The men of the ‘Gospel Coalition’ really, really hate women

What in the name of all that is holy is wrong with these people?

Before we go on I should note that much of what follows could be triggering — because apparently in order to discuss something called “The Gospel Coalition,” we’re also going to need to discuss rape and rape culture and what these strange, cruel men refer to as sexual conquering in the name of their strange, cruel God.

Because, sweet Jesus, these men have issues. The Gospel Coalition is really bad news.

For some reason this Gospel Coalition bunch — neo-Calvinist patriarchal types in the John Piper/Mark Driscoll/T.J. Mackey mold — decided to weigh in on the current popularity of 50 Shades of Grey.

Rachel Held Evans summarizes:

In a post on the GC Web site entitled “The Polluted Waters of 50 Shades of Grey, etc,” Jared Wilson argues that the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey simply reflects a perversion of the proper, God-ordained relationship of authority and submission between men and women. To support his point, he quotes from Douglas Wilson’s book, Fidelity: What it Means to be a One-Woman Man:

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 … 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.

This man is unwell, unwhole and unhinged. God have mercy on Mrs. Wilson, and on all her daughters.

Evans responds:

There is so much about this passage that I, as a woman, find inaccurate, degrading, and harmful that it’s hard to know where to begin. That Wilson blames egalitarianism for the presence of rape and sexual violence in the world is ludicrous and unsubstantiated. His characterization of sex as an act of conquering and colonization is disturbing, and his notion that women are little more than the passive recipients of this colonization, who simply “accept” penetration, is as ignorant as it is degrading.

She goes on, at great length, to conquer the Wilsons’ hateful assertions with a penetrating argument. Read the whole thing.

J.R. Daniel Kirk points out that in Jesus’ name no, this is not a healthy view of sex and gender, or a biblical view, or a Christian view:

When you sexually conquer someone, this is rape. … I am embarrassed for Christianity that such an advocacy of rape (marital or otherwise) could find itself onto a websites that boasts of being one of a “Gospel” coalition.

Scot McKnight is just as blunt, writing “Take it down” and calling on the group to remove it’s cruel, degrading and “woefully ignorant” post.

Grace at Are Women Human? has a long and thoughtful response: “Doug Wilson, The Gospel Coalition, and Sanctified Rape Culture“:

Wilson goes much farther than any rape apologist Christian writer I’ve ever read, and that’s a lot of people. His notion of godly sex is little more than sanctified rape. In the name of Jesus.

He also says (as Jared Wilson states in a comment defending this filth) that “rape is judgment upon a culture that does not cherish and protect women.” We should be OK with this, according to Jared, because Doug Wilson isn’t blaming rape survivors for being raped. He’s only blaming all women who want to be treated equally and all of our allies. That’s all.

So just who is this twisted “Doug Wilson” creature, anyway? Glad you asked. Grace provides some more background on this horrible trainwreck of a human being:

Doug Wilson is not only a rape apologist; he’s also a slavery apologist. And contrary to Jared Wilson’s dismissal of commenters who repeatedly tried to point this out, this is absolutely relevant to Wilson’s teachings about obligatory female submission in sex.

Wilson is the co-author with Steve Wilkins, a white supremacist, of a pamphlet called Southern Slavery as it Was, which claims that Southern slavery “was not an adversarial relationship with pervasive racial animosity” but a relationship between “friends and often intimates.”

Jesus wept.

"Despite the history of forced adoptions in difference cultures, including seizing of the Native American ..."

And his own received him not
"Well, you can't really compare them to Nazi supporters. They didn't know the concentration camps ..."

And his own received him not

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  • Loki100

    Do these people realize there is a very, very, very popular sexual fetish where women dominate men?

    Of course they don’t…

  • Parhelion

    What is wrong with these people?  Judging by their their own standards, I would start with their beliefs that all sex they don’t control is sinful and that their own anger and pride are not.

    Even as an outside observer, I believe the appropriate phrase is “Jesus wept.”

  • Nequam

    She goes on, at great length, to conquer the Wilsons’ hateful assertions with a penetrating argument.

