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)

Is Complementarian Just Another Word for Patriarchy?

There have been a number of articles going back and forth on whether complementarianism is the same thing as patriarchy. Some feminists say, “Of course it’s the same.” Some complementarians seem to agree at some level. There is certainly debate over the issue. It’s worth noting that the boys at the blog that shall not be named believe that complementarianism is just another name for feminism.

So what do I think? Is complementarian just another word for patriarchy? Well, my answer is: not really and it depends who said it. Helpful isn’t it.

First, I think it’s important to note that there is considerable confusion over the definition of terms. There are many people who claim the term complementarian often with significant differences over what they think that means. Because of that it can be difficult to determine what a “complementarian” believes simply based on the label. I believe it’s worthwhile to consider the various views on gender roles on a continuum with feminism on one extreme and patriarchy on the other. So, some “complementarians” would be closer to patriarchy and others further away.

Also, it doesn’t help matters that some complementarians claim to prefer the term patriarchy or that some in the patriarchy camp claim to be complementarians. There is a real need to define what one believes, and it’s possible that some labels are not as helpful as they were developed to be.

Some complementarians (and also the patriarchy guys) think that the word patriarchy best describes the Christian faith. Since patriarchy means “father rule” and since God is our Father, then we have a patriarchal faith. These complementarians argue that just because some extreme views have assumed the name patriarchy doesn’t mean that the name itself should be avoided.

I would argue that even if the word hasn’t always been associated with those views, it is now. Like it or not, once a word has assumed such as strong association, it is near impossible to call it back, and it’s honestly not worth the effort or the confusion it causes. For example, if someone says, “I’m gay” we all know exactly what they mean, and it has nothing to do with a temporary emotional state of happiness. I don’t think it’s helpful to try to rehabilitate the word patriarchy.

But back to the idea that Christianity is inherently patriarchal. I absolutely believe that God is our Father and that He rules everything. If that’s all that’s meant by patriarchal, then I can agree. However, God is more than our Father. God is Father, Son, and Spirit. Besides being our Father, He is also our Husband, Redeemer, Creator, Savior, Teacher, Comforter. My concern is that we can limit our understanding of God by seeing Him ONLY as Father.

I’m also concerned that if we aren’t careful we will lean towards a hierarchical view of the Trinity that flirts with heresy. Of course, in the economic Trinity, God the Father sends the Son, the Son submits to the will of the Father, and the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. But when we are dealing with who God is we must remember that the three persons of the Godhead are “the same in substance, equal in power and glory” (WLC Q.9). It is not only God the Father that we worship. We worship the Triune God: one God, three persons. It is not only God the Father that interacts with us.

What about the view that the “patriarchs” of Israel were patriarchal? The New Testament uses the word “patriarch” twice: once to refer to David and the other to refer to Abraham. The use of the word is similar to our use of forefathers. Did the forefathers of Israel live a patriarchal life? Many of them did. Many of them were also living polygamist lives. I believe that this is an example of the descriptive nature of their marriages and their society, not a prescriptive one.

I think it’s worth looking at the evidences of how the Israelites were different than the surrounding cultures as the people of God. We can consider the actions of Deborah, Ruth, Esther to be contrary, in many ways, to a strict patriarchal society and difficult for many modern patriarchy guys to explain. In fact, when Deborah is brought up the most common answer starts with her being “non-normative.”

In the New Testament, the teaching is very much counter to the Roman patriarchy system. Paul tells the church that woman are to learn in silence. We get caught up on the silence part, but it was revolutionary to say that woman were to learn! The New Testament also teaches a much, much more complementary view of men and women in marriage and also equality before God in Christ. This was very different from the society they lived in, and also different from what the modern patriarchy movement teaches.

So, in summary, do I believe that complementarian is just another word for patriarchy? It shouldn’t be. Unfortunately, there is often not as much differentiation between complementarian views and patriarchal ones as there should be.

It can be hard to be in the middle ground between two extremes. People on both ends will disagree with you. But the answer isn’t to deny that the middle ground exists.

My plea for complementarians is to be clear about what you believe. Don’t be afraid to take a stand that pits you against both extremes. Speak out against the twisting of Scripture and the dangers and abuses of both sides. Feminists may always believe that you’re just patriarchy guys by another name. Patriarchy guys may always call you feminists. Just because they see the world that way doesn’t make them right.