, [note that this is not said to be offensive to all decent people, but to 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 [in other words, authority and submission is appropriate to the marriage bed, and is suppressed] (bolding and bracketed comments are mine).

I vigorously reject this paragraph. Obviously I do so as an egalitarian. But I also reject it as a fundamental statement of complementarianism. Were I to accuse my many complementarian friends of holding such a position, they would justifiably accuse me of constructing a straw man.

Wilson accuses detractors of decontextualizing this post. Is this excerpt insufficient context? Let him tell us what context would suffice to make this acceptable. The only context I could imagine that would justify the paragraph would be one that made it the statement of a villain in some sort of theological novel.

(See also this post from Political Jesus regarding Douglas Wilson and a discussion of slavery.)

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Henry Neufeld

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