Who put the blog in the blog, re-blog, re-blog?

I’ve mentioned Rachel Held Evans before. She’s got a blog I read on a pretty regular basis, and as I’ve mentioned before (this is important, now) she kinda looks like Claire Danes in My So Called Life. Not that that’s important. Except I said it was. Crap. I’m lying again.

 

SO lying.

 

Anyway, I was reading her blog today, and what I read made me bubble with impotent fury. My insides are percolating like a coffeemaker, only instead of making coffee, it makes raw rage. A “Mr. Rage”, if you will.

 

Concept drawing, patent pending.

 

I’m angry because I read this article (written by Rachel Held Evans) about another article (written by Jared Wilson on behalf of the Gospel Coalition) that mentions a book that supports some crazy backwards views on the role of men and women. . . in sex. Per the Bible. As if my brain wasn’t already confused by the Russian doll of re-blogs that I’m presenting my readers with, I have to wonder – are people paid to talk about how God wants men and women to bone?

Want to share my rage – or confusion? Read the article.

Here is a great quote from the blog about the blog about the book written by Douglas Wilson (the book is Fidelity: What it Means to be a One Woman Man):

 

“When we quarrel with the way the world is, we find that the world has ways of getting back at us. In other words, 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. This is of course offensive to all egalitarians, and so our culture has rebelled against the concept of authority and submission in marriage. This means that we have sought to suppress the concepts of authority and submission as they relate to the marriage bed.”

 

I read that, and my first thought was, “Man. . .this guy and his wife are doing it wrong!” I mean, I’m not going to provide any details of my sex life on this blog, but I really feel the need to make a point. So instead of coming anywhere near dropping an unwelcomed info-bomb on What the Faith, let me, instead, ask this question to the fellas who read this blog.

Hey fellas – if you and your woman are involved in ‘the act’, and you can characterize her response to you as ‘receiving’, ‘surrendering’ or ‘accepting’, do you interpret that response as proof that you’re. . .you know. . . decent at the actual carrying-out of said act?

You can feel free to accept that question as rhetorical – but heck, if you answer in the comments, bonus!

Also, I’ve read Song of Songs. It’s basically the Kama Sutra of the Bible, and there is nothing complementarian about it. As RHE points out in her article:

 

Wilson conveniently leaves out the fact that the Shulamite girl in Song of Songs initiates much of the action in the romance. She is the first to speak in the poem, declaring, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth” (1:1). She actively seeks out the handsome shepherd in his fields, saying “Why should I be like a veiled woman beside the flocks of your friends?” (v. 7). When the two are separated, she goes out into the streets, looking for him, and at one point is accosted by the city guards. When she finds him, she brings him into a private room. There, she says, “I held him and would not him go” (3:4).  It is she who initiates a sexual encounter in a vineyard in the countryside, and it is she who offers her lover a frank invitation to drink her wine and to enter her “garden” to taste its choice fruits. Her lover confesses “you have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride.” And so the lengthiest and most detailed description of sex found in scripture is characterized by mutuality and shared pleasure, not conquering and colonization, authority and subordination.  It is precisely what Wilson refers to as an “egalitarian pleasure party.”

Look at those two – ready to tear off six or seven layers of clothes and GET THIS EGALITARIAN PLEASURE PARTY STARTED!

 

I know I’ve been over this before, but I really don’t think that God has that much to say about how two consenting adults in a loving, monogamous relationship combine their private parts. I think that once people are a) consenting, b) loving and c) monogamous, I think that God is pretty much laissez-faire about their junk. If people who fit into those three categories want to engage in the business in a vat of Jell-O, I can’t imagine God is going to condemn that. He might look away from that, but then again, I would.

But Rachel (and several of her commenters) make a very, very good point about the language used in Jared Wilson’s blog (and by extension, in Douglas Wilson’s book). This is where the (slightly amused) confusion I’m feeling turns into anger.

 

His characterization of sex as an act of conquering and colonization is disturbing, and his notion that women are little more than the passive recipients of this colonization, who simply “accept” penetration, is as ignorant as it is degrading.  What is perhaps most disconcerting is the fact that even after multiple women expressed their concerns in the comment section, both Jared Wilson and Doug Wilson repeatedly dismissed these concerns with exasperation and condescension, ridiculing the commenters’ lack of “reading comprehension.”

