Archive for July, 2012

Well, Didn’t We Have A Weekend?

Monday, July 30th, 2012

I generally don’t write on Sundays, since my idea of the Sabbath doesn’t include gearing my mind in response to people whose writing appears to come sprinting from the flesh, enabled by feet shod with knock-off spiritual shoes. And because I live in Moscow, well
. . . the track in these parts is pretty busy. 

It’s Monday morning, though.  But while writing on a weekday rather than on a Sunday in no way gives me freedom to write from the flesh and in anger, it does permit me to hold my nose and explore the rank fields of Blog and Mablog, which, this weekend, featured three typically ugly, typically foul, and typically, gratuitously, and fatuously hateful posts whose only purpose, it seems, is to demonstrate the “godliness” of the serrated edge.

Until my anger is less stark — until the Holy Spirit changes my perspective — all I can say is that Wilson’s three posts on Jailbird Paul, Chick-Fil-A, and Gehazi’s Knees represent Wilson at his best, which represents the Church at its worst — shallow, mean-spirited, and indefensibly indifferent to the harm it causes.  (By the way, I actually believe that city officials who attempt to deny Chick-Fil-A permits to do business in their municipalities, on the basis of the C-F-A president’s views against marriage equality for gays and lesbians, are wrong.  While I support the rights of gays and lesbians to marry, there is an enormous difference between holding to a view that appears to come from a sincere attempt to understand Scripture and, say, barring gays from coming into a business or in any way harassing them when they do.  Let them do business, and let the marketplace speak — and then prosecute the hell out of them if they discriminate in hiring, firing, or in any other way.  As I’ve said before, holding to a conservative view of gay marriage does not automatically make someone a homophobe — but it does obligate them, if they hold that view as Christians, to be particularly opposed to discrimination, hate speech, and the careless bigotry that too often is used to confirm, not contradict, a “Christian” testimony).

I’ll be praying today about how best to respond to these three exercises in erudite snottiness, but I’ll note for now that Wilson has also chosen a “winner” of his contest to set to music several stanzas of grotesque slander and mockery he penned in response to Obamacare.  Let me repeat what I’ve said before to the winner: 

You just made a quick grab of $250.  Good for you.  But it’s a sorry balm for a rotting soul that would consider taking money to celebrate the miserable work of a miserable man. 

Defining Words

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, “It’s a girl.” 

 ~ Shirley Chisholm
 

How One Privileged White Guy Lived

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

A couple of posts ago, I noted that Doug Wilson is famously fond of blues, the cries and clamor, initially, of Black men and women suffering not just broken hearts, but also suffering under the degradation heaped on them by the rich, the powerful, and the strong — and as the blues became the voice of Southern Blacks, it spoke eloquently of, and to, the injustice of race and power. 

So it seems an ironic choice for a slavery-defending paleo-Confederate, if you get what I’m saying, and provides a near-perfect definition of the term “guilty pleasure.”

My father, also a white man accorded “white man privilege” at birth in 1935, liked jazz, another largely African-American art form.  “Liked” doesn’t begin to cover it, actually; the stereo began blaring at about 5:30 a.m. and didn’t wind down ’til about 10.  He was president of Tucson’s Jazz Society, a noted critic and jazz archivist, and had an astonishing collection of 33s, 78s, CDs, cassettes, sheet music, and jazz-themed art on the walls.  He couldn’t play anything, didn’t sing, and yet mentored many aspiring artists while nurturing artistic contempt for the likes of Kenny G and what he called “music to get your teeth cleaned by.”  His 2009 funeral was a New Orleans jazz service; later that year, the Jazz Society had a memorial concert for him.  Steve Emerine was, by any measure, a jazz guy.  Whose daughter, by the way, hates jazz, and whose love of bluegrass caused him no end of feigned grief.

But my father was known for much, much more than jazz.  He was the only son of the second wife of a firebrand journalist who was working in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, when Grandma Lou went into labor.  My grandfather, born a white male in 1900 on a hardscrabble ranch in Calhoun, Colorado, got kicked out of town a lot, affording my father, raised an only child, a considerably less-than-stable childhood.  Papa would hire on to edit a small, rural newspaper, or start his own, and immediately look for graft and injustice — white men behaving badly, wherever he was — and tear into them in print.  Politicians on the take weren’t safe from his anvil-like Remington typewriter; businesses that shafted their workers and boss men who whored with government found their exploits, meticulously researched and documented, on front pages that normally featured State Fair winners, and Papa would catch hell.  Hell thus raised and caught meant another move, and, by the early 50s, Idaho seemed to have a good number of small towns sufficiently spread out to keep him employed long enough to get Dad into Boise State College and then, later, the University of Idaho.

