Doug Wilson: “The beauty of biblical courtship is that it never leaves women unprotected.”

One of the comments that Doug Wilson has made regarding Jamin Wight and the abuse Wight inflicted on Natalie Greenfield is that Jamin and Natalie were in a “secret courtship.” The existence of this “secret courtship” is supposed to be a mitigating factor in the abuse. For the record, Natalie, and her father Gary Greenfield, both deny the existence of a courtship, secret or otherwise. Having read a good bit of literature on courtship, I wondered how what Natalie experienced could be called a “courtship.”

I discovered that Wilson has written a book on courtship, Her Hand in Marriage: Biblical Courtship in the Modern World. I decided to read the book and consider the following questions. First, how does Wilson define courtship? What is it, and why is it preferable traditional dating? Second, would what happened to Natalie fit under that definition of courtship? And, lastly, if there had been a “secret courtship,” so what? What difference would it make?

So first, what is courtship? According to the various advocates of courtship, such as Gothard’s ATI and Phillips’ Vision Forum, courtship is a way for a young couple to determine if they are suited for marriage. Unlike traditional dating, the couple does not get to know each other through going out on unsupervised dates. Typically, the process is for a young man to approach the father of the young woman he’s interested in and ask for permission to start courting her. The end goal is marriage.

This means that a man who is initiating in a relationship must take quite a risk in talking to her father. But God has designed it so that the man is the one who is to take such a risk. He initiates, and, if she has received her father’s blessing, she responds. This is biblical courtship. Doug Wilson, Her Hand in Marriage (Kindle Locations 99-101)

Throughout the courtship, the couple will be expected to follow some strict guidelines regarding physical interaction. In general, no kissing, hugging, or hand holding.

The logic of unbelieving dating resembles a “test run” more than the courtship of a Christian virgin. Because of this test run mentality, it is not surprising that immorality is so prevalent. If a man needs to know a woman before he makes a commitment, then why should he be denied the privilege of getting to know what she is like in bed?

In God’s pattern, wisdom is exercised as public information about a suitor, or about a young woman, is carefully gathered. All intimacy follows the commitment; in the biblical pattern no intimacy precedes the commitment. Doug Wilson, Her Hand in Marriage (Kindle Locations 1001-1004, emphasis added)

This process is designed to protect young couples from becoming emotionally and intimately attached to each other before marriage. The idea is that if their emotions are kept in check, they will be able to make a more rational decision about marriage. And they will be protected from the dangers of sexual activity outside of marriage.

We must reject the pattern of abdication, disobedience, and sexual immorality which we see all around us; hence, our rejection of recreational dating, or the modern dating system. Doug Wilson, Her Hand in Marriage (Kindle Locations 124-125)

Fathers are key in this process. They act as gatekeepers and guardians. No one can court their daughters without their permission and all of the courting activities take place under their supervision.

In biblical courtship, the practical, involved authority of the father over the process is fully recognized and appreciated. With recreational dating, the authority of the father is treated as a vestige of another era, or as a joke. Doug Wilson, Her Hand in Marriage Kindle (Locations 315-317)

Doug Wilson explains the protection of courtship:

Apart from biblical dating or courting, there are many destructive consequences-emotional, sexual, and spiritual. But if a young man seeks to initiate a relationship, and takes full responsibility for the relationship under the woman’s father, there is scriptural accountability and protection. Doug Wilson, Her Hand in Marriage (Kindle Locations 40-41)

The beauty of biblical courtship is that it never leaves women unprotected. Doug Wilson, Her Hand in Marriage (Kindle Location 93)

In courtship, a woman’s fundamental protection is provided by her father. But this does not mean that her suitor has no responsibility to act like a gentleman. Suppose the father has given his permission for a young man to court his daughter. As a godly man approaches a woman, he should assume all the risk. Doug Wilson, Her Hand in Marriage (Kindle Locations 437-439)

Wilson also explains the way courtship should work. By its nature, courtship is very public:

With biblical courtship, the courting activity is publicly connected to the life of the family, most likely the family of the young daughter. With recreational dating, the privacy of the couple is paramount. Doug Wilson, Her Hand in Marriage (Kindle Locations 322-323, emphasis added)

When a young man is given permission to court a young woman, he is limited in his access to her. He has permission to get to know her while spending time with her family:

If the daughter is interested in the suitor, then the father should come back to him, and say, “No, you cannot take my daughter out, but you may take us out.” Because there is interest, the young man is given permission to spend time with the family. If that goes well, he may begin to spend time alone with the daughter under the watchful oversight of the father. The young man is being invited to spend time with the family. (Kindle Locations 856-859, emphasis added)

If at any point the father (or the daughter) decide that the courtship shouldn’t continue, the father can revoke the permission:

If it becomes obvious during the courtship that the young man is not suitable, then it is the father’s duty to explain to him that he is not free to continue to come around in the same way. He no longer has the father’s permission to single his daughter out in the way he has been doing. (Kindle Locations 867-868)

To summarize, courtship is an alternative to traditional dating that allows young couples to determine if they should get married while seeking and honoring a father’s role as protector of his daughters. It is designed to provide emotional and physical protection for young men and women. It is openly acknowledged, public, and has strict boundaries. There is no physical intimacy.

Given that understanding of what courtship is, let’s consider what happened to Natalie. I will warn you that the details are graphic and disturbing. Natalie explains how things began:

Jamin expressed an interest in me to my parents when I was 14 years old, months after he’d begun grooming me and had already instigated a physical relationship with me. To say I had a crush on him would be an understatement – I was completely infatuated with him, as is very common for abuse victims,  and had been since shortly after I met him at a church event when I was 13 years old. (No one knew the depth of my affection for him, of course, I think told my parents I thought he was pretty cool.) My parents told Jamin he could wait for me if he wanted to and they’d  reassess the situation when I was 18 years old. It was made exceedingly clear that in the meantime there was to be no ‘relationship’ whatsoever. As far as my parents knew there was no relationship … . My parents were naive and foolish, yes. They trusted him to respect the house rules regarding their daughter, partly because he’d been vetted by their own pastor as a seminary student. He didn’t follow the rules.

As a side note, it is common practice in Moscow for students at New Saint Andrews and Greyfriars to board with families. Students and families are encouraged to participate in this housing arrangement.

So, Jamin approached Natalie’s father and expressed interest in courtship. At that time, Natalie was 14, and Jamin was 24. Jamin was told that he could wait until Natalie was 18, and if he was still interested, then a courtship might be considered. Based on Wilson’s guidelines for courtship, that should have been the end of Jamin seeking out Natalie. But it wasn’t. You can read the timeline of events that Natalie put together here.

Here are some excerpts from Natalie describing what did happen over the next few years.

The beginning:

Jamin moved into our mansion on B Street and lived there along with 4-5 other boarders. At some point during this process Jamin expressed an interest in getting to know me. My parents discussed what they should do and ultimately my father told him he could wait around for me until I was older, if he wanted, and strictly forbade any development of a physical or romantic relationship. We were allowed to be friends. Two weeks later Jamin kissed me for the first time.

Later:

Let me describe a scene to you, one scene of many, many more just like it. It’s late afternoon in an old house on B Street in Moscow. A 14 year old girl goes bounces down the stairs of her family’s 8-bedroom mansion to get her favorite pair of jeans from the laundry hamper. A 24 year old man follows her down the stairs and enters the laundry room behind her. He sneaks up behind her and grabs her by the shoulders, she shrieks, then giggles. “Shhhhh! C’mere!” He says. He pulls her by the hand into the dungeon-like bathroom adjacent to the laundry room. “Jamin, stop! My mom will hear us!” the girl protests. “Then be quiet” he says, pushing down firmly on the top of her head until she buckles to her knees. She knows what he wants, it’s what he always wants and she hates it. She begins giving it to him and a minute later they hear footsteps coming down the long basement stairs. The man shoves the girl away from him, she falls backward into the laundry room and he closes the bathroom door to finish the job himself. The girl jumps to her feet, wipes her mouth and runs up the basement stairs, shaking nervously as she passes her mother on way. A close call.

The abuse continues:

Jamin began more serious abuse, this included sexual, physical, verbal and emotional abuse. He was wildly jealous of me, he spied on me, he gave me a strict set of rules to follow regarding my behavior, dress, and social life, he forced me to perform oral sex on him on a regular basis, he oiled the hinges of the doors in our home and frequently snuck into my room in the middle of the night, he limited when I was allowed to leave the house and where I was allowed to go (he did this by privately bullying me, as far as anyone else knew the decisions were my own), he demeaned me constantly and convinced me never to tell anyone about what was happening because he said they’d all know I was a slut and no one else would ever love me, he told me I should not go to college or develop any career or interests because I was to be his wife and the mother of his children someday and would have no need for continued education or a career path, he lectured me constantly on my flirtatious, sinful, tempting ways and convinced me I was an abhorrent girl with few redeemable qualities.

After Natalie’s father kicked Jamin out of the house:

Jamin no longer lived with us but still occasionally stopped by to grab belongings he’d left, and during these brief visits would rendezvous with me in the basement or in a car for sex favors. One time, I stopped him on the front porch and quietly asked him if I was still a virgin because I didn’t know if fisting constituted penetration. He laughed at me, then walked inside. This was one of the last times we ever spoke.

What Natalie describes is troubling and clearly abusive behavior on the part of Jamin. He groomed her, he abused her, and he did it all secretly and privately, hiding his actions from her family. There is nothing about what Jamin did to Natalie that remotely fits Wilson’s description of courtship.

