A Controversy of Propriety

As some of you may know, I recently sent an open letter to the TGC (here). Within that post, I outlined a number of disturbing and abusive actions and comments made by many of the most influential people under the TGC umbrella. In the first twelve hours of the posts release, everything was pretty standard fare. Then something unexpected happened. A reader sent the post to Rachel Held Evans and she chose to share it on her twitter page. From there, everything blew up in the oddest of ways.

It was at this point that Doug Wilson and his followers became very heated. Wilson targeted RHE with a fairly standard DW flare (here). Wilson’s faithful then began to ferociously and mercilessly attack RHE for my words.

I want to be clear, I am not and will not be responding to Wilson’s post.

Instead, I want to respond to those who have claimed I misinterpreted Wilson’s words on the “propriety of rape” from page 13 of Her Hand in Marriage. Here is the full post:


These claims have been centered around (1) RHE’s specific tweet and (2) whether that tweet represents my own words. Here are both side by side.


10. Doug Wilson teaches that until a daughter has been courted and married she remains under the headship of her father. Her father must be the authoritative presence in her courtship who protects her. However, if the young girl should buck this system at all she is asking to get raped. Further, the fact that she has been raped indicates a certain propriety to the occurrence of rape as a supposed consequence of rejecting the “male headship” of her father.

Now I want to say this carefully. When I originally wrote my post. I didn’t have anything as direct as RHE’s statement in mind. But, after having had time to think it over, I agree with her. RHE’s interpretation of my words is an accurate interpretation of my own thoughts.

Parsing Propriety

I want to take a moment to break down this rather long paragraph from Wilson’s book. Much of the controversy has centered around a single sentence, but the reality is the quote occurs within a very enlightening context. As such, I want to outline several statements by Wilson within this paragraph; which lend to the interpretation that Wilson is saying “unsubmissive women deserve rape.”*

  1. Wilson states that submission to husband/father is designed to protect women from “ungodly men” It is precisely her husband or father who should be protecting here from being “buffeted by all sorts of men” and further from “insults and harassment” from men in general.

It is notable, then, that

Wilson has a well-documented history of using abusive language against women who don’t support him (see open letter linked above).
So one must ask:

If Doug Wilson doesn’t think women who don’t submit deserve to be abused somehow (not even talking about rape yet!), why does he so often resort to ad hominem attacks and vitriol filled invective against his female detractors?

If it is the job of godly men to protect women from ungodly men, is Doug Wilson’s attack on Rachel Held Evans his way of tacitly proclaiming, “This woman is not under my protection, nor is she worthy of your protection.”?

Given Wilson’s own rhetoric, it is hardly any wonder that, as a result, that his followers have harassed her, calling her “crazy bitch”and sending her incredibly disgusting and violent images.

rhe 2.png
Doug Wilson’s empire of “biblical manhood” is created by defining his masculine identity by subjugating women, and he encourages his follower to do the same. This is precisely why he targeted Natalie Greenfield’s father and created false details to make him culpable for her abuse. Admitting his own pastoral failures in protecting Natalie Greenfield’s abuser would be confessing that he does not meet his own standard for masculinity.

If godly manhood is protecting women from abuse by exerting patriarchal authority over her (that is what he means by “submission”!) then godly womanhood is defined by being under the authority of a man.

The only way to excuse his own abusive actions is to blame Natalie and her father and insist her abuse was the result of some sort of ungodliness on their part.

In both word and deed, Wilson shows that he believes ungodly women (women who do not submit to masculine authority) bring abuse upon themselves.

2. This is very important because of what Wilson says next. After talking about types of masculine protection – with the hierarchy being father/husband before legal avenues – Wilson makes the statement that spurred controversy.
Women inescapably need godly masculine protection against ungodly masculine harassment; women who refuse protection from their fathers and husbands must seek it from the police. But women who genuinely insist on ‘no masculine protection’ are really women who tacitly agree on the propriety of rape.
Now, it seems important here to define some terms. First, here is the Merriam Webster’s Dictionary’s definition of both “Tacit” and “Propriety”:
Tacit means “expressed or carried on without words or speech” and “Implied or indicated (as by an act or by silence) but not actually expressed.”
Propriety means “behavior that is accepted as socially or morally correct and proper” and “the state or quality of being correct and proper”
By saying “unsubmissive” women “tacitly agree to the propriety of rape” Wilson is, in fact, saying that they have actively consented to a societal order in which rape is a correct and proper response to their actions.

That is, he at the very least says they have (a) consented to such a social order and (b) that a social order which rapes these women is not only “proper” but also “morally correct”. Perhaps Wilson is not the wordsmith he claims to be, perhaps he chose random words out of thesaurus and didn’t bother to look up their meanings – but I’m going to go out on a fairly sturdy limb and say he meant exactly what he said.