Papa was born a white man, poor as dirt — not just economically bereft, but isolated and perennially exhausted from ranch work.  But he knew that he had something — white skin — that the Mexican and Black workers around him didn’t.  He was, as an unabashed feminist, aware that he had something the world-weary women around him didn’t, something that he could use not only as a weapon of conquer but also as a chip, a playing card, in a game they could never play.  He lied about his age to fight in World War I and lied again to fight World War II.  He had his maleness, his white skin, a sharp mind, a gift for writing, and not much else.  But he was an activist, an agitator for societal good, and a gentle man angered only by injustice.  I adored him; as I grew up, I began to see how he had molded my father into his likeness — a despiser of unrighteous gain and a fierce opponent of the oppressors. 

So I grew up with a man who, while lacking any measure of economic power, was nonetheless born in the U.S. with white skin and a male body.  He’d be 77 now, solidly in the company of a generation of white men who were lavished with racial and sexual privilege, pursued more, leveraged it into generational privilege for their sons and a measure of security for their daughters, and assumed — celebrated, even — that if all was well with them, then, truly, all was well with the world and would, and should, continue unquestioned.

Dad didn’t fit in.

He and my mother raised my brother and me in an activist household — we picketed, we protested, we boycotted, we marched, and we sang at airbases with candles poking through Dixie cups that were never quite up to the task of ushering in the end of the war or the gains of the civil rights movement.  But that was the easy stuff, the singing, the vigils, the picketing, the boycotting.  So was joining, in 1962, Tucson’s nascent NAACP, which he remained active in until his death.  My father’s calendar was full; his employment was sometimes spotty.  He inherited his father’s gift for writing and his unbridled anger at social injustice.  The daily newspaper he worked on in the 1960s assigned him to write an article about how the American Southwest benefited from South African apartheid.  He refused — a white man who could not, would not, ever countenance the idea that the entrenched oppression of indigenous Blacks in South Africa by men who looked like him could in any way result in “benefit” to anyone.

He was fired, and we got to watch a lot of afternoon TV with him as he carved out a career as a freelancer.  

My parents hosted Democratic get-out-the-vote drives, which always fell around my November 2 birthday.  They opened our home to pacifists and anti-war activists, La Raza meetings, and an organization devoted to providing after-school activities for the kids in the largely Black neighborhood across the street from our house.  He had Quaker friends accused by Joe McCarthy of communism and chipped in to pay the man’s salary when he was suspended by the Tucson School District, regardless of whether or not he himself was working steadily.  We had spare Christmases made sometimes more so when he and my mother knew of a family in need of beds or clothes or food, and when neighbors passed around a petition in 1976 to get a Black family “out of our neighborhood,” he and my mother invited the petitioner into our house, where I was listening to records with the daughter of the targeted family.  More kids than I’ll ever know had their Little League fees paid by him; Gerardo and Harold Lee and Jaime and so many more got to play because he bought them shoes and gloves.  Dad’s friends were the weird Quakers, the always-angry union activists and the United Farmworkers Union organizers, the Blacks who picketed with him at segregated country clubs and rallied to make the NAACP a voice for justice in Tucson, and the occasional journalist not afraid to confront the wrongs around him.  He cried when his friend and fellow journalist Don Bolles died in a car bombing by the mob, and when I was a teenager, he held me close when his activism resulted in a months-long spate of death threats against him. 

He knew the privileges sinfully conferred on him at birth were symptoms of a society gone madly astray, and while he only knew Jesus as Lord for about ten years before he died, he wouldn’t have cottoned to erudite, windy, and ultimately self-congratulating pastoral treatises about the “goodness of God” for privileging people like him for no reason other than that they were . . . people like him, white American guys.  As I said earlier, he would’ve held men like Doug Wilson at arm’s length as a brother in Christ and would turn his keyboard toward “Christians” who reveled in privilege without ever questioning its sinful genesis.  A theological sophisticate he wasn’t; a humble, bumbling believer in Jesus he was, and he’d have had no use for Christians cavorting with oppressors and gamboling about in fields of injustice. 

Did he “deserve” to listen to a predominately Black art form?  Of course not.  Music is music, and you like what you like.  But my father, as vastly imperfect as he was, lived a life focused on providing for us and providing for the needs of people around him, largely because of his keen awareness that his at-birth coronation as a Privileged White Male was an injustice to those not so anointed.  I don’t wish that Dad had had a chance to meet Doug Wilson; I think that wouldn’t have gone well, as my father had little patience with the pompous and pretentious. 