    What you did there– I see it.

  • Jeff Weskamp

    I think my soul just threw up.

    I swear, these assholes are doing more harm to American Christianity than Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and all the rest of the so-called “New Atheists” combined!!!

  • LunaticFringe

    “Colonizes”? Should…should there be little flags in there?

  • Parhelion

     Writing from much closer to the atheist side of things, I’d have to agree. The new atheists occasionally make me roll my eyes and wander over to hear what the Christians have to say.  Guys like this Gospel Coalition bunch make me want to run far, far away from any discussion ever involving the word “gospel”.  Good news? Really?

  • Loki100

    “Colonizes”? Should…should there be little flags in there?

    Aren’t you aware that sex is based on Mercantile economics? No one had sex until Jean-Baptiste Colbert wrote his famous sex manual.

    (This is possibly the most obscure, esoteric, nerdy joke I have ever written)

  • Twig

    Leave it up!  Please, I want to see people like this coming!  It’s like that guy I saw once in the ‘No Fat Chicks’ shirt at the convenience store – he was nice enough to tell me exactly what sort of a person he was right up front, so I didn’t have to make any pesky assumptions about decency or goodness.

  • fraser

    Come on now, this Wilson guy nails it. Everyone knows that before women’s lib turned American women into man-hating harridans, there wasn’t one single case of rape in all human history. (That was sarcasm).

  • Kyrie eleison.

  • TheDarkArtist

    Fred, I love your blog. It’s like a zoo full of crypto-zoological creatures. Terrifying beings that I never imagined actually existed out in the wild. People who don’t understand ideas such as “fantasy”, “consent” or “a vagina isn’t an untamed wilderness.” Chilling chimeras. Things that should not be!

  • SisterCoyote



    But no seriously, liberal Christianity is in trouble.

    “Sexism is dead.”

    “Racism is dead.”

    “Look, is anyone in favor of sexism? No? Okay, let’s get back to the jokes then.”


  • This perhaps needn’t be said, but BDSM isn’t rape. BDSM, even the not-exactly-accurate kind in “50 Shades” is consensual. When everyone’s doing as they are supposed to, a BDSM scene can be stopped in a second by a codeword or action. Try that with a rapist.

  • But that’s the problem with BDSM! How dare people choose to have sex in ways they want to instead of following the explicit directions of Approved Real True Christian[tm] Sex Manuals! 

  • Jared Bascomb

    >>A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts.  <<
    This reads like something from an Andrea Dworkin/Catharine MacKinnon manifesto, except they would have written the last part as "forced to accept".

    Once again, the loony left meets the radical right and it ain't pretty.

  • Jenny Islander

    This idea that sex must always mean a man putting his penis into a woman’s vagina as she lies there pops up in the oddest places.  I came across it in a discussion about transhumanism, specifically Sex 2.0, the thrust of which was an attempt to make sex penetrate-ier.  No discussion of, oh, reprogramming the nerves in the ear to make phone sex sexier, or better gloves for better touch across long distances, or how zero gee might affect physical response.  Just jack in socket.

    This is a lot skeevier, however.  I don’t want to conquered, colonized, or planted, and my husband does not want my surrender, because he isn’t fantasizing about towsing me while wearing a conquistador’s breastplate, for crying out loud.  As for penetration, the exact physical details of my private time with my husband are not this creeper’s business.

    Why in the hell does every single moment of life–sex, childhood, school, work, everything–have to be a reenactment of rituals of submission for these people?  Can’t we honor each other as members of the body of Christ without having to decide which ones are on top?

  • Sigaloenta

    Conquest? Colonization? I know that misogynists as supposed to be frightened of female sexuality, but this is taking it to an entirely new level. It’s a vagina, you guys, not the Heart of Darkness!

    (The confluence of metaphors is kind of amazing.  Congratulations Gospel Coalition, you have correctly realized that rape is kind of like  violent conquest, which is what the colonial enterprise is, and this metaphor is also often used for talking about overuse and misuse of natural resources to serve human greed in a post-lapsarian age. Next step: getting out of your mirror universe where these things aren’t all reprehensible.)

