Last month I abruptly closed this blog. I’m sorry for that. For being selfish. At the time it was heart-wrenching. Like the time I had to break up with a long time girlfriend. There’s so much history. So much time and energy invested. To end it seemed so, well, wrong. But I knew it had to happen. And it did. Because soon afterward I met a young woman who in short order would be my wife. How history would be different today if I held on to my emotional attachment.
Closing down Covenant of Love was like that. Now, a month later, as a spectator to the latest “Christian” internet controversy, I’m glad I did. And I’m ready to give you an explanation. There will be one last post on this site come the end of August. That post will be to let you know where I blog. So closing this site will be in three parts:
- The announcement: “Covenant of Love: Now Closed”
- The explanation: “Rob Bell Has Rebuked Us All (Or, Why I Closed This Blog)
- The follow up: “Derek Now Blogs At…”
Today, we’re in stage #2.
I awoke this morning to an article at Her.meneutics (the Christianity Today blog for women) titled, “Sex! Outrage! The Internet! Doug Wilson, Rachel Held Evans, and The Gospel Coalition” by Caryn Rivadeneira. What ensued was two solid hours of web-surfing. (I haven’t done that in ages! Good thing I’m off today!) I followed the Reese’s Pieces from one on-fire blog to another climaxing in a new video by Rob Bell (completely off topic).
Unless you’ve been living in an e-cave somewhere, you’re aware of the controversy I’m referring to. It come up in my FB news feed a couple of days ago and made me feel indignant toward Doug Wilson. The second post I saw was by Scot McKnight petitioning the TGC to take down the article. I knew in my gut that Rachel Held Evans would be jumping around this one like an Aztec priest on the eve of a human sacrifice, but nothing came up in my feed. I’m been busy and things around here have been pretty quiet for a change. Nice.
For those who don’t know, here’s the gist. (Skip to the heading,“Finally” if you know the gist already or don’t have time):
Jared Wilson who blogs in The Gospel Coalition community published an article intended to explore why our culture seems to indulge in works like 50 Shades of Grey. In doing so he made the unfortunate decision to publish an except from an old book by Doug Wilson that contains this highly inflammable line:
A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts.
(Note to Jared: That was not wise. Whatever was intended by that phrase, the word choice was just not wise.)
125 ferocious comments later…
Next, Rachel Held Evans writes an article titled The Gospel Coalition, Sex and Subordination in which she focused most of her article on rape. As she’s venting her husband tells her:
Remember,” he said, “rape isn’t really about sex. Rape is about power. This all goes back to what you’ve been saying from the beginning, Rachel. This is about power, not sex. So focus your post on that.
She agrees stating that this conversation, her conversation with Jared and Doug, is about rape and power:
For all of our debating about gender roles and church leadership, motherhood and singleness, sex and housework, women working in the home and women working outside of the home, this conversation isn’t actually about any of those things. It’s not about sex. It’s not about church leadership. It’s not about roles. It’s not about the Bible.
It’s about power.
She follows this up with a call for everyone to “get angry.”
585 hooting comments later…
Next, as I said, Scot McKnight started a petition for The Gospel Coalition to take the article down (here).
154 hallelujah comments later…
Next, Jared Wilson wrote a follow-up post called “Shades of Outrage.” In that article Jared quotes a reader who commented on the previous article, Bekah:
This entire conversation exposes what has become a serious issue for a vast majority of our society; there is a general inability/unwillingness to read beyond the most popular and/or polarizing definition of a word.
Comments not opened for discussion.
Next, Rebekah, Doug Wilson’s daughter, wrote an article responding to Evans. Rebekah’s article doesn’t address Evan’s arguments as much as it addresses her assumptions, some mishandling and her overall approach. For example, she wrote:
To take an instance at random, she [Evans] maintains that Douglas Wilson, “blamed egaliatarianism for the presence of rape and sexual violence in the world.” I hate to say it because I don’t want to hurt the Furiously-Righteous’ feelings, but the only thing more fat-headed than saying that egalitarianism is the cause of rape, would be to say that’s what Doug Wilson was maintaining in that excerpt. If you can’t follow an argument, do yourself a favor and refrain from loudly commenting on it.
183 laughing comments later…
Next, Doug Wilson wrote an article responding to Evans. Three actually. (Here, here and here.) In the first article Wilson explains his position and then counters Evans. He quotes Evans article where she seems to condone rape fantasies as long as they are mutually agreed upon by spouses. Wilson writes,
So [Rachel’s] problem is not the language I used about penetration or conquest, but rather who is in charge of the whole thing. The objectors have wanted to slander me by pretending that I put the man in charge of it, but I most emphatically do not. What I actually do… is to say that God is in charge of it… It also means that I believe that mutually-agreed-upon rape games in marriage are out. Mutual consent is necessary in godly marital sex (1 Cor. 7:4), but mutual consent is not the final authority. Mutual consent is required by God, but mutual consent is not God. God is the final authority, and He says that the marriage bed should be honored by all, the bed undefiled (Heb. 13:4).
A strong approach of Evans’ is to appeal to mutuality over against hierarchy. Wilson puts her in check with “mutual consent is not our final authority.. God is the final authority.” So it is Wilson who takes a stronger stance against rape fantasies than Evans. Wilson won’t even allow it when it is mutually consented upon.
But I believe that if a man and a woman both vote for degrading the woman, the decision to do so is still evil.
