This morning I posted a review of one chapter of Rachel Miller’s book, and in a ships-passing-in-the-night kind of way, today she also posted a response to Mark Jones’ criticism of how she cited me. Still with me?
In my post this morning, I alluded to the fact that she is not a reliable interpreter of my words, but I did not cite any specifics—I was planning to address things like that when we got there. But in her response to Jones this morning, she stoutly defended herself against Jones’ assertion by posting shots of every citation from me in her book.
And I got to her site from Aimee Byrd’s retweet, where umbrage was apparently taken over the very idea that Rachel Miller could have possibly misrepresented someone.
I do not intend to go through every one of these now, as I think that the original plan is best, which is to treat them as we get to them. But so that you might know that Rachel Miller really is an unreliable interpreter of my words, let me address one of them—the last one she cites.
She says this:
“Many define women by their relationship to men and by how useful they are to men instead of defining them as necessary allies and coheirs. This reduces women to objects—a wife is “a man’s vessel” for “sexual possession.”30 But women made in the image of God have inherent worth regardless of their relationships with others.”
The footnote #30 simply reads: Wilson, 117.
At the cited place in Reforming Marriage, I say this:
“Christian men must learn to discipline themselves in their faithfulness to their own wives. ‘For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God’ (1 Thess. 4:3-5) . . . The second aspect of Paul’s instruction requires devoted attention to wives. In this passage, the attention is certainly sexual. The sexual possession of a man’s vessel is to be accomplished in ‘sanctification and honor.’ The author of Hebrews says the same—“Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge’ (Heb. 13:4)”
So this passage is not about defining women at all. It was about encouraging men to be faithful to their wives, and because I was citing the Authorized Version, I used the same phrasing that is found in the AV—that of “possessing his own vessel.” This does have something to do with those who reduce women to objects, but my passage is exhorting men to do the opposite—to have their sexual treatment of women be in “sanctification and honor.”
So how does Miller misrepresent, distort, mangle, and invert the meaning of what I was saying?
She does it by saying that some people out there define women simply through their relations to men, and their usefulness to men, instead of treating them as allies and coheirs. Let’s see, Rachel Miller thinks to herself, let’s see if I can come up with a couple of short scary quotes that would illustrate this particular kind of malfeasance. Scary bad man “reduces women to objects.” A wife is ‘a man’s vessel’ for ‘sexual possession.’” That should do it. Reforming Marriage, p. 117.
Instead of treating them as allies and coheirs? In the very passage she cites, I urge faithfulness to wives, I urge devoted attention to wives, I urge sanctification and honor in treatment of wives. Reducing to objects?
That, my friends, is what I would call a clear distortion of my position, my words, my intentions, my theology, and my thoughts.