No post in particular: In your most recent Plodcast you talked about Revoice and mentioned the idea of Eros (facing each other) and Friendship (side by side). I was reminded of That Hideous Strength: “Those who are enjoying something, or suffering something together, are companions. Those who enjoy or suffer one another, are not. Do you not know how bashful friendship is? Friends—comrades—do not look at each other. Friendship would be ashamed.”
I have been using “P” for a long time (LGBTQIAP+) but with reference to the upcoming movement of the future which is “postgenderism.” However yes, another “P” will do as well as another “B” for “bestiality”and surely, the incestuous will want to add an “I” and rapists will want to add an “R.” I suppose that is what the “+” is for.
Ken, they will say we are slandering them in this—nobody is proposing this right now. And the operative phrase is right now, and prompts a follow up question for them. Given your stated principles, and given how you are arguing this circumstance, why are you not arguing for this right now?
I have found your blog posts on the Revoice conference so interesting and cogent that the lack of interaction with them by other church leaders of prominent Internet presence is extremely surprising. Your name almost never appears when searching for discussions about the opinion of church leadership on the recent conference. This absolutely baffles me . . . You have publicly interacted with a number of high profile individuals (e.g. C. Hitchens, P. Hitchens, A. Sullivan, and you even successfully lured Dr. Wright into commenting on your blog once), so it seems to me unlikely that the body of prominent Christian leadership in the USA is simply unaware of your criticisms.
Timothy, yes, well, it is hard for people who have no answers to want to talk with people who want answers, and are willing to ask pointed questions in pursuit of the same.
RE: Revoice These are people who want to have their cake and NOT eat it, too.
Ron, yes. But where does the Bible say that you can’t put your fork right next to the plate, just barely touching the cake?
On a Wife Leaving
RE: On a Wife Deciding to Leave Her Husband. In this letter, fiction as it may be, you describe the husband’s sins as, “what your husband does—constant anger, outbursts of wrath, sexually degrading behavior, ongoing manipulation and gaslighting, treating you like a slave, total control of all things physical and financial, and so on.” Those certainly are reasons for separation, at least. But the whole idea here is that, even though these powerfully outward sins are piling up, there are no witnesses. That seems impossible. At the very least their adult children would know these things—and be bitter about it. For that matter, why wouldn’t the elders receive the testimony of her family members who affirm these accusations? Surely family would at least be able to testify to the man’s manipulation that separates her from her family. Further, if there are no witnesses, wouldn’t you be wrong to affirm that her husband behaves in this manner? Yet you state them as plain as fact. It seems that you would have to acknowledge that these are her accusations but that you cannot affirm them. You would have to change your wording to allow for the potential that she could be making false accusation. She would then need, from you, a warning against false accusation. I’m afraid you’ve created something in the fictional realm that doesn’t look enough like reality. From that you have granted permission for the separation of what God has brought together. That is concerning. Please advise. What am I missing in your argument?
One more note: When you write this, “you have run it by others who are outside the circumstance, and who have an objective set of eyes. You have done this with both your brother and with me.” Are you not advocating that those, “outside the circumstance,” are better situated to deal with this situation? What about the Bible? The elders have been treated, by you, as part of the problem. Again, barring evidence, that is a damning conclusion. Obviously, elders sin and miss important truths. But, is this how you view your church and its elders too? Or, is that something you apply, without evidence, only to those outside of your purview?
Peter, you are correct about accusations requiring two and three witnesses. But this is not the same thing as “possible accusation by inference.” In the letter, I made it clear that no one is to be charged unless the charge can be independently verified. But that is the point of the runaway slave law. Using your reasoning, how would it be possible to refuse to return a runaway slave, who might be lying?
I have long been a fan of your work, but your article “On a Wife Deciding to Leave Her Husband” was certainly an exception to this. I do not know the situation to which you referred, nor do I know what a wife should do when in a marriage to an emotionally and verbally abusive man. I do, however, know what St. Monica did, and I believe I know what 1 Peter 3 commands. And I also know that one cannot characterize “To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband” as “merely advice.”