Wow. This actually happened. I read the comments. I don’t want to repost any of them (mostly because I would have to repost a long chain of comments, which is a bit distracting for people who don’t want to read them, and also a hard thing to do and still maintain a short blog post) but you can read them right here.  The worst part is that two authors gave offense, and neither one of them said, “You know what? I can see how that could be really offensive. I’m sorry, it’s not what I meant.” They both took a stance that anyone who wasn’t an idiot would read those words as they were meant to be read, and be totally moved by how kind, caring, loving, and completely rad Jared Wilson and Douglas Wilson are.

They certainly wouldn’t see them as misogynistic assholes, would they?

 

This picture calms me when I’m getting disturbed. SEE the ducky and kitty. BE the ducky and kitty.

 

Anyway, here I am, sitting at work, steaming out of my ears, and then it occurs to me – Jared Wilson’s article started as a commentary about 50 Shades of Grey. A book that started out as a Twilight fan fiction. It almost made me laugh out loud.

Look at what fan fiction hath wrought! 

 

Look for my upcoming novel, ‘Boldly Going Everywhere’, about a crew of beautiful young swingers who explore space. . . and each other.

 

I feel like I should ask a question, so here it is – is anyone else bothered by this? Or am I completely losing my cool over nothing? 

About Daniel Mitchell

50% of "What the Faith?!?!", a blog about two skeptics who turned to God for no apparent reason. View all posts by Daniel Mitchell

8 responses to “Who put the blog in the blog, re-blog, re-blog?

  • Sara

    A great book to read about sex is “Holy Sex: Song of Solomon” by Michael Pearl. It’s extremely good at laying the foundation of what exactly constitutes, well, um, Christian sex. But, if you’d like to read about Rachel’s article straight from the horses mouth, why not look at http://www.dougwils.com/Sex-and-Culture/cloacina-goddess-of-sewers.html. Personally, I completely agree with Douglas Wilson. I had a whole bit I was going to write here, but if you read his reaction, and couple it with the numerous false points that Rachel makes, it kind of makes a rebuttal unnecessary.

    Quoted from Douglas’ article:
    “Rachel Held Evans says this: “I get that some folks enjoy getting ‘conquered’ to some degree in bed. That’s fine. Do what you both enjoy. But this should be a mutual decision, pleasurable to both parties, and it is certainly not required by God-ordained gender roles.”
    So the problem is not the language I used about penetration or conquest, but rather who is in charge of the whole thing. The objectors have wanted to slander me by pretending that I put the man in charge of it, but I most emphatically do not. What I actually do (as she accidentally acknowledges here) is to say that God is in charge of it.
    This means that there are limits, even within marriage, established by God (1 Thess. 4:4)….
    It also means that I believe that mutually-agreed-upon rape games in marriage are out. Mutual consent is necessary in godly marital sex (1 Cor. 7:4), but mutual consent is not the final authority. Mutual consent is required by God, but mutual consent is not God. God is the final authority, and He says that the marriage bed should be honored by all, the bed undefiled (Heb. 13:4).”

    • Daniel Mitchell

      Hey Sara! Glad to hear from you!

      So, first off, to clarify – I made two basic points in my post, and I want to make sure I’m on the same page as you. You are refuting my suspicion about God’s view of married people’s private parts, but you are not refuting my statement that Jared Wilson and Douglas Wilson’s responses to concerned parties were confrontational and degrading. Is that correct? That’s the part that got me angry.

      The first part, as I said, just got me amusingly confused. My hesitation to accept a quick, easy explanation about God’s view of what married people do in the bedroom isn’t based on a denial of scripture (although you’re much more knowledgeable about scripture than I am, so I thank you for providing some chapter/verse), but more a questioning of the preconceptions of the human beings interpreting scripture. I’ve read the verses you site, and I don’t get a picture of where in those verses that God has set up “torah” that tells us what is and is not good for married people to do. I can certainly see that God wants married people to live holy lives, but I don’t see a single verse that tells us specifics. And yet, books are written, and specifics are listed, and it all looks like too much extrapolation for me.

