Strong Charges — Here’s The Evidence

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.

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