But I do wish, and pray that, Wilson would consider that the robes of privilege and the crown of power his sex and race have guaranteed him are not robes of righteousness nor crowns of virtue.  It doesn’t take a deep dive into murky hermeneutical waters to grasp that, but it is a considerable risk:  Those plush robes will, in God’s grace, more likely than not be used to bind the wounds of those suffering.  But the mess that results is the true privilege, the privilege of sacrificially giving of oneself to the God who privileges his Church by abolishing the man-made divisions of sex, race, and class.

White Privilege — The Godly Response Of Good Men

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

The privilege-bloated Doug Wilson will have you believe that the reason he and other affluent, white men of power are, well, privileged white guys isn’t because God is particularly, specifically pleased with him — and I find that easy to accept — but because it’s simply God’s will to prosper some and not others, thus ensuring a society of haves and have-nots.  Doug is firmly encamped and enthroned among the haves, and he’s florid in his thankfulness to God. 

But what is he thankful for, and is it from the God of all righteousness?

As a woman married to a white man whom God has prospered in business, I understand some of what Wilson says.  I know my husband’s relative prosperity, enough to keep us doing well and able to give with an open hand, is a gift from God, and I know that both because I know my man and I know my LORD.  God truly honors good, decent, hard-working men, gifting them with business acumen, physical strength, and uncommon wisdom; Jeff is a good, decent, hard-working and gifted man, impeccably honest and near-maniacal in his level of energy.  God sees, and he responds graciously.

But we all know that many, many white men have prospered through a toxic stew of avarice, selfishness, graft, manipulation, and indifference to the plight of others.  Their prosperity argues against Wilson’s easy handling of the Proverbs that promise that in a simple, agrarian society, the righteous man will (generally) prosper, and it points to Wilson’s failure to give voice to the Scriptures that observe the prosperity of the evil man and the apparent “victory” of the unrighteous.  Further, he presumes, as he cherry-picks through the Proverbs (something a trained theologian wouldn’t do when establishing a theological point, but which is a favorite tact of Wilson) that the poor are poor largely because of their own doing and that their besetting sin, should they clamor for help or justice, is that of envy.  Wilson rightly notes that the prideful smirk of the privileged man at the top of the ladder is wrong, as would be, if it were truly the case, the envious scowl of the man on the bottom.  From his lofty perch, he sees, and can afford to see, an awful lot of what he presumes to be — since it’s not him — nothing more than sinful envy.

Unfortunately, Wilson’s writing doesn’t give me much hope that he could even recite his phone number without a prideful smirk.  More to the point, his dismissal of the poor and the under-privileged is precisely what illustrates the reality that when white skin, American parentage, and a penis all converge at birth, even to the boy-child born to a poor family, a tremendous manifestation of a fallen world becomes almost immediately evident.  It’s reasonably easy for most people to grasp that girl babies, when not selectively aborted, are considered far less valuable in many countries than boys, but Wilson, steeped in the patriarchy he wrongly wrings from the Scriptures, sees no such gender bias in the U.S. — women, born as they are to benefit from the initiating, “protective” leadership of their husbands.  He does, however, acknowledge that he is a Privileged White Man, anointed in the delivery room for unearned, unrighteous, un-Biblical advantage as soon as the doctor announced he was a boy.

It would be a great day if Wilson recognized not only that certain, specific, and significant privilege is accorded to him because of his skin color, nationality, and sex, but also recognized that societal advantages established on the basis of skin color and sex are sinful.  He’s not “halfway there” in acknowledging that he is, indeed, a man cloaked in white privilege.  He’s several steps behind righteous consciousness because in acknowledging such, he presumes that this advantage, accorded him on the basis of white skin and male genitalia, are entirely themselves in accord with the will of a Righteous God. Wilson isn’t in sin because he’s a white male; he’s in sin because he so readily accepts that skin color and male anatomy are impeccable — sinless, even blessed — attributes used by the Lord whose very Gospel smashes sinful societal divisions of race, gender, and social class. 

Does God work through individual and societal sin?  Certainly; how could he not?  But the man who insists on celebrating the sinful privilege he inherits at birth can’t be an instrument of God’s righteous overturning of principalities and powers.  He sees nothing in need of change; his conscience is informed by the world that beckoned him into the halls of power at birth, and he rather likes the company.