The last question that I want to consider is: even if Natalie’s parents had agreed to a courtship between Jamin and Natalie, would that change anything? No, and here’s why. If Jamin had been allowed to court Natalie, he would have been given permission to get to know Natalie and her family in an open, public, and respectable fashion. He would not have had permission to have any physical intimacy or private dates with her.

So even if there had been a courtship, that would not have given Jamin the right to treat Natalie the ways in which he did. It would not explain or excuse any of his behavior. And it should not have been used to minimize the sentence Jamin received.

Jamin’s abuse of Natalie was not in any way a courtship. I’ve written before about the abusive tendencies of patriarchal systems, but I sincerely hope that emotional, physical, and sexual violation are not common behavior in Wilsonian courtships.

When a man initiates and a woman responds with her father’s approval, everything is wonderful. Doug Wilson, Her Hand in Marriage (Kindle Location 1008)

A Justice Primer: The Investigation

Late last week, Canon Press released a statement with the findings from their investigation into the plagiarism in A Justice Primer. To refresh our memories, the original statement they released back in December was:

Canon Press has investigated the charges of plagiarism and improper citation in A Justice Primer, and it is abundantly clear that the editor and co-author, Randy Booth, plagiarized material in multiple instances from a number of different sources. Such negligence and editorial incompetence is a gross breach of contract and obviously does not meet Canon Press’s publishing standards. As such, we have discontinued the book, effective immediately. Refer to the author statements below for more information. We would like to specifically thank Rachel Miller for bringing this to our attention so we could take the necessary steps to immediately correct such a serious error.

Apparently they have now changed their minds about portions of this statement. There are three main points that they make in the new statement. First, they claim I had help with my original article that I didn’t cite. Second, they claim that my colleague and I have a personal animosity towards Doug Wilson and that bias negatively affected the research. And third, they claim the plagiarism wasn’t intentional, was mostly citation errors, and was really not such a big deal after all. I would like to address each of these points in turn.

First, Canon Press has “discovered” that Valerie Hobbs helped me with my research. Valerie and I have worked and published together in the past, and I did ask her to help me.  I did all of my own research, and the material I published in my article was my own work and my own findings. Valerie had a small, but much appreciated role in my research.

Here’s how the research process went. While preparing to write a review of the book, I discovered some passages that seemed odd. I decided to check if they were original to the book or from some other source. Because the book is only available as a hard copy book, and not electronically, I had to type up the quotes I wanted to search. Then I ran various quotes from the book through a commercially available plagiarism software. When I discovered plagiarized material in A Justice Primer, I wanted to be careful that my research was accurate.

Because large portions of the book were taken from Wilson and Booth’s blog posts, I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t missing something. I didn’t want to say it was plagiarism by Wilson or Booth and have it actually be that someone had plagiarized their work. So, I discussed my findings with Valerie. She offered to run the quotes through the academic/research software she has access to as a professor and researcher. She did not turn up any additional plagiarism. What she found was consistent with what I had already discovered.

So there’s the big secret. Valerie double checked my work for accuracy. Since the findings were truly mine, I didn’t see any need to cite her assistance. But I am very grateful for her help. If Canon Press had bothered to ask me during their investigation, I would have happily supplied that information to them.

Second, Canon Press now seems to believe that because I have a history of writing things critical to Doug Wilson my findings are suspect. Doug Wilson himself addressed that very issue when he publicly thanked me back in December. He noted that while we have had our disagreements, he was thankful for my work in this matter.

It was no secret that I read A Justice Primer with the intention of critiquing it. I said so in my original post. It is absolutely true that I disagree with Doug Wilson on many theological matters. That doesn’t change the facts that I presented in my article. I was very careful in my discussion of the plagiarism not to speculate who had done the plagiarizing. Canon seems to think that I knew Booth was responsible and didn’t say so so that I could implicate Wilson. That is not true.

As I’ve said before, much of the book was taken from blog posts that Wilson and Booth had written over the last 10 years. However, there were large portions of the book that did not seem to come from either blog. The book itself gives no indication who wrote which portions or that Booth was the editor. When Canon released their first statement that Booth took full responsibility for the plagiarism, I agreed that Booth was likely the one responsible. But, because I could not know for certain who wrote what at the time of my post, I refrained from speculating. It would have been unfair to either author to do otherwise.  And ultimately, as Doug Wilson has said regarding plagiarism:

But with all said and done, the person whose name is on the cover of the book is responsible to put things completely right if a problem surfaces. He may not be guilty, but he is always responsible — as basic covenant theology teaches us.

Lastly, the recent statement by Canon Press appears to say that the problems in A Justice Primer aren’t really that bad. It was unintentional. There were “citation errors.”

Let’s consider that for a moment. Before I published my article on the plagiarism, I presented my findings to 5 seminary and university professors. I wanted to know what they thought of the significance of what I’d found. All of them said it was plagiarism. They said that if they had done it, they would have been in trouble with their university/seminary/academic community. They also said that if one of their students had done the same the student would face disciplinary action including expulsion. Plagiarism is serious business.

What do universities say about plagiarism? Here are a few university statements. I’ll start with the one from Greyfriars’ Hall, the ministerial program in Moscow. New Saint Andrew’s uses a very similar statement:

Students must avoid plagiarism, misrepresentation, misappropriation of the work of others, or any other form of academic dishonesty, whether intentional or the result of reckless disregard for academic integrity (see “Plagiarism” in Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers, sixth edition, p. 74 [5.2]). Such academic dishonesty may be grounds for disciplinary action by the instructor and Greyfriars’ Hall administration up to and including dismissal from Greyfriars’ Hall. (emphasis added)

This one is from the University of Sheffield:

Plagiarism(either intentional or unintentional) is the using of ideas or work of another person (including experts and fellow or former students) and submitting them as your own. It is considered dishonest and unprofessional. Plagiarism may take the form of cutting and pasting, taking or closely paraphrasing ideas, passages, sections, sentences, paragraphs, drawings, graphs and other graphical material from books, articles, internet sites or any other source and submitting them for assessment without appropriate acknowledgement. (emphasis added)

Here’s one from Duke University on what constitutes “unintentional plagiarism“:

Unintentional plagiarism is plagiarism that results from the disregard for proper scholarly procedures.

Examples of Unintentional Plagiarism:
Failure to cite a source that is not common knowledge.
Failure to “quote” or block quote author’s exact words, even if documented.
Failure to put a paraphrase in your own words, even if documented.
Failure to put a summary in your own words, even if documented.
Failure to be loyal to a source.

Or this one from Baker College on the difference between intentional and unintentional plagiarism:

Intentional plagiarism is copying someone’s words or ideas without citing them, in order to pass them off as your own (in other words, cheating).

Unintentional plagiarism is accidentally leaving off the required citation(s) because you don’t understand the rules of citation and plagiarism.

Going back to Canon’s statement, I didn’t speculate in my article as to whether or not the plagiarism was intentional. It’s certainly possible that Booth unintentionally plagiarized in places. In his own statement, he said he wasn’t aware that he had to cite dictionary definitions. And failure to put Tim Challies’ words in quotation marks or as a blockquote could also fall under this category, since there was some attempt at citation near that passage.

However, the chapter on Shimei is still hard to explain. Whole sentences and paragraphs were taken from the two sources and weaved together without any indication where the material came from. It’s hard to understand how that happens accidentally. But either way, intentionally or unintentionally, all of these are still plagiarism, by definition.

According to the academic statements above, if a student commits plagiarism, he or she will face discipline whether the plagiarism was intentional or unintentional. No one but Randy Booth knows if he intended to commit plagiarism or not. And in the end, it doesn’t matter. Either way the material was plagiarized.

For example, it’s plagiarism if an author takes information from another website and publishes it on his own blog without linking or attributing the original source:

Booth-Creation

Left column: Randy Booth Right column: Creation.com

And again, material taken from another website without attribution is plagiarism:

Booth--Creation

Left column: Randy Booth Right column: Creation.com

It’s also plagiarism to take words from another source, change them slightly, and use them as your own without citation:

mag-1

The left-hand side of the image below comes from page 130 of Doug Wilson’s book, Fidelity, published in 1999. The right-hand side comes from page 777 of the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery edited by Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, Tremper Longman III and published in 1998.

 

I hope that Canon Press and the authors involved will be more careful in the future with their citations. I also think it would have been wise for Canon to have kept to their original statement on the plagiarism in A Justice Primer. It was clear and concise. I don’t believe their current statement has done them any favors.

A Justice Primer: Discontinued as of December 10, 2015

Canon Press, publisher of A Justice Primer, has discontinued the book due to the plagiarism cited in my other post:

CANON PRESS STATEMENT:

Canon Press has investigated the charges of plagiarism and improper citation in A Justice Primer, and it is abundantly clear that the editor and co-author, Randy Booth, plagiarized material in multiple instances from a number of different sources. Such negligence and editorial incompetence is a gross breach of contract and obviously does not meet Canon Press’s publishing standards. As such, we have discontinued the book, effective immediately. Refer to the author statements below for more information. We would like to specifically thank Rachel Miller for bringing this to our attention so we could take the necessary steps to immediately correct such a serious error.

You can read the full statement here.

Justice, Character, and Plagiarism

UPDATE: Canon Press, publisher of A Justice Primer, has discontinued the book

Plagiarism

noun
1. an act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author’s work as one’s own, as by not crediting the original author

In the process of writing my review of A Justice Primer, I ran across a sentence that seemed familiar. I searched and discovered that it was one of those quotes that has a million versions and no one knows where exactly it originated. While searching, I ran several excerpts from the book in a plagiarism checker and had unexpected results. I expected that many quotes would have links to Doug Wilson’s or Randy Booth’s websites, and they did, However, some quotes had links to other sites.

