[*] The Rooster * Doug Wilson

While we are waiting on Bono’s interview book to finish up with the Brian Mattson’s review of U2’s last CD and my 20-year Beef, I was scanning said-Rooster’s blog and came across some criticism he had of Doug Wilson.

Hey: very frequently, Pastor Wilson should have to field criticism. In fact, there is some likely criticism for the essay Mattson criticizes that may or may not make its way from me to the blog. However, there is a difference between criticizing what was written and making unfair criticisms. Thus, the following response:
Doug makes a number of points I'd like to briefly address: 1) Homosexuality is primarily a judgment on the church. This is entirely speculative, and makes no attempt to argue from the Scriptures.
Well, thank heavens you linked to his article. Wilson prefaces the entire article by saying:
We denounce homosexual sin and understandably want to reject same-sex legislation, yet we too often fail to ask about the meaning and purpose of homosexuality in a covenantal world of dynamic curses and blessings. (emph added)
So Jones/Wilson’s point is not, “sheesh – let’s just cave on the homosexual issue” – because they say we “understandably want to reject same-sex legislation”. But instead, as is their presuppositional basis for all their claims, they assert that the Church exists in a covenantial relationship with God, and in that the Church ought to do certain things which God will pass judgment over – either blessing if the covenant is kept, or cursing if the covenant is not kept. You can reject Jones/Wilson’s covenantialism if you like, but you have to do so for a reason – not simply ignore Jones/Wilson’s starting point and then misunderstand the rest of what he says.

And that said, Jones/Wilson’s argument about why Homosexuality is running rampant in our society is a plain one from Romans 1: God hands men over to these sins when they have rejected Him.
Totally pagan cultures have prized homosexuality all throughout history (in fact, paganism and homoeroticism invariably go hand in hand. See my paper on the topic. Right click the link to download). Further, the Apostle Paul pronounces the curse specifically against "those who suppress the truth in unrighteousness," not the faithful.
It is odd that you and Wilson & Jones agree on this point: faithful people are not handed over to this sin. Wilson’s exact words are “Widespread homosexuality is a sign that the society in question is not living under normal chastisements; it is the sign of God's abandonment of us—Ichabod.”

You and they agree. The problem is not that there is disagreement over whether the unfaithful are condemned in this way: it is whether the church itself is faithful. You seem to take it for granted that the church is faithful. Jones/Wilson take it for granted that the symptom indicates the disease, and because the symptom is in the church, the disease is in the church.
Yet it is argued: "The American Church's compromises with idolatry are deep and dated, and God appears to be sending us a highlighted curse." I don't see anything particularly "highlighted" about it, and I don't see an actual argument as to why the mind of God ought to be interpreted in this fashion.
TBR: you yourself make the specific claim that paganism and homoeroticism “invariably go hand in hand”. Who is in charge of history? Who is it who makes man’s suppression of the truth go hand in hand with these sins which dishonor the body?

I don’t think you actually disagree with Wilson’s exegesis here: I think you disagree with his application. This sin is particularly highlighted by Romans 1, and you have shown in that past that all idolatrous civilizations have embraced it. The only disconnect between your argument and Wilson’s is that Wilson says, “the American church is caught up in idolatry”.

Now whether you agree with Wilson’s statement or not, let me ask you: is it possible for the American church to be caught up in idolatry? Or if you prefer, think of the question this way: what does Christ accuse the churches at Sardis and Laodicea of in Rev 3?
Further, as we will see, Doug engages in a fallacy: if something is a curse, it should be embraced; if it is a sin, it should be denounced. But what if it is both? This is not an either/or proposition.
I think you have misread Wilson & Jones, and you do not understand the use of these words.
2) Curses are removed by repentance, not denunciations of them. Of course; therefore the one being cursed ought to repent. Only if one assumes that the church is the primary target of the curse of homosexuality - which Doug has not given a single good reason to assume - can one argue that the church ought not "denounce" homosexuality.
Wilson’s article certainly does not demonstrate “standard” syllogistic composition. That is to say, he doesn’t mechanistically order his essay “The church has allowed fathers not to be leaders in their homes; this leadershiplessness has given way to idolatry; God hates that; God punishes what He hates; the church is in a special covenant with God; the special covenant makes God’s judgment more purposeful and intentional; Paul in Romans outlines one particular judgment God places on the idolatrous; that punishment is homosexual sin; God’s punishment on the American church for idolatry is homosexual sin.”

