Monthly Archives: July 2012
I typically try to stay away from “The Gospel Coalition” website because of the negative energy it stirs up in me. But this post is so sickening and revealing that I believe it must be pointed out, read and wrestled with. Trying to get in on the 50 Shades of Grey bandwagon Jared Wilson offered a quote from Douglas Wilson about rape and rape fantasy. In their understanding of God’s design: “A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts.” But that is not even the worst part. Douglas Wilson goes on to say:
But we cannot make gravity disappear just because we dislike it, and in the same way we find that our banished authority and submission comes back to us in pathological forms. This is what lies behind sexual “bondage and submission games,” along with very common rape fantasies. Men dream of being rapists, and women find themselves wistfully reading novels in which someone ravishes the “soon to be made willing” heroine.
Did you catch that? The authority of men has been “banished” presumably by the evil, devilish liberation of women in church and broader culture and this is to blame for the pathological desires of the rapist. As if the victims of rape are not already blamed enough. But for Wilson and Wilson this is the subconscious crying out for the creational norm, blah, blah,blah. I have heard all this drivel before. Never mind that the fact that the porn world is full of submission/BDSM fantasies of men submitting to and being dominated by women. How would Wilson and Wilson explain that? Lord knows they would probably find some way to blame that on women too.
Unfortunately this is where one ends up when a literalist reading 1 Timothy 2 (and the questionable exegesis of Genesis 3 found therein) is applied to sexual ethics:
I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument; also that the women should dress themselves modestly and decently in suitable clothing, not with their hair braided, or with gold, pearls, or expensive clothes, but with good works, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God. Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty (1 Timothy 2:8-15).
Woman ate the apple and is to blame for creation’s bondage to death and decay. Then she got a job at Apple and is to blame for bondage fantasies in men and women. A myriad of problems are presented to the church today by fundamentalists, literalist readings of the biblical text and one of those problems is the inherently selective nature of biblical literalism.
Passages like 1 Timothy 2 demand to be weighed over against the trajectory of the biblical witness and especially other New Testament passages concerning the “role of women.” When Paul instructs “any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled disgraces her head – it is one and the same thing as having her head shaved” (1Cor 11:5) he is nonetheless assuming that women will be praying and prophesying in church. In Romans 16 Paul asks the Roman church to welcome Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae, who was entrusted to deliver Paul’s letter to the Romans. Paul instructs the church there to give to her whatever she requires. In the same chapter of Romans Paul asks the recipients of his letter to greet his friends Priscilla and her husband Aquila who Paul says risked their necks for his life. Still in Romans 16 Paul mentions a woman named Mary and another named Junia, a relative of Paul’s. Paul says she was imprisoned with him, prominent among the apostles, and in Christ before he was. In Philippians 4, Paul mentions women who struggled beside him in the work of the gospel.
As far as domestic and sexual relationships between men and women Ephesians 5 calls for mutual submission (even though the focus from so-called complementarians is always on women submitting to their husbands). Furthermore 1 Corinthians 7 offers what Scot McKnight has eloquently called “the gospel-reshaping denial of authority in the marriage bed.” This call to mutuality evident in the overall trajectory of the New Testament Witness leaves little room for Wilson & Wilson’s ‘conquering, colonizing’ language and it renders absolutely inexcusable their subtle blaming of women for a culture that fetishizes rape.
A number of years ago I read Eastern Orthodox theologian David Bentley Hart’s “The Doors of the Sea: Where Was God in the Tsunami?” I need to read it again sometime soon. It is hands down the best thing I have ever read exploring the question of theodicy. The following is an excerpt from an a 2005 essay in First Things that became the seedling for that book. You can read the article in full here and read more about the book here. I hope Dr. Hart’s words are a blessing to you today:
I do not believe we Christians are obliged — or even allowed — to look upon the devastation visited upon the coasts of the Indian Ocean and to console ourselves with vacuous cant about the mysterious course taken by God’s goodness in this world, or to assure others that some ultimate meaning or purpose resides in so much misery. Ours is, after all, a religion of salvation; our faith is in a God who has come to rescue His creation from the absurdity of sin and the emptiness of death, and so we are permitted to hate these things with a perfect hatred. For while Christ takes the suffering of his creatures up into his own, it is not because he or they had need of suffering, but because he would not abandon his creatures to the grave. And while we know that the victory over evil and death has been won, we know also that it is a victory yet to come, and that creation therefore, as Paul says, groans in expectation of the glory that will one day be revealed. Until then, the world remains a place of struggle between light and darkness, truth and falsehood, life and death; and, in such a world, our portion is charity.
As for comfort, when we seek it, I can imagine none greater than the happy knowledge that when I see the death of a child I do not see the face of God, but the face of His enemy. It is not a faith that would necessarily satisfy Ivan Karamazov, but neither is it one that his arguments can defeat: for it has set us free from optimism, and taught us hope instead. We can rejoice that we are saved not through the immanent mechanisms of history and nature, but by grace; that God will not unite all of history’s many strands in one great synthesis, but will judge much of history false and damnable; that He will not simply reveal the sublime logic of fallen nature, but will strike off the fetters in which creation languishes; and that, rather than showing us how the tears of a small girl suffering in the dark were necessary for the building of the Kingdom, He will instead raise her up and wipe away all tears from her eyes — and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor any more pain, for the former things will have passed away, and He that sits upon the throne will say, “Behold, I make all things new.”