Hence, mutual consent is not the arbitrator. Tables turned.
18 low key comments later…
Next, Doug’s daughter has a follow up post:
Well clearly, if her [Evans] accusations were true, the biggest victims of Dad’s evil misogynist ways would be me, my sister, and my mom. And to be honest, her tactics make it very hard for a man to go after her – she’s very good at flipping things around and making him look like a bully.
43 rather charming comments later…
… and this brings us back to where we began, Caryn Rivadeneira at Her.meneutics. There she writes,
Diversity of thought, of opinion, of points of view can be healthy within the Christian theological framework. I’m not sure that we should—even if disagree with the content or form of the messages—be inundating The Gospel Coalition (TGC) with petitions demanding the removal the post. In the same way, I don’t believe those who disagree with Evans (and believe you me, there are many!) should be petitioning Thomas Nelson asking them to stop publication of her upcoming book…
Shutting each other down or shutting each other up should never be the goal among Christians. If we are going to love one other, we need to challenge and sharpen one another with a spirit above the Internet rage, a spirit of mercy that assumes the best intentions of even those who offend or outrage us. That assumes that other Christians are only trying to live out the gospel as they see it, to speak as they’ve been called to. With a spirit of charity, we must recognize that poor word choices don’t a vicious-oppressor-of-women make; just as honest objections to those poor word choices don’t deserve threats of physical violence. We must challenge and confront with a spirit of grace that understands that we are all broken, all wounded, all getting so much of this life just plain wrong. After all, we’re all naughty by nature (original sin, anyone?), whether we’re down with egalitarian sex or not.
Why I Shut Down This Blog
I’m no “friend” of The Gospel Coalition. I disagree with their theology on a great deal of points. I don’t like how they have attempted to co-op the Gospel, I disagree with their Calvinism and their Complementarianism. But most of all, I don’t like how they attack, often preemptively, other brothers and sisters in Christ whom they disagree with. The shiniest example being Justin Taylor against Rob Bell.
But here’s the thing, the other side is no better. No more Christian. No more grace filled. No more tolerant. No more understanding. No more empathetic. No more reasonable. This is not to say they are not those things. It’s comparative. It’s to say, they’re just the same. Reading the high profile articles in this controversy, as telling as they are in themselves, have nothing on the comments. There you see both sides in all their full bloom ugliness.
I’m almost done by ebook on posconservativism. One of the points that distinguishes us (postconservatives) from them (conservatives like TGC) is our attitude. Have I gotten that wrong? Or have I simply mistaken some to be postconservtive who are really just, and nothing more, progressive.
I don’t even recognize the Gospel in the Christian blogosphere anymore. And that’s why I’ve closed this blog. I’ve been a contributor. I’m done. The Gospel isn’t about tearing down, but building up. The Gospel isn’t about a Church divided, but a Church united in Christ. The Gospel isn’t about attacking each other, but about finding ways to exhort, correct if need by, and unite with one another.
The Christian blogosphere is a disgrace to Jesus and the Gospel. We are a laughing stock to the world. And we are all to blame. I am. You are. We need to stop passing the buck to the people we disagree with. We need to stop point our weapons at each other start finding creative ways to overcome our differences so that we can shine the Gospel into this enormous online world.
After the Love Wins controversy Rob Bell bowed out. He dropped off the radar for awhile. Then, in true posconservative spirit, he releases a new video. (He may have his conservative interlockers in mind, but in fact, this is a loving rebuke to us all. A plea.)
Life has a way of beating that wonder and awe out of you, doesn’t it?… and it’s as if this ever so thin layer of hardness begins to build around your heart… you roll your eyes more frequently. You’re a bit more cynical and jaded and skeptical. You pull back, you retreat. ‘Why would I stick my neck out if I’m going to get shot at like that again.’ And so ever so gradually, with your arms folded over your chest, you become one, more, spectator. I don’t believe this is what God intended for us…”
When Jesus talks about what we would say are the criteria, or results or proof or whatever you call it, what Jesus says is, his followers, his people, the ones who are open to the new things that God is doing in the world, the ones who said yes to him and trust him, he says you’ll know them by your fruit.
I don’t care what “just cause” people on both sides of these tense debates think they’re battle for, no fruit is to be had.
Jesus calls us and confronts us to leave behind all of the reasons we have to be jaded and bitter and cynical because, let’s be honest, what you look for, you will find in this world. He calls us to leave behind all of our reasons for folding our arms over our chest and becoming one more spectator, and he says, ‘come follow me, move beyond all of that.’
So may you rediscover this life-like sense of discovery and anticipation. May you be open to the new thing that God is doing right here, right now. And may you be wide-eyed and filled with wonder and awe.
Brothers and sisters, that’s why I’m moving on. That’s why I’m creating a blog around “inform.inspire.imagine.” That’s why I want to find new, creative ways to pass along my ideas, without tearing down another person. I want to exhort without attacking. I want to teach without ad hominem. I want to see people grow. And I want my place to be a place that contributes to a positive image of God’s Kingdom online.
When I fire it up, I hope you’ll subscribe. But more than that, I hope you’ll join me. Help me, be a contributor to a positive image of Christ online.
If there’s one petition we need to get out there, it’s a petition to all of the Christian bloggers out there and all of the Christian tweeters out there and all of the Christian Facebook users, Googlers, Mac lovers, Youtubers out there: Together we need to actively, intentionally, contribute to a positive image of the Kingdom of God online.