Instead, Jones/Wilson start with the obvious problem: the homosexual revolution. And they say that, superficially, one can understand why we want to stand in the way of legalizing homosexual marriage. Moreover, they also say that that there ought to be laws against homosexual marriage -- but only stemming from the cause of faithful worship in God’s church and not as a hope that we can change people’s minds by forbidding them to do whatever they think is right.
But, of course, even that is a non-sequitur. Repentance, I daresay, involves denouncing sin! And if the curse is a handing over to sin, then it hardly follows that we suddenly "embrace" (or "own," to use his words) the sin! Even if his breathtakingly speculative link between "bad fathering" and "homosexuality" is true (though the only thing we have to go on is his say-so), we can certainly repent of bad fathering and denounce homosexuality at the same time!
In this passage you have completely missed the point Jones/Wilson is trying to make: in “owning” or “embracing” the sin, we are not making friends with it or becoming a partner with it: we are admitting that we are the cause of it. Consider what they have written here:
Instead of duplicating the sins of the past by dealing with fruit rather than with roots, i.e., denouncing the spread of homosexual marriage and culture, we need to own the cultural curse. By this, we mean we must accept the fact of it as just. Pointing to "their" corrupt fruit does not address our corrupt root. This is the core failure of neglectful/domineering fathers and husbands. Given these circumstances, we ought live in exile, as Jeremiah's Israel did, until God Himself lifted the curse. Jeremiah said to "seek the peace of the city" (Jer. 29:7), not protest pagan legislation. Under a curse, we should own the curse of same-sex marriage and not fight it so far as it concerns them. That is not our calling.
The calling of Christian men is to be godly husbands and fathers, within the family and within the Church. In a public sense, we ought to acknowledge the curse of same-sex marriage as a just judgment on us and our culture. In the brewing culture wars, we ought not to stand with those seeking to ban same-sex marriage (or with those seeking to impose it). We ought to declare publicly (frustrating both sides) that we embrace this curse. If the civil authority demands our political tunic, we let him have our political cloak also. We own the sin in the first place.
Their point is not at all that we cannot say homosexuality is a sin: their point is that if the church accepted the fact that it was not discipling men to be godly fathers and household leaders, and then did something about it, the church could claim to have clean hands. The church cannot claim to have clean hands here: in saying “I condemn the homosexual and hand him over to the law”, the church fails to see its own roll in setting the table at which the homosexual activist eats.

You also say that Jones/Wilson make a ‘breathtakingly speculative link between "bad fathering" and "homosexuality"’. There is no doubt that they offer no evidence in this article about this link. However, the correlation between the two has been demonstrated repeatedly. Here are some links you might want to brush up on before calling this part of the Jones/Wilson essay merely “speculative”:

http://www.gaytostraight.org/cos-chapter2.html (particularly the notes to the work of Dr. Elizabeth Moberly, Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, and Dr. Harville Hendrix)

http://www.letusreason.org/current8.htm (particularly the ref. to Irving Bierber’s work)

http://amcap.westernstandard.com/AMCAP_Journal/lpext.dll/Infobase/2/3f?f=templates&fn=document-frame.htm&q=[s][rank%2C100%3A[domain%3A[and%3A[and%3ARobert+L.+Blattner+]]][sum%3ARobert+L.+Blattner++]]&x=Advanced&2.0 (You’ll have to paste that into your browser I’ll bet, but it’s from AMCAP journal)

You can also check there off-line resources:

H. Biller, (1974). Paternal Deprivation: Family, School, Sexuality, and Society (Lexington, Mass.: D.C. Heath)
G. Rekers. Journal of Family and Culture, 2, No. 3 (Autumn, 1986), p. 8-31.
H. Biller, Paternal Deprivation: Family, School, Sexuality, and Society (Lexington, Mass.: D.C. Heath, 1974), p.114.

