[Trigger warnings for rape and abuse]
Sometimes, conservative Christians are able to cover up the fact that their bad theology is often used to enable abusers, cover up abuse, and blame victims. Then, sometimes, they slip and people see everything and their attempts to convince people that they do not condone abuse seem laughable.
This is what happened today when Jared Wilson of The Gospel Coalition published this article, a critique of 50 Shades of Gray which consists of a quote from a book by Douglas Wilson. You should take a minute to read it before you finish this post so you have some context. Don’t worry. I’ll wait for you to come back.
Done? Okay, you’re going to need a kitty to cheer you up after that.
I have a lot to say about this post, and the subsequent responses, by both Jared Wilson and Douglas Wilson. I’ll probably say all those things eventually–in fact, I’m thinking about writing a book on this very subject (how certain branches of conservative theology equate God and “God’s will” with abusive behavior) and the ideas presented in post will probably give me a whole chapter’s worth of material.
But I’m going to start with this point, because I didn’t see it addressed much in the responses to this article that I read.
Douglas Wilson and, by his endorsement of Douglas, Jared Wilson blame egalitarianism for the existence of our society’s rape culture.
Jared and Douglas wouldn’t admit to such. They would probably accuse me of lying and slandering and suggest that I have low reading comprehension. But, people, I aced that part of the ACTs. I know how to read and I know what this means:
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.
“Because,” indicating causation. And what is that causation? Us forgetting the biblical concepts of true authority and submission. These “biblical” concepts being, as Wilson mentions later, “A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts.” (Tomorrow, I plan on going through every one of those words individually and talking about what they mean, because the Wilsons seem convinced that these words can mean whatever they want them to mean and they are trying to convince us that these words are about loving, mutual sexual submission. It’d be funny if it weren’t so horrifying).
D. Wilson goes on to say
When we quarrel with the way the world is, we find that the world has ways of getting back at us.
The world has a way of getting back at them.
Because egalitarians have told men that they don’t get to dominate their wives, according to D. Wilson men become pathological in their need to dominate and therefore begin to “dream of being rapists.”
He describes rape, not as something that exists outside the realm of healthy sexuality, but as perverted mirror of what healthy sexuality should look like:
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.
The Wilsons never blatantly excuse rape, or rapists. But their point is that when society moves toward becoming more equal, men will become rapists because all men have a natural need to conquer and dominate a woman.
If they can’t get that in the marriage bed, the Wilsons believe, they will search for that in “perverted” ways (apparently the Wilsons don’t see anything perverted about a husband “conquering” his wife).
Rape has been used for thousands of years to control women. To put them in their place.
And you don’t even have to be a rapist to use rape to control women. Jared and Douglas Wilson do a fine job of it here.
Not-so-subtly, they warn women to stay in their place in the world–to submit to being conquered, colonized, and penetrated by their husbands–or have the world “get back” at them.
With this article, the Wilsons manage to wield the tool of rape to control women without ever laying a finger on a woman.
And no, I don’t think I’m being to harsh by saying that. It’s estimated that 1 in 4 women will be raped in their lifetimes–there are real women being affected by these poisonous words. The feelings of Douglas and Jared and others in positions of power who use that power to control women with fear of rape are NOT my concern.
Rapists rape to control and gain power over women. By legitimizing rapists’ logic, saying that rape is caused by women who don’t adhere to gender roles (roles which seem a lot like marital rape, but that’s a post for a different day), the Wilsons are affirming the actions of rapists.
I cannot be “harsh” enough to men like this. It needs to stop.