All white men, and especially all white men of power and position, and irrefutably all powerful, privileged white men who call Jesus Lord, have a duty to use what sinful society has crowned them with for the uplifting, empowering, and bettering of those men and women left behind by society — cast off, hobbled, dismissed, and oppressed as the Lord’s “least of these” by the best and brightest.  The man in stormy waters who possesses a sturdy boat doesn’t honor the Sovereign One with the false humility of insensate gratitude — God gives all good things, and isn’t this great for me! — but uses his boat sacrificially to bring ashore those not gifted.  And if that boat was won, as is so often the case, through cooperation with a sticky network of avaricious and foul privilege-bearers, it can still save lives, and should, but accompanied, then, with the splintering grief that unGodly gain ought to cause.

I married a white, American-born man; I’ve raised two more, now 23 and 19.  From the moment I knew I was pregnant with Anthony, my husband and I discussed how to raise sons.  That they would be cloaked with white, male privilege gilded by their birth into a reasonably educated, middle-class family was a given.  And for us, it was also a given that they be raised to be aware — young men who recognized that while it’s a perverted society that bestows unmerited favor on white-skinned testicle-bearers, it’s a Godly man who recognizes that he benefits from injustice and calls on the Lord to use his privilege to lift to stature, security, power, and position others around him.  My kids grew up with scores of Mexican immigrants; they knew that racism and classism privileged them even over the boys, and more so over the girls — not just in Monroe, Washington, but everywhere.  They know, my sons do, that they are not the standard by which all others are measured; they live life in full embrace of the “others,” are entirely comfortable when they’re “the others,” and aren’t burdened by their privilege because they wear it lightly and give of it so freely. 

There’s no guilt, no shame, no sin in being born a white male, just as there’s no original sin on my part because I, as a white woman, have greater unearned, sinful advantages than my sisters born in Mexico, Cambodia, or Ghana.  The guilt is to revel in it.  The shame is to blissfully presume that privilege accorded at birth is one of God’s “good gifts.”  The sin is to rest in, hold tightly to, that privilege while blithely tossing off admonitions and rejoinders about contentedness, laziness, and “envy” to those whose oppression has benefited you.  Wilson loves to repeat the old “privileged guy” chestnut that “he was born on third and thought he hit a triple,” which, he says, is not what privilege means.  But to address the not-privileged, the people perennially marked for second place, by reminding them that if they’re born on first, they ought not clamor for third base, is an example of typical Wilsonian blindness. 

The playing field on which Wilson excels, for which he was born, isn’t level.  It hasn’t been since the history of this country, largely because of the Christian church, and any privilege conferred by gender and race is evidence of that sinfully rutted, weed-choked, swampy, and unplayable field onto which others were born and expected to compete.  To whom much is given, much is expected, the Lord says.  I think he means something more than “much unthinking gratitude and grabbing of all brass rings possible,” and I suspect and pray that will be made clear to Wilson some day. My hope is that it’ll be before he faces a Great White Throne, from which the Judge will demand an account of privileges embraced and celebrated and privileges sacrificed and spent for the good of others. 

I promised to talk about my father, a white man who took the privilege society gave him and used it for good, and that will be in my next post. 

White Privilege And The Man Bloated With It

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Wow.

What a couple of weeks it’s been.

Two weeks ago, Douglas Wilson exploded in unrighteous indignation over the upholding of Obama’s Affordable Care Act by the Supreme Court, insisting that the Christ follower cannot obey the individual mandate “Obamacare” requires.  Individual liberties he perceives to be inviolable trump, in the Angry One’s eyes, the overwhelming public good that will result from the Act.  And because he’s Douglas Wilson, his fuming was also accompanied by snarkiness in the form of a $250 prize for setting to music a nasty anti-Obama and anti-John Roberts poem he wrote that fails to clear even the lowest bar of decency and charity required by decent society.  No word on who the winner was, but $250 is a sorry balm for a rotting soul.

Then there was last week’s take on the penetrative nature of sexual intercourse, with his phallocentric theology of “authoritative, colonizing, conquering” that assures the passive, submissive, receptive Christian woman that God’s design for gender relations in marriage isn’t what Wilson calls “an egalitarian pleasure party,” but the initiator/receiver role played out in the bedroom.  That spun into his grotesque assessment of Christian women’s objections to what many of us called “rape language” as the whining of “bed-wetting feminists” in a “sob-sister rugby scrum” — that is, when we feminists and egalitarians gather enough strength to rise from our “fainting couches.”  Others besides myself have noted that Wilson could’ve made the same wrong, Biblically indefensible point without using language that causes harm to those who’ve suffered from sexual abuse, but he refuses.  No Wilsonian point, no matter how inane or foul, ought ever be blunted by the instrument of simple compassion and humility, regardless of how despicably un-Christlike his words and theology are.