Robert, here is the difficulty. First, I take I, not the Lord, and not I but the Lord as equally authoritative, divinely inspired. I believe not I, but the Lord refers to teaching that Christ gave on divorce during His earthly ministry (assuming two covenant members), and I, not the Lord is referring to Paul’s apostolic word, dealing with mixed marriages, where a pagan was married to a Christian. Neither of those should be considered mere advice. What was advice was Paul’s statement that a wife should not separate, but if she does, then she should either reconcile or remain single. A woman in that position was not to be disciplined simply for leaving her husband, which means that Paul did not expect his word at that point to be enforced by the church. And given the nature of these intractable situations, that was wise.
So you’ve shown that it is sometimes appropriate for a wife to leave her husband if he is a domestic tyrant. What about two other common situations: (1) he is pursuing a different religion or (2) he is impotent? I’m not implying that these situations are at all related, just that they are each common enough to warrant a response.
Andrew, if a man pursues a different faith, the wife should refuse to accompany him. Her faith in God comes first, but she should not divorce him simply because he is not a faithful believer. That was the question that Paul was actually answering in 1 Corinthians. And if he is impotent, that depends. If he is impotent such that the marriage was never consummated, then that would be grounds for annulment, not divorce. Without consummation, the marriage is not really a marriage. If he became impotent sometime after they were married, say through an accident, then that was encompassed by the vows that included “in sickness and in health.”
The application of the runaway slave is very interesting. However, it does leave me wondering as to how we are left to deal with the children who are part of the marriage. Is it right for the wife to take them with her? Often children are used as bargaining chips or as the witnesses against the other spouse. What would be your thought in situations such as this?
Ken, if a wife is truly getting out of range, then it would be appropriate for her to get the kids out of range also, if she can. But given the legal situation, that is not always possible.
Re: “On a Wife Deciding to Leave Her Husband.” When she leaves, one thing that will become immediately clear, with as many witnesses as could be desired, is that this is a guy who does not have his household in order. If the other elders are genuinely, innocently deceived by him, they will at least quickly remove him from his office. That’d have several beneficial results. 1) A big chunk of the hypocrisy would crumble. At least he would no longer be a wolf in shepherd’s clothing even if he didn’t get excommunicated. 2) It might actually be a big enough blow to convict him of his sin. 3) It’d be bound to reveal his true colors: a truly godly man would quickly submit to this (in fact, would initiate it); a true scoundrel would resist the loss of this position. (I suppose there might be some particularly devilish fellow who could manage to fake even that level of humility, but I think that’d be a rare bird.) And if the other elders are in collusion, then anybody should be able to see that this is a church to steer clear of.
Kyriosity, good points all.
On Wives and Husbands leaving: Doug, scenarios like this can follow from cases of husbands abusing wives, not necessarily physically, often as a result of the husband viewing pornography. Where Jesus tells us that looking lustfully at a woman is already committing adultery in his heart, and where adultery provides biblical grounds for divorce, would you say a husband viewing pornography is grounds for the wife to seek a divorce? I look forward to your opinion or direction to where you may have discussed it elsewhere. Thank you.
Jeremy, the exception clause that Jesus gives is “except for porneias.” That is a broad term, meaning sexual uncleanness. I believe that porn use could be an example of that, but not automatically so. If a husband confesses to his wife that while standing in the checkout line at Safeway he looked at the Cosmopolitan cover for longer than he should have, and she wants to divorce him because Jesus said that this was “infidelity,” then the wife is the one who should get a grip. But if he has a basement full of hard core porn that he won’t give up, I think that divorce could be an option.
The letter about being married to a feminist reminded me of a question I’ve been struggling with lately. I should say that we were not Christians when we married, I was a very committed feminist (with a women’s studies degree to prove it!), and so the idea of submitting to and respecting my husband was not on my radar for a long time. My husband and I both enjoy intellectual debate, and we are also both quite contrarian. He’ll often send me a link to an op-ed he read while he’s at work that he wants us to discuss when he gets home. He’ll often tell me, “I really want to know what you think about this,” so I know that debate and lively discussion is something he appreciates. But, lately I’ve been convicted that I have a tendency to slip from engaging in lively debate to being disrespectful of his point of view, and I’m struggling to know where that line falls. (How) can a wife engage in a spirited, lively debate about something, and challenge her husband’s ideas and arguments, while still being respectful?
