A Note for Rachel Held Evans

So I’ve heard from more a few quarters that I too should throw in my two cents. Well, since you asked…

A Note for Rachel Held Evans:

In your follow up post to the initial critique of Jared Wilson’s 50 Shades..you write the following,

“Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they did not mean to be hurtful, and let’s engage the content of The Gospel Coalition post instead of criticizing the character of the authors, who very few of us know personally.”

Great! Even if we grant (for argument’s sake) that they were hurtful at all, why didn’t you begin your initial blog post with that quote? Why didn’t you begin with a call for a respectful discussion? Instead, your very first call to action was literally for your followers and readers to all “get angry” (your words). Instead, you blogged/tweeted quotes without any context and without any reference to what the authors were trying to say, and now you act coy and innocent when people draw the very conclusions you led them to, and react (anger, anger!) just how you suggested. At this point, you don’t just get to say, “I never accused Jared Wilson or Doug Wilson of promoting rape or sexual violence against women, so let’s just strike that narrative from the dialog.” Sorry, Rachel, the arsonist doesn’t just get to throw on her firewoman helmet. Striking that narrative at this point would require something more like a retraction and, dare I say it, an apology? “Get angry” came from you. Are you now sorry that it did?

You obviously feel strongly that the gents made some word choices that were poor and insensitive. You obviously differ on their views of submission (even if you weren’t engaged in misunderstanding them). But did your approach really move anyone towards meaningful dialogue? There was, and is, some real dialogue to be had here. It’s a great topic for discussion (and edification) among cool heads.

I am all for a heated discussion when there are differences of opinion on Scripture and how it plays out in our lives, but as far as I can tell, that was never your point. You demonstrated more concern that the pro-S&M crowd could feel stung by some of the discussion than concern for the rampant slander you set blazing against two ministers of the Gospel.

If you want to talk about using wisdom in one’s rhetoric, if you want to talk about insensitivity in word choice, if you want to underscore the fact that words can do damage, how about trying to practice what you preach. Thus far, on that topic, you’ve been nothing but a blogging contradiction.

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36 thoughts on “A Note for Rachel Held Evans

  1. This whole thing is a mess. You guys keep calling out Mrs. Evans and acting like she is so completely out of line and yet not once have you acknowledged your own faults in all of this. Not once have you acknowledged that Doug Wilsons words were extremeley insensitve, hurtful and did trigger feelings and memories of past rapes and abuses in tons of women who read them. And Doug wad dissmissive and rude towards each. and. every. one. of. them. He told them they need to take ESL classes and had poor reading comprehension because they were troubled by the implications of his words. Wow, what an upstanding man of God. *eyeroll*

    And Bekah is no better. If you honestly think that the response on this blog was well-though out, mature and added anything even remotely constructive to this ordeal you are sorely mistaken. I’ve read through all the comments and there were even some self-identifying complementarians who agreed that it was the wrong way to go about handling it. So maybe instead of continuing to make Rachel Held Evans into the bad guy here, maybe you should also apologise for your shorcomings. She apologised for hers.

  2. And everyone said, “Amen.” And the internet was forever changed. (We can hope, right?)

  3. Wow. Continuing this grudge match on a day like this in Colorado speaks volumes.
    May God have mercy.

  4. I, for one, appreciate enormously the words of you wise ladies. And as Rebekah noted in her most recent post, the vast majority of those of us who believe you all have approached this issue with wit, wisdom, and not just a little grace in your rebukes tend to remain quiet and nod approvingly to our computer screens.

    Great men and women of faith have never had a problem with calling a spade a spade – please do not be cowed by those who insist otherwise!

  5. I’m fairly sure people get brutally and senselessly killed by a factor of at least a dozen every single day somewhere in the world (though I realize this occasion is more special because the people involved were Americans.) When do we get to talk about sensitive issues, then?

  6. To Jon,

    What about yesterday when thousands of children died from starvation? Or the months before when the Syrian government attacked and killed its own people. Not downplaying the tragedy in Colorado, but terrible, horrific things happen every single day. If you disagree with this blog post, that’s your perrogative. Leave the self righteous guilt trip out of it.

  7. Liz and pentamom, I think the point Jon was making was that this is petty mud flinging when there are much more important issues going on in the world. Whether it’s what happened today in Colorado, or things happing in Syria. We maybe all need to get a little perspective here and focus on what is really important. Trash talking one another doesn’t seem very important or very Christlike in light of other things.