  • I don’t want to hear that crew complaining that they aren’t “homophobic” anymore.  Because this crap clearly shows their _fear_.  Their fear of penetration, of colonization, of conquest.  Fear.

  • PJ Evans

    getting out of your mirror universe where these things aren’t all reprehensible

    How about just sending them back to that universe and closing the door permanently?

  • Random Lurker

    This man is obviously mentally ill, and needn’t be a concern.  What is concerning is that there are apparently people that listen to him.

  • LMM22

    Savage has mentioned several times that one issue among kinksters is that the ratio of submissives to dominants is ridiculously high. (This is apparently worse in the gay community; among heterosexuals, the male-to-female ratio skews things to begin with.)

  • LMM22

      I came across it in a discussion about transhumanism, specifically Sex 2.0, the thrust of which was an attempt to make sex penetrate-ier.

    Which brings to mind the opening line of _Steel Beach_ (quoted from memory):

    “In seven years,” the salesman said, “the penis will be obsolete.”

  • c2t2

    I want to find this guy and argue back that no, the man doesn’t “penetrate, conquer, and colonize” the woman’s body… The woman envelops, consumes, and appropriates the man’s body! Obviously.

    He’d get a major case of the creeps, but I don’t think he would pick up on the lesson. Turning the tables only works when empathy is involved. *sigh*

  • Lawrence LaPointe

    Charlie Pierce today hit it on the head (albeit on a different topic)
    I remain convinced that American conservative thought is now not a philosophy but, rather, a book of spells, a series of conjuring words that have meaning only to the initiates.

  • Clabough

    From the woman who knows the man the best, his wife:

  • Damn.  Am I the only one feeling a weird urge to listen to Rammstein right now? 

    Seriously though, I’m generally the ‘passive’ partner in heterosexual pairings.  Largely because I’m near pathologically shy and unimaginative until aroused.   But also because, I like it that way.   A lot.  Can you handle that creepy bedroom conquistador guy?  

  • hidden_urchin

    “Colonizes”? Should…should there be little flags in there?

    I just thought of this excellent Eddie Izzard clip:

  • Rhubarbarian82

    Maybe this says more about me than anyone else, but light to moderate
    BDSM is such a baseline, gateway fetish that I barely even consider it
    kinky anymore. I don’t think it approaches real “kink” territory until
    you start building a sex dungeon in the spare bedroom.

    Although, I guess when you consider that there are still people who consider oral sex kinky…

  • Tybult

    A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. 

    Well that’s just dandy, as if I weren’t loaded down with enough self-loathing before this. Now I come to find out that I have a built-in drive to colonize women?

    Excuse me while I go stare at myself in the mirror and cry.

  •  I get the feeling that he never has sex unless he’s actually dressed in chainmail and carrying a scimitar.

  • Lunch Meat

    So, um, why did God create a female orgasm if we’re just supposed to lie there and “accept”?

  • ConservativeWhitebread

    To uh, tempt away from teh boner focus?
    there is no such thing as a female orgasm, silly.

  • Lunch Meat

    As Jared’s wife, I’m *pretty sure* I am more aware of his intentions and behaviors related to sex and his views of it than most. And as such, I would like to say that he is the OPPOSITE of a misogynist and vehemently opposed to rape or forceful /overpowering /humiliating /degrading sex of any kind.

    Honey, just because it’s not violent doesn’t mean it’s not rape. If he is not “asking” but “conquering” and he expects you to “surrender” and “accept” no matter what your feelings might be, that may not be rape in your eyes, but it’s pretty damn close. And if he thinks women are incapable of initiating sex and men are incapable of accepting, he’s both sexist and factually incorrect.

    And even if his sexual behavior/attitudes is less forceful than he makes it sound, he’s still encouraging and enabling violent conquering sexual behavior in other men, and he’s causing real pain to women who have been raped or abused and who hear his words. That may not be rape, but it’s contributing to rape culture, and it does real harm. It’s sinful. Your husband may be decent to you and your children in private, but his words hurt others.

