Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Isn’t it amazing how those four simple words, whose placement together announces the symbolic standing against of wife-battering, child-beating, sexual violence and the like, elicit with near certainty snorts of derision and snickers of mockery from our manly patriarchs here on the Palouse and elsewhere?

Because I can almost hear it. “Domestic Violence Awareness Month,” they read, with the unspoken, or chortled, “There she goes again!” And indeed I do, the snottiness of some of my readers notwithstanding.

The Kirk-influenced patriarchs, heads of households, and men of chest who think that things like devoting a month to awareness of domestic violence are just silly surely see Moscow’s street signs quietly bedecked these days with lavender ribbons and the names of victims of domestic violence — too many posts so adorned, bearing under tattered bows the names of women killed by their mates. Such symbolic protests must, to them, seem so emotional, so feminized, so indicative of the soft “pomosexuality” permeating our culture. Their responses are, perhaps, a bit more nuanced than that of the guy next to me Saturday who, upon reading the name of a woman murdered by her husband, muttered that “the bitch probably deserved it.”

It’s true that Kirk men — and I mean not just our local Doug Wilson disciples, but all of those men across the country influenced by him and other caretakers of “Biblical masculinity” — are never so crude as to suggest that women “deserve” what happens to them in violent homes, Christian or otherwise. I’ve never heard a Wilsonite call a woman a “bitch,” and, if pressed, I imagine they’d all say that beating a woman or a child is wrong, just as I’m sure they’d like to believe that it never happens in Covenant homes. That they are wrong on that point doesn’t prevent me from damning them with the faint praise of acknowledgment of their relative chivalry in a world teeming with disdain for women.

So. They pride themselves on being defenders of womanhood, but they aren’t in any ways allies of women. Kirk men will help you across the street if you’re carrying heavy groceries. They tend not to refer to the ladies in their midst as “bitches.”

But many of them will attend, or wish they could attend, this weekend’s “Sexual Orthodoxy” ministerial conference in Moscow, sponsored by Christ Church and featuring Wilson, his son-in-law, Ben Merkle, and Tim Bayly. In a time when gender violence continues to plague families, women and children in particular, when such violence is as prevalent in Christian homes as it is in non-Christian ones, and when those who care devote the month of October to spreading information about it, these three men will be holding forth on an array of topics pertaining to men, women, and the Church — every one of which, as described on the conference schedule page on the Christ Church website, exhibits that remarkable combination of combativeness, callousness, and puckish disregard for others the Kirk is so well known for, especially in its discussion of gender issues.

Do I speak too harshly? I don’t think so.

Earlier this year, a young Christian woman, five months pregnant, was strangled to death and her house set on fire, a crime for which her Christian husband is being tried. The couple reportedly had “some violence problems,” and the suspect had previously beaten her severely enough to require hospitalization. The heart aches to know what kind of counsel they received from their pastor, who is not affiliated with the Kirk. But within the past four years, two Christ Church/NSA young men have been convicted of sex crimes, one against a toddler; that man plead guilty to one count of molestation but confessed to many more against other children in the congregation and elsewhere. He still lives in Moscow, a registered sex offender on lifetime parole who served one year in the county jail for the crime to which he plead guilty and was discovered, just a month after his release, to have been peering through the blinds at a neighbor’s house with binoculars, masturbating.

Both of these young men were heavily involved in the Kirk, one studying at Greyfriars’ Hall to be a CREC pastor, the other an NSA student. Both lived in Kirk homes as boarders, and both were students during their years in Moscow of Wilson’s ethic of gender roles, sexuality, and masculinity. And Wilson’s response? A great deal of effort expended in making sure his Moscow neighbors knew that the pedophile wasn’t an actual, registered, on-the-rolls member of Christ Church — just a regular congregant, devoted communicant, upper-level student, and Kirk-family boarder.

Some of us thought that was a little less than the outward expression of sorrow and horror appropriate for these men’s pastor. We were looking for something that would indicate somber soul-searching and a return to Scripture to see if, maybe, the ethos learned by these of his charges might be in any way lacking. Clearly, something was very, very wrong.

We wondered if, perhaps, the sexual violence committed by his students would cause Wilson to re-examine his theology of masculinity, his rigid defense of traditional gender roles, his diminishment of women’s roles in church, home, and society, and his adherence to strong patriarchy as the only legitimate governance of the Christian family. That didn’t happen. And now, just a couple of years later, we have visiting Moscow this week a quiet storm of the most vicious kind of sexism and ignorance — the kind that falsely claims its genesis from the revelation of Scripture regarding God’s people, women and men created in his image.

I wish I were in Moscow this weekend, but I’ll be in Tucson until Tuesday. Still, I have my laptop, and I will address each conference topic — each little pseudo-pastoral, un-Biblical seed of male supremacy and women-diminishing exegesis — in turn. I’ve rarely seen such open fear and reviling of the feminine, even in secular sources of bigotry and ignorance. It speaks poorly for these men, and represents horribly the Church they claim to serve, that even two other men would commit to attending such a travesty. But there will be many more than two, all pastors or those aspiring to be pastors, elders, or deacons, and they’ll congratulate themselves over stout beer, cigars in hand, for their insightful revelations regarding what’s wrong with the Church. And what would that be? According to the conference schedule, that would be the feminine cultural ethos; womani-ish male pastors; gender-accurate Bible translations; egalitarians who see the Spirit, not gender, as the basis of giftedness; weak patriarchs; and women who aspire to leadership.

My, but we women are a ruinous lot, aren’t we?

Quite obviously, no women will attend, nor would any have been invited. That would appear to be evident, given that the ministers and would-be ministers to whom the conference is directed are never, in the pristinely masculine world of the Kirk, women. Less obvious, but perhaps more fun, is imagining how erstwhile student helpers will find an accurate Latin translation for “BOYZ ONLY! NO GURLS ALLOW’D!”

Next up: My take on the conference’s opening salvo, featuring Doug Wilson discussing “sodomy” as both a commonplace sin and a directed rebellion against high heaven.

2 Responses to “Domestic Violence Awareness Month”

  1. Ashwin says:

    Do you speak too harshly? Yes you do.

    I wish you would let up on Douglas Wilson. Whatever way he has insulted you or otherwise wronged you, you should lay it at the feet of our Lord and move on. Forgive him the trespasses against you.

    Douglas Wilson is a very gifted and insightful author. You should be encouraging and guiding him – not drawing a line in the sand.

    Have you been to his church for communion yet?

  2. See, the point is what Wilson cheerfully does and writes STILL, with seemingly no concern for the effect on the Gospel, nor, frankly, a solid understanding of it.

    And I’ve explained why I don’t visit Christ Church for Communion — I think I would be a distraction, something I will not risk during the worship of Christ by his congregation.

    Sorry. I don’t see Wilson as gifted and insightful. It’s fine that you do, but I wish you would make that judgment with an understanding that I have not misrepresented him.


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