For evangelicals, racism isn’t a dealbreaker, but feminism is

For evangelicals, racism isn’t a dealbreaker, but feminism is October 18, 2012

Remember our old friend Douglas Wilson? He writes and speaks for the patriarchal neo-Calvinist “Gospel Coalition,” and is the author of many books sold at Christian bookstores across the country — including the large LifeWay chain.

Wilson caused a stir earlier this year when his description of godly marital sex was, well, horrifically rapey. Wilson wrote:

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.

That prompted many of us to take a closer look at this guy and to wonder how it was that he had come to be a respected voice in American evangelicalism. We wondered this even more when we learned that Wilson isn’t only a proponent of rape culture, but also an apologist for slavery.

LifeWay, to their very slight credit, at least doesn’t carry the book the Douglas Wilson co-wrote with white supremacist and League of the South co-founder Steve Wilkins, Southern Slavery: As It Was. Yet the fact that Wilson co-wrote a book with a white supremacist, and that this book argues that slavery was not really all that bad, apparently does not affect LifeWay’s thoughts about carrying other books by the same guy.

Douglas Wilson remains an unchallenged member in good-standing of the evangelical tribe. Just like anti-anti-colonialist and Afro-phobic “scholar” Dinesh D’Souza was before allegations of adultery clouded his name in a way that confirmations of race-baiting never did.

Mainstream evangelicalism — including institutions like Christianity Today and LifeWay — pays lip-service to “racial reconciliation,” but it has never been mandatory. You cannot be pro-gay, pro-choice or feminist and remain an unchallenged or un-“controversial” member of the evangelical tribe. But as Wilson, D’Souza (and let’s not forget Richard Land) confirm, you can espouse racially biased views without that ever prompting anyone to ask if you are really an evangelical.

As long as you continue to repeat the right phrases about God, gays and gynecology, you can say whatever vile things you want to about slavery, or Africa, or “race hustlers,” without any worry that it might provoke questions about your godly evangelical bona fides. You can be a vicious racist, but as long as you’re an anti-abortion, anti-gay racist who talks about the “authority of scripture” like its the fourth member of the Trinity, then you’re golden.

Just think back to the long Republican primary contest with its endless series of debates. In January, Chauncey DeVega listed his picks for the “10 Most Racist Moments of the GOP Primary (So Far).”  It’s an appalling, but by no means comprehensive, list. And the primary campaign still had more than a month to go.

Most of what DeVega chronicles there were statements or actions taken in an effort to appeal to evangelical voters. The main strategy for winning such voters was to try to position yourself as more anti-abortion than the other candidates — contraception is murder! De-fund anything with the word “clinic” in its name! — but once all the candidates clustered together around the same extreme positions on that point, the next step was to try to appeal to white grievance and white resentment. Candidates sought to nurture such resentment wherever it existed, and to create it from scratch in the rare places where it couldn’t otherwise be found.

Remember all the principled evangelical push-back against those efforts? No? Me neither, because that never happened. Here are some things you never heard during the GOP primaries: “Newt Gingrich drew criticism from evangelical voters for his racially charged attacks on ‘welfare queens.'” Or “Michele Bachmann lost evangelical support due to her comments about immigrants.” Or “Ron Paul’s newsletters flirting with white supremacists alienated the GOP’s evangelical bloc.” Or “Mitt Romney’s use of ‘illegal’ as a noun angers evangelical voters.”

The closest to anything like that ever happening was a brief moment in one debate when Texas Gov. Rick Perry made a Bush-like appeal for something vaguely DREAM-ish — in-state tuition for undocumented students who have lived most of their lives in Texas. That got Perry smacked down by Romney and contributed to his loss of support among evangelical Republicans.