This cannot, as some claim, mean that he is only saying the women who are unsubmissive think this.

One, because it is absurdist for Wilson to claim he has crawled into the minds of these women and realized that they really don’t have a problem with being raped (remember tacitly connotes active nonverbal consent, not just passive acknowledgment).

Two, because the wording of the sentence states that these women are assenting to something that he, in fact, has already said he believes exists. That is, Wilson has already said that insult and harassment and abuse are how ungodly men behave. He didn’t say, “This is how ungodly, unsubmissive women think they behave” he directly said that is how he knows ungodly men behave. Thus, the societal order of rape he describes is already something he has generally presupposed in the proceeding sentences.

So again, whether or not Wilson thinks they “deserve it” he definitely thinks it is a “proper and morally correct” response to their actions.
The question that presents itself, then, is “Why is rape of these women proprietary?”
3. This is actually fairly simple to answer. Because Wilson believes horrible things happen to those who do not obey God’s design.

And what is God’s design?

If godly men have patriarchal authority and godly women submit, then the design of God that Wilson believes must be adhered to is female submission under male authority. And we know that the women who fight against this by supposedly rejecting all male protection (because for Wilson protection equals male authority!) are actively consenting to the proper and morally correct social order of rape. Thus Wilson is saying “Women who reject the system get raped because they have defied God.”

And why do these terrible things happen to these women?

Because those who exalt themselves will be humbled (Wilson forgets to cite Matt 23 here).

And who does the humbling?

It stands to reason that these “unsubmissive” women are humbled through rape for defying God’s design, and if Wilson’s wholly good God is actively working all suffering to bring people to find the ultimate good in him, then God is an agent in the rape of these women. Especially since Wilson’s own theology holds that suffering has long term benefits.

So if a woman God desires to elect (by Wilson’s understanding) is being called to God by the long-term positive affect of being raped by an “ungodly man” then she not only deserved what she got, it was a good thing. But if an un-elect woman should be raped, this is also good because God is fully within his rights to punish the wicked and perhaps her lack of faith will be exposed as apostate. In either case, the woman got exactly what Doug Wilson believes she deserved.


It is for precisely the reasons stated above that I agree with Rachel Held Evans’ summary of my statement. And so I will reiterate the point:

Doug Wilson states that unsubmissive women deserve to be raped.

In closing I want to emphasize that women do not choose to be raped. They are not complicit in rape. They bear no moral responsibility for rape. We, as Christians have a responsibility not to oppress victims but to stand beside them, support them, believe them and help their voices be heard.

Jesus explicitly states in the Gospels that his followers will be judged by how they treat marginalized persons. Wilson’s words are deplorable, and directly contributed to a culture of sexual violence against women. As such they are a betrayal of the Gospel and of Christ.

Anyone who would seek to defend his words, or to minimize their meaning, is equally culpable.

*Jory Micah has offered her thoughts here.

48 thoughts on “A Controversy of Propriety

  1. Great, great article. Nearly succumbed to the Neo-Calvinist movement myself until I looked at history and found a dude name Servetus and his relationship to Calvin himself. Then I remembered, “oh yeah, root and fruit.” These people love to obfuscate words and the “logic” of their assumptions always produce tragic results. Would that Christians would trade in “orthodoxy” for solid reasoning. I’ll never view “tacit” and “propiety” the same after today.

    Keep up your awesome work, Nate!


  2. I know the comparisons I am about to present are lame and in no way can compare to the horror of being raped, but:
    Would DW claim that anyone who owns an automobile tacitly agrees to the propriety of being car-jacked? Or that anyone who decides to become a medical doctor tacitly agrees to a malpractice lawsuit? Anyone who uses a power tool tacitly agrees to the propriety of being maimed or killed? Anyone who uses a kitchen knife tacitly agrees to the propriety of losing a finger? Anyone who carries a wallet or purse tacitly agrees to the propriety of being mugged?
    Maybe a man who attempts to rape an “unsubmissive woman” is tacitly agreeing to the propriety of getting himself a face full of mace or a bullet in his groin area, administered by the woman!
    What kind of evils and illegalities does DW “tacitly agree to the propriety” of subjecting himself.
    Keep ’em comin’, Nate!


  3. Nate you wrote: “Also, for the record I don’t think you deserve to have something stolen. I don’t even think you were asking for it. I think you made an unwise decision and an evil person took advantage. But that doesn’t make you to blame, the blame is on the person who steals and the societal systems which perpetuate stealing …”

    This is precisely what I am getting at with Wilson, my biking example is an analogy with Wilson’s arguments. The rapist is to blame for the crime, but a woman can make an unwise decision that enables an evil person to take advantage, but the unwise decision is not to say she deserves it.

