Open Letter of Response to Douglas Wilson

This post is in response to Douglas Wilson’s response to me, which can be found here.

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Dear Douglas,

I want to start this letter of response by giving you a compliment. I know that you don’t get many of those from my circle, but I have truly been impressed with you and your daughter taking time to respond to some of my concerns without acting like “big babies.”

Lately, I have been getting silly comments from Christians like, “Why are you attacking” and, “Why are you trying to cause strife in the Church?” The truth is that I never attack people.  I attack theology or agendas in the Church. What I like about you and your family is that you get this and you don’t cry “self-pity” when someone challenges your beliefs. So, thank you for behaving like an intelligent adult. I appreciate that.

I never let folks get snarky with me or disrespect me in any way and, while I am not saying this is your fault, those who follow you do not seem to understand the difference between attacking a theology or idea and attacking a person. Since my last post to you, I have been called all sorts of names and been attacked personally.

Since I know your followers will respond to this post and act like victims when I delete their nasty comments, allow me to share my “comment rules” in this letter (this also applies to my social media sites):

Please Note: Comments should not be disrespectful, snarky, off-topic, or overly long. Criticism should be constructive and ongoing harassment and “pest-like” behavior will not be tolerated.

Allow me to add this. My blog belongs to me and it is not a democracy. I am the queen of my blog, as well as all of my social media accounts, and I decide whose comments get to stay and whose comments get deleted. I also decide who gets blocked and who doesn’t get blocked.

I don’t block people who disagree with me; I block rude people who are claiming to be Christians but don’t act like Christians in the least. Am I protecting my feelings? Perhaps, but more than that I am protecting my dignity and providing an example to all the women who are following me.

Loving people does not mean putting up with rude “Christians,” becoming a doormat, and having no boundaries.

Who gets to decide who is rude? Well, I do on my blog, my Facebook pages, and my Twitter account. If one doesn’t like it, I am sure there are plenty of other blogs and social media accounts for them to troll on. I know, I am an “arrogant feminist” and all that jazz, but I am a woman who is a daughter of the king of kings, so respect is both what I deserve and demand.

Respect is what every human deserves and should demand. 

Ok, back to business. Douglas, you asked me what an extreme complementarian is. I believe you are an extreme complementarian, because you do not permit women to lead or teach men whatsoever. Soft complementarians often allow women to lead and teach men in the Church, but not in the home. Then there are all sorts of “in-betweens.”

There are even those whom I would say are “abusive complementarians.” I don’t think that is you. I hope it is not, but I would say the writer of biblicalgenderroles.com (who so conveniently does not show his real name or face) is a perfect example of an “abusive complementarian.” Whoever this “Christian” is, his last article was entitled, “7 Ways to Discipline Your Wife” (Find Here). Douglas, would you endorse an article like this?

Let’s get real. Conservative Christian scholars are divided on what Ephesians 5:21-33 and like passages mean and I have written my own exegetical view on the marriage passage here.  Let’s move on.

On your blog comment section, one wrote to me: “It would be nice if you would actually say why you see things differently, it would help the readers make up their minds.” Fair enough. Here are the two main reasons I see things differently.

One: Complementarianism Seems to Produce Rotten Fruit.

Complementarianism within itself is not always oppressive, but the theology leads to all sorts of evils if put in the wrong hands. The doctrine is sort of like a gun. A gun in itself is not bad, but when a gun is put into the wrong hands, people get hurt (this post is not about gun control, so everyone reading, spare me the politics, please).

We are to test people and Christian thought by the fruit produced (Matt. 7:20). I realize this is my personal experience, but I rarely meet a gracious and loving “extreme complementarian.” Since I write about this subject often, I engage with hundreds of complementarians and egalitarians.

I do run into respectful “extreme complementarians” here and there, but most are harsh in their criticism and almost never constructive. On the contrary, I do run into nasty egalitarians here and there, but most are respectful and constructive towards complementarians with whom they disagree.

I realize my personal experience is biased and will not matter to you or your followers, but it’s worth bringing attention to this, so we can all be on the lookout from now on for the fruit and character that complementarianism produces. In fact, I may even leave up some nasty comments on my blog from complementarians, just to prove my case.