    Jared does, however, conquer (to gain, win, or obtain by effort) my heart daily because of his sacrificial provision, his tender love, and his humble service to my daughters and me, his selfless service to our church, and his unwavering commitment to and passion for Jesus and the Gospel.

    The fact that you have to make use of the third, much less common definition and connotation out of four* in order to drastically twist and reinterpret your husband’s plain and obvious meaning either means that he is a terrible communicator or you don’t know him as well as you thought.

    *”1. to acquire by force of arms; win in war: to conquer a foreign land.
    2. to overcome by force; subdue: to conquer an enemy.
    4. to gain a victory over; surmount; master; overcome: to conquer disease and poverty; to conquer one’s fear.”

  • Lori

    Savage has mentioned several times that one issue among kinksters is
    that the ratio of submissives to dominants is ridiculously high. (This
    is apparently worse in the gay community; among heterosexuals, the
    male-to-female ratio skews things to begin with.)  

    This is one of many issues where I differ from Dan Savage. I think that he’s responding less to reality than to common, erroneous assumptions. I don’t think the ratio is actually anywhere near as skewed as people tend think it is. I think the problem is more that we have a very narrow picture of what it means to be dominant. I think there are many people out there who incline toward dominant or at least switch and don’t realize it because they look at the standard images of folks wearing a lot of black leather and mean facial expressions* and think, “That’s not me so I must not be a Dom.”

    Also, what Noah said:

    *Not that there’s anything wrong with that at all if that’s what you’re into. It’s just not the only way to be a dominant. 

  • LectorElise

    Should I even ask what he thinks of lesbians? 

  • Lori

     I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.

  • WingedBeast

    I think we should also bare in mind the other side of Douglas Wilson’s quote.  The “Patriarchy is Bad for Men, Too” part.

    Bare in mind that this quote doesn’t just talk in terms of taking agency away from women (they are to be conquered and colonized as though those terms aren’t horrible enough without associating them with sex) but also from men (who aren’t allowed to have sex in any way save missionary, with women who take any enjoyment, or for the sake of intimacy with their chosen partner).

    This sexual philosophy isn’t just a world of raped women, it’s a world of less obviously raped men where nobody has a safe-word.

    Sheesh, why does Conservative theology remind me so much of 1984?

  • AnonymousSam

    … To the point that there are people who think it should still be illegal…

  • Erista

    Oh for the love of . . .

    Saying that “rape” fantasies have anything to do with actual rape is basically the same as saying that dressing up as Spiderman on Halloween means you want super-villains to come attack your city. Tip: if you’re having trouble understanding why one does not necessitate the other, you have serious issues.

  • ReverendRef

    Jesus wept.

    Oh . . . I’m pretty sure it was more than that.  In my mind, it went more like this:

    “Holy fucking shit!  Dad!!!  Did you see this?!?!?”

  • My reaction: (O_O) Whooooooooooa.

    Seriously, how do you respond to such a He-Man gender-essentialist concept of sexuality and sexual interaction that is so damagingly limited in its worldview?  What happened to women and men (or men and men, women and women) teasing, flirting, interacting sexually as equals or even with ‘reversal of roles’?

    *sigh*. It’s kind of saddening to know there are people like this.

  • Rob

    “Do you have a flag?”
    That is so HOT.

  • Trixie_Belden

    Doug Wilson is not only a rape apologist; he’s also a slavery apologist ….. Wilson is the co-author with Steve Wilkins, a white supremacist, of a pamphlet called Southern Slavery as it Was which claims that Southern slavery “was not an adversarial relationship with pervasive racial animosity” but a relationship between “friends and often intimates.”

    This is not a surprise. 

  • Wow. I’m not even going to bother with this frightening rape cheerleader.

    On to stuff I find more interesting: submitting in BDSM is not passive. It is incredibly active, mindful, and oh yeah, CONSENSUAL. Actually I wish there was a better word than “consent” that we used for sex generally. Consent can imply that you’re just letting someone else do something, when that’s really not enough.