And do we even need to mention Bryan Fischer? Mainstream evangelicals will hurry to argue that people like Fischer are really fundamentalists, not evangelicals. But Fischer uses the E-word himself, and he’s convinced the general public that this is who he is and who he represents. As Warren Throckmorton wrote yesterday:

Conservatives might lament the title “conservative” applied to AFA and Fischer. However, I think it is up to conservatives to police ourselves.

But mainstream evangelicalism is never interested in policing its huge right fringe. It’s too busy picking nits and vigilantly patrolling its “liberal” border for potential heretics. That gives people like Fischer, Charlie Fuqua, John Hubbard and Loy Mauch a free pass. They all exhibit the proper “stance” against abortion and homosexuality, so they’re nowhere near the danger zone on the liberal frontier.

Get those two “stances” correct, and race-baiting, stoking white resentment, and immigrant-bashing won’t ever cause evangelicals to question your legitimacy as part of the tribe. For that to happen, you’d have to say something nice about women or LGBT people.

Take, for example, the case of Brian McLaren. We recently looked at Terry Mattingly’s odious questioning of McLaren’s faith following his celebration of his son’s same-sex wedding. Here is McLaren’s gracious, generous response to a correspondent breaking ties with him over that “stance.”

Or consider again the case of Rachel Held Evans, whose legitimacy is now being questioned by the very same Gospel Coalition to which penetrating colonizer Doug Wilson belongs. The Gospel Coalition imagines itself to be the gatekeeper and the authoritative arbiter of tribal legitimacy, so that means their boy Wilson must be above all question, but this uppity woman must be treated as a threat.

Then there’s the matter of Christopher Rollston. I confess I had never heard of him before, and that I’d missed his recent Huffington Post article, “The Marginalization of Women: A Biblical Value We Don’t Like to Talk About.” That article doesn’t make any novel or unorthodox claims. Rollston simply points out that “women in the Bible were normally viewed as second class, if even that.” Yes. And, also too, no duh. It doesn’t matter if one reads the Bible as a “radical feminist” or as an infallible fundamentalist — Rollston’s point there is objectively, uncontroversially true.

And yet, for reasons not entirely clear, that article has Rollston “facing disciplinary action and perhaps even termination at Emmanuel Christian Seminary” where he is a tenured, and by all accounts well-respected, biblical scholar. He did not violate his professional ethics. He did not run afoul of the seminary’s statement of faith. He didn’t even say anything that any serious biblical scholar — conservative or liberal — would disagree with.

But apparently Rollston’s article angered one wealthy conservative donor at the school. Tenure schmenure, this donor told Emmanuel, get rid of this guy and I’ll make it worth your while. And Emmanuel, apparently, thought that was a good idea. It really, really wasn’t — and the only surprising thing about the ensuing firestorm is that Emmanuel’s administrators seem surprised by it. (James McGrath has good collections of links on this affair here and here.)

Again, all Rollston did was point out that men sure had a lot of rules for women 3,000 years ago — which is much the same point that Rachel Held Evans is making in her new book on “biblical womanhood.” Patriarchal Christians apparently don’t like it when anyone notices that. They’re hoping not to draw too much attention to the marginalization of biblical womanhood until after they have it fully reinstated.

So to recap: If you think women today should have more freedom than they had 3,000 years ago, or if you fail to condemn LGBT people with sufficient relish, then your standing as a legitimate evangelical will be formally challenged and your books will be prohibited from sitting on the shelves at LifeWay alongside those of Dinesh D’Souza and Douglas Wilson. Lovely.


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  • Consumer Unit 5012

     From what I’ve gathered, A Beka books writes ‘textbooks’ for propagandizing the children of the Bombs and Jesus crowd, whether homeskooled or private skooled.

