Doug Wilson: “I am not defending the rapist.”

Last week, Doug Wilson wrote a provocative post, A Theology of Slut Walks, where he attempts to Newspeak (Dougspeak?) his way through defending a rapist while claiming not he’s not actually defending a rapist. Without getting into the twisted logic of his post, I thought there were a couple of quotes that were worth considering.

Those quotes are: “I am not defending the rapist.” And, “If somebody kidnapped and raped the most outrageous organizer of the worst slut pride event ever, I would want to see that rapist punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

Scripture teaches that we are known by our fruits. While it is commendable that Wilson would write the above, have his actions fit those words? What are Wilson’s fruits in regards to rapists?

Before we move on, we should consider the definition of rape. According to Doug Wilson, “I would define rape as having any kind of sexual relationship with someone apart from or against her or his consent.” I think that’s a good working definition. Given that definition, both Steve Sitler and Jamin Wight would qualify as rapists. They had sexual “relationships” with minors, who by definition cannot consent.

The question, then, is: what did Wilson do in regards to actual rapists in his community, not merely hypothetical ones in his article?

When Sitler and Wight’s actions came to light, and they were brought to court, Wilson chose to sit with the accused instead of the victims. Wilson also appealed to the court on behalf of both Sitler and Wight requesting leniency.

From his letter for Sitler:

I have been asked to provide a letter on behalf of Steven Sitler, which I am happy to do. . . . I am grateful that he will be sentenced for his behavior, and that there will be hard consequences for him in real time. At the same time, I would urge that the civil penalties applied would be measured and limited. I have a good hope that Steven has genuinely repented, and that he will continue to deal with this to become a productive and contributing member of society.

And from a letter for Wight:

We have told him [Wight] that it is appropriate for him to obtain legal representation in order to ensure that his legal and civil rights are fully respected, and to ensure that the punishment given to him is not draconian or disproportionate. . . . I also believe that it requires that I labor to see that justice really is done to Jamin (at the same time excluding injustice through severe penalties), as well as laboring to protect the Greenfields, particularly Natalie. (emphasis added)

Both Wight and Sitler plea bargained down to lesser crimes and received reduced sentences or less time actually in jail. After their brief incarcerations, Sitler and Wight have continued to benefit from Wilson’s support and defense.

Sitler was married off to a young woman from Wilson’s church. Wilson himself performed the ceremony. This was after a judge had to rule over whether or not Sitler could get married. Because in the normal way of things, marriages bring children, and convicted pedophiles can’t be trusted around children, even their own. The judge noted that there was no legal reason to deny the marriage, but that if children were born to the couple, then there would need to be a reevaluation of the living situation.

Last year, a baby boy was born to Sitler and his wife. Sitler has since been removed from the home:

In December 2014, Steven Sitler began failing polygraph questions about pornography. And in July 2015 he snapped the needle, failing multiple lie-detector questions. But polygraphs are not admissible in court and cannot be cause of action to revoke probation. Therefore, in July 2015 the judge put a “line of sight”restriction on Sitler, requiring one of his state-approved chaperones to be in the “line of sight” of Steven Sitler whenever he’s near his child. Sitler’s two chaperones were his mother and his wife.

However, in the last two weeks P&P revoked “chaperone” status from both women because they failed to notify P&P that Sitler advised them of some of his perversions. Consequently, Sitler does not live at his home until more chaperones can be found. Court meets again tomorrow (Tuesday, September 7, 2015).

Wight went on to marry a young woman in the community. They were married at Trinity Reformed Church (CREC) by Pastor Leithart. Wight abused and attempted to strangle his wife. Thankfully she survived and has successfully divorced from him.

But even with these dreadful circumstances, Wilson continues to defend Wight and Sitler and to defend his own actions in support of them. When the Sitler story broke this September, Wilson wrote an open letter defending his actions:

Katie and her family had all the facts when she agreed to marry Steven, which was important, but the decision to marry was the couple’s decision, not ours. That said, I officiated at the wedding and was glad to do so. . .

And when the Sitler story brought up the Wight story again, Wilson has written many, many words to defend himself and Wight and to blame the victim and her parents. Here is a portion of the letter Wilson wrote in 2005 on behalf of Wight seeking to lay the blame on the victim and her parents:

In our meeting the Greenfields (who had no idea of the sexual behavior occurring between Jamin and Natalie) acknowledged their sin and folly in helping to set the situation up. They did this by inviting Jamin to move in with them, encouraging and permitting a relationship between Jamin and Natalie, while keeping that relationship secret from the broader community. They thought (and were led to believe by Jamin) that the relationship was sexually pure, but they did know it was a relationship between a man in his mid-twenties and their fourteen-year-old daughter, and they helped to create the climate of secrecy. At the same time, their folly (as Pat Greenfield has aptly pointed out) was not a felony. It is not a crime to be foolish, while it is a crime to do what Jamin did. I agree with this completely, and in describing this aspect of the situation I do not believe it absolves Jamin of any responsibility for his behavior. But it does explain what kind of criminal behavior it was. For example, I do not believe that this situation in any way paints Jamin as a sexual predator. In all my years as a pastor, I don’t believe that I have ever seen such a level of parental foolishness as what the Greenfields did in this.

