In Dalrockian and Disoriented Pastor Doug Wilson responds to my recent posts If mama ain’t happy and She’s the boss, you’re a guest. Click through and read his full post, and you will notice that Wilson is careful not to defend the ideas I challenged. This is an especially shrewd move when it comes to his theology of Christian wives as house despots, outranking their husbands in matters of the home (emphasis mine):
A wife therefore has true authority over her home which no one, including her husband, can take away from her. She must be obedient to him, as this verse states, but this is a clearly delimited obedience. This can easily be misunderstood or misrepresented, but it is still necessary to emphasize. In a certain sense, a husband (as the head of his wife) is an honored and permanent guest, but he should learn to see himself as a guest. He wipes his feet at the door, he eats what is served to him, and he seeks to conform to the pattern established by her—as she in her turn seeks to honor him. He has authority—where Scripture gives it. She has authority where Scripture gives it…
This is clearly a topic Wilson wants to avoid on his blog, as he even avoids defending this theology while responding to my post about it. Wilson’s only defense is that he contradicts this teaching later in the same book:
And here are a couple of things from How to Exasperate Your Wife, the book that Dalrock is using to highlight my feminist, or at any rate soft patriarchal, sins.
“The most important word in the marriage vows is ‘obey’” (p. 95).
“If a wife is a servant or a dominatrix, the husband needs to confess his sin” (p. 97).
But it is Wilson’s art of self contradiction that is at the root of the problem. As I pointed out in If mama ain’t happy, Wilson teaches in the introduction to his book Reforming Marriage that the way to tell if a home is pleasing to God is by the mood of the wife! He paraphrases this theology with the well worn phrase when mamma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy:
Where should the aroma originate? Jesus taught us, with regard to individuals, that cups must be cleaned from the inside out. If we apply this principle to the home, we should see that the “inside” of a family is, of course, the relationship between husband and wife, as they self-consciously imitate the relationship of Christ and the Church.
The health of all other relationships in the home depends upon the health of this relationship, and the key is found in how the husband is treating his wife. Or, put another way, when mamma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.
Wilson is shrewd enough not to try to defend this theology on his blog either. How could he possibly defend something like this? The bits of Wilson’s theology that I referenced in my two posts are the theology he writes in his books. In his blog he writes that the problem with Christian marriage is that Christian husbands have foolishly listened to Christian leaders who teach them to defer to their wives to keep mama happy:
When a false definition of servant leadership is mandated for the church, the only people who will simply ignore that teaching will be the dullards and pigs. The sincere Christian men, who falsely believe they are being taught in accordance with the Word, will dutifully disarm. They will abdicate their essential role of actual leadership in the home, and they will call it servant leadership, leading from behind, or “just-what-I-was-going-to-suggest-leadership.” But there is a vast difference between real servant leadership, the kind Christ practiced and enjoined, and the kind that requires men to stand down whenever mama ain’t happy. By so emphasizing servant leadership, the church has not succeeded in establishing more of it, but they have succeeding in giving men a noble-sounding name as a fig leaf for their cowardice.
So Wilson’s defense is technically accurate. For any given claim Wilson makes putting women in charge, you can find another instance of him teaching that men are cowards for listening to just this kind of advice. But make no mistake; this doesn’t make Wilson stand out in the complementarian world. Teaching men that their wives are holy barometers of God’s approval while castigating men for failing to lead is exactly what complementarianism is all about.