In Which Doug Wilson Splits Hairs and Fails at Logic

by Libby Anne cross posted from her blog Love, Joy, Feminism

I didn’t get into it when I touched on Wilson’s “Gaylag Archipelago” comment last week, but Wilson’s most recent post on what should be done about gay and lesbian individuals, in which he quotes from an earlier post of his own, sheds light on both the increasingly uncomfortable word dicing of those defending Leviticus and the utter lack of understanding these individuals have of their opponents.

Here is the passage where Wilson directly discusses the Leviticus passage. I’ve highlighted the highlights.

The Mosaic code did allow for the death penalty for certain homosexual acts. But for those benighted brethren who read Leviticus the way some people’s children read Moscow’s zoning laws (clunkity clunkity clunkity), they need to be reminded that this was not a mandatory penalty. . . . . And, bringing the same principle down to the New Testament, we find the same glorious forgiveness offered to homosexuals that is offered to everyone else. As St. Paul says, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate [catamites], nor abusers of themselves with mankind [sodomites], Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:9-11). . . Homosexuals commit sodomy, heterosexuals commit adultery, and thieves steal. Welcome to planet earth. But Jesus came to forgive sins. Christ saves sinners, all kinds. Not only that, but He welcomes them into His church. Notice what he says to the saints of the church in Corinth. Such were some of you. There was no requirement for those in the Corinthian church with a homosexual past to go jump off a bridge, thus fulfilling in a vigilante way the intent of God’s law given to Moses. Christ has come, and He has brought healing with Him. Those who want to clamp mandatory, inflexible penalties on us because of one verse in Leviticus want the Bible to do for them something it simply refuses to do. The Bible jumps through no man’s hoops.

But some will notice what they will call sleight of hand here. This is what happens when people comb through my words without reading them. “Yes, they will say, but notice that even if you don’t believe in the death penalty for homosexual behavior in all circumstances, you have (by implication) said that there could be occasions when it is called for. Admit it!” Okay, I admit it. And I will even give you one instance of the kind of thing that I think calls for it. The recent revelations of homosexual abuse of boys by various predatory priests over the course of many years is the kind of problem that I think should be addressed (in the civil realm only) with a tall tree and a short rope. Not only am I not ashamed of thinking this (because of Leviticus, in context), I believe that those who are willing to defend such predators should be ashamed of themselves. But there is no reason why such a homosexual predator, justly condemned to die, could not turn to Christ in faith and be received by Him into glory. Christ died on a gallows too, and He died to save sinners just like that and worse. He died with the Father’s judgment of homosexuality upon Him. He rose again from the dead so that we could rise with Him, and so that our old patterns of sin would no longer have dominion over us.

In other words, Wilson says that the death penalty is an admissible punishment for homosexuality, but that it is not a mandatory punishment for homosexuality. He then references pedophile priests as an example of when the death penalty should be carried out for homosexuality.

One of Wilson’s commenters called him out on this:

Is Pastor Wilson saying that the death penalty is acceptable for raping little kids, or for simple homosexual acts? Those are two completely different questions. I assume that Pastor Wilson feels the same way about raping little kids regardless of sexual orientation, so that example was just evading the question.

Another added this succinct explanation of the problem here:

It does still appear to me that Doug hasn’t answered the question. He’s said that he supports the death penalty for homosexual pedophiles who rape. But that doesn’t answer the question – I assume the reason for the death penalty in that case is pedophilia rape, not homosexuality.

“Do you support the death penalty for jaywalking?”

“Yes, in some circumstances. For instance, if the person was killing someone as they jaywalked.”

Pedophile priests convicted of child sexual abuse are punished not because of the gender of the children they molested but rather because they molested children. Wilson tried (and failed) to preemptively head off questions on this in his comments section by adding this bit:

By the way, no need for any comments saying that I have confounded homosexuality and pedophilia. I haven’t, and am just giving an example of the kind of same-sex behavior I could see supporting the death penalty for.

But look what I just did. I cited an application of Leviticus 20:13 that could still have broad societal consensus, even in these jaded days.

This does not, of course, actually address the criticism. If Wilson sees pedophilia as a “kind of same-sex behavior,” then yes, he has very much confounded homosexuality and pedophilia. To drive this home, I would ask whether Wilson would also support the death penalty for pedophiles who molest children of the opposite gender. If his answer is yes, then his position on pedophiles who molest children of the same gender is not actually based on Leviticus 20:13. If his answer is no, well, let’s just not go there.

Unfortunately, while Wilson frequently involves himself in his comment threads he did not do so in this one. Still, this is the level of mental gymnastics Wilson has found himself reduced to.

And now for my second point: How little Wilson apparently knows about his opposition.