    BDSM is totally mutual. A dominant who wants to actually literally conquer people is not a good dominant. It’s pretty commonly acknowledged within the community that most of BDSM centers around and is done mostly for the benefit of the submissive. 

    Someone in a BDSM community one of my friends is active in did something very like what Christian Grey does in the beginning of 50 Shades of Grey, right down to the paperwork. (PAPERWORK WTF.) He was drummed out, not welcome at anything any longer. That crap book is not about BDSM and it’s not about erotic dominance and submission. It’s about an abuser who is rescued by the love of the right woman. That’s an old, old fantasy, and the way it’s presented in 50 Shades is not revolutionary in any way.  I’m exhausted by the media pretending it’s anything new.

  • We Must Dissent

    My first reaction was “Holy fuck!”, but I realized that it was exactly the opposite. “Fucking hell!” seems much more accurate.

  • “I don’t think it approaches real “kink” territory until
    you start building a sex dungeon in the spare bedroom.”

    Aaw, that means those of us who can’t afford to do that can’t be really kinky :(.

    I don’t see much of a point to drawing lines between kinky/not kinky. I do some stuff that other people would find completely weird and never do. Other people do stuff that I find completely weird and would never do. Sex is weird. 

  • Lori

    Yup. The weirdest, kinkiest thing you can even think of is someone else’s “just another Tuesday” and the thing you think of as so normal and every day that it’s not really worth talking about is someone else’s total freak out. I have no major objection to the terms “kink” and “kinky”, but I think ultimately they’re based on false notions about “normal”.

  • I think that he’s responding less to reality than to common, erroneous assumptions.


    One thing I have noticed, though I haven’t even done any surveys about it, let alone anything approaching real science: Men looking for women seems to be the most common thing in the broader BDSM community. Submissive or dominant, it’s seems much more likely for men who want women to have a harder time finding someone than women who want men.

    A female dominant who says “I’m looking for a male sub” will get dozens upon dozens upon dozens of applications, sight-unseen. All the female doms I know who are looking had to set up a strict set of criteria that they could use to throw away applications at first glance. And yes, applications, because they get SO MANY men begging for their attention.

    Female subs looking for male doms… don’t really have to look much. Look to find someone compatible, yes, especially if they’re looking for a committed romantic relationship as well. But not any more than anyone else does for a committed romantic relationship. Even woman subs who make it clear that they are 100% not available get hit on by dominant (or supposedly dominant) men all. The. Time. That does not regularly happen the other way around.

  • Emcee, cubed

    One of the biggest misconceptions about BDSM  relationships is how the power dynamic works. People not involved in BDSM assume that power resides in the dom. This is untrue. In a positive BDSM relationship. the power resides in the sub. The sub sets the limits, gives over control, and can take it back again at any time. The only power the dom has is what the sub chooses to give them.*

    *Okay, the dom also has the power to stop a scene or roleplay if they feel uncomfortable with anything as well. So the dom has some power, but it is a more passive power, in terms of not doing something. The active power, allowing something to happen, resides in the sub.

  • Jenny Islander

    @Lori: I always remember a couple of missionary stories when this topic comes up.  The first (secondhand from a friend of the missionary wife) concerns a woman who went to a village in a country in Africa whose name I don’t recall, dressed in the missionary-standard modest shirt and baggy shorts, and got stared at everywhere she went.  Finally somebody explained that breasts were totally meh, nobody cared whether she wore a shirt or not, but she couldn’t go out in public with . . . those just sticking out in plain sight of God and radar, because any man who saw her K-N-E-E-S would automatically think of . . . higher things.  So she switched to the local long, full skirt, and eventually ditched the shirt.  The second was an article by an anthropologist, IIRC in Nigeria although I’ve lost the link, who had to explain to the local women that tourists stared at them because they were attracted to their breasts–and the women all went, “O.o foreign men are a bunch of kinky freaks, do they wear diapers in bed too?”  Because everybody knows that breasts are strictly for babies.