  •  I think that perception is diluted by the fact that in addition to people who were never actually taught this bit of anatomy, there’s lots of people who were taught it but immediately discarded it as a fact not part of their experience of reality — I’ve seen people do this; the teacher asks a question, gets a wrong answer, gives the right answer, then asks the same person the question again and gets the same wrong answer, because they immediately rejected the fact; some people have a sort of two-tier system of reality where you’ve got “school facts” taught you in school, and “real facts” about your real life, and some of those people do not see any need for the two to be associated with each other.  Also. there are people who know-on-paper what’s what, but, in  essence, reject it. (I know a rather prominent blogger who does this. Every time she uses the word “vagina” in a context where she’s actually talking about the vulva, she inserts a footnote explaining that yes, she knows the difference and that what she’s talking about is the vulva, but she hates the word “vulva” and has no problem with using “vagina” instead, and thinks badly of people who insist on correcting her on this point.).

    Which is to say, I’ve probably met both men and women who think that women urinate from their vaginas, but I can’t actually be sure that it’s not that they do understand that babies don’t come out of the urethra  are different openings, but think that “vagina” refers to the entirety of the female genital region.

    (For some reason, this reminds me of how diagrams of the female reproductive organs always label the anus, even though it seems like that ought to be outside their purview. Presumably so that the reader understands that it too is a different opening)

  • JustoneK

    the anus is the no-no place, only used by sexual deviants.  you can’t tell people they’re sexing wrong if you don’t at least label the no-no places.

  • P J Evans

    I was never taught about the clitoris or the urethra in my sex ed class.

    Mine didn’t bring those up either. (It was probably before yours, though.)

  • EllieMurasaki

    Which explains the failure to make sure kids know the difference between the clitoris and the vagina…how?

  • P J Evans

     Well, crumbled bacon might be interesting in waffles: something like putting blueberries in, but a different flavor. I’m not in a hurry to find out, though.

  • P J Evans

     Ex-boyfriend (still a friend) said I was out beyond the two-sigma point on the low side of the normal curve for sex. (I describe it as about once every seven years.)
    YMMV, and I hope it does, because it really isn’t fun.

  •  Tastes pretty good but the bacon can’t retain crispiness during the cooking process, and the result is that you basically get a waffle that is structurally reinforced by a pork-kevlar security thread that makes the whole thing chewy and hard to eat.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Bacon-flavored soy bits? Or does something important get lost in the changeover from pig bacon to soy bacon?

  • Joshua

    Bacon works with waffles if you use maple syrup.

    That is terribly obscene. Literal bacon should not be mixed with literal sweet things. I have no idea why that it a thing over in the states. It makes as much sense as peanut butter with jelly.

    Would you put bacon bits on an ice cream sundae? Actually, if the answer is yes, please don’t tell me.

  • Would you put bacon bits on an ice cream sundae? Actually, if the answer is yes, please don’t tell me.

    Do not tempt fate.

    You cannot win.

  • I’m so sorry.  Not only is it… what you rhetorically described, but it’s also fast food.

  • Crumbled bacon would go good on a waffle, just so long as you make the bacon separately from the waffle.  Cook the bacon to crispness, then crumble it all up and scatter it over the waffle.  Best of both worlds!  

  • Denny’s sells that. Though they also put maple syrup on top.

    Chocolate-covered bacon is freakishkly delicious, though I suspect the fundmental wrongness of such a thing is part of the joy, like deep fried green beans

    And my experience is that the jelly is mostly there as a lubricant so that you don’t get gummed up with peanut butter and choke to death.

  • Lori

    Deep fried green beans are fabulous. They’ve always been my favorite part of a good tempura platter.

  • guest

    That’s a fair point, and one a friend made to me yesterday.  I realised the other day that I think the reason I was so upset by the original comment was that it actually appeared in the context of belittling someone else for her ignorance of human anatomy.

  • guest

    It is good–I used to go to a place in New Orleans that made waffles like that.

  • On the other hand, now that I go back to look at the original context, it clearly isn’t a case of confusion between the terms vulva & vagina, as Ross seems to have been suggesting above (although maybe that was just a tangent).

  • Joshua

    I pray for the cleansing nuclear fire.