Those who raise this particular question do so because they believe it to be a loaded question, applying solely to those few Christians who still take the whole Bible as altogether good, straight up. But this is, I would suggest, a loaded question for lots of groups. Let me suggest three others besides the one I am (cheerfully) in.

With this, Wilson dives into describing each group.

First, Sharia law not only allows for the execution of homosexuals, it is a form of law that is being practiced today (in this aspect of it) in various parts of the world, and the regimes that do it have their secular apologists here making excuses for them, and this would include our present administration. A bunch of people who taunt me with verses from Leviticus voted for a presidential candidate who sends billions of dollars in aid to places that still stone the homosexuals. Remind me again why I am supposed to feel sheepish on this issue. So there is that.

I . . . what? Are there questions to be asked about our foreign aid policies? Sure. But anyone remember Hillary Clinton’s speech in Geneva in 2011? The U.S. is officially against killing people for their sexual orientation, and we attempt to influence other countries to uphold LGBTQ rights just as we do on issues such as women’s rights or rights for ethnic minorities. Unless I am very much mistaken, there are no secular or government agencies making apologies for muslim countries require the death penalty for homosexuality.

Second, another group would be the homosexuals themselves. In Proverbs 8, Lady Wisdom declares that all who hate her love death (Prov. 8:36). Note that Wisdom is a lady, not another dude. Over the course of the last generation, numerous homosexuals have pursued a self-loathing death wish in such a way as to sentence thousands of other homosexuals to death. This is apparently okay to do, provided the motive is an internal and insistent state of lust, an external state of arousal, and the instrument of death is not using a condom. How many in North America died from AIDS again? The number I read recently was somewhere in the neighborhood of half a million. So looking at the raw numbers, it seems to me that killing homosexuals is pretty much a non-priority for me, but has a great deal more oblique appeal for those who worship at the Altar of Orgasm. So there is that too.

Yes, Wilson really argues that people shouldn’t get on his case for supporting the death penalty for homosexuality because the gay community is all about killing themselves off via AIDS. Unless I am very much mistaken, the gay community has lobbied for research on AIDS in an effort to find a cure and to improve prevention. Further, unless I am very much mistaken the gay community, as a community, has pushed with determination for making condom use more widespread. I don’t get the feeling that gay individuals who hide their HIV status and thus spread AIDS to their sex partners are smiled upon.

As for Wisdom being a lady, has Wilson never heard of lesbians? Seriously.

A third group would be the ethical relativists who say that there isn’t anything wrong with anything, and the atheists, who need to say that, whether or not they do. They tell you first that it doesn’t matter what anybody might want to do . . . until they find out what somebody might want to do. Then they stoutly insist that they do not live in moral universe where — you could finish this for me — adults are punished for consensual sexual acts. What they actually need to do is learn how to finish their sentences earlier. They need to say that they do not live in a moral universe, period. Oh. Now what? If there is no absolute moral standard, then anything goes —including the worst forms of absolutism. Assuming that they would want to say that a society that executed homosexuals would be the “worst,” I would then reply that there is only “a worst” form of absolutism if you believe in absolutes. So relativists need to get used to the idea that their high horse, the one they need to get down off of, is actually one of those circus ponies that they use to give rides to three-year-olds.

Does Wilson know absolutely nothing about anyone who disagrees with his ideas about what is or is not moral? For instance, is Wilson aware that there are Christians who do not believe homosexuality is a sin, and in fact who base their support of LGBTQ rights on the Bible and the teachings of Jesus? Or, is Wilson aware that atheists typically do adopt an adhere to a moral framework? Is he unaware that there are in fact moral frameworks outside of his own?

I tend to live by a moral code wherein you are free to do what you want to do, provided you do not cause harm to others. Now yes, this is the simplified summary version, but my point is that I honestly don’t know anyone—atheist or not—who believes that “there isn’t anything wrong with anything.” That’s a strawman through and through.

The thing that really gets me about Wilson is that I always saw him as a very intellectual and smart man growing up. We received his magazine, Credenda/Agenda, and I read it faithfully. In fact, my parents use his homeschool curriculum with my younger siblings today. And to be perfectly honest, Wilson should know better. He debated Christopher Hitchens some years back, and he has written numerous books and read widely. He has utterly no excuse for making such bad or uninformed argument.

It’s no wonder dialogue between the two sides on this issue is impossible.

Read everything by Libby Anne!

Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network member, Libby Anne blogs at Love, Joy, Feminism
Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the religious right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving fundamentalist and evangelical religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the problems with the “purity culture,” the intricacies of conservative and religious right politics, and the importance of feminism. Her blog is Love, Joy, Feminism

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