The images that follow are comparisons. Each image has a page from A Justice Primer on the left and a page from another source on the right. The verbatim (word for word) text is highlighted, generally in yellow. The paraphrased (similar) wording is highlighted in tan. None of the highlighted sections were attributed in the book to the original authors or sources.

Four of the instances are definitions: Bulverism, jurisdiction, poetic justice, weasel words (“Weasel words” requires three images because its definition spans two pages in A Justice Primer and two different sections of Wikipedia). Click on an image to enlarge, a gallery will open with all of these images. Click on the “x” in the left hand corner to return to the post.

Four are excerpts from other known authors: Tim Challies, Iain MurrayGreg Bahnsen, and Ellen G. White. Click on an image to enlarge, a gallery will open with all of these images. Click on the “x” in the left hand corner to return to the post.

The largest and most significant example comes from a chapter in A Justice Primer entitled, “Justice and Character.” In these images there are both yellow and blue highlighting to illustrate that the material comes from two separate sources. The yellow text is from an article by Paul Rose, and the blue text is from a devotional by Wayne Blank. The Bible verses are highlighted in tan because a different translation of the Bible was used, although the verses are grouped and used in the same manner as the Wayne Blank devotional.

The first group of images shows the side by side comparison of the book chapter pages and each source. Because of the way the two sources were woven together in the book chapter, the images may seem repetitive, but each image has pertinent details. Click on an image to enlarge, a gallery will open with all of these images. Click on the “x” in the left hand corner to return to the post.

These next images show the text of the book chapter with all of the copied text highlighted, along with the full text of the Paul Rose article and Wayne Blank devotional. This is to illustrate the amount of material taken from each source. Click on an image to enlarge, a gallery will open with all of these images. Click on the “x” in the left hand corner to return to the post.

Paul Rose
Paul Rose

Wayne Blank
Wayne Blank

This is a significant amount of unoriginal work, and it’s not the first time that Doug Wilson has had a book with plagiarized material. Southern Slavery: As It Was was written by Doug Wilson and Steve Wilkins. When the plagiarism was uncovered, the book was pulled by Canon Press and later revised and republished as Black and Tan without Steve Wilkins as co-author. Wilson wrote regarding the charges of plagiarism:

And this is the reason the issue of intentionality is so important to us (and to them). Both Steve and I are ministers of the gospel. If either of us intentionally stole the intellectual property of Fogel and Engerman, then we should resign from the ministry. We would be disqualified from our office, having disgraced it. That is the difference between intentional and unintentional in this, and it is not a trifle. It does not matter — if we have been out stealing stereos, automobiles, or ideas — we need to figure out another way to feed our families.

A Justice Primer: What is the Purpose?

Last month I read the following book recommendation by Kevin DeYoung:

Douglas Wilson and Randy Booth, A Justice Primer (Canon Press, 2015). I thought this was a book on social justice, economics, and big picture politics. It’s actually a book about how the Bible would have us judge each other (or not) in the mad, mad world of blog warriors and internet vigilantes. This book is full of refreshing wisdom. I hope it reaches a wide audience. And if you already know that Doug Wilson is a good-for-nothing scoundrel (and I don’t know him personally and do strongly disagree with him at times), then that’s an indication that you really need this book.

While I was a little surprised by the positive review, I decided I should read the book and decide for myself.

A Justice Primer is an interesting read. The basic premise of the book is that almost no one really understands Biblical justice. Wilson and Booth write:

And this is why we are writing now about justice. There are a number of people in our circles (in a number of situations) who clearly have no firm grasp of what justice is or how it functions. (61)

The authors are specifically concerned about public accusations and charges and how Biblical justice requires that we respond:

Justice often has to do with public accusations and charges that are denied by the one accused. When that happens it is necessary for the accused to be prepared to prove what he says. In order to do this, he must not be anonymous, he must be accountable for his charges (in case they prove deliberate falsehoods), and he must have independent confirmation of what he says. If these conditions are not met, we are prohibited by Scripture from even entertaining the charges (there must be two or three credible witnesses). (5)

Wilson and Booth also explain that they have personal experience with these issues:

These matters are not hypothetical. Some of us have been maligned and misrepresented more times than Carter’s got little liver pills. We also have friends around the country who have been in judicial meltdowns of various kinds, and we have had friends occupying different places in those meltdowns. We known conscientious pastors who have been slandered by parishioners. We know conscientious parishioners who have been slandered by elders. And we have heard of a fracas (from time to time) that doesn’t concern us, and we do not want to take a passing dog by the ears. (41)

What is interesting to me is the unstated purpose for writing this book. Starting back in 2006 or so, Doug Wilson began a series of posts on his blog with the category tag “A Justice Primer.” The reason that is significant is that most of the book is taken from Wilson’s “A Justice Primer” blog posts. From the very first many of the posts addressed the Federal Vision controversy and trials:

Public records still need to be sifted, assembled, arranged, and the arguments presented. … This is the response that the RPCUS made when asked why they thought the Auburn guys were heretics. Their “proof” of the charges were the conference tapes themselves.

The blog posts also dealt with R.C. Sproul, Jr. and the circumstances surrounding him and his session at Saint Peter Presbyterian Church. Sproul, Jr. was defrocked and deposed for a number of reasons including tax fraud, practicing paedocommunion, and ecclesiastical abuse. After the session was deposed, they apologized to the RPCGA and then transferred the church’s membership from the RPCGA and to Doug Wilson’s denomination, the CREC. The CREC examined Sproul, Jr., restored his credentials, and accepted him as a member in good standing.

All of this was going on during the writing of Wilson’s blog posts:

3. Who took their complaints to the internet before they were appropriately adjudicated by the appropriate governing bodies? Who took the show on the road before the church had dealt with the issue? A good example of this would be the recent flap surrounding R.C. Sproul, Jr. and the RPCGA. Everyone who is posting or running some variation of passingdogbytheears.com ought to withdraw their cyber-charges and privately offer any legitimate evidence they might have to the appropriate adjudicating bodies.

Though they have been stripped of any mention of R.C. Sproul, Jr., these blog posts are a significant portion of A Justice Primer. The advice takes on a different significance when the purpose is known:

If someone comes to you from another Christian church, and they are under some kind of cloud, admonition, rebuke, suspension from the Table, or excommunication, what this should mean is that the burden of proof has shifted. An individual in your own church is innocent until it is proven that he is guilty. Guilt has to be established, and it has to be established beyond any reasonable doubt. But if another church has taken disciplinary action of some sort against one of its members, and then that member comes to you, the burden should be on him to demonstrate and prove that an injustice was done to him. If he can do so, and all the principles of justice are remembered (with the former body given full opportunity to present its reasons), then there is no problem (in principle) with a receiving body overturning a judicial decision by another church. (48-49)

And,

Honest sessions and presbyteries discipline liars who run off to other churches and tell lies. So be careful. Dishonest presbyteries heave godly saints out the door. Do not honor judicial outrages. The list of saints who have been treated unjustly by ecclesiastical assemblies is a long and honorable one. (49)

And,

From time to time we hear of some Internet dust-up where the charges are leveled against the pastor, session, or leadership of a Christian organization. The Bible is very explicit in the way it tells us to handle such circumstances. Therefore, when the charges are framed contrary to these biblical standards, they should simply be round-filed. (62)

And,

[C]hurch discipline is one thing, and persecution is quite another. Church discipline honors and protects the name of Christ. Persecution, or zealously hounding dissenters, disgraces the name of Christ, and in effect denies the gospel. That this is a perennial temptation for Christians who take the Scriptures seriously can be seen in all the attempts we have seen to get us to take this particular bait. … The church must not only discipline its members, it must also discipline itself. (219)

The other person that “A Justice Primer” blog posts were written about and for is Steve Wilkins. Steve Wilkins is pastor of Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church in Louisiana. He, and it, were originally part of the PCA. He, and it, left the PCA because of his adherence to the Federal Vision theology. At the time of the blog posts, Wilkins was facing a trial over his views. In “To Get the Chimps Jumping” Wilson wrote:

Now the occasion for writing all this is the examination of Steve Wilkins that is currently underway in the PCA. I have said, and I continue to say, that what is most necessary here is for as many people as possible to acquaint themselves with what Steve has been teaching. If they read through some stuff a couple years ago, they should refresh themselves on it. They should settle in their own minds whether Steve, when he says that he affirms the Westminster doctrine of election, is affirming the Westminster doctrine of election. Having done this, they should pray that the Louisiana Presbytery will make a godly and wise decision, and then, that the Standing Judicial Commission will make a godly and wise decision in letting that decision stand.

The advice from that post also appears in the book with the references to Wilkins removed:

There are public sins that must be dealt with publicly, but not every accusation against a leader rises to this level. … [I]t is perilously easy to fall into the species of harmful do-goodism that wants to uproot the tares, but that kind of do-goodism is at root diabolical. This is true of accusations of private wrongdoing (e.g. embezzlement) and accusations of public heresy. … The second matter, is a public matter, should be handled as a public matter in public view … The overall theme of the Scripture is that the true conservatives are the falsely accused; it is one of the great ironies of our day that ostensible conservatives want to earn their gunslinging stripes by accusing. … Where in Scripture is the theme of the zealous accuser who wants to root out some troublemaker? … But the words Satan and devil (with their deep connotations of adversarial accusation) are used as they are for a reason. (244-245)

And,

There are some who are distressed on our behalf over the lies that are being told about us. But this is just part of the cost of doing business. Jesus said to expect it and to rejoice when it happened, and Scripture requires those in spiritual authority to take care that they not react in a manner that makes the accusations retroactively true. False accusations of tyranny could provoke a man into tyranny. (246)

Wilson also wrote about Steve Wilkins in a post, “Appealing to the Cheap Seats“:

But when the charge concerns what someone has been teaching and saying in public, it is fully appropriate to appeal to that public, which is precisely what Jesus did in this situation. I will have more to say on this in a follow-up post, but I have known Steve for many years, and have heard him teach and preach in many settings. I have read what he has written here. I have heard him explain his full commitment to the doctrinal system found in the Westminster Confession to his critics, face to face, and in an unambiguous way. What he has made available to the public in this setting is fully consistent with what I have heard him say in other places and times.