    As far as Wilson bungling on his use of English, if he doesn’t want to inflame passions, he shouldn’t use such inflammatory language. You’ll have to forgive me for saying this, but he deserves to be misunderstood! He has little room for complaint on that score.

    I’ve seen the internet war or ‘trial by internet’ regarding the abuse in Wilson’s own church, and I’m afraid think he won the propaganda war hands down. That’s not to say he was right, but too much criticisim was clearly motivated by something other than a desire for justice, it was personally vindictive. If he was attempting to avoid personal responsibility, this enabled him to do so. As someone removed both in time and space from this issue, I can only withold judgement as I only have biased internet information to go on (and I apply that to both sides).

    One observation in this regard is that Wilson’s possible naivety on this subject was matched by unbelief that the gospel really can change someone, even if they can never go back to a normal life amongst a congregation. He did at least involve the police, unlike some of the other super-pastors who may have been grossly negligent in guarding the flock.

    I might also add I am not especially in agreement with Wilson over his ‘rape can be countered by male headship’ thesis. I think you have mistaken my criticism of Wilson’s critics, RHE in particular, as meaning I support him. I think he has a point, but there is much more to the issue than headship and submission. For one, headship and submission however you define it is between a husband and wife, not men in general and women in general.

    I really don’t know just what RHE was thinking when she composed her badly-worded tweet. As far as the use of language goes, they are six of one and half a dozen of the other!


    1. We can agree I disagree. I haven’t thought you were defending Wilson, but disagreeing on the meaning and truth of his words. My argument is that in word, deed, and theological assertion Wilson has painted himself into a corner. He is a master of propaganda, but his defense is “those words don’t mean what they actually mean” and especially coming from someone as high on his horse as Wilson is regarding his own linguistic prowess, it smacks of disingenuity and possibly even desperation. It seems he isn’t the great mind he claims to be, he meant the words exactly as he has written them (and supported the idea in other posts), or as I suspect a bit of both.

      Thanks for the respectful dialogue. It’s refreshing to disagree without what seems to be the prerequisite of insult so common to online dialogue.

      To emphasize something that I don’t think you have lost, but plays into Wilson’s response post, I did not target Wilson as a person. I targeted his words, ideas, and actions. I have heard from many he is a gentle loving man and that may be true, but that is not the public persona he has cultivated and that to me is troubling. Whoever he may be in day to day, his digital presence is one marked by vitriol, abusive rhetoric, ego, and just plain nonsensical rambling quite often. Perhaps if he was as much the gentle man in public ashis family tells me he is behind closed doors he could avoid so much controversy. But as it stands, he seems to cultivate these controversies because he enjoys the attention. I attempt to dance the fine line between calling out abuse (because I have heard from those abused under his “headship” asking me to keep doing so) and feeding his seemingly insatiable desire to be in the public eye.

      Peace to you Ken and thanks for the thoughtful comments.


      1. There is far too much emoting in comment sections on the internet! It can be a very bad witness to the gospel when it occurs in Christians threads, some of which can be very toxic. A great pity when that happens.

        Incidentally, take a look at What is Wrong with Douglas Wilson at TWW towards the end of the comments, and see if anything there is familiar!!


        1. Ken said, “Incidentally, take a look at What is Wrong with Douglas Wilson at TWW towards the end of the comments, and see if anything there is familiar!!”

          What are you talking about? Nobody there was being particularly malicious about Wilson.

          You continually focus on people’s tone and language (such as hammering on Dash’s comments on Botkin’s blog while discussing this at TWW) rather than focusing on the content of what people are saying (such as what Botkin said about Wilson’s behavior); you continually ignore the substance of what people are saying to nit pick over non-consequential or trivial matters such as language.


          1. I let the “emoting” comment go, but you have a point. It is easy to ignore someone’s comment b/c you don’t like how they said it. It is a lot harder, and often more charitable, to try to see through that to the heart of the conversation.

            Everyone has their limits. I try to move past things like insults to get to the heart of the matter, but we all have our limits as to how much we can do this before it becomes time to simply walk away from the conversation.

            It is a very fine line and I don’t know that it is always easily discerned.


    2. Ken said, “but a woman can make an unwise decision that enables an evil person to take advantage,”

      That sounds rather victim-blaming to me. Like the Muslim cleric who, years ago, blamed women for being raped – comparing them to “uncovered meat” who tempted men. Same difference.

      Regarding your “trial by internet” comment.
      You do realize that Wilson has a blog where he regularly publishes offensive, controversial, and nasty content, and over delicate matters, such as child sex abuse, yes?
      If Wilson doesn’t want public push back on other blogs from other people, he can stop blogging. Nobody is forcing him to blog or publish books.