Remember, the fruits of the Holy Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). None of us will be perfect in reflecting these fruits, but we can test people by observing those who at least “try” to reflect the Holy Spirit.

Two: Egalitarianism Seems to Lead to Freedom, Justice, Life, and Purpose for Women.

Not long ago I received a message from a young woman in her twenties who has escaped “extreme complementarianism.” She loves Jesus with her full heart, and her parents are struggling with her choice, but she will never go back because she is now free to pursue her calling to preach and to teach adults about abuse, damage patriarchy brought to her life, and the good news found in the Gospel. Her choice to leave complementarian views behind has permitted her freedom, justice, life and purpose.

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law (Gal. 5:21). 

In all honesty, I receive emails and Facebook messages like this weekly. Again, I know this is based on my personal experience, but since I dedicate my life to this issue, my experience should count for something.

The truth is that at least half of the Church is made up of women. What better way to limit and even shut down evangelism but to convince Christians to discourage women from preaching and teaching the Bible and the “good news” to all adults? Remember how the enemy tempted Jesus in the wilderness? Satan twisted scripture to try and hold Jesus captive (Matt. 4:1-11). Jesus responded with, “It is also written…”

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life (John10:10). 

Sisters who are entrenched in extreme (or abusive) complementarianism, patriarchy, and control – there is a way out and you don’t have to abandon the authority of God’s Word or your love for Jesus to escape. There is freedom for you, my loves, and you don’t have to do this alone (great post by Jen Hatmaker for some encouragement here).

Douglas, thank you for your engagement and may God bless you, my friend.

-Jory Micah

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45 Comments

  • If your basis for rejecting complimentarianism is rooted in how it “seems” to you, and not in a theologically grounded opinion, don’t you think that leaves the door open to tolerating and appreciating other perspectives? Do you, or would you fellowship with someone you consider an extreme complimentarian, like Doug Wilson?

    • PB, how it “seems” to me is not my foundation to rejecting complementarian theology. I spent 4 years in seminary studying this topic as a Biblical Studies/Church History Major. I wrote a very long master’s thesis based on pure scholarly evidence and church history to prove egalitarianism as biblical. Please find here: http://www.jorymicah.com/about/masters-thesis/. How it “seems” is sort of a bonus factor for my case, because I value experience of what theology produces. “Experience” cannot be our foundation in exegesis, but it will always play a factor in every Christian’s interpretation. Yes, I would fellowship with Douglas Wilson. I would not attend his church/school, but I would have dinner with him and his family as brothers and sisters in Christ.

  • Hey PB,
    Jory does NOT reject complimentarianism only because it “seems.” She has written of and linked to her Maters Thesis which does not rest on “seem.” It is an excellent paper filled with scripture and history and all sorts of stuff beyond, “seem.” She has studied the topic thoroughly.

    But here’s the thing about “seem,” Complimentarianism does “seem” to derail to the side of abuse. Complimentarianism “seems” to be solution looking for a problem. Complimentarianism “seems” to pit husband and wife against each other in suspicion, as though the wife is intent on overpowering her husband. (As if) Complimentarianism “seems” to have abusive leadership that in time, is revealed: Duggars, Bill Gothard, Doug Phillips, Mark Driscoll. I point these men out not because they are sinners like all of us, but because the way they sinned was precisely a result of their patriarchal paradigm- women are subordinate and can be manipulated and abused.

    There is ample scripture to back up the equality of male and female. And cherry picking Ephesians 5 just gets tiresome.

  • Oh, and one more thing. I am in the same denomination as Douglas Wilson and God forbid that his patriarchal paradigm is mandatory to the denomination. Though he or others may think he speaks on behalf of the entire denomination; on this issue he does not.

  • 7 ways to discipline your wife…I read it and found that..Although the blogs writer said he does not endorse physical discipline, he sure left enough fodder to light the fire in an abusive man. This kind of viewpoint was one of the main reasons I left my church. I was young and confused and that stuff did not help me.

  • Hi Jory:-) I love your response, and I appreciate this open dialogue between complementarians and egalitarians that you are leading. It is an important discussion and I believe many are at least starting to think about the topic. You are so right to examine the fruit of both ideologies. I share your observations.