All this is simply a biblical defense of what I urged everyone to do yesterday. Read what Steve wrote, listen to what he has taught, and then wait patiently for the response of the PCA. The more people who are watching this, the better. This is a public event, and it concerns the public teaching of a public minister. This is a place where many people are involved in making sure justice is done.

That post also appears in the Justice Primer book without reference to Wilkins:

In many of these cases what a person is saying or teaching has been said or taught in many settings. We have read what they have written. For example, we have heard them explain to their critics their full commitment to the doctrinal system found in the Westminster Confession, face to fact, in an unambiguous way. What the teacher has made available to the public in this setting is fully consistent with what we have heard him say in other places and times. In other words, the public has access to all the pertinent facts. If a judicial body is involved (e.g., a church court), then wait patiently for their response. … The courts don’t always get it right. (68-69)

What’s my point with all of this? Well, the book is based on blog posts that were written to defend and protect certain men against perceived injustices by church courts and by those who were discussing the cases on the Internet. With that context, the purpose of the book becomes clearer, and we can then decide if the book’s advice is as useful as it claims to be.

As Wilson and Booth write in the book, “Persons bring charges. Persons have motivations. Those motivations need to be evaluated, just like the charges do.” (92) Persons also write books and have motivations that need to be evaluated.

 

Doug Wilson: “I am not defending the rapist.”

Last week, Doug Wilson wrote a provocative post, A Theology of Slut Walks, where he attempts to Newspeak (Dougspeak?) his way through defending a rapist while claiming not he’s not actually defending a rapist. Without getting into the twisted logic of his post, I thought there were a couple of quotes that were worth considering.

Those quotes are: “I am not defending the rapist.” And, “If somebody kidnapped and raped the most outrageous organizer of the worst slut pride event ever, I would want to see that rapist punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

Scripture teaches that we are known by our fruits. While it is commendable that Wilson would write the above, have his actions fit those words? What are Wilson’s fruits in regards to rapists?

Before we move on, we should consider the definition of rape. According to Doug Wilson, “I would define rape as having any kind of sexual relationship with someone apart from or against her or his consent.” I think that’s a good working definition. Given that definition, both Steve Sitler and Jamin Wight would qualify as rapists. They had sexual “relationships” with minors, who by definition cannot consent.

The question, then, is: what did Wilson do in regards to actual rapists in his community, not merely hypothetical ones in his article?

When Sitler and Wight’s actions came to light, and they were brought to court, Wilson chose to sit with the accused instead of the victims. Wilson also appealed to the court on behalf of both Sitler and Wight requesting leniency.

From his letter for Sitler:

I have been asked to provide a letter on behalf of Steven Sitler, which I am happy to do. . . . I am grateful that he will be sentenced for his behavior, and that there will be hard consequences for him in real time. At the same time, I would urge that the civil penalties applied would be measured and limited. I have a good hope that Steven has genuinely repented, and that he will continue to deal with this to become a productive and contributing member of society.

And from a letter for Wight:

We have told him [Wight] that it is appropriate for him to obtain legal representation in order to ensure that his legal and civil rights are fully respected, and to ensure that the punishment given to him is not draconian or disproportionate. . . . I also believe that it requires that I labor to see that justice really is done to Jamin (at the same time excluding injustice through severe penalties), as well as laboring to protect the Greenfields, particularly Natalie. (emphasis added)

Both Wight and Sitler plea bargained down to lesser crimes and received reduced sentences or less time actually in jail. After their brief incarcerations, Sitler and Wight have continued to benefit from Wilson’s support and defense.

Sitler was married off to a young woman from Wilson’s church. Wilson himself performed the ceremony. This was after a judge had to rule over whether or not Sitler could get married. Because in the normal way of things, marriages bring children, and convicted pedophiles can’t be trusted around children, even their own. The judge noted that there was no legal reason to deny the marriage, but that if children were born to the couple, then there would need to be a reevaluation of the living situation.

Last year, a baby boy was born to Sitler and his wife. Sitler has since been removed from the home:

In December 2014, Steven Sitler began failing polygraph questions about pornography. And in July 2015 he snapped the needle, failing multiple lie-detector questions. But polygraphs are not admissible in court and cannot be cause of action to revoke probation. Therefore, in July 2015 the judge put a “line of sight”restriction on Sitler, requiring one of his state-approved chaperones to be in the “line of sight” of Steven Sitler whenever he’s near his child. Sitler’s two chaperones were his mother and his wife.

However, in the last two weeks P&P revoked “chaperone” status from both women because they failed to notify P&P that Sitler advised them of some of his perversions. Consequently, Sitler does not live at his home until more chaperones can be found. Court meets again tomorrow (Tuesday, September 7, 2015).

Wight went on to marry a young woman in the community. They were married at Trinity Reformed Church (CREC) by Pastor Leithart. Wight abused and attempted to strangle his wife. Thankfully she survived and has successfully divorced from him.

But even with these dreadful circumstances, Wilson continues to defend Wight and Sitler and to defend his own actions in support of them. When the Sitler story broke this September, Wilson wrote an open letter defending his actions:

Katie and her family had all the facts when she agreed to marry Steven, which was important, but the decision to marry was the couple’s decision, not ours. That said, I officiated at the wedding and was glad to do so. . .

And when the Sitler story brought up the Wight story again, Wilson has written many, many words to defend himself and Wight and to blame the victim and her parents. Here is a portion of the letter Wilson wrote in 2005 on behalf of Wight seeking to lay the blame on the victim and her parents:

In our meeting the Greenfields (who had no idea of the sexual behavior occurring between Jamin and Natalie) acknowledged their sin and folly in helping to set the situation up. They did this by inviting Jamin to move in with them, encouraging and permitting a relationship between Jamin and Natalie, while keeping that relationship secret from the broader community. They thought (and were led to believe by Jamin) that the relationship was sexually pure, but they did know it was a relationship between a man in his mid-twenties and their fourteen-year-old daughter, and they helped to create the climate of secrecy. At the same time, their folly (as Pat Greenfield has aptly pointed out) was not a felony. It is not a crime to be foolish, while it is a crime to do what Jamin did. I agree with this completely, and in describing this aspect of the situation I do not believe it absolves Jamin of any responsibility for his behavior. But it does explain what kind of criminal behavior it was. For example, I do not believe that this situation in any way paints Jamin as a sexual predator. In all my years as a pastor, I don’t believe that I have ever seen such a level of parental foolishness as what the Greenfields did in this.

Natalie, the daughter mentioned above, was 13 years old when the abuse began. Wight, her abuser, was 23:

I was molested as a young teen. A man living under my parent’s roof, paying his rent by helping with the remodeling of our home, in training at Greyfriar’s Seminary to become a pastor , groomed me, sexually abused me, and molested me from the time I was 13 until I was 16 years old. He was 10 years older than me. A true monster; I was made to feel worthless, as though no one but he would ever love me. I was told that if I ever told anyone, it would ruin his life because people simply wouldn’t understand what we shared. I became an expert at lying to my parents. I was forced into sexual acts time and time again that no young girl should ever be subjected to. When I was 17 years old, a friend whom I had confided in (and who I am forever grateful to) convinced me to go to the police and press charges against my abuser.

Besides blaming her parents for “foolishness,” Wilson has also blamed Natalie for being a tall and beautiful young woman:

The reason we did not want it (the crime) treated as pedophilia is that her parents had bizarrely brought Jamin into the house as a boarder so that he could conduct a secret courtship with Natalie. So Jamin was in a romantic relationship with a young girl, her parents knew of the relationship and encouraged it, her parents permitted a certain measure of physical affection to exist between them (e.g. hand-holding), Natalie was a beautiful and striking young woman, and at the time was about eight inches taller than Jamin was. Her parents believed that she was mature enough to be in that relationship, and the standards they set for the relationship would have been reasonable if she had in fact been of age and if the two had not been living under the same roof.

Clearly in these two cases, Wilson has indeed defended rapists and has not sought for them to be prosecuted to the “to the fullest extent of the law.” Despite what he has written on his blog and in his books, Wilson chose to support, defend, and care for the rapists at the expense of their victims. I do not deny that even rapists need pastoral counseling, but taking the side of the abusers and blaming victims is not pastoral care.

In Scripture, Jesus told his disciples that there would be false teachers and that these false teachers would be known because of their fruit. Maybe we should all consider what Wilson’s fruits say about him:

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’  (Matthew 7:15-23 ESV)

My Experience with Patriarchy

Since I began writing about the dangers of patriarchy years go, I have had several comments that I’ve completely misunderstood/misrepresented patriarchy and its adherents. I’ve been told that there might be a few abuses of the system, but that on the whole people are happy and well cared for in patriarchal churches, organizations, and families. I’ve been told that women aren’t hurt by patriarchy.

