Complementarianism, patriarchy, marriage, sex, and clear communication

20 Jul

See Jared Wilson’s post where he asks for forgiveness and explains why he has removed the offending posts.

I am very thankful for Jared’s humility and without hesitation offer forgiveness as I have been forgiven. Blessings to you, brother!

If you spend any time at all reading Evangelical blogs you are aware there is a bit of a firestorm over a post by Jared Wilson (J. Wilson) over at The Gospel Coalition from the 13th of July – “The Polluted Waters of 50 Shades of Grey, Etc.”

The post is mainly a quote from Doug Wilson (D. Wilson) and it is this quote that has created the strong response.

I am unashamedly complemenatarian. I believe the Scriptures clearly teach and present a complementarian model of the husband/wife relationship and within the church.

However, this quote has created some unpleasant and unfortunate associations and misunderstandings.

One prominent egalitarian blogger (Rachel Held Evans) sees this post as blurring the lines between what has been, up to now, distinct groups – complementarians and patriarchy.

In 2005 I wrote a series of three articles critiquing the Patriarchy and Family Integrated Church movement in the US and in those articles cited Doug Wilson as one of the leaders in this movement. (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) Therefore it causes me great concern to see others beginning to lump together a position I believe is consistent with Scriptures and a position which I believe is a misunderstanding and a misuse of Scripture.

In a follow up post along with the comments section to his initial post J. Wilson and D. Wilson have attempted to explain that the offending quote actually means exactly the opposite of what many are concluding it means.

Firstly, I am not calling D. Wilson a liar. I do not believe he meant to communicate anything that is intended to present woman as objects to be abused by men. I believe D. Wilson would be truly grieved at such a thought.

Secondly, I am not questioning J. Wilson’s motives. I am convinced that this brother meant good from this post.

I am saying though, that the quote and even the subsequent attempts to explain the quote fail to accomplish the intended goal.

Robert Louis Stevenson is reported to have said, “Don’t write to merely be understood. Write so that you cannot possibly be misunderstood.”

C. S. Lewis in his Letters to Children stated, “Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.” (HT: JT)

It seems to me beyond question that the offending quote by D. Wilson in the initial post on J. Wilson’s blog hosted by the Gospel Coalition fails this principle entirely. The quote is easily misunderstood, the words can and do communicate concepts and ideas that create significant confusion and even more tremendous hurt.

Even more important than the principles for writing given by C. S. Lewis and Robert Lewis Stevenson, in my mind is Ephesians 4:29:

29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

I cannot see how the quote given in the original blog post passes this test. Does the quote “give grace to those who read?” Is it “good for the building up” of brothers and sisters-in-Christ?

To be clear, as opposed to the offending quote, it is entirely consistent with a complementarian position to see the sexual union between husband and wife as a union of mutual pleasure giving, where neither member is dominant or controlling, but both are serving the other selflessly for the joy and pleasure of the other. (1 Corinthians 7:4 & Song of Solomon, among other texts)

So, I find myself in an unexpected position of joining with a number of egalitarians and asking J. Wilson and The Gospel Coalition to remove both the initial blog post along with the subsequent follow-up post.


3 responses to “Complementarianism, patriarchy, marriage, sex, and clear communication

  1. David McKay

    20/07/2012 at 12:43 pm

    Thanks Joe. Best response to this fracas that i have seen.

  2. Bruce Hoyt

    20/07/2012 at 12:56 pm

    Excellent response, Joe!


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