  • You demonstrate clearly and lovingly how we as Christians need to set boundaries. If I had been taught to do this 60 years ago, my life could have been spared such abuse and misuse. Thanks Rory. You are a bright hope for your generation– and for us oldsters as well.

  • Biblical gender roles guy has a new post up saying that it is important to look away from your wife’s face while you rape her. Being a complimentarian wife must be so horrible- I can ‘t even imagine

    • Yuck! Clare, I am sick to my stomach sick. I cannot unread that wretched article that i just read! Who wants to live like that?!?! Did you how many times it was shared on FB? Even so come Lord Jesus!

      • You know, as much time as these guys spend swatting at Christian feminists who critique their theology, you would think they would spend at least as much trying to get fellow comps to stop teaching men the proper ways to rape their wives. Good grief, if anything is tarnishing their message it’s that guy. And yet, “crickets”.

        • That is to say- if anything is tarnishing their message, it’s that guy.
          -and Bill Gothard
          -and Josh Duggar
          -and Mark Driscoll
          -and CJ Mahaney
          -and Doug Phillips
          -and Pastor G

          Huh, what were you saying about rotten fruit?

    • I’m pretty sure biblical gender roles website is either satire or a troll. I highly doubt it’s a genuine Christian. Moreover, it’s anonymous. Not worth giving the satire or troll time of day!

      • You are probably right Daniel. I have thought about that. He does put a lot of time into his blog though, which is not your normal trollish behavior.

      • Maybe, maybe not. He does get a lot of folks in the comments who are sincere. That should worry anyone. I suppose it’s pretty easy to laugh it off when abuse of your gender is not the focus of its content.

      • Doesn’t matter if he’s serious or not, his posts are contributing to the very real rape culture we live in, and reflects an attitude that is common enough in society even if most men are savvy enough to not cop to it. Remember that marital rape wasn’t outlawed in all states until the 90s.

        • I agree with this “Doesn’t matter if he’s serious or not, his posts are contributing to the very real rape culture we live in, and reflects an attitude that is common enough in society even if most men are savvy enough to not cop to it. Remember that marital rape wasn’t outlawed in all states until the 90s.” Good stuff!

  • I think Doug finds it a relief to talk to a Christian who is not talking of his mishandling of sexual abuse cases (helping perpetrators instead of victims), and who calls him a brother and will be willing to fellowship with him.

    • He didn’t just mishandle the abuse cases- he was harassing and intimidating the survivor until she slapped him with a cease and desist letter. This treatment is abuse in and of itself.

      • Admittedly, I have not done the research on the abuse case to comment on it. I am, however, concerned for victims within these extreme complementarian circles. Which is why I try to get to what I believe is the root of the problem – men ruling over women, which is the result of the fall of humankind (Gen. 3:16), but Jesus set us free from this.

  • As a commenter on Doug’s blog, who appreciated your approach and articulation while disagreeing with your premise and conclusions, thank you for your response here. I have run into many sinners preaching complimentarianism sinfully, but I’ve also noticed that while there’s generally a friendly attitude to the egalitarian camp, there’s also a tendency to slide away from other difficult moral and social issues. I’m thankful that this does not seem to be your tendency, but for me as for you, the issue of judging by a ideology’s fruits is important.

      • I would also like to add that having followed your link to the abusive complementarian, I am horrified. I would completely agree with you that that type of doctrine and behavior is wicked, and reject it as not true complementarian.

        • Ian, I know what you mean by true complementarianism because I have some great friends who call themselves complementarians who are wonderful people, but this doctrine has led to these sorts of evils.

          I would agree that some egalitarianism has led to other sorts of evils, but nothing abusive in nature (perhaps confusion over what the Word of God says, but nothing that promotes abuse).

          • The particular slide I see in many egalitarians that troubles me is towards acceptance of abortion – which, again, I am greatly heartened to see you stand firmly against – which is far beyond abuse.

          • I truly don’t think many egalitarians support abortion. Rachel Held Evans, who leans on the liberal side, does not support abortion. Sarah Bessey, who is more moderate like myself, is very much against abortion. I know there are are some who do, but I would say most don’t. That is a good point though. I have been very saddened to see that some Christian feminists are supporting planned parenthood. I know they don’t like abortion, but they see the women’s right to choose as their primary issue.