On the other hand, I regularly hear from women, and some men, who affirm that what I’ve described is exactly what they’ve lived through with patriarchy. Occasionally, these comments are made publicly on my blog, but more often, they are sent to me privately. One such comment came in yesterday, and I asked the author if I could share the comment anonymously on my blog. The author agreed.

I want to share it here because it speaks to many of the problems that I’ve addressed about the patriarchy movement. This is not meant to be experiential proof, but it is an illustration of the damage I believe results from patriarchal teachings. I have edited out a couple of details to maintain the privacy of the author.

“I just had a long conversation with someone sparked by your post about Nancy Wilson. My gosh, it’s so exhausting trying to explain how Patriarchy hurts women. I still cry sometimes because I feel inferior to men because of my gender, but I guess that’s just me being an emotional, easily confused woman.

I’m marrying a wonderful man who will give his life for me everyday. The only time I’ve ever known him to ‘pull rank’ and tell me what I need to do is when he is directly concerned for my well-being. We talked about vows, and I will promise to ‘obey’ him. That doesn’t scare me, but sometimes I’m scared the entire rest of the world has gone crazy.
What I hate about Patriarchy now is how paranoid it’s made me. My guard is always up. The pastor pulls out Ephesians 5 in our premarital counseling, and I’m thinking ‘What’s he going to say? What’s he going to say?’
I have anxiety attacks in some of my classes because I’m afraid that what’s being said about male/female roles will prove that I’m inferior. I had to leave a class one day, because I can’t hear Genesis 3 taught without falling apart.
But to some that’s all in my head. That’s my malfunction. Nothing wrong with teaching that a woman’s identity is in her husband, that her body is his property, that she can never speak up to or disobey him. That can’t be it– it must be me.
I was incredibly depressed as a teen. Okay, I might have been depressed no matter what, but you know what made it the worst? Not knowing what to do with myself. Sure, everything about me was inclined towards academics, but I was supposed to prep for marriage. I was supposed to be satisfied at home: cooking, cleaning, decorating, and I WASN’T. It felt like something was wrong with me. I wanted so much to be a man–because I didn’t feel cut out for whatever it was to be a woman.
I never told anyone what I was feeling either. Because it was sinful and wrong to feel it. I was supposed to be happy with who God made me to be, but I was rebelling.
So that’s a disjointed rant. I don’t know what to do with all these emotions. The fear can cripple me sometimes. I just want to believe that people (well, to be honest, probably specifically MEN) care that that was my experience with Patriarchy. And no, I wasn’t doing it wrong.”

Nancy Wilson: “my ministry is visibly connected to my husband’s and is not seen as a separate work”

After Dr. Valerie Hobbs and I wrote our article looking at Doug Wilson’s wedding exhortations, we were told that we were wrong in our conclusions about Wilson’s view of women. Several people, Wilson included, wrote that Wilson obviously thinks very highly of women and their abilities. Wilson’s wife, Nancy, and daughters/daughters-in-law and their books and articles were given as examples of how wrong we were in our analysis. Of course, our research was about Doug Wilson’s words not his family.

However, continuing in the research I’ve been doing, I read one of Nancy Wilson’s books, The Fruit of Her Hands. Her book is full of advice for Christian wives. In reading it, I realized that it would be worthwhile to compare Nancy’s advice to that of her husband. Would her words support the conclusions of our article? Or would they contradict them?

In what follows, I will quote short statements in bold from our article. After each statement, I will give quotes from Nancy Wilson’s book that I believe support each of our conclusions.

“At the heart of Wilson’s theology of the wife is the notion of being something belonging to her husband”

Two of the main themes that Valerie and I found in reading Doug Wilson’s exhortations were that women were encouraged to “be” not to “do” and to “respond/receive” not “initiate.”

Taking that first point, in Nancy Wilson’s book she writes that a wife is a garden that belongs to her husband and that a husband is a garden tender:

As a Christian woman begins to see herself as a garden, she can take a more eager interest in making it a lovely garden that her husband delights to spend time in. – Wilson, Nancy (2011-03-04). The Fruit of Her Hands (Kindle Locations 951-952). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

And,

of course a husband is never trespassing in his own garden, though he can be made to feel as though he is an intruder. – Wilson, Nancy (2011-03-04). The Fruit of Her Hands (Kindle Locations 957-958). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

And,

In fact, in many ways, the husband is the garden tender, and the wife becomes a source of great joy and delight to the husband as he spends time in the garden he faithfully tends. – Wilson, Nancy (2011-03-04). The Fruit of Her Hands (Kindle Locations 947-948). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

“Second, we learn that a wife’s role is one of passive response”

Like Doug, Nancy Wilson writes that women were created to be responsive:

Contemporary Christian women, created by God to be responsive, are vulnerable to temptations to be deceived. We must learn to think like Christians and resist the temptation to believe everything we read or hear. – Wilson, Nancy (2011-03-04). The Fruit of Her Hands (Kindle Locations 656-657). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

But how does “passive response” play out in a marriage? Nancy gives a lengthy example for what a wife should do if a husband doesn’t provide for his family. According to the example, a wife should trust in God to provide, trust her husband to lead, and not work to provide the necessary funds:

What if your husband fails to provide for you? What if you are hopelessly in debt, and he is not bringing home an adequate paycheck? … First, do not seek to protect him from the consequences of his folly. … Of course you must be a support and help and source of encouragement. But that is a completely different thing than trying to shoulder responsibilities that are not yours. When a wife tries to bear the responsibilities that her husband should be bearing, she suffers. … When the bill collector calls, hand your husband the phone. But do so respectfully, praying that God will use it to bring about a change. When there are overdue bills, look to him for his direction—whether or not he provides it. … Quit scrambling, trying to come up with funds to meet deadlines. It is his responsibility. … Are you trying to find an extra job so that you can keep the house, boat, car? Often women rush into jobs to “help out,” thinking it will only be short term. The kids are farmed out because “it’s just until we pay off the car.” But then, after the car is paid for, there is something else. And pretty soon, you are working outside the home full-time, the kids are on their own, and you are still in debt. Then it is too hard to quit—who will pay the bills? You need to get out, go home, and take care of your kids. “But,” you say, “my husband wants me to work.” I have heard this before, when, in fact, the husband wanted very much for the wife to come home, and she was the one resisting the move. … So do not think your happiness lies in how your husband is doing, or in how many possessions you have. Your happiness and joy lie in Christ alone. If you are trusting in Him, He will see you safely through. – Wilson, Nancy (2011-03-04). The Fruit of Her Hands (Kindle Locations 502-523). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

“Third, we see that, for Wilson, a wife’s function is to take whatever is given to her (for example, money) and transform it into something useful in her appointed station, the home”

In one of Doug’s exhortations, he tells the bride to take what her husband gives her and return it to him glorified. In Nancy’s book, she advises a wife to be creative in the kitchen when transforming a meager income into dinner:

Your finances are tight. You confess your anxiety to your husband and to the Lord. You resolve to trust God and pray for your husband, and you pray for patience. Meanwhile, you show a brave spirit and a joyful countenance to your family, and a creative flair in the kitchen. “I’ve found a new way to cook beans!” You hunker down and think of creative ways to respect your husband.- Wilson, Nancy (2011-03-04). The Fruit of Her Hands (Kindle Locations 432-434). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

“women’s role in sex is surrender”

One of Doug’s better known quotes about sex speaks of the roles of husbands and wives in terms of colonization/conquering and receiving/surrendering, respectively. Nancy affirms this teaching of sex as surrender for wives. A wife doesn’t need to “feel like it” or consult her feelings:

If a wife is not feeling “in the mood,” she simply has to apply the golden rule. Does your husband always “feel” in the mood for a heart-to-heart chat? Perhaps not. Do you want him to tell you when he is not in the mood but just talking because he loves you and knows you need it? Of course not. – Wilson, Nancy (2011-03-04). The Fruit of Her Hands (Kindle Locations 1015-1017). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

And,

Nevertheless, your husband’s desire has probably not suffered a dip [due to pregnancy or breastfeeding hormones]. This is an obstacle, but again, it is not insurmountable. Sometimes you will have to work harder to “feel like it.” It is not always necessary to consult your feelings anyway. – Wilson, Nancy (2011-03-04). The Fruit of Her Hands (Kindle Locations 1012-1014). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

“Wilson further highlights women’s passive role in his portrayal of wives as knowing little about sex and even about their own bodies, requiring instruction from their husbands.

Nancy agrees that wives should learn from their husbands regarding what might please them:

Now I am not telling you how to do this [enrapture your husband]. I am simply telling you that you must. It is your duty before God to help your husband in his obedience of this command. You are given to him by God to satisfy him, to delight him intensely, and to rejoice with him. There is an important reason why I am not telling you how. That’s because you need to ask your husband. – Wilson, Nancy (2011-03-04). The Fruit of Her Hands (Kindle Locations 992-995). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

“Wilson’s image of husband is that of ‘resident theologian'”

Doug also expects husbands to the be ones to teach their wives about theology. Nancy concurs:

We must cultivate a taste for books that will build us up in the faith—not take us to fantasy land. You might want to start with biographies of saints greatly used by God in the past. Be selective. Look to your husband for suggestions. – Wilson, Nancy (2011-03-04). The Fruit of Her Hands (Kindle Locations 171-175). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

And,

If you miss church, request a tape. Take sermon notes, jot down questions, and afterwards ask your husband questions. – Wilson, Nancy (2011-03-04). The Fruit of Her Hands (Kindle Locations 176-177). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

And,

Because women are prone to deception, we must have our guard up. Everything we hear must be weighed in light of Scripture. So what does a wise woman do who needs spiritual help? … Go to your husband first. He is your head and he is responsible before God to shepherd and pastor his home, starting with you. – Wilson, Nancy (2011-03-04). The Fruit of Her Hands (Kindle Locations 206-210). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

“Wilson’s husbands are created for and called to work, and wives are created for and called to support their husbands in that work. Put simply, his calling becomes her calling”

Here again, Nancy’s advice is consistent with what Doug has written about husbands and wives and their respective callings. A wife is “God’s appointed helper” for the “special work” God created her husband to do:

He is one of a kind, and God has prepared special work for him to do. You have the privilege of being God’s appointed helper for him. … Your husband will appreciate your obedience and be set free to live up to all God has called him to be. – Wilson, Nancy (2011-03-04). The Fruit of Her Hands (Kindle Locations 97-100). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

“A wife does not have her own calling separate from serving her husband’s.”

