Willie Deutsch.com

Religion and Politics from a Young Christian in Northern Virginia

A Response to Dr. Baskerville’s Faith and Reason Lecture at Patrick Henry College

September 20th, 2013

I still remember her words.  They were parting words of wisdom from a mother from church at the party my parents threw me before I left for college. Internally, I scoffed.  However, it wasn’t long before she would be very right.  “Willie, just because you are going to a Christian college, it doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen.  Be aware and be careful.”  Internally I thought, “that may be true of other Christian schools, but Patrick Henry College is different.”  I had read the material.  PHC was better than all the other Christian colleges that had gone soft.  While people might do bad things at other Christian colleges, of course that wouldn’t really be true at PHC.

My naivete was quickly shaken…  When I arrived on campus I quickly heard the story of how students had smuggled alcohol on campus.  While I could write that off as “the past” there were definite rumors of off-campus students using drugs my freshman year as well.  (For non-PHC readers both activities are in blatant violation of the PHC honor code.)  Shortly after the school year ended, I found out that an unmarried couple attending the school that I was good friends with had had sex that spring semester.  It was the last straw to destroy my naivete in that area of life, and I began to understand reality.

In senior testimonies since then, I’ve heard students talk about struggles with depression, cutting, suicide, cheating, alcoholism, and even struggles with same-sex attraction – just to name a few.  I’ve talked with people desperate to get their family member to PHC to escape an abusive home situation.  I’ve prayed and talked with fellow students struggling with all kinds of things, and for me it has been a place of safety to share the very real struggles I have dealt with.  The reality is that PHC is a place filled with real people struggling with very real problems.  It’s amazing what fellow students will share when you dig below the surface.  I came to realize that the real naivete was to think that there issues PHC students didn’t struggle with or weren’t affected by.  Over time, I was no longer surprised when yet another story was shared of very real problems a student was wrestling through.  When I was no longer shocked by new stories, I was able to help and minister instead.

Numerous situations have shown me the grim reality of abuse and rape.  I’ve helped a homeschool student and pastor’s daughter escape from an abusive home.  I’ve spent hours talking with a mother whose daughter became pregnant from rape while in the military. She has been unable to even get recognition that she was raped from the military, courts, and government even though she carried the child to term.

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When I saw the topic of Dr. Baskerville’s Faith and Reason lecture, I was hopeful. Many young people are rejecting any sexual ethic and embracing license.  A balanced response to the growing acceptance of sexual license would be incredibly helpful.

While some Faith and Reason Lectures have gone over my head, I have learned a lot from many of them.  Dr. Mark Mitchell’s Fall 09 lecture made me think again about becoming a Theory Major, Dr. David VanDrunen’s lecture on the two kingdoms was a thought provoking piece on the role of the Christian in government, and Dr. Anthony Esolen’s lecture my final semester on love and human interaction helped me more than any lecture I have ever heard.

However, in Dr. Baskerville’s lecture, I found a lecture unlike any other PHC Faith and Reason Lecture I had ever heard.

While others have talked about the historical inaccuracies, logical fallacies, and other flaws in the lecture, what struck me most was the way Dr. Baskerville dealt with the issues of rape and abuse.

The lecture is titled “Politicizing Potiphar’s Wife.”  One of Baskerville’s central arguments is that feminism and the new era of sexual license has lead to an increased and speedy criminalization of men over made up crimes.  While there have been horrible incidents of injustice against men, Baskerville takes his argument to an inflammatory extreme and refuses to recognize the injustices that men and the legal system have perpetrated against women as well.

In pages 16-20 of the lecture Baskerville talks about “new crimes and expanded redefinitions of existing crimes – all involving sexual relations.”  What follows are incredible references to rape, spousal abuse, and child abuse which which refuse to recognize that rape and abuse are a problem, and instead vilifies the victim who comes forward.

They play on the fear of sex crimes, but they redefine these politically to include not simply acts but heterodox political beliefs. The reality of the witch hunts thus bears no necessary relation to what is suggested by the inflammatory language and jargon:

  • “rape” that includes consensual relations and in most instances is no more than that;

  • domestic “violence” that involves no violence or any physical contact or threat of it;

  • sexual “harassment” that can mean anything from simple flirtation to unauthorized opinions about morality or politics;

  • “child abuse” that is routine parental discipline, or homeschooling, or concocted altogether to win advantage in divorce court;

  • “bullying” that involves criticism of the homosexual agenda or other differences of belief and opinion;

  • “stalking” that is forcibly divorced fathers trying to see their own children;and much more.

By the end of the second list of the “new crimes” he even manages TO minimize the growing problem of human trafficking.

  • Recreational sex in the evening turns into accusations of “rape” in the morning,even when it was entirely consensual. (This is especially rampant on college campuses.)

  • Demands for access to workplaces, universities, the military, and other previously male venues (accompanied with equally strident demands to engage there in female-only activities, such as pregnancy and breastfeeding) invite accusations of sexual “harassment” against the men when relations inevitably develop (and often turn sour), regardless of who initiates them.