  8. Mary, in the spirit of taking personal responsibility . . . Question: What was the first sentence of RHE’s initial blog about Jared Wilson’s article? Answer:[Trigger warning: rape, sexual abuse]. You’re going to have a hard time credibly making a case that these ‘tons’ of women were forced to read the articles posted at TGC or RHE’s blog. Furthermore, it is more common for those who are having difficulty functioning after traumatic experiences such as rape, sexual abuse, war experience, etc to engage in behavioral patterns of avoidance. It would then follow that the more likely scenario would mean these women leaving the websites respective (with haste, I might add), as opposed to the voracious participation displayed by the masses of offended feminists and/or loyal blog readers of RHE, or as I will call them, RHE-ites. I would be very interested to know what apology from Rachel you are referencing, as I have yet to see anything close to resembling one from her camp. Also, by what standard do you assess that Doug’s words were “extremeley insensitive, hurtful and did trigger feelings and memories of past rapes and abuses in tons of women who read them”? Biblical standards? Your standards???

  9. I work in the hospital that took in the largest number of victims from last night’s violence. Our campus also lies within blocks of the shooter’s apartment building where police may not figure out for days how to get in there and gather evidence because of all the booby traps he has set. They’ve also evacuated four other buildings nearby.

    So, do I get to talk about any of this today?

    Well, I will.

    I have been beating the drum about Mrs. Evans for something around a year now. I am so very thankful more capable women than I have joined the fray. Rachel Held Evans has dedicated her life to destroying, not building up, not creating beauty. In her first book, she proudly relates how good she is at dedeiving people and faking sincerity (See Evolving in Monkey Town – I think it’s around p.33). In addition, her method of writing is to make declarative statements infrequently. Instead, she asks a lot of questions and we all know there is a way to ask questions that makes it clear what the writer wants you to think – and Mrs. Evans is mistress of the technique. She is very good at slipping into high dudgeon mode and whipping up her followers into same.

    Thank you so much, Bekah and Lizzie and Heather for stepping into the fray. I thank our Lord that you have done so, as I thank Him for you father’s faithfulness in raising you. I hope to meet you up there in Idaho someday as one of Moscow’s newest residents has promised me a spot in her quest room when I make a “reservation”.

  10. Again Mary, I would ask by what standard do you judge that Doug has done wrong? The only acceptable standard I know of is God’s law. If you personally would assert he has done wrong, then the burden of proof remains on you to reasonably show that he has done so – in accordance with God’s Word, that is. A person may legitimately feel the emotion of hurt by another person, but it certainly doesn’t mean that an actual wrong has occurred.

    Here is a good example drawn from my personal experience: I have read much of RHE’s writing, and I have to say, most of it is highly offensive to my sensibilities! However, she has done me no wrong by expressing her views. I may feel that she has sinned against the Lord in her writing and beliefs, but that’s really none of my business. Furthermore, I am totally and completely responsible for subjecting myself to her positions . . . NOBODY forced me to read anything! It certainly would be silly for me to demand a public apology from her just because she offended my feelings. There is NO DIFFERENCE between me, and those that have been offended and hurt by Doug. There is a big difference, however, in choice of response.

    How can you be so sure that there is deflection of ‘wrongdoing’ when you are having difficulty establishing that any actual wrongdoing has legitimately occurred?

  11. Do you think it is in accordance with God’s law to describe consensual sex between a man and a woman as “conquering” and “colonizing”? If so, I gotta say, that is a “law” that I want nothing to do with. The language sounds as though women are something that men have to “conquer” and that we are not actually active participants in sex. THAT is what people are objecting to and if you don’t get that then it says more about you than it does Rachel Held Evans or any of Doug Wilson’s critics.

    I also don’t see anybody objecting to Doug Wilson’s obvious racism, which also makes me question those who want to continue to align themselves with his theology. If Rachel Held Evans offends your delicate sensibilities, but flagrant dismissal and mischaracterisation of Southern slavery doesn’t then I really don’t know what to say to you “Christians.”