Lori, I wouldn’t change anything on the basis of an internal worry you might have. Ask him. Ask him if your debating style ever comes across to him as disrespectful. If he likes it, you should like it too. If there are times when he doesn’t appreciate something you do, take that to heart, and work on not doing it. But don’t ask him, and then be hurt if he tells you.
I am somewhat mystified by the worldly examples used re: the key. (The weird double standard of women commiserating vs men mocking in a cheating situation makes sense). What on earth are you saying re: the master key and the worthless key? I don’t intend to trap you in your words, I’m just really puzzled.
Linda, if someone has a master key, and uses it to rob and defraud people, I am certainly not approving of that. It is a sin, an evil. My point is that it is a very different evil than that of being a busted lock. The difference can be seen in another way. We tend to enjoy heist movies, but nobody would go to a movie about a security guard who gets drunk and sleeps on the job, allowing his employer to be robbed blind.
Egalitarianism wants to say that a man who has sex with a hundred women is doing the same thing as a woman who has sex with a hundred men. But they are manifestly different sins, because men and women are manifestly different. So my point is that the man and the woman are committing different sins, not that one is righteous and the other unrighteous.
My wife and I have three boys (oldest is 4.5 years old). We have recently been reading your Future Men book and have been greatly blessed by it and we have been implementing much of your wisdom. When I came across your reference to reading Tolkien to your 2-year-old I discovered how far behind I already was and I began immediately reading them The Hobbit. I was surprised how much my oldest wanted me to keep reading. I do have a question though. I just finished your chapter on schooling and masculinity. It was very good but I was left wanting more detail. We will be starting classical homeschooling this fall with our oldest son so this hits us right where we are. As a pastor I have noted both of the weaknesses for boys in homeschooling which you mentioned. They concerned me greatly before reading your chapter. I have seen both extremes in my church from homeschool families (the effeminate boy who is homebound and the one who can’t get along with mom at all). I was wondering if you have written more elsewhere on how to promote masculinity in boys through education? Or if there is a resource you would recommend? Any help would be appreciated.
Levi, I am very sorry that I can’t refer you to a book that covers it all. I say things about it here and there in my works on education, but I don’t know of one good source.
“Risk and Conflict are a Feature, not a Bug” Spot on. If I had to distill the problems plaguing the Church into a single issue (as a young Christian father of the current generation), the lack of this understanding would be it. So much of false doctrine coming out these days is based on the simply and ludicrous premise that “God wouldn’t want to put us in the position where we might have to suffer, so he simply must not be commanding us to believe this.” This is the . . . [one] who told Moses to spend the rest of his life wandering the desert because he got impatient. He is just fine asking you to live within a few loose gender role guidelines, and not letting you fornicate with who you’d like to.
Justin, right. There God goes again, telling us what to do!
God bless you Douglas.
So I keep on saying “Thank You”—and here I go again—“Thank You.”
Melody, you’re welcome. And thank you for paying attention.
Those were definitely aspens. For an expert opinion and 10-second explanation of how to identify them, see the linked video at the 1:05 mark
Nathan, thanks. And I would just say (to all my critics) that this was apparently a harder question than any of us initially thought.