Since Nancy’s ministry in writing books to women was given as the example for what Doug really believes about women and their abilities, it’s interesting to read Nancy’s thoughts on how to evaluate women in ministry. She asks if there are any limits to the ministry women can have to other women. First she explains how to judge if a woman’s ministry is valid:

The first question to ask and answer is, “Who is this woman’s husband?” Next we must ask many subsidiary questions. Is she fulfilling her ministry to him? Is he her priority? Is she helping him? Is her house in order? Is he leading her in this ministry? Is her identity as a Christian woman centered, under Christ, around her relationship to her husband? … But if the answer to any of the earlier questions is “no,” then her ministry is likely independent of her husband, much like a separate career. – Wilson, Nancy (2011-03-04). The Fruit of Her Hands (Kindle Locations 111-115). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

She goes on to say that a woman’s ministry should be connected to her husband’s headship over her:

In contrast, because Scripture teaches that the husband is the head of the wife, a Christian woman in ministry should be seen as under her husband’s visible headship. In other words, her ministry should be visibly connected to him. This can be a real help to him, for her teaching can be a complement to his work. – Wilson, Nancy (2011-03-04). The Fruit of Her Hands (Kindle Locations 116-118). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

Nancy explains how these ideas work in her own ministry. Her work is not a separate work, but “visibly connected” to Doug’s work:

When people listen to or read her teaching, it is organically connected to the head God has placed over her. This is obviously difficult if her husband is always across the country, or if his name is merely listed in the book with the other “credits” in the fine print. This is why I rarely travel to speak at women’s conferences, but rather teach where my husband is speaking. Not only does this keep us together, working as a team, but he is then available to continue to lead me and protect me in ministry settings. My teaching role is a support and complement to his, not the other way around. This way my ministry is visibly connected to my husband’s and is not seen as a separate work. – Wilson, Nancy (2011-03-04). The Fruit of Her Hands (Kindle Locations 120-125). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

“For Wilson, a happy wife is one who accepts the confines of the housework and childbearing she was made for”

Here too Nancy’s writing is consistent with our conclusions. Modern women, according to Nancy, have been deceived into abandoning their responsibilities of home and children:

The modern woman has been deceived, like Eve, and led away by her own lusts from her God-given domain and he God-ordained responsibilities. Loaded down with sin—discontent and envy—she is promised freedom and happiness if she will just forsake her domain—the home—and neglect her responsibilities—husband and children. – Wilson, Nancy (2011-03-04). The Fruit of Her Hands (Kindle Locations 33-35). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

Women don’t need to leave home to do good works for the Lord. The home is the “center of her activities”:

Notice the order of these good deeds. Our children are first. Next is hospitality. Then comes relieving the afflicted. The wife does not have to go outside her domain to “do good.” The home is the center of her activities, and these activities can be and should be pleasing to God. – Wilson, Nancy (2011-03-04). The Fruit of Her Hands (Kindle Locations 384-386). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

Nancy also writes about realizing that God wanted her to do the dishes and be happy about it:

Immediately I realized what [God] wanted me to do. He wanted me to do the dishes. But I still wondered if there was something else He wanted me to do. And I realized that, yes, there was something else. He wanted me to do them cheerfully. – Wilson, Nancy (2011-03-04). The Fruit of Her Hands (Kindle Locations 786-787). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

“She exists to serve and glorify him.”

We concluded from Doug’s wedding exhortations that, for Doug, wives exist to serve and glorify their husbands. In Nancy’s book, she tells wives that their jog is to be willing servants:

Your job is to be a humble and willing servant, recognizing that God is at work, and He will bring to pass His will, using His appointed means. This should encourage you to pray for your husband, rather than nag him. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, thank God that you have a husband. Thank Him that He is at work to do as He pleases. – Wilson, Nancy (2011-03-04). The Fruit of Her Hands (Kindle Locations 489-491). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

Nancy goes on to explain how a wife can honor, glorify, and serve her husband. The wife should cater to her husbands preferences and defer to him in practical ways:

This can mean following through when your husband requests something, instead of putting it at the end of the to-do list. It can include everything from when dinner is scheduled, to what kind of greeting your husband gets, to making him a cup of coffee. – Wilson, Nancy (2011-03-04). The Fruit of Her Hands (Kindle Locations 451-453). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

And,

Respect is a demeanor that should characterize wives in all their conduct toward their husbands and in all their communication to or about their husbands—this means courtesy in the home, where the husband is treated with honor. Remnants of this honor from a previous era are our traditions of Dad seated at the head of the table, Dad carving the turkey, [the American custom of] Dad having his own big chair, Dad leading the family in thanks at meals, and Dad doing the driving on the family trips. These are things that we assume culturally, but they come from the time when everyone knew and understood that Dad was the head of the house. – Wilson, Nancy (2011-03-04). The Fruit of Her Hands (Kindle Locations 445-450). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

“For Wilson, the wife has no self and, it seems, no voice.”

When Valerie and I wrote our article, we were told that it was ridiculous that we would say that women have no voice in Wilson’s teaching. After all, his wife and daughters write and give seminars. And it’s certainly true that women can have a voice, as long as what they say is consistent with Doug teaches. However, what if a wife disagrees with her husband? What would Nancy say she should do? Pray for strength and silence:

When you are tempted to criticize your husband (and you will be), when you want very much to “let him have it,” pray for love—“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins” (Prov. 10:12). Turn to the Lord for comfort, strength, silence! – Wilson, Nancy (2011-03-04). The Fruit of Her Hands (Kindle Locations 495-497). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

But what about if a husband is in unrepentant sin? Then what should a wife do? According to Nancy, she might need to go to the elders, but she should be committed to winning her husband “without a word”:

If you have a husband like the ones described above, you must not make the mistake of trying to undertake to deal with his sins; you must deal with your own. If, however, he is a Christian man who is engaged in viewing pornography, you may need to go to the elders in your church so he can be disciplined. But if he is simply not spending enough time with you (from your perspective), or is not meeting your needs in some other way, you must realize that God is the only One who can bring about change. The Scripture is clear that you may be a potent instrument in God’s hand, if you are committed to being the woman described in 1 Peter 3 who wins him without a word. – Wilson, Nancy (2011-03-04). The Fruit of Her Hands (Kindle Locations 1050-1054). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

And if a problem isn’t big enough to get the elders involved, then a wife shouldn’t talk about it with anyone. Apparently it can be hard to know whether or not to go to the elders. In this quote Nancy seems to advocate erring on the side of silence:

If it is not big enough to share with the elders of the church (or the police), so that they may step in to deal with your husband, then it is not big enough to share with anyone. And even if you are unnecessarily silent in a situation, you probably need the practice (Prov. 31: 11). – Wilson, Nancy (2011-03-04). The Fruit of Her Hands (Kindle Locations 217-219). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

In the end, I believe that Nancy Wilson’s words confirm our conclusions from the original article. Yes, it’s true that Nancy and her daughters write, but what do they write, and how do they view their work? Nancy clearly views her writing as an extension of Doug, and her message is consistent with what Doug has written.

Nancy’s message is the same as Doug’s. Wives are to be passive responders and receivers. They are to take what their husbands give them and glorify it. They are to surrender sexually to their husbands. Wives are to learn from their husbands in all things. They are to accept their calling as helpers. They are to serve and defer to their husbands. They are not to have separate careers. They are to keep silent.

Wives should do the dishes and do them cheerfully.

A Question for Wilson Fans

[Update: Some have questioned whether or not it’s accurate to say that Wilson is self-ordained. I have added a quote from Wilson on how he became a pastor. Many thanks to the reader who shared the quote with me.]

There are many articles right now about Doug Wilson and his role in the court cases and subsequent marriages of two pedophiles who attended New Saint Andrews in Moscow, ID. This is not the first controversy that Wilson has faced, and many of his supporters are adamant that he has done nothing wrong. I know that there are many people who are members of CREC churches who have chosen to align themselves with Wilson and his denomination. This question is not particularly for them.

My question is for those in the Reformed, Presbyterian world who say they really like or appreciate what Wilson says/has written/teaches on various subjects. My question is: what exactly do you like about Wilson?

Is it his credentials?

Doug Wilson is self-ordained, has never been to seminary, founded his own denomination, publishing house, university, seminary, and classical school curriculum. He is the head of his denomination. He is under no authority but his own.

Wilson’s explanation of how he became a pastor:

Having written this book, I must now apologize, at least in part, for how the book came to be written by someone like, as the Victorians used to say, the present writer. At the time of writing, I have been a minister of the Word for twenty-three years. But how that came about contains more than a few ecclesiastical irregularities.

