A Petticoat in the Bicycle Chain

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Introduction

Consider this a small postscript on the ladybug post.

Now some may want to say that the reason I review books by Rachel Miller or Aimee Byrd in the way I do is because I am threatened by women who write on anything other than quilting or scampi recipes. Now this would be a strong argument if there were anything to it, and so I thought I should add a postscript that would seem to show there is nothing to it. If it appears that I am still seething about Luke’s careless slip that seemed to indicate that Priscilla helped her husband to set Apollos straight, then perhaps I should do something to correct that false impression.

A Brief Glance at the Record

Here’s where I chose Rosaria’s Secret Thoughts as my book of the month. I have praised one of Nancy Pearcey’s books to the skies, and assigned another one to a classes I have taught. Then there was Sarah Ruden, who wrote a fine book called Paul Among the People, and I have another of hers lined up in my queue (on translation) called The Face of Water. I don’t know if that second one is any good, but it sure looks good. And let us not forget Dorothy Sayers, who wrote an essay that launched a movement that I had something to do with. And lest someone argue that all this is dependent upon females who are safely “in my camp.” I have also greatly profited from Camille Paglia and Ann Douglas, feminists both. And Paglia is something of a terrorist also.

And let us not leave out the women of my household and extended household, as in, Nancy, and Rebekah, and Rachel. For someone who is supposed to be keeping the wimminfolk busy hauling water from the well, thoroughly subdued with my iron fist, I appear to be doing a singularly bad job of it.

The Problem Then?

I don’t have any problem with women writing books. I have a problem with women writing poor books, or lame books, or even lousy books. The standard, in short, is the same as it is for male authors. I don’t read a lousy book by some dude, and then say to myself, “Well, at least he is male.” If it is a poor book, it is a poor book, and I don’t appeal to some invisible brotherhood to get him off any kind of hook.

So here is the problem. When women draw themselves up to their full height, and tell us they want to be treated like scholars, or professionals, or theologians, or whatever other traditionally male preserve they have been envying for years, and they then step into that realm and acquit themselves poorly, and as a consequence they start receiving pointed input from the critical reviews, they cannot all of a sudden get their petticoat caught in the bicycle chain, drop their parasol, and say, oh dear. “I am being bullied by these mean reviews.”

A girl ought not threaten the school district with a lawsuit because she wants to play on the boys’ football team, obtain a ruptured spleen in the first game, and then sue the school district because she was not adequately warned of the risks.

I am going to pull a modified Harry Truman here, and say that if you can’t stand the heat, you should get back in the kitchen. I will also attach a caveat here, and ask everybody, particularly those outraged, to read on. I am asking you to read on, outraged or not, because it is not yet November.

Yeah, But Why Not?

Someone else might say that it really is plain that Wilson really doesn’t have a problem with women writing books — on theology, on history, on literature, the lot. The question they might ask is why I don’t.

Given the fact that I take such a strong line against women’s ordination, or women teaching Sunday School classes with men in it, or women writing books entitled Why Christian Men Need to Learn About What the Apostle Paul Really Meant, the question does naturally arise.

Two quick points. The Bible prohibits women usurping authority over men, and it rebukes the kind of women who aspire to teach the men. The women in my household, whenever they are expositing Scripture, are addressing women as their intended audience. If a man picks up such a book and learns something from it, that’s fine — just as when the sound guy learns something as he is recording one of their talks at a women’s conference. That’s great. So if a woman is teaching Scripture (formally) to the women, as Scripture requires (Tit. 2:4), and a man learns something from her in passing, that’s just normal life. And if a Christian woman writes a book that is not an exposition of Scripture, but is a function of faithful worldview thinking in some other area (literature or culture), there is no problem with men reading and profiting. That’s fine too.

But, I hasten to add, such a book needs to not be lame. She should not have reached her position as author because she was wafted there by the rising warm air currents of the zeitgeist.

The second point is what the Priscilla and Aquila incident really indicates. That was not formal teaching, but rather a conversation in the synagogue driveway after services. “And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly” (Acts 18:26). The language is very plain. They expounded the way more perfectly. Priscilla was one of those talking, and Apollos was learning lots of cool stuff.

In all our many years of marriage, I have learned countless things about Scripture, life, Christian living, the whole business, from my wife. But learning from my wife is not the same thing as my wife setting up shop as an authoritative teacher. I have learned them because we are living our Christian lives side by side. When we are doing our Bible reading in the morning, and Nancy says something like, “Have you ever noticed that in the Psalms it says . . .” I am under no obligation to stop my ears and start humming. But I am learning things naturally, organically, informally, in the course of conversations.

The Kitchen Qualifier

Rachel Miller has a history of getting things spectacularly wrong, and she also has a history of refusing to correct her errors when they are identified. This is because she is a partisan writer, and her tribe has an agenda. That agenda, as I pointed out in the prior post, is the agenda of grooming the conservative church for the coming pivot. We have not pivoted yet, and the kingpins think we need a little more prep work before they spring it on us, and so that prep work is ongoing.

And my comment about getting “back in the kitchen” was not in any way dismissive of the outstanding work that is done in kitchens. I have a high view of those embrace the fact that God has assigned that station to some of us, such that the bacon may be cooked there, and I also have a high view of those who go out from their homes to provide and protect, so that the bacon may be brought there.

Men are called to one pursuit, and women to another. There need be no quarrel between the hammer and the crescent wrench.