  • Cohabitation and “no-fault” divorce are demanded to liberate women from“patriarchal” marriage but quickly generate accusations of male abandonment(even when the woman ends the marriage), as well as domestic “violence” and“child abuse,” in order to procure custody of children and the financial awards they bring.

  • The proclaimed right to raise children outside wedlock and without fathers to protect and discipline them soon turns into demands to prosecute adolescents and even children for “bullying” one another and eventually for more serious matters.

  • Defiant declarations that women do not need men for financial support quickly give way to demands to arrest and incarcerate without trial men who do not provide women with adequate income in the form of alimony or child support.

  • Assertions that women do not need men for protection soon produce hysterical outcries for intrusive police powers, innovative punishments, and expanded penal institutions to punish ever-proliferating and loosely-defined forms of “violence against women,” even when no physical contact or threat of it is involved.(Homosexuals are now mimicking this strategy.)

  • The demanded right to engage in homosexual acts and public sexual displays translates almost automatically into the power to arrest or otherwise stop the mouths of preachers, “bullies,” and anyone else who objects or ridicules or offends the “feelings” or “pride” of homosexuals.

  • Demands to legalize prostitution feed hysteria to find and prosecute unnamed“sex traffickers.”

While he may have a point with some of these crimes, there is no evidence, context, or qualifications.  The incredibly dismissive discussions about situations where very real crimes occur damages his case, and makes one wonder if he believes there are any legitimate sexual crimes against women.  Some of his points would be worth spending time to explain and discuss in a balanced manner.

He finishes his lists of “new crimes” with this fascinating statement.

Radical ideology has thus transformed our government into a matriarchal leviathan that operates like a massive, bureaucratic version of… Potiphar’s wife. We have not eliminated a “gender stereotype,” as we were promised; we have merely politicized it – in this case that of the temptress, the seductress who lures men into a“honey trap” by offers of pleasure before springing a trap that today can mean decades in prison.

In Baskerville’s construct where the state is a willing participation in the sexual liberation movement’s incarceration of men, a movement which he argues has produced its own gulags, the crimes are minimized, the system is completely rigged against men, and victims are ignored and maligned.

The “new crimes” are referred to as “quasi crimes”, “vague but opprobrious terms”, “open-ended terms like “abuse” and “exploitation””, “…the crime is often defined subjectively”, and “undefined new crimes.”  Perhaps the best reference is the statement, “Until recently, no one had ever heard of most of these crimes and even now no one really understands what they mean because no definition exists.”  I’m sure the legislators who have spent time defining these crimes, and the courts that interpret those definitions are all equally in the dark about the meaning of these crimes.  Every reference to these crimes is one which minimizes their significance.

People the state, rightly or wrongly considers a perpetrator, he universally refers to as victims of the state.  He accuses the state of incarcerating “vast numbers of men and some women who have no inkling that they are committing a crime.”  “Convictions and high conviction rates are presented as goals to be pursued for their own sake.”  “Proceedings are rigged.”  “Yet the accused are given no equivalent advocate-witnesses to testify for them.” “…makes fair trials impossible for those actually accused of belonging to these categories. Accusations quickly become available as weapons to be used in personal and political vendettas. Patently false accusations are processed because they rationalize budgets of feminized and sexualized law-enforcement agencies by turning law-abiding citizens into safe, nonviolent criminals for female and homosexual police persons to arrest.”  Every reference to the convicted and accused is that they are victims, and every reference to the injustice of the court system is in reference to those who are accused.  The idea that there may be injustices in the court system against those who have been the victims of abuse and rape does not even enter the lecture.  He has no place for those acts as real crimes, and, saddest of all, in this lecture the victims of abuse and rape are not victims but participants in the injustice.

This leads to the saddest category, his description of the victims of abuse and rape.  The marginalization of these crimes, and the unbridled defense of those who commit them do quite a bit to put victims of abuse and rape in a difficult position.  Painting victims as being complicit in a government effort to incarcerate men on the basis of “new crimes” makes it harder to come forward.

On top of that, Baskerville continues to describe “the accuser” as one whose sense of feeling offended makes the accused guilty by definition.  He then makes the most damaging accusation against the victims of abuse, or “accusers” as he likes to call them.  “Accusers can profit financially by their accusations, by looting the accused, even without supplying any proof of a crime.”

When I finished the lecture and Baskerville’s description of the new sex crimes, the first thought that came to mind was,does hearing this lecture make it harder for the victims of abuse and rape to come forward and pursue justice?  It didn’t take much thought to realize the answer was an overwhelming, Yes.  When one is painted as an active participant in an injustice simply for accusing someone of a sex crime, the likelihood they will stay silent when abused skyrockets.

It was only a couple months ago that I saw these negative stereotypes of victims play out.  Four months ago, a friend filed a lawsuit in which she claimed that a very prominent man in her community abused her.  Everyone who interacted with her recognized her as someone who is professional and credible.  However, when I shared a couple of articles about the case and my support for her during a very tough time, the response from a number of men was incredible.  People who didn’t even know my friend vilified her for bringing the case, and I was attacked for supporting my friend.  Interestingly, their arguments could have come straight from an advance copy of this lecture, had it existed.

