Rachel Held Evans – The Gospel Coalition, sex, and subordination

I must confess openly, I don’t like The Gospel Coalition. They are too rigidly Calvinistic and too aggressive for my taste.

And here they go again, as expected. This time by publishing a clearly chauvinistic blog post signed by Jared Wilson (in the mean time, withdrawn from the web site).

Rachel Held Evans, an author I read with pleasure, responds strongly to this text, is it was fully deserved. Here is what she says:

* * *

Patriarchy is old—so old that the writers of Scripture include it in their creation story.

After Adam and Eve disobey God by eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, the once harmonious relationship between the pair is mired: “Your desire will be for your husband,” God tells the woman, “but he will rule over you.” These words are part of a curse. And no matter how you interpret Genesis 1-3, this curse is as evident in today’s world as it was in the world of the biblical writers.

For egalitarians, the teachings and example of Jesus point to a new way of healing, equality, and mutual submission within male and female relationships. There is to be no more power struggle, no more “ruling over” one another. But, as we have discussed at length over the past year, for modern-day Christian patriarchalists (sometimes called complementarians), hierarchal gender relationships are God-ordained, so the essence of masculinity is authority, and essence of femininity is submission. Men always lead and women always follow. There is no sphere unaffected by this hierarchy—not even, it seems, sex. 

Now in the past, I’ve always made a distinction between the complementarianism of groups like The Gospel Coalition and the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and the hard patriarchy of groups like Vision Forum and the FIC Movement, assuming that the latter was much more legalistic and patriarchal than the former. But in recent years the two seem to be getting cozier.  I know many complementarians who, although they believe men should hold authority over women in the home, church, and society, make an exception for the marriage bed, acknowledging the Apostle Paul’s teachings on mutuality in this regard (1 Corinthians 7:1-5). So I was surprised and disturbed to see a mainstream complementarian organization—The Gospel Coalition—endorse male authority and female submission in sex. 

In a post on the GC Web site entitled “The Polluted Waters of 50 Shades of Grey, etc,” Jared Wilson argues that the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey simply reflects a perversion of the proper, God-ordained relationship of authority and submission between men and women. To support his point, he quotes from Douglas Wilson’s book, Fidelity: What it Means to be a One-Woman Man:

“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.

When we quarrel with the way the world is, we find that the world has ways of getting back at us. 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.

Read HERE Rachel’s entire response.)

* * *

You may also read HERE a more irenic (but not necessarily more balanced) opinion about this debate.

Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s