  4. I do not believe your conclusion is a necessary consequence of what Wilson wrote considering the context of not only the attached page but of other things he has written. I think we (perhaps) need to give him the charity he is unwilling to give others. Until one agrees with his premise of biblical headship, we really are not permitted to debate the necessary consequences (the “propriety of rape”) of that premise. The premise needs to be debated first. BUT If I agreed with his premise and gave him a dose of charity I think what he is saying is that a woman who is in high-handed rebellion and refuses submission IN THE LORD to her covenant head, she and the world should not be surprised one little bit if, in the future, she is a victim of abuse (and in time even rape). This may not soften someone’s thoughts of DW but is a legitimate conclusion and a far cry from “DW thinks unsubmissive girls/women deserve rape.”

    If anyone truly thinks, says and means “a woman deserves rape” that would make them a demon. I do not believe Doug Wilson has said that here. Doesn’t this skate close to libel? Has anyone tried to ask him this direct question without first concluding such a demonic conclusion?


    1. First, there is nothing demonic about calling a spade a spade. I have made my case and made it well. It also isn’t libel to read and interpret someone’s book.

      Now, here’s your email problem. You want to show charity to Wilson because you agree with him. You may not like the words “deserve to be raped” but you agree that in some way rape has a propriety. The problem is that the only way for Wilson’s words to mean what you say is for the words he used to not mean what they typically mean.

      Propriety does not mean “what will happen eventually” it means “what does happen as a right and proper consequence” or “what happens as the proper moral functioning of society.” Like “tacitly” doesn’t mean “what she shouldn’t be surprised about” it means “that thing to which she gives her unspoken assent.” Tacit agreement is something like nodding one’s head, it is not a passive concept.

      Continued in next comment.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Read my comment more closely. I said anyone who truly believes that a woman can deserve rape is a demon. I did not say you are a demon for calling someone out on it if it is true.

        But wow. The entire point of my post was just ask the man “do you mean that women at any point can deserve to be raped and that is a good thing.” Yes words mean something. Yes words have power (because we are made in God’s image). Yes we should say/write what we mean and mean what we say/write. BUT we are not inerrant or infallible. With that being the case and you encounter a professing Christian that sound like they are saying….hmmm….let’s see “women can deserve to be raped and that’s a good moral thing.” Give them a little charity and at minimum ASK them did you really mean thus and such. I can tell you are perhaps young and have not encountered the need from someone to give you a little charity in your writing. If he or anyone truly means what you have concluded, then I will share in your vitriol.


        1. Kevin,

          I do not define charity as beating around the bush because someone might be offended. Again, I have invited you to read the sources – all of them. Wilson has openly sided with a hebephile and serial spousal abuser against Natalie Greenfield. When directly confronted on his own blog about whether Natalie Greenfield is morally responsible for being raped repeatedly by a grown man when she was 14, Doug responded by stating his belief that no amount of grooming takes away her moral agency.

          Wilson openly says that slavery was not a bad thing, that it was biblical. The forward to his book, by his son, says that “pagan Africa” was much more an atrocity than the Christianized form of slavery practiced on the south. He wrote a book with a leader of the League of the South – a book which proved to be plagiarized. And again, just recently, another of his books has been pulled for plagiarism.

          Wilson responds to women by calling them “small-breasted”. He calls feminists ” easy lays” and “lumberjack dykes”. He openly stated that rape statistics are invented by feminists.

          Remember, Jesus showed love to the woman caught in adultery, more than one Samaritan, and even a Roman centurion through charity and grace. He showed love to their abusers by calling them out – even going so far as to call them white-washed tombs and turning tables in the temples.

          Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians cthat the cross is a symbol of weaknesswhich exalts the weak. As such, it exposes the foolishness of powers which work through exploitation (see discussion of Eucharist and privilege for instance).

          Jesus stood with victims of oppression against those who used ” God” to oppress. I stand against Wilson for the same reason. He has a long track record, again one which I have cited repeatedly.

          So I will show charity to the victim by standing up to the abuser – and make no mistake, many have accused Wilson of spiritual abuse.


        2. If calling him out is the folly of being “young” how do you explain all the bloggers who write on abuse daily engaging him in the same way?

          Again, you’re resorting to protective strategies rather than engaging the text and the sources I have cited.

          And I didn’t say you called me demonic, you said my accusation was “libel” and “demonic”. And in case you aren’t aware and this is all microagression, you have ended the last comment by calling the post ” vitriol.”

          You made up your mind before you read anything I had to say. You’re moves to disqualify me from the conversation rather than presenting an argument shows that.

