Not surprisingly, Douglas Wilson has found himself at the center of yet another Evangelical intramural controversy.  You can find Wilson’s first response, and links to most of the relevant articles here.

Let me say I’m a complementarian, and on the whole I’m on Wilson’s side in this melee.  But this blog is not so much about the controversy as about what we can observe from the controversy.  We can learn a few things:

1.  Theological discussion is in shambles.  Regardless of which side you take, we should all recognize that the way this controversy has developed reveals that the level of our theological debate on the blogosphere is sophomoric (and I probably owe sophomores an apology here).  This debate centers not around solid exegesis, not around who holds the theological high ground, not the normative position of the church throughout history, but around people’s feelings getting hurt by what they perceive to be insensitive comments.

Let’s be perfectly clear about something:  Doug Wilson has probably done more to uphold the honor and dignity of women than all of his detractors combined.  Yet based on one comment, that is being entirely ripped out of its context, Wilson is being portrayed as some chauvinistic oppressor.  The Dufflepuds are in essence mad about being protected and cared for.  Our discussion reflects the theological depth of a circus.
2.  We have forsaken respectful disagreement.  This, obviously, plays into the first point.  Egalitarians and complementarians don’t treat each other as different tents in the same camp, but as utterly opposing camps altogether.  Perhaps when N.T. Wright, Cornelius Plantinga and Gordon Fee are lined up against Wayne Grudem, D.A. Carson and J.I. Packer we should humbly acknowledge that both sides probably have decent arguments and we shouldn’t demonize the other side merely for disagreeing with us (playful satire, such as calling the other side “Dufflepuds” is clearly acceptable).

Of course, some of the critiques lodged at Doug Wilson reflect this.  He could say “the sky is blue” and he would be corrected for his patriarchal and oppressive view in which men can make judgments about color.  Likewise, egalitarians could say “men should love women” and they would be accused of caving in to radical feminism.  The basis for such accusations are not the statements themselves, but a total lack of respect for the other person and the position they represent.  Many of our blogs are no better than modern political advertisements.
3.  We don’t entertain the possibility we could be wrong.  Maybe, just maybe, egalitarians are right about Scriptural teaching on gender roles.  I don’t think they are, but it is at least a logical possibility.  Our highest commitment must be to Scripture, properly interpreted and applied, regardless of our favoring of one position over another.

Egalitarianism, if true, will make us much more acceptable to our culture at large.  I get it, I understand the appeal.  There are respects in which I wish the egalitarian position were correct.  Likewise complementarianism, with its clearly defined roles, helps clarify a great deal of the familial confusion that pervades our society.  It has great appeal in a society that has had to create whole court systems just to handle divorce and custody issues.

Neither of those things, however, make either position Scriptural and true.  What makes the position true is its appropriate grounding in the Bible, our sole infallible guide for faith and practice.  We must acknowledge that our positions, to the degree they are Scripturally debatable (and ONLY to that degree), must be held with open hands.  Our exegesis could be wrong, and we must remain open to biblical correction.

I long for the day when we can correct these flaws, and shine as a brighter light in our world.  Until our house is in order, guests are going to be reluctant to visit it.

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