Jones/Wilson go farther than these to say that it is not just a pathology: it is a spiritual fact of life. You may argue with that aspect of their argument, but the matter of the association between “bad fathering” (emotionally or physically absent fathers) and “homosexuality” is very well established.

3) We should seek to "own" homosexual sin.
What he means by this is that we shouldn't
oppose the normalization of homosexuality in
our culture.

He doesn’t mean that at all – not in the least. Good heavens man! When Jones/Wilson say that we must “own” the judgment, they mean that we have to accept that it is justice that we are receiving (because it’s God’s doing) and that we must take action ourselves as a church to repent from the causes of the sin.

Certainly they say this: ‘Pointing to "their" corrupt fruit does not address our corrupt root. This is the core failure of neglectful/domineering fathers and husbands. Given these circumstances, we ought live in exile, as Jeremiah's Israel did, until God Himself lifted the curse. Jeremiah said to "seek the peace of the city" (Jer. 29:7), not protest pagan legislation. Under a curse, we should own the curse of same-sex marriage and not fight it so far as it concerns them. That is not our calling.’ That is to say: pointing the fingers at pagan sinners doesn’t do squat if the problem is that we are the ones who have made pagan sinners out of them.

They are not saying not to oppose the sin: they are saying to admit that we are part of the problem -- that we are sinners -- and to do what God calls His church to do as a matter of fact: repent of our sins. Can you repent of my sin? No, of course not. Can you repent of Elton John’s sin? No, of course not. Can you repent of your sin? Holy mackerel, Rooster: that’s the only sin you personally can repent of!

And when Jones/Wilson write what they have written, they’re not writing like two stupid bloggers in cyberspace: they are writing as Pastors to the church. So their pastoral position and vision must be accounted for. There is no doubt that, Promise Keepers notwithstanding (they’re a whole other kind of idolatry), the church today does not produce families that are consistently godly households. Divorce is as-likely inside the church as outside; children inside the church have a relativistic view of truth and morality; there is no such thing as church discipline anymore. And in that, the church must repent of its view of the family.
We should "embrace" the judgment of God.
Because it is just. We embrace God’s judgment because it is just.
Interestingly, he doesn't give a single biblical example of such "holy" masochism. That is because there aren't any. There is plenty of the opposite. I never read the Psalmist lamenting the judgment of God and saying, "Give me more, Lord!" "Let us have it!"
I enjoy the assertion “because there aren’t any” because it demonstrates the opportunity to grow together. It is true that Jones/Wilson doesn’t provide many examples of their point, but they do provide one: Jer 29. It is an interesting letter from God (via Jeremiah) to Israel: it says (in digest) I have exiled you in Babylon, “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jer 29:9) See: God is punishing Israel and at the same time expecting them to obey Him anyway because His punishment is just.

As for the Psalmist, for example, Ps 94 says:
12Blessed is the man whom You chasten, O LORD,
And whom You teach out of Your law;
13That You may grant him relief from the days of adversity,
Until a pit is dug for the wicked.
14For the LORD will not abandon His people,
Nor will He forsake His inheritance.
15For judgment will again be righteous,
And all the upright in heart will follow it.

Plainly, God chastens those whom He loves and uses that as a method to teach out of the Law, but He will not forsake His people to final condemnation.