          A final thought, if Wilson isn’t inerrant or infallible, if he has a history of writing intentionally poor words then obfuscating with more poorly chosen words to defend himself, isn’t that indicative of something? If he works with racists and plagiarizers for his books doesn’t that say something? If he insults women repeatedly doesn’t that mean something about him? So, why defend him? What is there about what he has said that you personally feel is defensible? Is there something theologically sound about “the propriety of rape” something important to your own view of the Gospel that causes you to respond by dismissive tactics rather than sound argument?


    2. Now, to the rest of your argument.

      First, you have presumed my reading wrong because you disagree with me on headship. But whether or not I am right about headship has nothing to do with the meaning of the phrase “the propriety of rape” as the argument I have made is linguistic not theological. You, like Wilson, have basically stated I don’t agree so I can’t properly engage. It’s a good protective strategy, but it is also rife with logical fallacy.

      Second, you use words like “libel” and “demonic” but claim you are arguing for charity for Wilson. Further, you speak of heavy-handed rebelling against her God appointed “covenant head”. Again, you my friend need to play your cards closer to the chest.

      Wilson connected the ” propriety of rape” to God humbling those who exalt themselves. Since the topic at hand here is specifically women who don’t submit to male headship, exalting one’s self in the context of the paragraph is female rejection of said headship.

      Now, what could humbled mean? If rape is the morally proper function of society to which women who reject male headship thus give their silent assent, and if God humbles these women – then God used rape to humble them.

      Now if you think God is just and people deserve what God gives them (Wilson believes both) and if your view of providence is that God is the author of all events (which Wilson argues often) then in what way is the conclusion flawed?

      Wilson made this about whether he rejoices in rape. An irony, because I never said he did. He shifted the meaning of my words so that they are easily dismissed. But that is never what I said. I only said his theology is such that he believes that they have received, by the justice of God, the due and deserved punishment for their actions.

      Perhaps instead of asking “has Wilson tried to clarify this” you should read my open letter to TGC where I repeatedly cite the ways Wilson has doubled down on this idea while insisting he’s really being kind and protective of women.

      I’m sorry, but you haven’t presented an argument against my conclusion. Your begging the question (that is a demonic conclusion, I don’t think Wilson is demonic, so the conclusion is false) amounts to little more than ad hominem against me (libel, demonic conclusion), appealed to ambiguity (argued for non-existent or decidedly uncommon meaning of words), and used a “genetic” fallacy (I don’t believe in headship, thus I can’t critique the premise). What you have not done is present anything resembling a well-reasoned argument. You have only assumed certain premises to be true (Wilson is right about headship) and thus there must be an explanation that doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable with him.

      I on the other hand have both here and in my open letter presented as well reasoned argument based in ample citations of Wilson’s actual words and thoughts. I’ll stand confidently by my work.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Before you stand too firmly by your “work”, saying something is a logical fallacy doesn’t not make it so. You utterly missed the point of agreeing with the headship premise. If the premise is wrong who cares what they conclude?! Who cares how linguistically cogent you explain “the propriety of rape”? If you disagree with headship as Wilson explains it, of course you will disagree with virtually everything that follows no matter how benign the conclusions are. It’s just that the “propriety of rape” conclusion/sentence really makes for juicy writing without really dealing with the headship question.

        Regarding God’s justice, do you think there is an ultimate justice? That is, do you believe in Hell?


        1. First, again, you are saying “Unless you get this right, you don’t get to critique that.” That is a logical fallacy. Whether or not I agree with Wilson has nothing to do with whether his words are correct. In fact, a good number of people who identify as reformed and complementarian have openly critiqued Wilson and stood beside me.

          Also, this isn’t my first rodeo nor the first topic I’ve critiqued him on. This post is part of a larger discussion around another post I wrote. Something I indicated.

          But again, you have gone for dismissive techniques. Accusing me of going for a “juicy” line rather than dealing with any of my argument.

          As far as “ultimate judgment” there is a difference between that concept and rape. Jesus advised against seeing divine judgement behind every bad thing in the world. I think particularly of him pardoning the woman caught in adultery and his reply to the disciples regarding the man born blind.

          Also, for the record, statistics show a woman is far more likely to be raped by a man she knows (family member, friend, or a person in authority over her) than by a stranger.

          Whatever argument you (or Wilson) wants to purport, they don’t hold water in the real world.


          1. But you didn’t even made an argument. You have written an awful lot of words but you haven’t stated your argument succinctly and clearly. You have simply stipulated that Wilson believes unsubmissive women deserve to be raped because you have linguistically exegeted “tacitly agree” and “propriety of rape”. Take away all of the heat and that is finally your argument. Please correct me if I am wrong. Try to state your argument as concisely as you can for yourself and everyone else. Premise, inference, conclusion please.

