Yesterday, I published an analysis of Doug Wilson’s response to Karen Swallow Prior–a response that included a rant against Rachel Held Evans. Here’s why I did that. Wilson writes in a way that purposely confuses his readers. On the surface, he appeared to address the objections that had come his way. But once you drilled down to his main point, it was a different story.
This is called obfuscation.
I wanted to point it out because obfuscation is more common than you think. The Cry for Justice blog addresses it all the time. It is a common tactic of narcissists and abusers. It is an attempt to deflect criticism, instill doubt, redirect readers and gain allies. It involves using complex analogies, logical fallacies, alternate definitions for common words and, occasionally, outright lies. The advantage to writing this way is that when a reader arrives at unfavorable conclusions, you can accuse them of misunderstanding your words and spin the narrative to your benefit.
Because we’re trained to give people the benefit of the doubt, it takes practice to recognize obfuscation. But it’s an important skill to have if we, as Christians, are to rightly divide the word of truth. There are far too many abusers and false teachers in the world, and obfuscation helps keep them in power.
Today, I want to go back and revisit Wilson’s rant on Evans to show you what I mean. Because what Wilson says at the end is truly horrifying, evil, and anti-Christian.
Normally, I don’t bother with personal skirmishes between other bloggers. I don’t like petty squabbles, and I’d much rather discuss ideas than people.
But there’s been a growing brouhaha around author, blogger, and presiding minister of the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches (CREC) Doug Wilson. Aside from being under fire for marrying off a young woman to a pedophile and shaming a victim of child rape by one of his seminary students (horrific, HORRIFIC stuff), Wilson is also drawing ire for a recent blog post on the physical beauty of Christian women.
Karen Swallow Prior, whom I’ve mentioned on this blog once before, published a response to Wilson’s post on the Her.menutics blog. In summation, she says that Wilson’s statements were inappropriate because:
- He focused only on physical beauty, failing to relate beauty to the whole self.
- He focused only on how Christianity beautifies women, not men.
- He focused only on his personal definition of feminine beauty.
- Biblically, it’s not his place as a male pastor to instruct younger women on matters of physical beauty. That task is reserved for older women.
When I read her post, I corresponded with her on Twitter, saying that I believed Wilson wouldn’t respond as generously in kind or take her seriously because of his poor attitude toward women. One of Wilson’s supporters immediately accused me of slander. How dare I suggest that Wilson would be disrespectful toward Prior–despite the mountain of evidence that suggested its very real possibility.
Now that Wilson has published his response, his supporters are calling for a retraction of my statement. Well, here it is: Wilson was not savage in his response to Prior. On the contrary, his tone is quite flattering. But just because it sounded nice doesn’t mean it was respectful or serious. I’ll tell you why.