But Wilson seemingly has unlimited stamina; in fact, he seems energized by his boorish behavior, as if behaving badly in the public square is a tonic for anything that ails him.  I’m convinced that much does ail him, but I suspect he’s not interested in my assessment, what with my possessing ovaries and all.  So he continues merrily along — but, perhaps unexpectedly, the African-American Reformed scholar Dr. Anthony Bradley of the Reformed world’s King’s College then raised his objections — as any sentient being would — to Wilson’s role in the execrable “monograph” “Southern Slavery As It Was,” later sanitized by Moscow’s most powerful paleo-Confederate into Canon Press’ “Black and Tan.”

Wilson, unable to engage in even the crudest imitation of humility, found himself crying “slander” and heaping excuse upon excuse, justification upon justification, for why both a defense of slavery and a pointed phallocentric sexual theology are not only impeccable theologically, but also beyond even Dr. Bradley’s ability to grasp, so profound are the thoughts of Moscow’s self-ordained Bishop of Bluster and Bigotry.  It quickly became all about Dr. Bradley’s simple lack of understanding, his inability to fully grasp the depths of the profundity drawn by Wilson, and the liberal spin that, predictably, colors all criticisms.  Being male, and being an academic superior to Wilson, Bradley has no “sob-sister rugby scrum” or fainting couch to be consigned to, but he was summarily dismissed by Wilson’s feigning of wounded martyrdom, his view that his rejection in the court of public ideas is, once again, lead by people simply unprepared to understand, much less embrace, the profundity of his insight and theology.

The fact that Dr. Bradley’s Ph.D demonstrates high academic achievement — by any measure, higher than that of Wilson’s — is no guarantee that he can successfully navigate the maze of wacky theology and philosophical dead-ends that Wilson proffers; it’s certainly no guarantee that Bradley would be spared Wilson’s studied dismissal.  But Bradley’s disgust over Wilson’s defense of “Biblical slavery” has lead now to the Bloviating Bishop’s discussion Wednesday of “white, male privilege.”

Reading it was a gut punch.  Suffice to say that the depth of Wilson’s theology is such that he believes that all riches given the majority — the males, the whites, the powerful — are God-given, and that the most significant factor in the poverty of the socioeconomic minority is their envy of people favored, like him, by a righteous God.  The most senior of the New Saint Andrews’ senior fellows and the primary teaching pastor of his CREC empire, in citing the Biblical testimony that riches are God’s gift, given for his glory, lumps all riches, Godly-gained or not, together as part of God’s pleasure party of privilege — ignoring other Biblical admonitions, made abundantly clear in the U.S. circa 2012, that not all riches and gains are Godly, and that, in fact, very often the avaricious, foul, and conniving will prosper.  Such nuances would, of course, be inconvenient for Wilson even if he could grasp them. 

There’s not a lot of evidence that he can.  It’s a simple world, Doug Wilson’s.  Poor people need to work on their propensity toward envy — particularly if they appeal to God and others for “social justice.”  Privileged white guys like Wilson, on the other hand, are blessed by their God, with nary a hint that in a fallen world, privilege and riches might well come through the socioeconomic vagaries that confirm that fallen nature.  Even someone who, like Wilson, relies on the Proverbs to bolster his theories on privilege vs. poverty — never a good idea, hermeneutically — still ought to recall that the Proverbs also talk about injustice.  But to say that Wilson is a selective exegetor of the Word is an understatement, and damned if it doesn’t seem to work well for him. At least now. 

Doug Wilson is a noted lover of blues — that quintessentially poor-person’s music, originally the heartfelt laments of African-Americans, first in the south, later in the industrial north, suffering under the boot of largely white male abuse and degradation.  I can’t presume to understand Wilson’s heart, much less his tastes; I deal with what he says and does, not what he favors, not what he finds interesting. 

Still, in my next post I’d like to tell you about a privileged white man I knew well who dearly loved jazz, another largely Black musical phenomena, and how he lived a life that acknowledged his privilege and hated the injustice it represented.  He couldn’t change the reality of having been born, in 1935, a white male, but he wasn’t content to rest in it, certainly didn’t blissfully thank God for the advantages society gave him while blithely wagging his uncalloused finger at those whose clamor for justice were nothing more to him than crass demonstrations of sinful envy.  This man devoted his adult life to fighting for the rights and privileges of those not accorded the favor of a sinful world.  And while at death he had called Jesus Lord for just over a decade, he wouldn’t have considered Doug Wilson an ally, would’ve held him at arm’s length as a brother, and, if he knew about him, would’ve used his considerable gifts to challenge his easy embrace of white privilege and masculinist theology.