I came to the University of Idaho in the fall of 1975, fresh out of the Navy, and ready to study philosophy. My intention was to study various unbelieving philosophies and to then get involved in some kind of evangelistic literature ministry in a university town somewhere. Right around the same time, a church was being planted in our town by an Evangelical Free Church in a nearby community. The fellowship was successfully planted, but this new church never affiliated with the Free Church. This was not due to any doctrinal or personal differences; it was due mostly to the fact that it was the seventies. I was at the organizing meeting for this church and wound up as one of the guitar-playing songleaders. The best way to describe this would be to say that it was some kind of “Jesus people” operation.

After about a year and a half of meeting, the man who had been doing the preaching (ordained by a Baptist denomination) announced that he had gotten a job elsewhere and that he was moving. We were on our own the following Sunday. As I said, it was the seventies. The idea of going into pastoral ministry had not occurred to me, but when it did, I didn’t like it very much. Nevertheless, as things turned out, I was up in front with the guitar. That was my call to the ministry; I knew all the chords. I began to preach.

Our church had been planted by an established denomination, but we had no constitution, no doctrinal standards, no established leadership. I started what we called a “responsible brothers” meeting to fill the void of leadership — ad hoc elders. We knew from the Scriptures that we needed to be governed by elders, but we didn’t have any. We received some teaching on elder qualifications from the pastor of the Evangelical Free church that had established our church, and as a result different men among the responsible brothers removed themselves from consideration. In this situation, I presented myself to the congregation and asked them to bring forward any objections to my holding office of elder within the next few weeks. If no one did, then I would assume the office. As it turned out, no one did, and I have been working with this congregation of faithful and longsuffering saints ever since.

All this, as I said earlier, was highly irregular, and I would rather be dead in a ditch than to go back to that way of doing ecclesiastical business. . . . (Douglas Wilson, Mother Kirk [Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2001] 267–268)

On the formation of Christ Church:

In early 1993, Doug advised the elders of CEF of a shift in his understanding of the nature of the church, of the means of entry into the New Covenant, and of the proper subjects of baptism. Those views became what he now calls the “Federal Vision.” After many months of joint discussion and study, the elders of CEF concluded that Doug’s emerging hyper-federalism contradicted the CEF Statement of Faith and Constitution at key points, and that, according to those documents, Doug was no longer qualified to hold office at CEF. In early December 1993, Doug was informed in writing of the conclusion regarding his qualifications, and advised of the following choice; either return to fidelity to the CEF doctrinal and constitutional standards, or be removed from office in three months. The families of the congregation were also informed, of this course of action. The elders of CEF called a meeting for December 10, 1993, to discuss the contents of the letter, answer questions, and receive comments from the men of the congregation. Almost to a man, those in attendance at the meeting rejected the conclusions and leadership of the CEF elders, and affirmed their confidence in Doug Wilson and intent to follow him. At this point the CEF elders could have simply changed the locks on the door, removed Doug from office, and continued to meet as CEF, with an albeit smaller congregation. Instead, they chose to yield, with  Bob Callihan and Terry Morin resigning office and leaving the congregation, and Fred Kohl remaining in office in semi-retirement. New elders, supportive of Doug, were installed to take their place and the CEF Statement of Faith and Constitution were revised to eliminate the confessional and constitutional issues.

Is it his views on slavery?

In 1996, Doug Wilson published a pamphlet, Southern Slavery as It Was, with Steve Wilkins, a former board member of the League of the South, a Southern nationalist organization. The pamphlet generated a good deal of controversy. Here are some quotes from it. (HT: Libby Anne)

Slavery as it existed in the South was not an adversarial relationship with pervasive racial animosity. Because of its dominantly patriarchal character, it was a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence. There has never been a multi-racial society which has existed with such mutual intimacy and harmony in the history of the world. The credit for this must go to the predominance of Christianity. The gospel enabled men who were distinct in nearly every way, to live and work together, to be friends and often intimates. This happened to such an extent that moderns indoctrinated on “civil rights” propaganda would be thunderstruck to know the half of it.

Slave life was to them a life of plenty, of simple pleasures, of food, clothes, and good medical care.

With the slave trade, the vast majority of the slaves had already been enslaved in Africa by other blacks. They were then taken down to the coast and sold to the traders. The traders transported them, usually under wicked conditions, to those places where a market did exist for their labor, but where the civil leaders had repeatedly and consistently tried to stop the slave traders. One of those places, Virginia, had attempted on no less than twenty-eight occasions to arrest the slave trade, but was stopped by higher (non-Southern) authorities. If the slaves were not sold in the South, they were taken on to Haiti and Brazil, where the condition and treatment of slaves was simply horrendous. The restoration of these slaves to their former condition was a physical impossibility. Now, under these conditions, was it a sin for a Christian to purchase such a slave, knowing that he would take him home and treat him the way the Bible requires? If he did not do so, nothing would be done to improve the slave’s condition, and much could happen that would make it worse. 

Is it his plagiarism?

The other controversy over Wilson and Wilkins pamphlet on slavery was over plagiarism:

As they prepared Southern Slavery As It Was for publication, Douglas Wilson and his co-author, Steven Wilkins, plagiarized extensively from Fogel and Engerman’s “Time On the Cross,” a book that was highly criticized by historians of the South.

Another source explains:

Professor Robert T. McKenzie, a civil war expert at the University of Washington and a member of a sister Christ Church in Seattle, urged Wilson to withdraw the book for another reason other than its ugly, unsupported thesis. McKenzie knew Time on the Cross very well and he was able to determine that about 20 percent of the slavery booklet had been lifted from the book.

Wilson first explained that it was sloppy editing on this part, but Wilkins finally came clean and admitted that it was his entire fault. …

The original slavery booklet was republished as it was (the footnotes were fixed) in The War Between the States: America’s Uncivil War(Bluebonnet Press, 2005), John J. Dwyer, general editor.

Is it his Federal Vision beliefs?

In 2007, Wilson co-authored and signed “A Joint Federal Vision Profession.” There have been numerous articles and books on the Federal Vision. Nearly every NAPARC denomination has a statement on it explaining why it’s contrary to the Bible and to the Westminster Standards. For this article I’ll focus on two crucial points, the denial of justification by faith alone and baptismal regeneration. Because Federal Visionists deny the distinction between the law and the gospel and because they teach that all who are baptized are united to Christ, they deny justification by faith alone and teach baptismal regeneration.

The denial of justification by faith alone:

This means that every proponent of the Joint Federal Vision Statement denies sola fide. They will, of course, claim the opposite. And they will also claim that denying the distinction of law and gospel in the text of Scripture does not mean that they deny sola fide in justification. This will have to be a difference between them and me. For if there is no difference between law and gospel in the text of Scripture, then faith is no longer what the Reformers said it was: which is opposed to works in justification.

Baptismal regeneration:

Baptism formally engrafts a person into the Church, which means that baptism is into the Regeneration, that time when the Son of Man sits upon His glorious throne (Matt. 19:28).

Many might wonder what in the world this means. Happily, they define this “regeneration” elsewhere:

In establishing the Church, God has fulfilled His promise to Abraham and established the Regeneration of all things. God has established this Regeneration through Christ — in Him we have the renewal of life in the fulness of life in the new age of the kingdom of God (p. 4).

This “regeneration” is the renewal of life in Christ. That’s what all the baptized receive at baptism.

Is it his teaching of paedocommunion?

Connected to the Federal Vision teachings is the belief in paedocommunion. Because baptism unites a person to Christ, and babies are baptized, then why deny young children, toddlers or even younger, their place at the communion table?

Wilson writes:

We cannot argue for paedocommunion, urging that little children be allowed to come to the Table that disciplines us all, and then protest if when this discipline starts to take effect. Just realize that it takes effect, in this instance, with the parents. Bringing your children to the Table involves far than bringing them to bread and wine. It means bringing the whole family, heart and soul, hugs and swats, mom and dad, the whole fam, to the Lord Jesus, and He receives us here. So come and welcome.

And:

My toddler grandchildren coming to the Table have true faith — but it is blade faith. We’re not anywhere near done.

Is it his views on patriarchy?

Wilson says patriarchy is “inescapable“:

Patriarchy simply means “father rule,” and so it follows that every biblical Christian holds to patriarchy. The husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church (Eph. 5:23), and fathers have the central responsibility to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). Children are required to obey their parents (both of them), and since the wife is to follow the lead of her husband in all things (Eph. 5:24), this means that the father is responsible to provide for and protect his family. Father rule. That’s the good part.

The point is that patriarchy is inescapable, and our only choice is between men being faithful, for blessing, and men failing, for humiliation and chastisement. The thesis is not that men are good, but rather that men are crucial. When they are crucial and selfish, a lot of bad things happen. When they are crucial and obedient, a lot of good follows.

Is it his views on marriage?

