(Or, where the argument for women’s subordination came from)
Update 7/21: Friday night, Jared Wilson took down his post and apologized to those who were “offended and shamed” by his comments (more precisely, his quote of Doug Wilson’s comments), which many took as suggesting that men are more likely to fantasize about rape (and, God forbid, act on those fantasies) if they aren’t allowed to exercise dominion over their own wives. Jared’s apology is not exactly a renunciation of patriarchy (that was hardly likely to happen), but it was sincere nevertheless. Jared, thank you for doing the honorable thing.
No, this isn’t a post about Fifty Shades of Grey. Haven’t read it, don’t intend to.
This is about what happens when a Gospel Coalition blogger decides to make a “biblical” point about Fifty Shades of Grey.
Jared C. Wilson’s post [link taken down as of 7/20] featured a lengthy quote from a neo-Reformed compatriot named Douglas Wilson (no relation), in which the latter claims that “men dream of being rapists” only because they’ve been robbed of their God-given right to “conquer” their wives in the bedroom. When men aren’t allowed to assert their unilateral authority in the marriage bed, they become sexually frustrated. So they resort to inappropriate means of sexual dominance such as rape and BDSM. (As if there were any “appropriate” means of sexual dominance?)
Yet the unmistakable subtext of Doug Wilson’s quote is this: if you’re a woman and you’ve been raped, you and your feminist friends are partly to blame. This sort of thing might not happen if you gave up your silly notions of equality and allowed your husbands to “conquer, colonize, and plant” at will.
Others have unpacked the problems with the Wilsons’ argument. But where does this kind of thinking come from? For the answer, let’s take a closer look at Doug Wilson.
He claims Southern slavery was a good thing, that it “produced in the South a genuine affection between the races that… has never existed in any nation before or since.”
He uses the term “abolitionist” as an insult.
Let’s go back in time, if you will, to the pre-Civil War era and revisit the arguments Southern Christians used to justify slavery (I’ve mentioned them before in a previous post):
- They said slavery was sanctioned by the Bible.
- They said it was by God’s design that some people were intrinsically subordinate to others.
- They accused abolitionists (yup, they thought it was an insult too) of capitulating to the “spirit of the age.”
- They believed those who rejected slavery were rejecting the Word of God.
Notice any similarities between these arguments and those used to keep women in their place today?
Most Christians have long since given up rationalizing slavery. Except Doug Wilson.
Most complementarians would be rightly uncomfortable with the possibility that their arguments were once used to justify slavery. But Doug Wilson is a reminder of where this kind of thinking came from.