            You answered a question I did not ask. Do you believe in Hell? Yes or No


          2. The question on hell is a non sequitur, which I answered anyway.

            I have presented my case. I exegeted he entire page from the book with direct references. By definition, to exegete is to look at a passage and draw out a meaning using the internal data and other sources.

            I understand you disagree with my argument, but that isn’t the same thing as me not presenting one. I have been more than kind, but it is up to you to decide if you agree or disagree. I don’t jump through endless hoops for the fun of it. You go in circles but refuse to address the actual points I make in any of my comments.

            If you wish to write a rebuttal on your own blog, be my guest. But I am not going in circles all day.

            Have a nice day Kevin. May God grant you his peace.


    3. I think Wilson was asking for trouble by his poorly worded article. But saying feminist women are, by rejecting Wilsonian-style male protection, tacitly agreeing to the propriety of rape is along way from saying Wilson himself believes ‘unsubmissive women deserve to be raped’, let alone rape is some kind of God-ordained punishment that could be considered right and proper. The latter is absolutely absurd.

      I think Kevin was right to point this out. ‘Asking for trouble’, ‘reaping what you sow’ is not the same thing as deserving a particular calamity to befall you, though it can indicate a lack of wisdom in how you behave.

      There may be much to criticise about Douglas Wilson, but this kind of critique is never going to get him to reconsider his ways unless it starts to be more accurate in reflecting what he has actually said.


      1. Ken,

        What then are we to do with the end of the previous paragraph, where Wilson speaks of “biblical pattern” of submission? He enumerates this “pattern” in the paragraph in question.

        Now, how do we have a “biblical pattern” unless it is God ordained? Wilson believes in verbal plenary inspiration is Scripture, so its no leap to call the “pattern” of submission he has in mind, is also God-ordained.

        Now, I’ve already been over the definitions of Tacitly and Propriety ad nauseum. Tacitly means active, non verbal assent. Propriety means something that is morally good for the proper function of society. So, then, the women cannot create this propriety, it is already built into society and, by the very definition of the word Propriety it is also morally good.

        Now is there something morally good which is not from God? Well, according to the next phrase in Wilson’s book, these unsubmissive women who supposedly shirk godly male protection are rejecting God’s design. And when you reject God’s design, “horrible problems are always the result.”

        Now, we have confirmation the design exists and that propriety is meant to mean the way society ought to function because Wilson has now stated that it is the converse of disobeying God’s design.

        But is God active in the punishment? Wilson follows up saying something horrible will happen to women who reject God’s design by stating “Those who exalt themselves will be humbled…” We know here that by “exalt themselves” he means reject submission and by humbled he means raped.

        This is what the Bible says, according to Wilson. Women will find their God-given purpose and identity in submission to men (which he implies is what the Bible means by humility in Matt 23). When they reject that God-ordained purpose/design they are humbled in rape.

        Now ask yourself, is there a consequence for disobeying God that isn’t deserved? We may not take pleasure in the consequence, but my pleasure has nothing to do with another deserving something.

        So if Wilson believes that rape is the natural response of ungodly men to unsubmissive women who reject the protection of godly men, and if the women tacitly agree to this reality of society by rejecting God’s design, then how would their rape be undeserved? Linguistically, where is the room for your interpretation?

        Now, consider that Wilson says his beliefs will never leave a woman unprotected. So what did he do when Natalie Greenfield was raped repeatedly by Jamin Wight? He blamed her father and assigned morally agency in rape to Natalie.

        He has insisted on this “secret courtship” story. He cited a well known anti-Wilson figure as corroboration. That person pointed out Wilson’s lie but Wilson deleted the comment.

        He has also stated he believes the testimony of Wight, whom he refers to as repentant. He never mentions Wight has a history of serial spousal abuse that is well-documented in police reports.

        Wilson has stated that rape statistics are inflated by feminists to be what they “feel” are right (I already fixed that miscitation in my open letter).

        Between word and deed, Wilson has embodied this belief. The controversy has become – because people let Wilson dictate the conversation – what does “deserve” mean. Deserve means to have earned something by one’s actions.

        Now if rape has a Propriety among ungodly men to which women who reject God-ordained roles of submission Tacitly agree, then how is deserve not the proper word for the causal relationship Wilson has created.

        Saying “Asking for trouble” means their actions are deserving of the trouble which comes their way. Saying “dealing what you sow” is saying that the causal relationship between your actions and the ways in which the world works mean you deserve exactly what you get according to your actions. Now, if you believe like Wilson does that God is providently behind all things in human history, that the result of rejecting him will be horrible things like rape which he uses to humble you and teach you proper submission, then in what way is “deserve” the wrong word?