Wilson has written several books and numerous articles on marriage. Valerie Hobbs and I wrote an article looking at way Wilson addresses husbands and wives in wedding sermons. Here are some other Wilson quotes on marriage:

He has created us as male and female in such a way as to ensure that men will always be dominant in marriage. If the husband is godly, then that dominance will not be harsh; it will be characterized by the same self-sacrificial love demonstrated by our Lord—Dominus—at the cross. – Wilson, Douglas (2009-04-01). Reforming Marriage (p. 24). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

Nevertheless, the dominance of the husband is a fact; the only choice we have in this regard concerns whether that dominance will be a loving and constructive dominion or hateful and destructive tyranny. – Wilson, Douglas (2009-04-01). Reforming Marriage (p. 25). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

Second, wives need to be led with a firm hand. A wife will often test her husband in some area, and be deeply disappointed (and frustrated) if she wins. It is crucial that a husband give to his wife what the Bible says she needs, rather than what she says she needs. So a godly husband is a godly lord. A woman who understands this biblical truth and calls a certain man her husband is also calling him her lord. It is tragic that wholesale abdication on the part of modern men has made the idea of lordship in the home such a laughable thing. – Wilson, Douglas (2009-04-01). Reforming Marriage (p. 80). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

A man may not be a vocational theologian, but in his home he is still the resident theologian. The apostle Paul, when he is urging women to keep silent in church, tells them that “if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home” (1 Cor. 14:35). The tragedy is that many modern women have to wonder why the Bible says they should have to ask their husbands. “He doesn’t know.” But a husband must be prepared to answer his wife’s doctrinal questions, and if he cannot, then he must be prepared to study so that he can remedy the deficiency. – Wilson, Douglas (2009-04-01). Reforming Marriage (pp. 40-41). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

The first time the dishes are not done, he must sit down with his wife immediately, and gently remind her that this is something which has to be done. At no time may he lose his temper, badger her, call her names, etc. He must constantly remember and confess that she is not the problem, he is. By bringing this gently to her attention, he is not to be primarily pointing to her need to repent; rather, he is exhibiting the fruit of his repentance. He does this, without rancour and without an accusative spirit, until she complies or rebels. If she complies, he must move up one step, now requiring that another of her duties be done. If she rebels, he must call the elders of the church and ask them for a pastoral visit. When the government of the home has failed to such an extent, and a godly and consistent attempt by the husband to restore the situation has broken down, then the involvement of the elders is fully appropriate. ‘Not Where She Should Be

Is it his views on sex?

Another area that has drawn controversy for Wilson is his teachings on sex. Here is one of the most frequently quoted passages:

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. 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. Those who deny they have any need for water at all will soon find themselves lusting after polluted water, but water nonetheless. – Wilson, Douglas (2011-03-07). Fidelity (Kindle Locations 978-985). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

Is it the way he treats women who disagree with him?

Wilson frequently responds to critics with sarcasm and sharp words. Here are some examples for how he’s talked about women who disagree with him:

the clueless women who blindly liked Wilkin’s article on Facebook, but who are themselves pushy broads, twinkies in tight tops, or waifs with manga eyes ‘Waifs With Manga Eyes

So feminism — smash the patriarchy feminism — wants us to be ruled by harridans, termagants, harpies and crones. That sets the tone, and the pestering is then made complete by small-breasted biddies who want to make sure nobody is using too much hot water in the shower, and that we are all getting plenty of fiber. ‘Smash the Complementarity

Unbelieving women either compete for the attention of men through outlandish messages that communicate some variation of “easy lay,” or in the grip of resentment they give up the endeavor entirely, which is how we get lumberjack dykes. ‘On Why Christian Women are Prettier

The silly women here are perpetual students — bluestockings — and they are constantly learning, but never getting the point. It would be hard to come up with a better modern example of this than the evangelical feminists. ‘Bluestocking Feminism

Is it the way he never apologizes or admits he’s wrong?

Given the number of controversies that Wilson has been a party to, it would makes sense for him to have apologized at times for saying or doing the wrong thing. Everyone makes mistakes. However, aside from a handful of posts that apologize for wording things in an awkward way, Wilson has not apologized.

I know that every man is a sinner and that even my favorite pastors/theologians are almost certainly wrong about something. And we certainly shouldn’t dismiss every author out there because we disagree on a point or two. But is there a point at which the depth or breadth of the problems becomes significant enough that it’s time to rethink defending a man?

To all those Reformed, Presbyterians out there who are willing to look past the recent Wilson controversies, is it time to consider if what you like is worth defending? For anything that he’s written that you’ve appreciated, isn’t there someone else who has said something similar without all the baggage? Are the qualifiers worth it?

Doug Wilson in his own words

There has been much discussion recently about Doug Wilson’s participation in the Steve Sitler’s wedding. Sitler is a convicted pedophile with a long history of sexual attraction to and abuse of very young children. In June 2011, Doug Wilson presided over the wedding of Steve and Katie Sitler. At one point during the wedding, a man prayed that the couple would be blessed with “the gift and heritage of children.”

Before they could get married, Sitler needed approval from a judge. At that status hearing, the concern was raised about the potential for children:

The discussion amongst Latah County Prosecutor , Bill Thompson; Judge Stegner; and Mr. Wallenwaber, focused, in part, on the legal consequence if/when Steven Sitler and Katie Travis have children. It may be the case that Mr. Sitler will not be allowed to share a home with his wife and child or children. This remedy may be utilized in Idaho when the father is a convicted pedophile. Judge Stegner ruled that the wedding could go forward and issues regarding the protection of children will be addressed if and children are a factor in the marriage.

Earlier this year, Sitler had his first child, and there are significant concerns being raised about his interactions with his son. The question being asked in many places is should a pedophile be encouraged to marry and have children. Given the nature of the sexual perversion and the risk to any children he might father, was it wise to marry Sitler and for someone to pray that he might be blessed with children?

I recently read Doug Wilson’s book, Fidelity, and I think it’s worthwhile to consider what Wilson writes in his book about lust and fleeing temptation.

First, let’s consider Wilson’s definition of lust. Even though he speaks of lust as imagining a “woman” in some sexual way, I think it’s reasonable to include “man” or “child” or “animal’ or anything else:

The answer is that lust is in a man who imagines or sees himself to be with a woman in some sexual way and who consequently has a physiological reaction, usually manifested by an erection. He is aroused and is physiologically interested in sexual intercourse of some description. – Wilson, Douglas (2011-03-07). Fidelity (Kindle Locations 132-134). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

Having described what lust is and explained why it’s sinful, Wilson sets out various ways to fight against the problem of lust:

I want to outline a biblical response to the problem of lust which will apply equally to men who are single and men who have a wife. – Wilson, Douglas (2011-03-07). Fidelity (Kindle Location 315). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

What is one of the ways men are to respond to lust? Run away:

The fifth thing men must do is run away—flee the occasions of sin. – Wilson, Douglas (2011-03-07). Fidelity (Kindle Location 357). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

And he means it very literally. Men are to actively fight the temptation by doing something about it:

You cannot fight something with nothing. Those who want to fight the temptation to watch some topless women on HBO by sitting on the couch with the remote in hand are likely to be disappointed. Flee. – Wilson, Douglas (2011-03-07). Fidelity (Kindle Locations 361-362). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

Not only should a man flee, he should be careful never to look at images that could be used for lust at a later time:

Third, a man should not ever look at images which could serve as lustful fuel at any time. – Wilson, Douglas (2011-03-07). Fidelity (Kindle Locations 1275-1276). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

Wilson repeats his exhortation to flee, making it even stronger. Get rid of the things that tempt you:

At the same time, one of the important means for mortifying our internal lusts is to flee the external occasions of lust. So, if you cannot resist the temptations created by the technology in your home, you must get rid of that technology. – Wilson, Douglas (2011-03-07). Fidelity (Kindle Locations 1832-1834). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

What would temptations and external occasions of lust be for a convicted pedophile? From what I’ve read, repentant pedophiles are aware of their struggle and are the first to say that they are not safe to be around children. If children are the temptation, the previous quote would read:

“So, if you cannot resist the temptation created by [children] in your home, you must get rid of [children.]”

It is certainly a hard thing to tell someone that it isn’t wise for them to marry and have children. In the case of a pedophile, it might mean never marrying. However, it may be the wisest and most God honoring decision.

Wilson addresses the issue of a homosexual man who is not attracted or able to have a appropriate sexual relationship with a woman. He concludes that celibacy may be the wisest course of action:

God requires sexual purity, both in thought and deed, and such a man is like a man with heterosexual temptations with no immediate possibility of marriage. Lust is always prohibited. If it is true that such a man could not be interested sexually in a woman, then he needs to come to understand that God’s will for him is celibacy. – Wilson, Douglas (2011-03-07). Fidelity (Kindle Locations 1186-1188). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

Granted these examples from Wilson’s book are not specifically about how to manage the lust of a pedophile, but Wilson argues that we should use biblical principles to address those situations that are not specifically covered in the Bible. Surely the same principles apply here:

In many cases, it is necessary to reason biblically from the examples given in Scripture. This is because not every situation is covered, and we have to learn to think like Christians when it comes to situations that do not receive specific attention in the Bible. – Wilson, Douglas (2011-03-07). Fidelity (Kindle Locations 827-829). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

Given Wilson’s teachings on the subject of lust, it seems odd to me that no one sat Silter down and counseled him against marrying and having children.

Interestingly, Wilson does specifically address the issue of sexual abuse of children in his book:

[W]hen we are dealing with young children who are abused by adults (pederasty, child porn, etc.) the penalty for those guilty of the crime should be death. – Wilson, Douglas (2011-03-07). Fidelity (Kindle Locations 961-962). Canon Press. Kindle Edition.

Obviously our laws do not give the death penalty for convicted pedophiles, but wouldn’t the Biblical principle here be to support pedophiles being punished to the full extent of the law? Sitler was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Wilson wrote to the judge asking that the punishment be “measured and limited“:

I would urge that the civil penalties applied would be measured and limited. I have a good hope that Steven has genuinely repented, and that he will continue to deal with this to become a productive and contributing member of society.

A few years later, Wilson presided over the marriage of Steve and Katie Sitler. I wish Wilson had followed his own advice and told Sitler to flee temptation. As Wilson noted, the marriage was certainly a legal one. There wasn’t a legal reason not to marry the couple. However, legal doesn’t always mean wise:

 ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. – 1 Corinthians 6:12