White Privilege And The Man Bloated With It


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.

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