If blues is the cry, “No one knows the troubles I’ve seen,” Wilson’s response might be something along the lines of “No one knows how greatly I’ve benefited from the troubles you’ve seen, ain’t God great for it?”  My dad wasn’t a theological sophisticate, but he would’ve known that wasn’t praise.

Doug Wilson On "Love"

Friday, July 27th, 2012

A lecture from Doug Wilson on Christian love is a little like hearing Mick Jagger wax poetic about the virtues of chastity. 

Mick’s reeking of wanton promiscuity surrounds him, regardless of his words.  In the same way, the stench of Wilson’s contempt for others around him — people he lumps into categoric descriptors like so many wads of used tissue in a bathroom ringed with little garbage cans — wafts through even the loftiest of his torrential, torrid words.

Longtime Wilson followers will remember the anonymous “Labor of Love” letter to Doug posted publicly on various venues.  I think it was 2004; the letter was from another man pleading with his Christian brother to turn to Christ in repentance of his hateful, sarcastic, and dismissive ways, both in his public ministry and his private behavior.  I know who wrote the letter, and no, I’m not going to tell you who it was; he had his reasons for staying anonymous.  But I was struck by the obvious grief manifested in the author’s plea — a plea Wilson dismissed as fit only for the trash, being, as it was, anonymous.  Wilson was pleased to taunt the writer, whose identity he didn’t know, either, rather than even consider for a moment that perhaps, just maybe, he might have something to learn from the letter.

In Wilson World, the King is above reproach.  Not because of his virtuous behavior, but because he can afford to dismiss his critics with obfuscatory words that impress his subjects — trust me, “Beholden Toadies” is not the name of a rock band — and befuddle his opponents.

So, while I was going to write, and will write later today or tomorrow, about Wilson’s pompous and self-aggrandizing take on white privilege, I’ll leave you for now with a little taste of “Wilson: On Love”:

“I love it when the guys get up a robust game of pick-up basketball. I hate it when some feminist sues the gym for the right to join in, because she is tired of all these lame traditionalist categories, and then, without any self-awareness at all, limps off the court five minutes into the game favoring her left leg because she got bumped on the right elbow, and spends the rest of the year writing letters to various authorities about how “hurt,” “offended,” and “deeply concerned” she is about how “dismissive” everybody was being about her perspective on this unfortunate affair . . .” (Blog and Mablog, July 27, 2012)

Feelin’ the love?  Nah, me neither.

“I love it when the guys get up a robust game of pick-up basketball. I hate it when some feminist sues the gym for the right to join in, because she is tired of all these lame traditionalist categories, and then, without any self-awareness at all, limps off the court five minutes into the game favoring her left leg because she got bumped on the right elbow, and spends the rest of the year writing letters to various authorities about how “hurt,” “offended,” and “deeply concerned” she is about how “dismissive” everybody was being about her perspective on this unfortunate affair . . . “

Taking Questions . . . Yes, You Right There

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

I’m aware that there’s some talk about last week’s “hold your own rights with a loose hand” post, specifically in a comment I heard about my being a hypocrite, then, for advocating with such vehemence the equal rights and position of women in Church, home, and society, based on my belief that Scripture commands it.

But I’m not a hypocrite for advocating rights for women; indeed, if the Bible calls for it, I would be a hypocrite and worse if I didn’t, whether I’m a woman or not. 

There are seven billion people in the world today.  Roughly half of them are women.  That means that 3,499,999,999 of these women are not Keely Emerine-Mix, and every one of them is not only given equal position, access, and rights by the Word of God, but deserves my defense and my advocacy. 

If and when the Lord Jesus grants that my light shine from the pastoral pulpit or the elders’ board, he will make that happen without my agitating for it.  My words are for other women — other people made in the Creator’s image who long to give the gifts the Spirit has given them but who are denied by faulty understandings of Scripture.

An Aside To Mr. Wilson

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Hey, ummmmm, Doug — when you subtitle American-culture blog posts with “Americanitas,” you appear to be describing some diminutation of “American,” sort of in the same way that “carnitas” describes “little bits o’ meat” in Spanish.