Natalie, the daughter mentioned above, was 13 years old when the abuse began. Wight, her abuser, was 23:

I was molested as a young teen. A man living under my parent’s roof, paying his rent by helping with the remodeling of our home, in training at Greyfriar’s Seminary to become a pastor , groomed me, sexually abused me, and molested me from the time I was 13 until I was 16 years old. He was 10 years older than me. A true monster; I was made to feel worthless, as though no one but he would ever love me. I was told that if I ever told anyone, it would ruin his life because people simply wouldn’t understand what we shared. I became an expert at lying to my parents. I was forced into sexual acts time and time again that no young girl should ever be subjected to. When I was 17 years old, a friend whom I had confided in (and who I am forever grateful to) convinced me to go to the police and press charges against my abuser.

Besides blaming her parents for “foolishness,” Wilson has also blamed Natalie for being a tall and beautiful young woman:

The reason we did not want it (the crime) treated as pedophilia is that her parents had bizarrely brought Jamin into the house as a boarder so that he could conduct a secret courtship with Natalie. So Jamin was in a romantic relationship with a young girl, her parents knew of the relationship and encouraged it, her parents permitted a certain measure of physical affection to exist between them (e.g. hand-holding), Natalie was a beautiful and striking young woman, and at the time was about eight inches taller than Jamin was. Her parents believed that she was mature enough to be in that relationship, and the standards they set for the relationship would have been reasonable if she had in fact been of age and if the two had not been living under the same roof.

Clearly in these two cases, Wilson has indeed defended rapists and has not sought for them to be prosecuted to the “to the fullest extent of the law.” Despite what he has written on his blog and in his books, Wilson chose to support, defend, and care for the rapists at the expense of their victims. I do not deny that even rapists need pastoral counseling, but taking the side of the abusers and blaming victims is not pastoral care.

In Scripture, Jesus told his disciples that there would be false teachers and that these false teachers would be known because of their fruit. Maybe we should all consider what Wilson’s fruits say about him:

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’  (Matthew 7:15-23 ESV)

10 thoughts on “Doug Wilson: “I am not defending the rapist.”

  1. Barbara Roberts says:

    Well done Rachel. This conversation needs to be kept going. Many may be reading this but afraid to comment — as yet — but one day they may feel safe enough to speak up. In the meantime, people like you are putting out the clarion call for justice and transparency in the church and for the exposing of the hype-patriarchs who are bloated with their prideful twisting of scripture.

    Wilson will face the wrath of God on that Day if he does not repent.

  2. Melody says:

    Thank you for this. I’ve been horrified at the men, whose blogs and articles I used to read and trust, who still blindly and willfully support this evil man. I hope some are just naively deceived, but I’m concerned it simply doesn’t matter to such men until or unless it’s their sister, daughter, or granddaughter. Despicable.

    Demons can articulate accurate theology as Doug does on occasion, but Christians are known by fruits of the Spirit. I see very little if any spiritual fruit in Wilson’s treatment not only of the victims in these cases, but of their families, and anyone who stands up to him.

  3. Baptist wife (Nancy2) says:

    Afew years ago not so far from where I live, a mother driving with her high school student daughters in the car on route home from school. At an intersection, a drunk driver going in excess of 90 mph ran a red light and t-boned their car. The mother and both daughters were killed.
    Who would Doug Wilson blame? The drunk driver, or the daughters for being foolish enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or the mother for intentionally leading her daughters into a dangerous situation?
    If Wilson takes the same position on drunk driving that he does on sexual abuse, he would elevate and protect the drunks, while he would scorn and rebuke the true victims.

  4. NJ says:

    I don’t know, if the mother and daughters were not pretty and tall for their ages in comparison to the drunk, maybe Wilson would give them a pass…

    A Theology of Slut Walks sounds like a demented version of a good look at the Ministry of Silly Walks.

  5. Mark B says:

    Mrs Miller
    While I concur with you that Mr Wilson’s theology is sometimes in error (anyone who knows me can attest to my vigorous opposition to the FV heresy), I don’t see this post as entirely accurate in describing the situation (difficult situations are hard to judge from a distance without knowing all the facts). For example, in the case with Jamin, the point he made the letter to the court was in regard to the propriety of one of the charges (specifically, pedophilia is usually defined as sexual misconduct with prepubescent children, which is not the crime committed in this case). Jamin is the sort of guy who makes your stomach turn, but do you really think that a pastor should not object to charges that are misapplied? Does not a pastor have an obligation before God to uphold the truth to the best of his ability, even if it may result in reduced charges for someone he views as a criminal? As regards to the other case, I’ve had to sit in board meetings in my own church where we dealt with how we will minister to a member who is a registered sex offender. This is a very difficult situation. Most everyone at least pretends to be supportive when we’re making chili and serving it to the drunks that hang out under the bridge nearest the Bottle Market, but when they repent and clean up their lives and come to church, what then? I have a few small children myself, so this is not an abstract question. Do we as Christians believe that God has the power to save anyone? How about the power to sanctify anyone? In this case we informed the individual that there would be significant strictures for the rest if his life in the way he would be able to be involved in the church, but some in the church still left because we allowed him to attend, and I respect their reasons for doing so. Please don’t assume I wrote this comment in support of Wilson specifically, as that’s not my aim. I don’t think that everything that Wilson did in handling these cases or when responding to the criticism is right. Rather, I’m more concerned with how we in the church deal with issues such as these. This has never been an abstract question, but as our society becomes more pagan, it will become more and more a part of how we minister. What did the early church do when a temple prostitute showed up? How about when a minister visited who was personally responsible for the murder of fellow believers (Paul)? Will we be the Pharisees asking Jesus why he is eating with sinners? If we consider all the information that is publically available in these two cases, and put ourselves in the position of one of the elders in Christ Church, how would we have reacted at the time (not in hindsight) and why? Respectfully, Mark

