“When we quarrel with the way the world is, we find that the world has ways of getting back at us. 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.”
Quoted from Doug Wilson, Fidelity
“The Polluted Waters of 50 Shades of Grey, Etc.”
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The latest big dust-up in the evangelical blogosphere took place the other day when Jared Wilson at the Gospel Coalition put up a post about sex. In it, he simply quoted from a book by Doug Wilson to make his point.
And what was his point? If I understand correctly, it was this:
- God’s design for marriage is that the man is in authority and woman in submission.
- This applies to the sexual relationship as with every other aspect of marriage.
- When we reject this divine design, we open ourselves up to all kinds of corruptions and perversions of authority and submission such as bondage and submission games, rape fantasies (men), addiction to romance type novels (women)
- Such sexual pathologies (evidenced in such current examples as the 50 Shades of Grey craze) reveal that humans have spurned the right way, God’s way, the way of “good, God-honoring, and body-protecting authority and submission between husbands and wives.”
To which I reply, with utmost theological gravity — fiddlesticks.
This has to be one of the most specious, ridiculous arguments I have ever heard. As Scot McKnight posted, the concepts being advanced are “not deserving of the sharp theological eyes of TGC.” The authors are certainly right that many sexual practices in this fallen world are corrupted and perverted, but to say that they arise out of failing to practice God’s design for authority and submission is begging the question.
When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.
“The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does” (1Cor 7:4, NASB)
Even if we were to grant the point that God’s design is for husbands to be the authorities in the home, and women are to submit to their leadership, nowhere, nowhere does Scripture link the sexual relationship to these concepts. From the beginning, Genesis 2:22-25, the sexual relationship is about complete mutuality, about cleaving together, about two becoming one, evidencing that a man and woman are “bone of bone and flesh of flesh.”
The Song of Songs, an entire book of erotic love poetry, bears this out. Those who’ve commented on the TGC post have pointed out that there is no “authority and submission” in Song of Songs, but two people who take turns initiating and responding to the other with passionate sexual feeling.
No clearer statement of this can be found than Paul’s words in 1Corinthians 7:4 — “For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.”
The Wilsons are simply wrong in stating otherwise.
“What is desirable in a man is his kindness” (Proverbs 19:22).
However, the other issue Jared Wilson’s post raises is that of insensitivity. The language Doug Wilson used, especially in the offensive paragraph quoted above, is outside the bounds of consideration and kindness. Rachel Held Evans was absolutely right as a woman to find these words not only “inaccurate” but also “degrading and harmful.” Doug Wilson has a habit, apparently, of writing blunt prose with little nuance or concern for “offending” those who disagree with him.
Jared Wilson (and Doug, too) didn’t help their cause by attacking commenters to the post, arguing that they simply needed to learn to read better, and then posting a follow-up suggesting people were simply out to get TGC and looking for a reason to do so.
This morning, I do note that Jared added a “trigger warning” for those who have been hurt by rape or sexual abuse.
That is a start, but in my opinion, correcting the problems with this post go far beyond the need to warn those who may have had extraordinary pain with regard to sexual matters. When you combine bad theology with crass and tactless rhetoric, nothing good can result for anyone.