      Barring better arguments than I have seen before (and baring in mind that I haven’t read Michael Pearl’s book, which could convince me 100%) I’m going to continue going with my current plan – in areas of my life wear scripture does not seem clear to me, I’m going to go to Jesus, by way of the Holy Spirit, and pray for clarification. This isn’t just how I approach the question of “biblical sex”, it’s how I approach every question I have. If I’m doing wrong, I’ll trust in grace to keep me afloat until the Holy Spirit clues me in.

      It might not be a perfect system, but I trust God WAY more than I trust any early interpreter of scripture. :)

      PS – I just can’t help but say that rules about how married people can have sex seems a little too much like torah for my liking. I’m a Romans/Galatians kind of guy in that I believe we are saved by the grace of God, not by works, and making a list to keep next to the bed sounds like the very definition of works to me. :) But if I’m wrong, I trust God to slap me gently upside the face to let me know!

      Thanks for joining the conversation. You should chime in more often!

  • Shana Aue

    It seems like a lot of people are avoiding directly addressing the language used by Doug Wilson in this excerpt. Which is interesting. For me, the language is a big – maybe the biggest – part of the problem. Seriously, lets unpack this a bit:

    I won’t talk about “penetrates,” because you could argue that that is a technical, mechanical description of a sex act. Not a particularly sexy description, but moving on.

    Conquers. It seems like Wilson is treating the word “conquer” as the opposite of the word “surrender” or possibly “accept.” This is just linguistically false. “Conquer” implies that the person you are conquering has put up a fight, and you have overcome them. There are really only two instances that I can think of where the word “conquer” could be applied to sex: when sex is merely a conquest, eg. a notch in the bedpost; or in the instance of rape. The word “conquer” does not describe mutual, consensual sex in which both partners are aware of the motivations of the other. I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t.

    Colonizes. Okay. Using the language of colonialism to describe sex is a really bad idea. Colonialism is, historically, exploitative and forced. It’s much the same as “conquer.” The types of sex that this word could be applied to are not the types of sex that you want to promote.

    Plants. For me, this brings up all those really old weird ideas put forth by Aristotle, and later Jerome and other medieval writers, about how in procreation the man provides the active energy and life whereas the woman is just the matter or soil in which life grows. This is not only misogynistic and brings up all sorts of oppressive bullshit that I hope no modern man would want to be associated with (women being somehow subhuman, women being incomplete or deformed men, etc.), it is also biologically false. So there are all sorts of problems with this word.

    I guess it’s nice that Wilson has also said things about respecting and honoring women. But for me, using language like that used in the excerpt above to describe sex makes me question anything else that he has said. It’s sort of like when a politician uses the n-word and then turns around and says, no, people need to look at all the times he’s said he respects African-Americans. It just doesn’t ring true. Without knowing Wilson, I might theorize (and this is pure conjecture – not trying to slander anyone, just trying to understand) that he has some confused ideas about sex that he is still working out. If that’s the case, I have sympathy and compassion for him. A lot of the time, Christian kids and teenagers are told that sex before marriage is the Worst Possible Thing You Can Do, and if you do it you are Ruined Forever and No One Will Ever Love You (I’ve personally heard sermons like this); but then after you’re married sex is suddenly transformed into this magical, mysterious, wonderful thing, that we still don’t talk about, but everyone, you know, just understands. This sort of atmosphere fosters confusion, and it’s really no wonder that we have adult married people still trying to figure it out. So yeah. Compassion. But that doesn’t make it okay that he is using this type of language – this frankly violent and derogatory type of language – to describe sex. To me, this is as bad as Twilight or 50 Shades of Grey (neither of which I have read, to be fair – but you hear things); possibly worse, because it’s presented under the guise of Christianity. I’d hate to think of young men and women reading this and thinking that the roles of conqueror and conquered are the only “proper” roles that they can adopt in marital sex. Because whatever Wilson’s intent is, if he’s using this kind of language he needs to realize that this may very well be the result.

    So, in answer to your question, no, you’re not losing your cool over nothing. Words matter. The words that Wilson has decided to use are damaging. It’s a shame that he doesn’t seem to realize that.

    • Daniel Mitchell

      Hey Shana – LOVE your thoughts on this. Thanks for breaking that down so well.