I think you mean to describe a cultural illness, for which “Americanitis” would be correct. 

You’re welcome. 

Strong Charges — Here’s The Evidence

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

My dogs, who executed perfectly a frenzied “barking slam” at 12:19 this morning, probably had no way of realizing how eager I was to begin my post defending my reference to Douglas Wilson as a false teacher.

While I would’ve liked to be asleep right now, it’s OK, because it’s not just right that I back up my charges, but back them up as soon after I make them as possible.  I’m accountable to God and to you, so let’s get started.

(This will be the fifth post in 24 hrs.; you might want to scroll down and then read up if you haven’t been following along.  That, or run screaming for the hills.  Your call . . . ).

I quoted from the Book of Jude and from 2 Peter in charging Wilson with willful error, refusal to repent of his errors, and fomenting division in the Body.  Scripture seems not to include a passage that addresses the one who does these things with the freewheeling glee of a carnival barker, or I would’ve added that, too.  Without reiterating the entire five-day-long debacle, I will state this, and state it without equivocation:

The Bible knows nothing of penetrative sexual intercourse as either a model for God’s pattern for male dominance, nor does it portray — anywhere — anything but complete and utter harmony, mutuality, and interdependence in its discussions of the marital bed.  To teach otherwise, and to continue to do so even after rebuke, and to heap abuse on those who attempt to correct and rebuke him, is the mark of a teacher both in error regarding his exegesis and his conduct.

Douglas Wilson is guilty of both.  Not because I don’t like him, not because I disagree with him, and not because I find most of what he says painfully cringeworthy.  Those things can rightly become fodder for my blog; a charge that he’s a false teacher to whom the Scriptural warnings apply must be backed by the Word of God.

And so be it.  Let’s begin with the first creation account of Genesis 1, which gives no reason whatsoever — at all, period — supporting notions of male dominance in any area, much less in marital, sexual intimacy.  Verses 26 and 27 use the word “adam” for “the human being” or “of the earth.”   This first creation account shows clearly (v. 27) that the “adam” was created both “male” and “female;” there is no chronological order in Genesis 1 to their creation, reflecting simply that God created human beings in the Divine image and that he did so by way of dirt and clay, or “adamah.”  (Even our use of the word “human” confirms this, stemming as it does from the Latin “humus.”).  Some conservative scholars believe that the first Human was sexually differentiated at the point of his creation; others believe that the male Adam’s physical, sexual differentiation was completed in the Genesis 2:21-25 account of Eve’s creation from his own flesh; it’s at verse 23 where “ish” and “ish-hah” are first used for “male (Adam)” and “female (Adam)”  (see Bushnell, God’s Word To Women).  I’m not convinced of the latter and, for sake of this argument, will presume the former.

Regardless of the physical, genital features of the male Adam (remember, not a proper name but a descriptor meaning “human in God’s image of the Earth”) and the physical, genital features of the Wo-man created from him, there is no hint of preference, dominance, or male-female/authority-submission in the Creation Mandate immediately following 1:27:

“So God created human beings in his own image.  In the image of God he created them; male and female e created them.  (v. 28) Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply.  Fill the earth and govern it.  Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” 

The context of v.28 indisputably reflects the subjects of v. 27 — the male and female equally created in God’s image.  The story of Eve’s being fashioned from Adam’s rib must not lead us to un-called-for patriarchy or silly sentimentalism (“created not from his head to rule over him, not from his feet to be trod on by him, but from his side to be his partner and equal . . . “).  Rather, the two creation accounts together speak of one truth:  The first Humans were formed of the Earth, both in the image of God and both equally accountable to him in the Mandate of Genesis 1. Whether the Ish and Ish-hah were each sexually differentiated in 2:23 or not, it is clear both from Scripture and physical evidence that roughly half of them were created with female genito-reproductive organs and the other half with male genito-reproductive organs.

But Wilson reads into these physical differences — the “who has what” and the “what goes where” of sexual intercourse — when he presumes that the male penis’ ability to penetrate and ejaculate into the woman’s vagina in order that sperm travel up to her uterus to achieve conception means anything other than the obvious.  Two soft, “receiving” organs would make impossible the deep penetration required for conception; two hard, penetrating organs would make childbirth impossible even if conception occurred.  The Bible assumes that we’ll infer that besides being wonderful body parts in and of themselves, their shape makes each one work well with the other.  We can acknowledge that and rejoice in that without reading into Genesis 1 and 2, pre-Fall and post-Fall, a gender-based authority not only NOT taught therein, but utterly at odds with the text.  By using the “anatomy is destiny” argument to buttress his claims of male privilege in home, society, and Church does violence to the Scriptures.  Reading the sinfulness of male privilege — which is un-Godly itself — into the Creator’s “very good” creation is a vile misuse of the passage.  Stressing that error in the context of the tender mutuality of marital passion does violence to women — metaphorically and, too often, literally.