  12. Mary,

    It’s obvious that your disdain for the authors and commenters of this blog grows with each comment you post. Whether your motives in continuing to linger at this blog are due to curiosity, concern for the readership, or something more ill-spirited at this point is not for me to judge. However, although we would warmly welcome you into our little home, as it were, any time you desire refuge or refreshment, no one is forcing you to continue to be subjected to that which you seem to find so reprehensible. I think you have made your point well, and any additional evidence you might submit at this time would be unnecessary.

    I wish you pleasant sleep and sweet dreams.


  13. I’ve been clicking back and forth thru blogs all day wondering who would apologize first, and ta-da…the prize goes to Jared Wilson!

    Too bad the bell can not be unrung and the damage to the gospel has already been done, “They will know we are Christians by our Love.”

    Lord, I lift up these ladies and all the people drug into this argument. I pray that you will heal the hurting, repair damaged relationships, reach those who mistrust the gospel itself because of your people fighting each other in public places. Jesus, you are the healer and the only one with the capability of undoing the damage done in the past few days. I thank you for the humbleness shown through Jared and ask a special blessing of comfort on him and his families tonight. Lord, we know that you are big enough, we trust in you and yield ourselves up to you as instruments, as we humbly submit to one another in an act of obedience to your word. In His Name we pray, Amen

  14. If someone around here would actually take some responsibilty instead of blaming everyone else, I would back off. So far you guys have evaded everything, even in light of obvious evidence. Typical.

  15. Though I do commend Jared Wilson for his apology. Much appreciated. At least someone is being and adult and taking some responsibility for their words and actions. I still don’t have much hope of hearing a peep from Doug or any other of the Wilson clan though.

  16. Seems to me that reality is reality, and if pregnancy isn’t “colonization” I don’t know what is. Doug Wilson was just stating the undeniable and the obvious. The relationship between a man and a woman is undeniably complementarian, no matter how much we try to deny it, and regardless of our opinion of such realities. Ignoring for a second the games that we can play, human anatomy works the way human anatomy works.

    Doug’s point here was that when we fool ourselves into living in a false and moral relativistic invented reality where we write our own rules, we are going to fill our God given cravings with moral counterfeits that devour and damage us. In the God given reality Men are held responsible for treating their wives and families with dignity and respect by an omnipotent and omnipresent ruler who isn’t going to be fooled by excuses and lies.

    In the popular “reality” that we have invented as a culture, families are crumbled, and the women by and large are bearing the brunt of the chaos, while the men have been exonerated by “choice”. Liberation is enslaving women and setting men loose to further pursue their lusts. Men are bad, wrong, evil and absolutely irresponsible. The statistics speak for themselves. And I suspect by and large, the families following Doug Wilson’s teaching and example are not the problem here.

    Wilson is a innocent bystander here– the quote was taken out of context by Jarrod Wilson, in precisely the way that Doug Wilson warned that it should not be. He isn’t the one who put 50 shades of Grey on the bestseller list. He never advocated BDSM as a way of life. In fact he did quite the opposite. His book was condemning such lusts as a byproduct of our sin. All and all, this whole mess is a case of him minding his own business 13 years later and being horse-collar tackled by a bunch of people who don’t even show comprehension of the point he was trying to make.

    I wonder, what explanation do the protesters have for the appeal of books like Twilight and 50 shades of gray? Why do books about dangerous men who are always on the cusp of losing control and devouring the object of their lust so appealing to women? Why do these books wind up on the bestseller list? Are they a good thing? Who’s side are you on exactly?

  17. Hi all,

    I’m not much of a blogger and turns out I’m not much of a commenter either. But before I turn in…nothing I’ve said comes close to warranting an apology. My point was and is that RHE did the opposite of creating a climate for real dialogue on the actual issues. I’m not hurt, not holding a grudge, just had enough of RHE’s grandstanding when she could be using her platform for productive discussion.


  18. heahterlin,

    I think RHE has used her platform for a lot of great dialoge. I’ve read all 800+ comments over at her blog on this issue and there was A LOT of productive discussion taking place. I’m sort of curious about why you’re taking RHE to task when she’s not even the only prominent Christian who has criticized Doug Wilson’s views. Scot McKnight did the same thing and yet none of you have made a peep about it. Very interesting. Seems like you’ve all just zeroed in on Rachel and made her your prime target when she is hardly the only Christian blogger talking about this.