        Wilson chose his words, and as a self-proclaimed “Wordsmith” and “logician” it is absurd to think he accidentally meant something by his words that they do not, in fact, in any way shape or form mean.

        I don’t think Wilson a fool who can’t figure out the English language or clear and proper communication. Though I would point out the sad irony that the level of carelessness with his words you are attributing to him is exactly the type of thing he uses as an insult against those who oppose him.


        1. I think you are making this needlessly complicated.

          I live in an area with high petty crime. I carelessly leave the garage door open all night, and wake up to find my bike has been stolen. Was I asking for trouble by failing to take a sensible precaution? Yes I was.

          RHE then tweets ‘Ken deserved to get his bike stolen’. If you use the word ‘deserve’ in the sense of ‘what do you think will happen if you are so careless’, then she would have a point. But I didn’t actually ‘deserve’ this, and it is certainly not a punishment from God against my foolishness. The thief is the guilty person, not me.

          Despite Wilson’s blundering around with the English language, I take him to mean women are creating a climate where they make themselves more vulnerable to being attacked than if they allowed men to protect them. Wilson doesn’t tacitly agree to the propriety of rape, he is (rightly or wrongly) accusing women of doing so.

          It would be to overstate the case, but you could go all Dan Phillips on this and say that feminists who have rejected any notion of Christian sex ethics and self-control are ‘gutless enablers’ of their own sexual exploitation in the kind of society this produces. Living out the Christian faith would abolish rape.

          It would be more profitable to criticise Wilson for making women overly dependent on men, of neglecting other strategies for making them safer rather than trying to make it appear he actually sanctions rape when he doesn’t.

          I’m not a Wilson apologist, but much of the criticism of him that may be legitimate is lost in emoting about issues that reflect a personal agenda not directly related to his views and actions. He is an expert at parrying this kind of thing.


          1. Here is where you seem to defeat yourself. You say “Wilson is an expert at parrying this kind of thing.” but assume he was simply “careless” or “bungling” in his understanding/use of the English language in the original. This is especially ironic because Wilson directly stated that it was RHE’s lack of reading/linguistic acuity that caused her to make her assertion. He then implied the same about me.

            He claims he chose his words carefully and properly and that anyone who disagrees with him misunderstands or is just “a small breasted biddy” or whatever other insult he can drum up (he implied in a different post that I will be the downfall of the American education system).

            He doesn’t do “bungling”. Wilson fancies himself as a wordsmith and logician, but can’t handle basic vocabulary? Remind me again why anyone as careless with his words as you claim Wilson would be one of the biggest names in Christian homeschooling who writes much of his own curriculum?

            Also, for the record I don’t think you deserve to have something stolen. I don’t even think you were asking for it. I think you made an unwise decision and an evil person took advantage. But that doesn’t make you to blame, the blame is on the person who steals and the societal systems which perpetuate stealing (as someone who worked in retail security, I have seen this first handed). Which is why Wilson’s constant insistent that a victim is to blame is bothersome. When he places God humbling unsubmissive women by rape in the mix, there is no good way to defend those words.

            I’m sorry but I don’t find the ” Wilson is just a careless author who doesn’t think through his words” to be consistent with your claim that Wilson is an expert at diverting criticism. Nor do I see it as consistent with Wilson’s own insistence that he is a master of the English language being persecuted by lesser minds.


          2. Also, there is a giant whole in both your and Wilson’s logic about male protection . Most rape is perpetrated by a trusted family member, friend, or authority figure. By the people who women are called to submit to. Rape by a stranger certainly happens, but is decidedly less common.

            Also, how does Wilson’s belief work for his blame of Natalie Greenfield?
            When does female submission become a necessity? Does it play into cases of child molestation? How does it figure in rape against boys? I find it telling that Wilson says rape statistics are inflated while stating something which is patently false about instances of rape – that rape is most commonly the result of women not being under male headship. In reality, it is far more often the abuse of that authority by male authority figures.

            We do agree that if everyone perfectly lived out Christianity rape would not be a thing. But Wilson’s words imply that in a fallen society that doesn’t hold to such morals, rape serves a societal purpose to correctively humble these women and direct them back to “God’s design.”

            Again, I stand by my very common and well established definition of deserve as consistent with Wilson’s words and don’t seem him as the “bungling” man you do.


          3. Ken, I hate to be a broken record, but.

            None of these male headship views apply to all women. Wilson and the other guy you mentioned apparently feel that the inevitable fate of women who don’t submit to a husband is that they will be raped.

            I am over 40 years old and a virgin. I have never married. I have no husband.