The relevant passages regarding marriage are primarily in First Corinthians.  Evangelical complementarians like Wilson prefer, of course, to use Ephesians 5:22-27 when they discuss Godly marriage, almost always conveniently ignoring v. 21 (“And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ . . .”) and wrestling clumsily with a hermeneutic that results in the terribly odd suggestion that if — ignoring v. 21, the context-setting verse from which the others follow — only women need to submit, then only men need to love. 
I think we can safely conclude that Wilson has never counseled a man to adhere with slavish literalism only to v. 25 and that the woman do the same only with v. 22, steadfastly hoping that he not ever practice the v. 22 submission commanded in the verse just before and that she never, not even in light of v. 21 and the obvious mutuality Paul strives for, exercise the love of v. 25.

Because that would be just plain weird, besides making the metaphor of Christ and the Body that follows even harder to understand.

So we turn to First Corinthians 7, where Paul gives binding instruction on Christian marriage, and where the entire chapter is marked with the mutuality of instruction (as the husband does this, so also does the woman do the same) that Wilson seems unable to grasp.  I won’t reproduce here the entire chapter, but I will mark the many times Paul cites mutuality/parallelism/harmony in his discourse:

v. 2   “. . . each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband.”

v. 3   “The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs.”

v. 4    “The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife.”

v. 5    “Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree . . . “

v. 10b – 11  “A wife must not leave her husband.  But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else be reconciled to him.  And the husband must not leave his wife.”

v. 12b   “If a Christian man has a wife who is not a believer, and she is willing to continue living with him, he must not leave her.  (v. 13) And if a Christian woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to continue living with her, she must not leave him.”

v. 14   “For the Christian wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the Christian husband brings holiness to his marriage . . . “

v.  16   “Don’t you wives realize that your husbands might be saved because of you?  And don’t you husbands realize that your wives might be saved because of you?”

Rarely does Scripture give in one passage such a compelling roll of evidence to establish a point, and that Paul through the Holy Spirit does so here is undeniable.  What’s also undeniable is his fervor in preaching the mutuality of marriage.  As Genesis knows nothing of the “biology as destiny” argument for male dominance and female subordination, Paul knows nothing of unilateral authority or submission in the marriage bed.  To suggest otherwise is an error of grotesque proportion and even worse consequence.

To continue to do so after numerous warnings, admonitions, and rebukes demonstrates that the wordsmith behind these errors is not a pastor in the Biblical sense, not suited for the position of teaching elder, not worthy of esteem as a teacher of Scripture, and entirely unqualifed for Christian leadership.  And if that man, already a false teacher, continues to spit in the face of his opponents, he reveals something further about himself:

He is not to be considered part of the fellowship of God (Matthew 18), and those who continue to follow him do so at their own spiritual peril.

My Final Word For The Day

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

There is no place, no place at all, for the demanding of “authority and submission” in Christian or any other sexual behavior, or any behavior at all.  Submission in the Bible is given mutually from strength; it is not a commanded-and-obeyed behavior.  The man or woman who says there is room for such sexual “authority and submission” is guilty of inculcating the worst of all human behaviors in developing males, nurturing gender divisions in their most benign and most malignant forms, and reaping a stinking harvest of shame that, nonetheless, is minimal compared to the shame and despair of women who have experienced a “penetrating, conquering, colonizing” (Wilson’s words) example of sexual behavior that made her the prey to a predator consciously or not influenced by patriarchy.

Those who promote a definitive, unbending male-authority/female-submission view of Biblical sex are “shepherds who feed only themselves.  They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted — twice dead.  They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.”  (Jude 12b — 13).

Further, I believe that Wilson and any man who refuses to acknowledge the harm his words cause falls under the definition in 2 Peter 2 of a “false teacher”:

“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you . . . Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.  In their greed, these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories.  THEIR CONDEMNATION HAS LONG BEEN HANGING OVER THEM, AND THEIR DESTRUCTION HAS NOT BEEN SLEEPING.”  

I don’t write these words lightly.  I write them to beg that Douglas Wilson and his followers plead forgiveness for their sins and exercise unrestrained repentance in their ministries from this day forward.