    And really more than anything I’d like an apology from Doug Wilson, not from you. He’s the one who suggested that sex was nothing more than a man “colonizing” a woman. You didn’t say that so why should you apologize?

  19. Scot McKnight’s take:

    “I am calling on The Gospel Coalition to remove its post by Jared Wilson. It’s mostly a quotation from Douglas Wilson, but the offending paragraph is woefully ignorant of the mutual sexual language of Song of Solomon (a book sadly neglected too often by complementarians) and flat-out contradicts the gospel-reshaping denial of authority in the marriage bed in 1 Cor 7. This paragraph is not deserving of the sharp theological eyes of TGC and inculcates justified violence (“conquers” and “colonizes”) against women, who are told to be submissive to such conquering and colonizing by husbands. Jared Wilson is concerned about what he believes is a loss of a biblical sense of authority in families; we expect complementarians to be concerned about this; but this quotation is not biblical nor can it lead to the kind of love we find taught by the gospel itself.”

  20. Ugh, if we demanded an apology for every little hurt feeling, we’d all eventually stop talking to each other. I hear and read things that offend me EVERY DAY, but I don’t go stomping around and demand someone give me an apology.

    I actually see this so-called fight as a GOOD thing. It got a lot of people thinking. It certainly caught my attention! And I was originally just an occasional reader. There are times when people just gotta duke it out. We’re human, after all. And if the worst things they use are words, then we’re pretty safe. I’m sure that even those who act like they’re above all this felt some not-so-Godly feelings along the way. I know I did.

    If words wound, its only because you let them (life experience shouldn’t be used as an excuse). I used to be incredibly thin-skinned, and it made me miserable. I try to let it roll off now. If its not true, then there’s no reason to be angry. I know that’s so easy to say but much harder to put into practice. We humans have limits, and God knows it. Isn’t that why his son died for us? I’ve seen far uglier fights than this, and I was amazed at the restraint the girls on this site had. Its not like they were demanding others to jump in (remember, this is their blog where they post their opinions for people to read IF THEY WANT TO). We did so of our own accord, some out of self-righteous indignation, others out of curiosity, many to cheer on.

    I gotta say though, if Miss Rachel is now calling for civil discourse, she’s a bit late in trying to put out the fire she so desired to create. An apology won’t be able to squelch it either. Might as well just let it burn out, then we might be able to see some more constructive dialogue. We shouldn’t be turning our back on somebody just because they have an “unChristian” moment, or use it as a way to make ourselves look better.

    I sincerely hope you girls work this out. I wouldn’t be happy either if someone did that to my dad and would probably end up shooting my mouth off too. At least you did it with far more wit than anyone else I know. Its definitely hard when someone rubs you the wrong way one too many times, even harder when you try to think through it to find an appropriate response.

    Just my thoughts.


  21. I am of Paul!!!
    I am of Silas!!!!

    Remember the joke about the man who died and went to heaven and he gets a tour around the place. He sees the different religions and how they are celebrating in heaven but when they get to the (insert your least favorite sect here!) he is shushed and told be quiet as they think they are the only ones here.

    You know, none of this crap about who said what or what they promote as best way to live christian will matter when we are in heaven. As in why did I ever think these issues were ever that important?

    How about if we take that mindset now and start living for Jesus, following the Holy Spirit and love one another.

    I am Italian. I have a sense of humor. I have been married to the same man for 37 years. I wear pants (hate dresses) love horses (ride and show them) have 11 cats, 2 dogs and am an artist. I have a teaching degree and work outside the home. I did not want and never had children. My house is not the neatest and right now, I do not go to church but we have in the past until it split. My husband loves Star Trek and other sci-fi. We believe Jesus died on the cross for our sins.

    O.K. Be honest…how many could not get past the fact I wear pants, or work outside the home. Or you were considering I was ok until that part where I said I did nnt want children. How many made mental notes of your favorite scriptures that found me lacking in some area as you read about my personality, likes and dislikes? How many of you saved judgement until the very end where I said who my savior was and decided that was the important thing?

