Saturday, July 21, 2012

I Forgive

By Radomil [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0,
 via Wikimedia Commons
Jared Wilson has issued an apology for the language used in his post on 50 Shades of Grey. For my part, I accept and acknowledge this apology, and extend my forgiveness for the language used.

I wish that Jared Wilson could acknowledge the problems with the views he expressed (not complimentarianism per se, but the accusations he levelled against egalitarianism) but I'm not surprised. That remains a problem, but at least the harmful language has been addressed, and the apology given with immense grace and humility.

Regardless of the problems I have with Jared's point of view, the manner of this apology shows character. Some in the comments have refused to accept his apology, some because they felt it inadequately addressed their problems with the original post (fair enough), but others who insist that it was insincere. To those people I offer an injunction. You cannot know someone's heart. If you don't want to accept the apology because you feel it inadequate compared to the hurt it caused you, fine, but do not insist that he did it just to save face. You can't know that, and it is wrong to assume you do.

Jared, I accept your apology for the words used, and I continue to hope and pray you will see the problems with the viewpoint you advocate. Blessings to you, my brother in Christ.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Colonization According to My Tin Poetic Ear

Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives [Attribution],
via Wikimedia Commons
Warning: This post discusses sexual violence.

In my last post I wrote about why, in the plainest English possible, I found the recent Gospel Coalition complimentarian post disturbing. I wrote it because I felt their defense in response to the outrage had completely missed the point. Anyway, earlier today I read this post, which I felt did a much more thorough job of explaining the problem, and in the meantime defending egalitarianism, than I had done.

Reading this post led to a discussion with one of my roommates, and brought up some points I had glossed over in my last post. I mentioned in my footnotes that the language of colonization and conquest really are a problem, because no matter what you intend to be saying, the realities of public language can mean you're saying something quite different. I would think that at least the problem with the language of conquest should be obvious. War is hell, conquest is brutal. The connotations of that language can't be anything but dark.

Yet, I'm inclined to think that the language of colonization is actually more disturbing, precisely because of the dissonance between its myth and its reality. The myth of colonization is one of brave men and women making a virgin land fertile. The reality was white settlers taking land that already belonged to other people, destroying those people and then reshaping the land in their own image.

 So with the language of colonization, you bring in a metaphor that is, as my roommate pointed out, very appropriate for patriarchy, but also very disturbing. The one thinks he is simply taking something fresh and unclaimed, the other is brutalized and destroyed. There is no virgin land to be taken, a person is already there, and she has the right to that land. If she invites you in, well and good, but if you colonize then you violate her, plain and simple.

Perhaps I have, "a poetic ear like three feet of tin foil" but I do not think these implications can be missed. Do I think Wilson and Wilson were advocating rape? No. Do I think they intended their metaphors to carry these connotations? No, but they do anyway. Language is public, you can't bring in symbols without getting all their baggage. Moreover, a white man especially can't use the language of colonization without some very disturbing implications.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Victim Blaming, or Missing the Point Entirely

Image Taken from Restoration Community Church 
Warning: This post discusses sexual violence.

Today, a friend drew my attention to this post over at The Gospel Coalition, then Rachel Held Evans' response, and finally TGC rebuttal.

In the original post, TGC writer Jared C. Wilson writes about the perverted sexuality of 50 Shades of Grey, and quotes from Douglas Wilson’s book Fidelity: What it Means to be a One-Woman Man. The quote, which I won't bother to reproduce here since you can read it both in the original post and in Evans' response, has caused a great deal of outrage.

The reason for this outrage is that Wilson and Wilson appear to be claiming that egalitarianism is ultimately responsible for the existence of rape, sexual violence and forms of sexual perversion that glorify them. In other words: victim blaming. Again.

Wilson and Wilson, of course, responded to the outrage, but their response completely misses the point. They seem to think that they're being accused of advocating rape and other forms of sexual violence. I actually wouldn't be surprised if some people have accused them of it, since they use language of "conquest" and "colonization" in their description of "proper" sexual authority and submission,1 which would quite rightly upset some people.2 By-and-large, though, that isn't what people are complaining about.

People get that Wilson and Wilson are saying that rape and sexual violence is bad. That's hard to miss. Unfortunately, it's also hard to miss when Douglas Wilson says "Because we have forgotten the biblical concepts of true authority and submission, or more accurately, have rebelled against them, we have created a climate in which caricatures of authority and submission intrude upon our lives with violence." Wilson is, undeniably, claiming that egalitarianism creates the environment for sexual violence. He is saying that because woman desire something apart from the life of the curse, and desire to live in equality with men, rape happens. That is a highly disturbing thing to say, and I hope and pray Wilson and Wilson can come to see how horrifying what they're saying is.

I know complimentarians I respect. I don't think that point of view is inherently evil, though I do think it's wrong, but this is not merely complimentarianism, it's sheer unbridled patriarchy, and it's wrong.


1. Douglas Wilson thinks that using these terms is okay because not all conquest and colonization is violent and destructive... apparently.

2. Just because you intend to be saying one thing, your text can still be saying quite another. In a world in which sexual violence is so prevalent, the use of terms like "conquest" and "colonization" for healthy sexuality is not okay, even if you think you mean something different by it. Language is public.