  • Carstonio

     The art that Fred uses here suggests that he’s been to the buckle of the Bible Belt – similar imagery can be found there and it fits the overall spirit of the place. My kids saw a church tour bus decorated with hellfire and tombstones reading “Your Name Here” and asked why it was decorated that way, and my answer was that the group was trying to scare people into joining its religion.

    I can’t actually be sure that it’s not that they do understand that
    babies don’t come out of the urethra  are different openings, but think
    that “vagina” refers to the entirety of the female genital region.

    That seems to be the common usage, even among people who know better.

  • Tricksterson

    I never understood peanut butter and jelly either.  I mean it’s okay but I much prefer peanut butter on it’s own.  On the other hand  I once made and ate chocolate chip scrambled eggs (not a success) so who am I to criticize?  Sausage pancakes on the other hand are delish.

  • I once went to a place that had tempura bacon.  Damn, that was sinfully delicious.  

    Pity it closed down.  It was a nice restaurant  but its profit margins were too thin.  

  • Dan Audy

    And my experience is that the jelly is mostly there as a lubricant so that you don’t get gummed up with peanut butter and choke to death.

    I’ve never been a big fan of peanut butter and jelly but I really like peanut butter with either sliced bananas or mustard (pasted not whole grain) which both offer really nice flavours to offset the peanut butter and provides the stick-protection I desire.

  •  I really like peanut butter with either sliced bananas

    Also jokingly known as the “Atheist’s Nightmare” sandwich, mainly for combining two of the most absurd creationist arguments into one delicious snack.  :D

  • Wilson’s comment: “However we try, the sexual act cannot be made into an egalitarian pleasuring party…” reveals the false dichotomy that people on both sides of this issue seem to believe in:  either men must “conquer” or sex must be all about “egalitarian pleasuring”.  Either way, women are still defined by their sexual relevance to male interests. 

    Women don’t get to opt out of the man-pleasing business, ever, even when their forward-thinking men get to consider themselves better than other men because they generously consent to toss their wives a few crumbs of pleasure.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Lesbians, asexual and/or celibate women, mixed-sex couples who agree to try kinks that they expect only one of them to enjoy and half the time the one having fun is the woman, none of these exist?

  • You seem to be under the mistaken impression that noticing male supremacy equals the endorsement thereof. 

    Male supremacists think lesbians exist for male entertainment.  Asexual or celibate women have no function for men.  “Kinks” are a fetishization of dominance culture and are therefore no threat to the status quo, despite the apparent belief among liberals that “being kinky” is liberating for women.  This is false.  The only way to liberate women is to end male supremacy.

    Contrary to the claims of both conservatives and liberals, misogyny is evenly distributed throughout the political spectrum.  Don’t think your side doesn’t hate women, just because your side’s brand of woman-hating is different.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I don’t feel like unpacking the bullshit in most of your comments, not tonight anyway, but your statement that “asexual or celibate women have no function for men” is proof positive that your earlier statement that “women don’t get to opt out of the man-pleasing business, ever” is in fact bullshit.

  • Man pleasing business?

    Lesbians in their own bedroom would disagree with that.

  • Carstonio

     I admit that I’m not sure what point you’re driving at. It sounds as if you believe that women cannot participate in any sexual activity, whether it’s with a man or with another woman, without ending up being used for the pleasure of men.

    What Wilson doesn’t understand is that “egalitarian pleasuring party” is not about the man satisfying the woman while satisfying himself. It’s about both partners satisfying each other and themselves in a mutual intimate exchange.

  • Carstonio

     While I appreciate such deconstructions, what I really want is to cross-examine someone who insists that, say, legalizing same-sex marriage amounts to “redefining” marriage or threatens opposite-sex marriage. It’s simple enough for any of us here to say that such a person really wants to protect male privilege, but it would be more intellectually and emotionally satisfying to show that the person really has no case.