  22. Hi Esbee,
    I like wearing pants (wearing shorts right now), love teachers (both my mother-in-law and sister-in-law are high school teachers), love Italians (despite getting robbed in Rome), and watched a lot of Star Trek in my younger years. I’m sure we could find lots to disagree on and lots more in common. I also agree that there will be funny surprises of all sorts in heaven.
    Live long and prosper (doing my best Trekky salute),

  23. The argument that the Wilson’s should apologize because some women somewhere might get upset after hearing the words they used is stupid. It reflects the narcissism of the modern feminist who believes that she is so important that everyone (especially men) should live with no purpose other than to flatter her and to make sure she is never confronted with a disturbing thought. Quite a few of those women have commented on this blog. These solipsists are RHE’s most devoted followers.

    What I have really found amusing in this whole thing has been the army of beta males who have rushed to defend the feminists they are secretly hoping to bed. Their desperation flows through the comboxes. The very fact that they are so lacking in self awareness that they gladly embarrass themselves this way is grounds enough to dismiss what they are saying.

  24. Mary,

    I couldn’t care less about what Doug Wilson may be right or wrong about. I know so little about his theology that, for all I know, I might disagree with him on many points.

    I only made my comment because I find it amusing to watch feminists flip their lids whenever the truth is told. If you’ll agree to flip out some more, I’ll agree to tell you some more truth. At least until I get bored.

    By the way, I have noticed that the more feministic a woman is, the less physically attractive she tends to be. I’ve never looked at this blog before, but from what I’ve read, I’d bet its authoresses are a bunch of hotties. I’ll definitely be coming back.

  25. Mary, that is good. That is the way it should be. I am sure that Doug Wilson agrees with you. But by and large it is not the way it is working out in our secular culture. That is what Doug Wilson is offended by. That is why he wrote those words. Men out to be “one woman men, and they ought to love and cherish and protect their spouse. Statistics don’t lie. Our world does promote sex as a “egalitarian pleasure party” and that culture is leaving a massive wake of single moms, impoverished kids, and deadbeat dads perpetuating the cycle. Reality is reality and it is a mess. Men don’t get pregnant. Egalitarianism only gets you so far, and one party gets hurt a lot more than the other one.

    My point is that the language that everyone is so offended about is Doug Wilson’s description of a Broken World — Not a prescription for how things ought to be. You are rebutting him as if he is making a different point that his text makes.

    I am not interested in going on a scavenger hunt to read rebuttals to my arguments. I have made very few points, and if you want to argue them, this is as good of a place as any.. Doug Wilson is a guy who you read with a Bible in one hand, a thesaurus in the other and a history book on your lap.. Most all of the “offense” I have read misunderstands him, and I don’t care to sift through all the misguided propaganda on the net arguing against a straw man Caricature that doesn’t really exist.

  26. Mary,

    Which one of your links actually interact with the writings of Doug Wilson?

    Because the ones I looked at never really did that, but seemed to rely more on hearsay from people like RHE and her posse.

    I had only vaguely heard of Wilson prior to this controversy, but since then I’ve taken the time to read what he has to say on all these matters, and I’ve found his views to be very acceptable in light of scripture and good sense.

    I saw nothing from him of the sort of stuff you are accusing him of. And that goes for RHE and all those who agree with her too. I think this is all being blown out of proportion by people who have a hard time reading things carefully and an easy time getting offended.

  27. No one is “misunderstanding” Doug Wilson. And if they are, then he really, really needs to do a better job of making himself clearer. It is not the sign of a good writer if literally hundreds of people are misunderstanding your apparently “clear” points. If you want to handwave any criticism of him or his writing as simply “misunderstandings” you go right ahead but I think his critics are making completely valid points that his defenders are not taking seriously at all.

    And on that note, I am done here. This is like talking to a brick wall. Ladies of this blog, I hope you enjoy being conquered and colonized by your husbands tonight. I know I’ll enjoy my egalitarian pleasure party.

  28. I think for the most part, Doug made his point very clearly, and it is painfully correct. As a result, the defense mechanism is to miscaracterizse it and slander it.

    Anyone care to rebut my argument about pregnancy? If not, I think Mr. Wilson’s description is accurate, Undeniably accurate, weather anyone likes it or not. (Just like the excerpt said)

  29. All,

    I’m going to declaratively bow out of this increasingly exasperating dialog. The encampment by one or two wearying protesters, the circular reasoning, and the predominant lack of edification at this stage is not a wise stewardship of my time or mental faculties.

    In Christ,


  30. Yes, Mary. I am a troll. But I am the kind of troll that, deep down, you love. Come on, admit it. You’ll be so much happier if you do.

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