For those of you out there that keep track of the “Christian blogosphere” (and if you don’t, you’re probably better for it), there’s a very weird discussion happening amongst many different writers and thinkers about “millennials” (those born from the early 80s to early 2000s), and how they relate to the church.
A couple of weeks ago Rachel Held Evans wrote a post for CNN’s religion blog in which she said that millennials are leaving the church because they don’t find substance there; but rather, all they seem to find are hypocritical, judgmental, and bigoted people that want to fight over silly things. She said that this desire for substance is why the millennials that do stay in the church are leaning towards more liturgical traditions. She encouraged church leaders to look at millennials and consider whether their departure might be speaking to systemic issues that are plaguing the American evangelical church.
Yesterday, I talked about a recent brouhaha over some comments by Douglas Wilson and Jared Wilson (no relation) over at The Gospel Coalition about gender and marriage. Jared quoted a book by Douglas where he says, among other things, this:
…the sexual act cannot be made into an egalitarian pleasuring party. A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts.
His (and Jared’s) main point was that they believe there’s an inherent “loving” “authority” exercised by men in marriage, even in the sexual act. Further, this is God’s loving design that Christians are to embrace. They believe that some of our culture’s male addiction to porn and female addiction to S&M bondage fantasies stem from our culture’s rebellion from this “proper” and “loving” exercise of male authority over women, causing them to turn to “improper” ways of exercising these God-given drives.
Needless to say, they got a lot of flack over this. They insisted time and time again that they are not advocating forcible marital sex or that women should just be treated as passive “receivers” of sex. They defended themselves, attacked their critics, and yet, (inexplicably, to them) critics kept saying these harsh things about them. Yesterday, I wrote about the background of this, the responses, and then wrote some words to Jared Wilson. Please go to that link for that relevant information. Today I want to give more of my specific perspective on this:
Update: Part 2 is up, engaging with the issue itself and The Gospel Coalition.
Fine… I’ll throw my two cents in.
A few days ago, Jared Wilson, trying to speak to the appeal of the S&M-tinged book 50 Shades of Grey, posted an excerpt from the book Fidelity (which I have read, so I feel I can speak to this) by the always-good-for-a-sound bite Douglas Wilson. Here’s how I’d summarize his ultimate point:
Modern humans have rebelled against God’s good and correct design of male authority and female submission to that authority. But, as people made in the Image of God, we have deep longings for the way God has structured reality to work best. And so, even when we reject God’s gracious version of gender relations, that desire is still there and will thus be corrupted and express itself in things like rape, pornography, and thinking things like 50 Shades of Grey is appealing.
I really don’t think either of them would think I am mischaracterizing them here. Both Wilsons involved in this equation clearly intended in their writing to promote what they believe is a beautiful synchronicity between male and female in which both fluorish.
And yet the blogosphere blew up over this.