          • It’s not just about the women’s right to choose, although yes, in the name of holistic justice it’s an important consideration. It’s acknowledgement that aside from abortion, Planned Parenthood provides an invaluable resource in helping people – particularly the poor and otherwise marginalized – make effective reproductive/sexual choices. I honestly feel like a lot of people who want to shut down Planned Parenthood are more concerned with taking a self-righteous stand against abortion than actually reducing abortions and unwanted pregnancy rates. Look at what’s going on in Texas. Look at how high their teen pregnancy rate is.

            I also feel that those who are against Planned Parenthood and abortion rights but who consider themselves progressive in other areas (e.g. class, race, etc.) don’t stop to consider that the GOP anti-abortion strategy is essentially class warfare. When you say you want to shut PP down, you are engaging in class warfare because it is only the marginalized who are going to be affected. If abortion were to be outlawed in the US, rich and middle-class women would STILL be able to get one. If I were to get pregnant, it’d be easy enough for me to hop on a plane to Canada and procure an abortion. And a rich Republican congressman will always be able to finagle an abortion for his secret mistress. “The only moral abortion is my abortion,” after all.

            I get being uneasy with the concept of abortion. But I do honestly feel that those otherwise progressive Christians who jump on the “defund Planned Parenthood” train haven’t actually thought through the ramifications of this strategy.

          • To add on to my pile of word vomit above, the whole argument against Planned Parenthood reminds me of Christians who are against comprehensive sex education in schools because they believe it condones sin. I think the pertinent question you have to ask yourself is which of the two main groups here is actually doing the most to reduce abortions, and go with them. Even if they don’t satisfy the self-righteous urge to take a public stand against abortion. I’m pretty sure God doesn’t care for the self-righteous, anyway.

          • Hi Julia..I am not a progressive Christian (not sure if you were implying that I think I am), but just thought I would say that up front.

            I don’t want to be “in that box” because I disagree with so much of it…but I also agree with a lot of it. I am more of a justice seeker who strives to stay true to the authority of Scripture.

            This statement of yours, I agree with…”I honestly feel like a lot of people who want to shut down Planned Parenthood are more concerned with taking a self-righteous stand against abortion than actually reducing abortions and unwanted pregnancy rates.”

            Sadly, many Christians are against abortion but do nothing to help low-income mothers after birth and this makes me angry. Many just want to complain, but not actually do anything to help. So I get your concerns.

            However, I see abortion as “justified murder,” just as I see “the death penalty” as “justified murder.” They are both considered “just” under current laws but neither are just when compared to the Life and teachings of Jesus Christ. I don’t want my tax dollars to go towards either form of murder. I would be happy with #PP if they would get rid of abortion and offer everything else they offer, but as long as abortion is part of their “business” it stands against the teachings of Christ IMO.

  • Jory, most Christians do not talk of Wilson with the same grace you do. Here is why:
    1) Wilson wrote, in a book to men, that in the sex act:

    “A final aspect of rape that should be briefly mentioned …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 what lies behind sexual “bondage and submission games,” along with very common rape fantasies. Men dream of being rapists, and women find themselves wistfully reading novels in which someone ravishes the “soon to be made willing” heroine.”

    Men winning (conquering) and women losing (surrendering) during intercourse, mixed with a statement that men dream of rape and women of getting ravished, and that this is how the world should be, is a clear approval of (at least marital) rape.
    2) Wilson handled two well-documented child molester cases in very suspicious ways. He tried to get parents in both cases to not go to the police, wrote letters to get lenient sentences for the molesters, sat on the molester’s side of the court in both cases (in one, the victim was from his church).
    He married one to a woman in his church – even though the guy, who molested children from 2-12, could never be around children – that molester had to be removed from his home recently because something that happened between him and his 6-month-old baby.
    In the other case, a 23-26 year old in one of his colleges groomed and molested a 13-16 year old in his church, in a boarding situation he arranged. As recently as this year, when criticised about his handling of the case he tried to deflect blame -on the Internet – to the (then-)teen victim and her parents.
    He wrote an article recently about “sexual justice”, which is all about not being too hard on the person accused of a sex crime, and nothing on getting justice for the victim. My opinion of that, with a link to his article, here: https://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com/2015/10/24/what-is-justice-dont-ask-doug-wilson/
    Between condoning rape and defending sexual abusers of children, most of us do not call him welcome to fellowship with us.