      So, I’ve had some time to think about this, and here’s where I am right now on the subject. In fact, let me start with a personal confession – I try to be a funny guy. I always have, even as a little kid, tried to make people laugh. Sometimes my humor can be a little edgy (as I think of it) and offensive (as others tell me it is). There have been several times in my life that I say something that I think is just a golden example of humor at its best, but after the dust settles, my joke/comment/whatever has really offended someone. At those times, my first thought is usually along the lines of, “Well, fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke.”

      This is wrong of me.

      If I tell a joke that bothers someone, whether or not I feel that it SHOULD have bothered someone, the grown-up thing for me to do is address that. Maybe what I’ve said isn’t offensive to 99% of my “audience” (as it were) – then I should at least say to that one person, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you.” If my joke is offensive to a larger percentage of the audience, I should make a “public” apology – ie, “You guys, that was really dumb of me. I feel like a dick. I’m sorry.” I don’t always do that, but I’m trying to get better at it. Thank the Lord I haven’t let one of those jokes/comments/whatevers drop in some time. . . unless I’m getting more insensitive and I just haven’t noticed. In which case, I should just stop talking, but I won’t, so there’s that.

      Digressing here, I am.

      But really, after some time to reflect, what still offends me about Jared Wilson’s post is how both he and Douglas Wilson responded to it. They have taken the prideful route of saying, “All of you people who disagree with me are wrong. You’re not just wrong, you’re also unintelligent.” I find particularly confounding the fact that Jared Wilson keeps saying, “If you’d just read Doug Wilson’s book, you’d see that he is very loving, supporting, and protective of women.” He seems to think that it is unreasonable that he would be judged (and that Doug Wilson would be judged) solely on the content of what was printed on Jared Wilson’s blog. If Doug Wilson’s excerpt truly comes across as loving, supporting, and protective of women when presented in the context of his entire book – and I doubt that, simply going on the grounds that I don’t believe that anyone who wants to limit someone’s influence in any way really loves, supports, and protects them as much as they deserve – then Jared Wilson, as the blogger, should really be providing some clue about that context when he’s quoting the book.

      As Rachel Held Evans has said in her conversation with Jared Wilson, if his intent was to deliberately use language that was offensive to women (and very, very, very insensitive toward women who have been abused – and how can the Wilsons not see that?), then he is in the wrong. If it was not his intent, all he has to do is retract his original post.

      • Shana A.

        It looks like J. Wilson did eventually retract his post and apologize (as you link to in your next blog post), so good for him!

        The more I read of D. Wilson, the more I am deeply confused. I have a hard time following his arguments through all the vitriol. Having compassion for certain fellow Christians has always been a problem for me, so I suppose this is just one more great opportunity to pray and grow in that. But I’m actively sad that this guy is so angry. :-(

      • Daniel Mitchell

        Right there with you, Shana. I need to pray and grow in the SAME THING. I try to remember that at any given time I might take communion with these folks, and I hope we could have some great conversations about how Jesus has changed our lives. It’s hard to remember, sometimes, but I’m just a messed-up sinner. :)

  • Camo

    I’m late to the party, and your link to the comments doesn’t seem to work anymore. I wouldn’t be too surprised if the post got deleted, anyway.

    You wrote “They both took a stance that anyone who wasn’t an idiot would read those words as they were meant to be read, and be totally moved by how kind, caring, loving…” Assuming that you are representing their comments clearly, they remind me of the stance that many churches take on homosexuality. This is the stance that essentially says, we accept homosexuals into meetings, gatherings, and so forth, but we treat any homosexual behavior as sin. The ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ idea. This is acceptance in a way, but you would never find a homosexual in a position of leadership in these churches. Correctness of this position aside, it is always coupled with a conviction that this is the most loving stance to take, even in the face of assertions from others that it is a very unloving, unaccepting stance. It just always amazes me how groups can completely disagree on what is loving, kind, and caring, and still be completely convinced that they are the correct group.

    • Daniel Mitchell

      Hey Camo. Nice to meet you, and thanks for jumping into the conversation!

      You are right to see a parallel between how the people in question view their argument about homosexuality. My take on homosexuality is pretty heretical, and it fits under my general theory that God doesn’t care what two consenting, loving, monogamous adults with their private parts. Getting any more nit-picky that that seems to counteract the fact that our grace comes from God, not from NOT having homosexual sex.

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