That’s not masochism: that’s discipline. If you accept Jones/Wilson’s covenantialism (and I’m sure you don’t), God is just to punish those who are covenant breakers.
Instead, I read cries for mercy. Of course, the
ultimate example is our Lord Jesus, who,
owning our sin, absolutely did not ask his Father
to judge him, did not resign himself to his fate,
but rather pleaded, "Let this cup pass from me!"
Oh brother. What Christ said was, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will." (NASB) You might refer the KJV:” O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” If there is anything evident in this statement, it is certainly God’s mercy – in putting His wrath on His Son rather than on those who would believe. Christ did “resign Himself” in obedience. That is exactly what Jones/Wilson is arguing for here: obedience even when God is pouring out His wrath.
It certainly sounds pious to "own" God's
judgment, but that is a self-righteous chimera.
Jesus is the exemplar: one can "own" sin in the
deepest sense possible and still legitimately seek
the alleviation of the curse. Doug could not be
more wrong here.
You clearly do not understand what they are saying. In that, your criticism is not very useful.
4) Homosexuality is about resentment.
Doug's theological explanation for
homosexuality here is simply wrong. It is not a
longing for communion with a father; it is a
desire to eradicate gender distinctions and play
out on the physical plane the fundamental
metaphysical "monism" or "oneness" of
paganism. Again, see my paper for lengthy
historical and biblical evaluation of this topic.
I again refer you to the clinical/professional sources I have cited, and offer you that Wilson has said, “At its root, homosexuality is a love of sameness rather than difference. Jehovah teaches us to love difference, and in this fallen world obsessed with finding ways to deface God, homosexuality rejects difference in order to spite God.”
5) Christian fathers are the primary cause of
the curse of homosexuality.
I don't know where one even begins to argue
with this kind of blind assertion.
Because you are not familiar with the argument that neglectful fatherhood has a high correlation to homosexuality, I will again refer you to the sources I have cited.
6) Homosexuality will only pass when Christian
fatherhood is pleasing to God.
I don't know how Doug has discerned the mind
of God here as to the duration of his judgment,
but I call it "making things up."
Suit yourself.
Finally, he sums up by saying this:
"In true repentance, we should invert as many
contemporary categories as we can—own the
curse of homosexuality upon our parenting,
grant the science, and explicitly embrace God's
transformation of our civil order. True
repentance in the Church, not trust in civil
coercion, will either restore that order or
establish a different order. So we openly accept
homosexual marriage in the civil realm as God's
means of undermining that civil realm, and we
accept that He has done this in judgment for
wicked fathering within the Church."

"True" repentance allegedly means resigning
oneself to the curse, and "explicitly embracing"
the disfigurement of our civil order. Not
surprisingly, we get no biblical references, no
biblical examples, no biblical warrant
whatsoever for construing "true" repentance this
way. It all sounds very pious, as I've said
before, but nothing in Scripture requires me to
put this twisted spin on the nature of
homosexuality or the nature of "true"
Well, you have summed up all your misconceptions of Jones/Wilson’s thesis here, so I’ll simply point up the page to where you have made your mistakes.
At one point Doug points to Jeremiah 29.7
which tells Israel to "seek the peace of the city" -
to which he adds, "not protest pagan
legislation." But on the contrary, seeking the
"peace of Babylon" is precisely to support godly
legislation and laws in Babylon, so that it might
prosper! To not protest pagan legislation is to
abdicate the salt and light function of God's
people in the world, and to resign Babylon to
judgment; I fail to see how that is seeking the
"peace" of the city.
Oh good heavens – did you read this essay or not? Moreover, did you read Jeremiah 29 or not? Do you have any idea what kind of government was in Babylon when this letter was written by God to Israel?

Here’s the main text:
4"Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. 8For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, 9for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the LORD.”
Where does it say anything about “supporting godly legislation”? In what way could they have done so? It says to pray for the city because their own welfare it connected to that city’s welfare. That is: live in exile peacefully and in obedience, and (most importantly) do not listen to the deception of the prophets who claim to live there.