  • Lunch Meat

    Wilson’s comment: “However we try, the sexual act cannot be made into an
    egalitarian pleasuring party…” reveals the false dichotomy that
    people on both sides of this issue seem to believe in:  either men must
    “conquer” or sex must be all about “egalitarian pleasuring”.  Either
    way, women are still defined by their sexual relevance to male

    You do realize that egalitarians don’t refer to sex as an “egalitarian pleasuring party,” right? That he’s using that phrase to mock us?

  • kash

    If feminists ever cared about the needs of men and the fact that they suffer I will listen to them, otherwise they are the most hypocritical bunch of loonies.

    Same to supposed  complementarians or those you call patriarchy promoters.

  • EllieMurasaki

    What makes you think we don’t care about the needs and suffering of men? We don’t in situations when caring about men would require us to care less for women, true, but that doesn’t mean we don’t care. I have heard about the ways in which attempting to achieve the masculine ideal hurts men from and only from people who want the genders to be equal; that is, feminists, whether they use the term for themselves or not.

  • kash

    achieving a lot of things hurts people, that’s the whole idea of achieving something!!

    I have never seen so much hate towards men from, egals/comps/patriarchu advocates.

    And they wonder why men are the minority among  Christians.
    Men make the majority of the poor, majority of those in prison, yet christians sit and spend their time attacking men rather than helping them.

    Sorry but the racist/sexist/rapist murderer are sinners too and have the right to receive the gospel.

    If a man wants to lead his family so what???, stop bashing him.If you do not pls stop forcing your pattern on life on others and constantly accuse them of being anti biblical, etc,etc.

  • kash

    Feminists never claim equality, the word equal is not even part of their name.

    They would be heeded more if they did more equality talking than dominance talking!!

  • EllieMurasaki

    Citation needed for every fucking word of that–and people have the right to not hear the gospel if they don’t want to hear it or if they have already heard it, regardless of all other factors, and the primary concerns with racism, sexism, and rape are making the people doing the hurting stop and helping the people who got hurt (in no particular order). Helping the people doing the hurting is a very distant third.

  • kash

    Have you interviewed DOUG WILSON about this???

    Stop spreading lies, when he has not told you anything

  • EllieMurasaki

    Feminism. Noun. A social theory or political movementsupporting the EQUALITY of both sexes in all aspects of public and private
    life; specifically, a theory or movement that argues that legal and social restrictions on females must be removed in order to bring about such EQUALITY.

  • EllieMurasaki

    His public statements say basically exactly what Lliira said they say. Shut the fuck up.

  • kash

    Here is a citation. READ THIS BLOG!!!!!!!!

    We all know for you guys whenever a man has a different opinion to a feminist he is a sexist!!!.

    This is all about making men shut up and silent.Sorry but you need to do a better job convincing men or they will slowly become muslim and crazy violent!

    And we know that muslims have no respect for women

  • kash

    Actions speak louder than words!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Equality, rubbish its all about promoting women just because of their gender and not their achievement-I have never seen anything more insulting to women themselves.

    Feminism is the most stupid idea of this century!

    Jesus was a feminist really????, did he advocate for walking naked down streets??

  • EllieMurasaki

    Which is obviously why men who express an opinion held by some but not all feminists are shouted down as sexist when women who express that same opinion are not, and it is men expressing opinions contrary to the local female population who get called gendered slurs such as ‘bitch’, not women expressing opinions contrary to the local male population.

    Oh wait that doesn’t happen.

    Still waiting for those citations.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Okay, now you’re into non sequiturs. I’m going to go back to writing.

  • kash

    Really social restriction on females!!

    You do know that restrictions on males has increased, but no one cares about that.

  • kash

    sorry, but in todays world whatever a women says supercedes a male opinion!!!

    Feminists just think  they are so superior!!!, never seen such nutcases, so desperate to become men!

  •  Shame on you.

  • kash

    your a citation!!!!!!!!!