Feminism in General
In general, I thought your response to Erin was good and fair, but in my opinion it is incomplete in answering why feminism is unacceptable. I’ll try to keep it simple: Feminism is not a posture, it’s an ideology. As such, it makes concrete claims about history, human nature, etc. One need only hold up those claims to the Bible to see that not only are most of them outright false, by many of them vary in evil from venial to outright abomination (ex. supporting such radical autonomy one supports partial birth abortion). Women often delude themselves by saying “I am a feminist, but . . .” However, that is irrelevant. We don’t judge an ideology based on the personal beliefs of a single adherent, we judge it based on whatever is generally considered its authoritative set of tenets. If someone were to say in church “I am a Communist, but . . .” we would rightly point out the absurdity and mutually exclusive nature of Communism and Christianity because the latter requires adherence to many things that are rejected by the latter. Even if you set aside every culture of death position enthusiastically embraced by mainstream feminism, you would be left with its view that rebellion against lawful authority is justified when the governed “withdraw consent” or “feel abused.” God is not a Classical Liberal and the Bible teaches against the Lockean understanding of authority in no uncertain terms. This doesn’t mean that women must suffer evil (your advice to the woman leaving her apparently quite evil church elder husband was sound), but it means that “I don’t agree” is no basis to be defiant or set aside the 2nd commandment by making her husband feel her anger at not getting her way. Hurting an authority over you—any authority—for simply doing what displeases you, not what is a clear violation of the natural and divine laws is gravely evil and ultimately often more evil than anything the authority actually did.
Two and Three Witnesses
The principle of witnesses does apply in Deut. 22. The crime the passage is talking about is not rape, but adultery. It’s established that the accused have had sex. The man is thus guilty and condemned to death. The question under discussion is whether the woman is a willing participant. Rape is not the crime; it’s her defense The only first-hand witnesses to that are the accused themselves, so their testimony is unreliable. She will certainly claim to have been raped. He—who is already condemned to death—might or might not back her up on this, but there’s no a priori reason to assume he will be truthful. So case law establishes a principle: if the adultery took place in town, she is assumed to have the means to either avoid it or cry for help. In contrast, a man might come upon someone else’s woman alone in the country, and therefore the law gives her the benefit of the doubt
Andrew, right. If the fact of the sex is acknowledged by all, then I believe you are correct. But if the fact of the sex is denied by him, and rape is alleged by her, then the principle of independent corroboration still applies.
Thanks for the comments on the Deuteronomy passage! This passage was raised by someone as an example of punishment being doled out simply on the account of the accuser. But I would guess that even though the passage doesn’t say “After a trial where both are questioned,” it hardly denies that such would take place since there is still the rest of the Torah as context for it. So if he has no alibi, presumably he would be guilty on her charge. Or no verifiable alibi, at least. If he says he was tending sheep 3 towns over but none of the shepherds remember him, then he’s guilty. I think the more troublesome verses to modern-day activists are the preceding verses about the alleged assault taking place in the city. Taking the passage as is, it would seem to disqualify a large number of cases in modern time—that is, any case where someone could have been heard by crying out. And thus also, implications for the narrative of “being intimidated by the powerful.” On the other hand, being assaulted while drunk would conceivably qualify under the standard of the fields, if one is unable to cry out. That the victim willingly got drunk would be a separate moral issue, even though it left him/her unable to cry out. My takeaway from this is that it’s hard to figure. Anyone with a book recommendation?
Kevin, sorry—don’t have a book recommendation on your latter scenarios. But I am afraid I have to differ on the need for the accused to have an alibi. Even if he doesn’t have an alibi (he was on a three-day hunting trip by himself), he should not be convicted on the basis of one witness alone.
Speaking of menus, I’ll have a bit of crow. I finally read the book, and that comment about recorders did make a lot more sense in context. Perhaps still not the example I would have chosen, but then, I didn’t write the book, did I?
Jane, thanks for offering to eat crow, but I don’t think you need to. You were reacting to an excerpt from Food Catholic that I posted without all the surrounding context. So if there is any fault to be assigned, then
Can I ask what your position is now on the relationship between HIV and AIDS? I ask because I have just finished reading Fidelity and your recommendation of Peter Duesberg’s work stood out as concerning in an otherwise good book. Would you continue to recommend to married people who are HIV positive that the HIV virus is harmless and that they should not therefore need to abstain from sex? Many thanks!
Tim, I have not yet been persuaded that Duesberg was wrong. But I would encourage married couples in the position you describe to read up on it, and I would encourage them to read both sides—Duesberg included.