    • Rachel Miller says:

      When a 23 year old grown man, grooms and then sexually abuses a 13 year old child, I don’t have a problem with calling that pedophilia. At least one medical definition that I found gave the definition of children up to 13. However, at the very least, 3 years of such sexual abuse of a child should be considered sexual abuse and statutory rape. Wight was convicted of 1 count of lewd behavior with a child (if memory serves) and was not registered as a sexual offender.

      As for how to counsel sexual abusers like Wight and Sitler, churches and pastors would be wise to seek outside counsel from those experienced with these types of offenders. But my point remains that Wilson blamed the victims and their families and protected the abusers.

    • Patrice says:

      Mark B, some further info, if you return here:

      Strictly speaking, pedophilia is the condition of being attracted to children. Acting on it is child molestation, sexual abuse, child/statutory rape. Hebephilia is being attracted to pubescent children. Acting on it brings the same labels.

      Pedophila/hebephilia are often intractable disorders, tho’ there are variations. They’re sometimes tied to other personality disorders: narcissism, borderline, sociopathy. They are terrible disorders to bear and wreck havoc on others. They need to be taken much more seriously than they are at present.

      Do not assume that a pedophile will be healed from his disorder through repentance/salvation. That would be like believing that someone with Hodgkins Disease will be healed through repentance/salvation. God seldom works that way; an presumption of rarity would be naive/foolish.

      The difference between a child molester and a temple prostitute is that the former is prone to repeat abusing, and the prostie is a victim of abuse/misuse. A murderer is different too, in that there is seldom a driving desire to continue murdering.

      Of course the US church should welcome pedophiles/hebephiles, but it is not a simple matter of “eating with sinners”. It requires being wise as a serpent along with innocent as a dove. Firm separation/limitations are part/parcel of it. Start here for info: http://boz.religionnews.com/2015/10/23/sex-offenders-in-the-pews-lets-not-be-deceived/

      • Mark B says:

        No, and No. I would call it sin. I mentioned the most basic commonly assumed medical definition only in relation to a specific point. We in the church can only use medical definitions in a cursory way, as modern psychology no longer has Christian presuppositions as its only basis. For example, last month a journal published a study that claimed that homophobia is a disease that Christians are infected with. The reason (in the personal example I gave above) that we as a Church set a system if strictures in place for a convicted child molester we accepted into membership is because while all of us are sinners, some of us face different temptations, and once anyone has fallen into a particular sin, it is easy to repeat the pattern. (This applies to all things, as another example, we serve Welch’s in addition to wine in the communion tray because we had a former alcoholic whom the slightest hint of alcohol would cause severe distress.) Because a pedophile is a danger to the innocent, the strictures have to be strict (zero involvement in children’s ministry, no publicly visible position in worship service because a child may assume they had some sort of authority, one of the church officers appointed to keep an eye on them each Sunday ect… the list goes on and may vary according to circumstances.) This is not assuming that they have not truly repented and that God has not given them a new heart, it’s just being wise as a serpent, as you quoted. If they are truly repentant and changed, they will understand this. And it is sad, because the Church suffers sometimes for the loss, but sometimes sin has lifelong consequences. Neither would we appoint an embezzler as a deacon, or hire a divorced pastor as a marriage councilor, even though money management or counseling may be their gifts.

      • Patrice says:

        Mark B, no, no and yes. Sin is a broad word that includes anything that is destructive to what God beautifully made. Sin includes brokenness, disorder, violence. Some of it is deliberate. Cancer is from sin because it destroys the body. Arrogance is a sin of the mind/heart. Even ignorance can be a sin, when insistently maintained. You insist that pedo/hepephia are better labeled sin but later in your comment, you give a proper name. Perhaps you are aware that sin is an overly broad term to be useful here.

        If you truly believe that the field of psychology is outside Christian parameters, you are ignorant of important knowledge necessary in church leadership. Who taught you this way of thinking? Everything is the Lord’s; there is no need for fear. Some parts of every field are flawed but that doesn’t mean the complete field is contaminated. Wisdom is required.

        It sounds like you have a solid structure in place that can safely allow pedophiles/hebephiles to attend church. From whom did you learn your program, and from where did your list come? I’ll eat my hat if it wasn’t put together by a trained psychologist with a specialization in sexual offenders.

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