The immediate discrediting, vilification, and ridiculing of my friend is something far too many victims face when they come forward.  Perpetuating incredibly one sided views of sex crimes, perpetrators/accused, and victims/accusers does not help the pursuit of justice when crimes are committed.

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Helpful Sources

Doug Wilson and the Danger of Male Authoritarianism

July 20th, 2012

Wednesday night I published an article on how women could look to Christ as an example of submission just as men can look to Christ as their example of headship.  The following morning I woke up and watched a firestorm erupt over a long quote from Douglas Wilson published in a prominent blog on the topic of wives submitting to husbands.  Much of the discussion focused on the opening lines.

“In other words, however we try, the sexual act cannot be made into an egalitarian pleasuring party. A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts. This is of course offensive to all egalitarians, and so our culture has rebelled against the concept of authority and submission in marriage. This means that we have sought to suppress the concepts of authority and submission as they relate to the marriage bed.”

Wilson’s defenders argue that people are simply getting bent out of shape by the colorful language in the second two sentences of this paragraph.  However, there is a more dangerous concept which lead Wilson to pen those two sentences.  It is the concept found in the last sentence of this paragraph and which blossoms in the final paragraphs of the passage.  Authority and submission run through the fabric of the universe, and men should be in authority while women should be in submission.  He believes this concept applies to the bedroom.  Excluding the marital rape discussion, Wilson advocates extending male dominance and female submission into the bedroom as if that were God’s will when scripture actually focuses on mutuality and unity there.

While others like Quivering Daughters have been exposing what male authoritarianism cloaked in Christianity has done to daughters in terms of spiritual and emotional abuse,  Wilson shows us the twisted view of sexuality this idea leads to.

The passage begins with “A final aspect of rape that should be briefly mentioned is perhaps closer to home. Because we have forgotten the biblical concepts of true authority and submission, or more accurately, have rebelled against them, we have created a climate in which caricatures of authority and submission intrude upon our lives with violence.”  The conclusion of this passage, and the conclusion of a very insensitive chapter 7 on Rape in his book Fidelity reads,

“True authority and true submission are therefore an erotic necessity. When authority is honored according to the word of God it serves and protects — and gives enormous pleasure. When it is denied, the result is not “no authority,” but an authority which devours.”

Here he  takes the Ephesians 5 analogy of marriage representing Christ’s headship over the church and stretches it to say that men have authority in everything and women should be submissive in everything.  Making an analogy an overarching principle is dangerous.  Stretching this analogy into the bedroom robs the most intimate act of marriage of the mutual love and enjoyment it is supposed to contain.

This brings us to a crucial passage in the Bible for understanding the how and purpose of sexual union, I Corinthians 7.  Internet Monk succinctly and accurately applies this passage to the Wilson controversy.

“The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does” (1Cor 7:4, NASB)
Even if we were to grant the point that God’s design is for husbands to be the authorities in the home, and women are to submit to their leadership, nowhere, nowhere does Scripture link the sexual relationship to these concepts. From the beginning, Genesis 2:22-25, the sexual relationship is about complete mutuality, about cleaving together, about two becoming one, evidencing that a man and woman are “bone of bone and flesh of flesh.”

The Song of Songs, an entire book of erotic love poetry, bears this out. Those who’ve commented on the TGC post have pointed out that there is no “authority and submission” in Song of Songs, but two people who take turns initiating and responding to the other with passionate sexual feeling.

No clearer statement of this can be found than Paul’s words in 1Corinthians 7:4 — “For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.”

The Wilsons are simply wrong in stating otherwise.

Sadly when Wilson deals with this passage we see how his authoritarianism impacts his hermeneutics.  Chapter 12 entitled “Sexual Solutions” serves as his commentary on the passage.  His view of sexuality keeps him from seeing the plain meaning of the text which is that both husband and wife possess equal authority and the focus should be on serving and pleasing each other.  The husband does not have more of a right to be fulfilled than the wife.  Instead out of love, their deepest desire should be to delight and please each other.

His view of headship and responsibility keep him so focused on the word “authority” that he misses the word “llikewise.”  This leads him to make interesting statements in exploring the passage like “He is responsible for his authority over her, but he is also responsible for hers over him.” (p.128)  Later he makes an extremely self centered statement by saying, “This means he must love her sexually as he wishes.” (p.134)  In between these comments he speaks of the man’s authority being one of teaching her how to be creative in the bedroom to please and serve him sexually.  Her “authority” means he must tell her if he looks at porn or has an affair.  There is no mention of serving and pleasing his wife, and no idea that she should or could take initiative or authority and lead in the bedroom to enjoy her husband and lead him in delighting her.

Paul clearly equivocates between the authority a husband has over his wife’s body and the authority a wife has over her husband’s body.  Missing the equality and mutuality that should mark a couple’s lovemaking misses the point of the passage.  Sadly Doug Wilson’s authoritarianism permeates his book Fidelity and leads him to impose his view on scripture rather than let scripture speak to him.

Willie Deutsch.com

Religion and Politics from a Young Christian in Northern Virginia