I’m scarcely able to comment on this, but Paul VanderKlay points to a very large controversy underway, with added links to comments from a number of sources. The great hubbub turns on this post by Jared Wilson, quoting from a 1999 book by the Rev. Doug Wilson, the enfante terrible of conservative somewhat-Reformed theology. A strong view of male authority in which aggressiveness is politely a perverted form of biblical norms. The quote is fairly lurid in its way:
we cannot make gravity disappear just because we dislike it, and in the same way we find that our banished authority and submission comes back to us in pathological forms. 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.
As you can guess, the comments fly.
Now I confess, I just don’t get much into the sexual politics of evangelicaldom.
I would say that a large part of the flare-up arises from how words come freighted with all sorts of meaning. If anything, I would simply note that the original Doug Wilson citation is also a piece of its culture. This, more than anything else is what is so hard about doing our ethics: we cannot escape. There is no City of God here where our sexual politics can be seen as “pure” or unpolluted. We are always attempting to live out the Gospel by filling cracked vessels with something of Gospel and biblical truth. This is a messy job, not least because our vessels leak all over the place.
What this means is that ever teaching comes clogged — clogged — with culture. This is the language we speak, we breathe. So Jared Wilson goes out and quotes a 1999 book, designed for “men only”. The late 90s and early 00s were a time where male assertion was common first in parts of the general culture (e.g. Robert Bly) and then also showing up as an Evangelical shadow, so to speak. For instance, this is the high season for Promise Keepers movement; in 2001 John Eldredge came out with Wild at Heart. My take was that this male assertiveness was a sort of push back to the ironic attitudes of the late 90s and the seeming inability to speak straight (this is rhetorical shadow of political correctness). Such a setting does not excuse the impact of the words; I find them to be biblically at odds with wise speech, as well as being spiritually unhelpful.