            My dad is frail and can’t defend me should I need defending. One of my few male relatives lives about 1500 miles away from me.

            Some women are widowed. They are divorced.

            The Bible does not stay that divorced, widowed, or never married women need or should have any sort of male headship, not from a male elder or pastor or whomever.

            According to Wilson’s logic, all single women are “asking” to be raped because they have no “male covering” or “headship.” Even though it’s not their doing or fault they have no males in their lives.

            None of these complementarian views (which are really just sexism) take into account the life stages and situations of all women.

            Ken said, “I’m not a Wilson apologist, but much of the criticism of him that may be legitimate is lost in emoting about issues that reflect a personal agenda not directly related to his views and actions.”

            I’m not seeing a lot of emoting about Wilson, as you keep saying. (About the only exception was Dash’s comments on Botkin’s blog. Dash is a guy who was wounded deeply by other Christians, which is why he “goes off” in great anger and cusses on blogs about terrible preachers like Wilson. )

            Most of us reacting dislike or hate Wilson’s obnoxious, sexist, victim blaming attitudes – there is no “personal agenda” at work. We’re merely stating our displeasure at how horribly he views victims and women.


    4. Kevin, one thing Wilson’s view doesn’t take into account is that not all women are even married.

      Male headship does not apply to divorced, never married, or widowed women. Some women don’t have male family members.

      My dad is getting up there in years and is too frail to defend me, should I need defending. I am not married, either. And I see no where in the Bible that teaches that single women need “male headship” or “male covering” or that some other male (eg, a pastor) is to serve as a single woman’s head.


  5. On reading everything over, including Jory Micah’s article, I have to agree with you. Wilson doesn’t say in so many words that unsubmissive women deserve rape, but he pretty heavily implies it, particularly by stating he believes it’s the judgment of God (and judgments of God must presumably be deserved!)

    What it seems to boil down to is that women to Wilson are not as fully human as men. We are all right in our place (firmly under the control of men), but if we assert any will of our own outside those parameters, he cannot stand us and has no respect for us whatsoever. In short, we’re either Madonnas or whores.


  6. I haven’t even read the whole post yet but in looking at the book page something strikes me- must a woman be under a man’s authority to receive physical protection? Are brothers in Christ not in general supposed to help keep their sisters safe? Any woman should be able to go to a brother in Christ if she were fearing rape or some other physical violation, and he should do what is necessary to help protect her. Thats just Christian kindness! The book makes it sound like a woman must be under authority to “earn” this type of protection when in reality the men should do what God told them to do without needing to place themselves above women.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I stand with Nate and Rachel against this abomination of the Gospel. Nate, your work is saving my marriage. May God bless you!


  8. I wonder what Doug Wilson’s theology would do with my ex husband who is currently covertly abusing our daughter as a method to get to me and abuse me? He is waging psychological warfare on her and trying to destroy her mentally. The same tactics of abuse that he used on me, he is now turning on her. So much for the “father umbrella.” Oh, and yea, he is a supposed “Christian”. And when I was married to him, I needed someone to protect me from him. When I went to my elder and pastors, they sided with him and believed his lies. So much for getting help from anyone under my “umbrella”. Instead, I got hosed.

    And he is still in that church. An upstanding (cough cough) member.

    Wonder what Doug Wilson would say about that?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am often troubled by how much Islamic theology and Complementarian Christian theology on the relationship between men and women mirror. I am troubled that DW sounds like societies throughout world history. I hear somewhere in my head the words floating around, “She got what she deserved.” Any reason we wonder why so many victims take the secret to the grave. Help us God!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Leah. Well said. It seems that even now there are Muslim theologies coming to the forefront in many countries which respect women more than much of Christianity does. We should be leading the charge, not clinging to abusive rhetoric.


  10. Nate, it is so terribly sad that you are correct. That’s what the world is coming to when false prophets such as Doug Wilson speak. Not all men are rapists, but EVERY man has the capability of raping. But ALL women fear rape. The bottom line to what DW is saying is that ALL women and girls need a male protector to walk around protecting them 24/7. If men were to take on that job, what time would be left for them to study the Word?? What time would be left for the males to ‘lead’??? And if a wife or daughter falls prey to a rapist – where was her ‘protector’ that Doug Wilson ‘assigned’ to her??? Rape is NEVER the woman’s fault, never. It’s ALWAYS the rapist fault. DW in all his high and mighty ‘authority’ needs to assign Godly men to each and every widow, orphan, and disabled female. His time would be served by getting Godless men ‘in line’ and lay his woman bashing down. He needs to SUBMIT himself.

    Thank you for not backing down. Thank you for speaking out, speaking up and speaking loudly. It will take young men like YOU to change the world.

    Liked by 2 people

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