Note: This started as a comment, but I think the point is worth making in a post so I’m doing so here.
Commenter Hmm wrote:
Wilson’s original post concerned a man that was difficult to his wife in the home, but presented a different, benign face to the church. There was no evidence that anyone but her saw that he was a cruel, abusive man. If she took recourse to the elders, they could do nothing without a second witness. There was no one lawfully to back her up, or take her side. So he encouraged her to separate herself from him. Move quietly out, into her sister’s home. Not divorce. Not call a lawyer. Just separate.
In doing this she would of course be enlisting her family in her defense. And it would certainly raise questions in the church about why she did this, which might bring her husband under closer scrutiny. It might even drive him to a chargeable offense. But she is not enlisting women to her side, not dividing the church over the issue, not doing anything chargeable as gossip or slander.
The controversy is over whether there is Biblical warrant for a Christian woman to separate from such a man (who also claims to be Christian).
The bolded part is not true. The controversy is over Pastor Wilson’s astounding twisting of very clear verses in 1 Cor 7. Where the Apostle Paul says “Not I, but the Lord”, Wilson tells us Paul is just giving his own friendly advice. Where Paul urges wives not to separate from their husbands, pointing out that by remaining they might save their husband’s soul, Wilson says Paul is urging wives to leave their husbands in order to save their souls. See my original post, as well as the post from Bnonn that Wilson responded to.
I think Hmm is reading this all backwards. Hmm is assuming Wilson set out to explain how to handle a hard case, but simply mangled it beyond all comprehension. Twice. This is theoretically possible. It could be that Wilson is just really, really bad at explaining Scripture. If so, he needs to immediately find a new line of work. But I don’t think Wilson is incompetent. I think he set out to teach that all wives can separate from their husbands whenever they feel it is right and church elders need to leave them alone*. From there, he crafted both a tangled backstory and a wacky interpretation of Scripture to achieve this goal. But the backstory was always only a distraction, a magician’s misdirection. He wants us tangled up in the backstory he spun so we don’t notice how putrid his interpretation of 1 Cor 7 is. Note that a few hours** after I wrote my post criticizing his interpretation of 1 Cor 7, Wilson dropped a bombshell via a postscript (emphasis mine):
Postscript: In this fictional scenario, the elder board of the church this woman is leaving is complicit in the sin of the husband. When the Westminster Confession says that the church can be part of the remedy in prevent marriages from blowing up, I should add that I support a godly and judicious use of elder authority in such cases.
Why did he do this? It doesn’t address the problem at all. We could assume that this is Wilson just being really bad at his chosen profession. That is possible. But my hypothesis makes more sense. Wilson desperately wanted to change the subject back to the backstory. Note that his postscript doesn’t help anything. He already explained why such a wife should be allowed to leave without being “hassled” by her church elders. Wilson told us that Scripture commanded it, even if she is lying. If he believed that, why now change the backstory to make the elders villains in order to explain why they don’t have the right to judge her? Moreover, his sudden change of the backstory makes much of his original post absurd. Remember the bit about her not wanting her elders to take disciplinary action against her husband, because without the requisite witnesses it would be unjust? The postscript even contradicts Hmm’s summary of the original story:
Wilson’s original post concerned a man that was difficult to his wife in the home, but presented a different, benign face to the church. There was no evidence that anyone but her saw that he was a cruel, abusive man.
Don’t get stuck on the backstory. It doesn’t matter, and Wilson is free to change it on the fly as needed. Focus on what Wilson is teaching that Scripture says.
*Except for women in his church, who Wilson notes better be ready to explain themselves and face discipline if he thinks they don’t have a valid reason to leave.