    • That is all very upsetting. I knew there were some scandals, but I did not know the extent. Thank you for sharing.

      However, I would still fellowship with him and his family even if all of this is true, as I would fellowship with any sinner because I am a sinner.

      I will always stand with victims though.

      I know that is a messy answer, but I think Christ was messy in his dealings with these sorts of things.

      • Is it a good idea to fellowship with folks who are actively abusing others, though? Here is some info on what he’s doing to one victim:
        http://kbotkin.com/2015/10/18/for-shame/

        Here is that survivor’s own blog:
        http://natalierose-livewithpassion.blogspot.com/2015/10/the-tragedy-of-shaming.html

        Here is a conservative talking about the other case:
        http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/scandal-in-moscow/

        You have a right to do as your conscience sees fit, of course, but I do think he’s a dangerous man. It’s truly soul crushing that so many evangelicals continue to treat him as a legitimate authority.

          • I agree that we should be willing to visit even a criminal, and that we – like Jesus – should be willing to spend time with all.
            But we should be careful who we call our brothers in Christ, and it seems to me the word “fellowship” implies a fellow Christian you are willing to mutually learn from. The New Testament does not call believers to not mix with sinners, but it does advise us to not even eat with people who claim to be a believer, but who does certain wicked things. (1 Cor 5:9-13)

          • Retha, quite honestly, I struggle with what this verse means because Jesus ate with pharisees who would certainly fall into the category of a “hypocritical believer…”

        • I hope it is clear that I am not on Doug Wilson’s side concerning any of these matters, but talking disrespectfully to him, will not get us anywhere in having a discussion. Does he deserve disrespect? Sounds like he does after looking at these links, but how will women who are under his “rule” hear what I am saying if I am rude to their oppressor, their king, one in whom they see as great? This is about the best method in setting captives free. This is not about me at all.

  • The biblicalgenderroles guy–he’s cuckoo! I’ve never heard in my 4O+ years of being a Christian anything about “disciplining your wife”! How demeaning and non-Biblical. AND he actually says divorce is ok for sexual denial. There is no Biblical basis for that—only for adultery. He needs some serious recalibration. Nuff said. (Although I could go on and on)

  • Jory,
    I found your website from reading your comments on another site. I wish to kindly offer 2 things:

    1. It would be helpful to you and your readers to recognize that what you have been referring to as “extreme complementarian” or particularly “abusive complementarian” (including the abuser who promotes “disciplining his wife” – either satirically or actually!) is NOT true complementarianism.

    True complentarians accept, believe in, and argue for the full and complete equality of women and men together as made in God’s image. In addition, (in disinguishing from egalitarians) they recognize that in terms of roles (in a relationship that fits together like 2 complementary pieces) God has called a husband to lovingly lead and a wife to respectfully honor in a mutually submissive/complementary manner. And in the church, there is but one role of distinction – that of primary overseer. Meanwhile, every other role of ministry is to be fully available to women.

    Rather – what you describe in appropriate anger, reaction, and rejection is to what true complementarians have also rejected (and thus the reason for pursuing a middle category): that of Patriarchy, or best labeled “Hierarchicalism”. Patriarchal hierarchicalists actually believe and promote that men (as a category) are above women – in value, in position, in authority, etc. in all spheres — home, church, society at large. Again, to be completely clear: this is NOT any form of actual complementarity, but is rather quite an abuse (and misnomer, if labeled “complementarian”.)

    (Anyway, I share your concern about abusive patriarchy – and would urge you to reconsider your labling).

    2. You mention your experience of dominantly mean complementarians and notably charitable egalitarians and that you don’t ever attack people, only ideas… Hmmm… When I first read you on another blog you were charging John Piper with holding demonic views, being a tool of Satan to oppress female leaders, his followers are deceived, and that “we need to kick his ass” on this. Hmmm… Love your zeal, but – Just sayin’…

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