What exactly do you think was going on in Babylon during this 70-year exile? Were the Israelites citizens of Babylon? Rooster: they were slaves and exiles – some in high places, like Jeremiah, and most in low places. They weren’t voting. They weren’t holding civil authority. Nebuchadnezzar was king. Period.
As Doug would have it, the Christian thing to do
when the barbarians are at the gates is hand them
the keys, invite them in and make them a spot of
tea while we're at it. Again, I fail to see how
that seeks the "prosperity" of the city.
Again, you simply don’t understand what Wilson has written.
As I see it, Doug has written far too many off
the cuff, poorly reasoned, biblically suspect
screeds in his career, and this is the worst
example yet. And the size of his megaphone is
disproportionate to the biblical soundness of his
ideas. Nothing personal here; but there is too
much at stake to let things like this get a pass
Yes, of course: nothing personal. That ameliorates what you have said above into something that one shouldn’t get too worked up about, I guess.

And before you get into the saddle and ride out a response to me, let me make a couple-6 things clear:

(1) The definition of the problem is this: it is crucial that the church realize that radical sexual autonomy is not a discrete or isolated matter; it is not merely an agenda reserved for a few “civil libertarians;” it is not merely a “political” issue; it is not “just about” the privacy of adult consensual sex; it is rather one very public facet of a far more comprehensive vision for a selfconsciously post-“western,” post-Christian and post-modern society. (wow: look at that! I agree with the Rooster!)

(2) Homosexuality is certainly a sin. I’m on the record all over the place on that matter. There’s no way to justify it.

(3) The “God hates Fags” approach doesn’t win any battle, and ignores the admonition to speak the truth in love.

(4) If I were to criticize Jones/Wilson’s approach here, it would be on the basis of their application of the matter of the New Covenant regarding the cause of the problem – not in their application of the New Covenant in the solution to the problem.

(5) Tacking the 10 commandments to the Town Hall door doesn’t solve the problem even if that action defines the problem with epistemic sufficiency.

(6) I cannot ask God to forgive me if I am myself still willingly disobedient. This is a very important point which requires more than a bullet to unpack.

Let’s say, for example, that I am a devout Catholic (I am not), and that it turns out that the Prots were right all along and the mass as Rome explains and demonstrates it is idolatry – that is, praying to bread and wine is giving something to not-God which is due only to God. Now frankly, the Catholic doesn’t believe that this is wrong, but that doesn’t make it right: it makes it wrong with the explanation, “the Pope told me so”. Funny that this excuse didn’t work for Adam or Eve, so we can’t expect it to work for me, the hypothetical Catholic.

Now as a Catholic, I go to confession every Saturday in order to make myself right for the Eucharist on Sunday. “Bless me father for I have sinned. Since last week I did yadda yadda yadda. I confess I did wrong. Thank you for my penance.” And on Sunday I treat the Eucharist like God, never once confessing it – because I don’t think it is wrong.

Now how is it possible that this Catholic will ever be forgiven for being idolatrous – given the premise that treating bread like God is idolatrous? He never confesses – he never even feels guilty. He certainly never repents – because it never occurs to him that he’s doing anything wrong.

Now take that example – one man, wrong in a way which never occurs to him but wrong in a way which is catastrophic – and multiply it by the length and breadth of the evangelical church. What if the evangelical church has traded its internal authority and holy call for worldly influence and material/political gain? What if evangelidom has given up the prayer closet for the voting booth, and the pulpit for the stump?

I suggest to you, Rooster, that the evidence is in for the church and it should occur to us that we are doing something wrong. It has been wrong for a long time – a lot longer than most people will realize, because it hasn’t been wrong since the 1960’s or the 50’s but it has been wrong even before the death of Nietzsche.

That doesn’t make Wilson and Jones right. What it makes is a new question which disarms the principalities and powers of this world.