[Warning: possibly triggering for rape and abuse survivors]
It all started when Jared Wilson of the Calvinist think tank The Gospel Coalition wrote a blog post about the popularity of the book Fifty Shades of Grey. According to Jared, the book's BDSM themes resonate so much with female readers because . . . and this is where it gets confusing . . . egalitarianism leads to rape fantasies. He then cites a passage from Doug Wilson's (no relation) book Fidelity: What It Means To Be A One-Woman Man:
"Because we have forgotten the biblical concepts of true authority and submission, or more accurately, have rebelled against them, we have created a climate in which caricatures of authority and submission intrude upon our lives with violence.
When we quarrel with the way the world is, we find that the world has ways of getting back at us. In other words, however we try, the sexual act cannot be made into an egalitarian pleasuring party. A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts. This is of course offensive to all egalitarians, and so our culture has rebelled against the concept of authority and submission in marriage. This means that we have sought to suppress the concepts of authority and submission as they relate to the marriage bed.
But we cannot make gravity disappear just because we dislike it, and in the same way we find that our banished authority and submission comes back to us in pathological forms. This is what lies behind sexual “bondage and submission games,” along with very common rape fantasies. Men dream of being rapists, and women find themselves wistfully reading novels in which someone ravishes the “soon to be made willing” heroine. Those who deny they have any need for water at all will soon find themselves lusting after polluted water, but water nonetheless.
True authority and true submission are therefore an erotic necessity. When authority is honored according to the word of God it serves and protects — and gives enormous pleasure. When it is denied, the result is not “no authority,” but an authority which devours." [Emphasis mine]
Actually I'm not, because shortly after Jared hit the "publish" button, bloggers from all over theological spectrum called out Jared Wilson and The Gospel Coalition: Rachel Held Evans, Scot McKnight, Sarah Moon, and George Elerick, to name a few. Both Jared Wilson and Doug Wilson fired back and said they were definitely NOT condoning rape and abuse. And I'm sure neither one of the Wilsons meant to sound like they were.
But this whole debacle does bring up the underlying problem I see with the Neo-Reformed movement: a dominating God.
According to Calvinism (or at least the type of Calvinism as preached by John Piper and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named), God has predetermined every single thing that happens in this life, including whether or not you're going to be a Christian. God has also set up a detailed structure for how human beings should relate to one another, which includes strict gender roles that no one should dare defy. And in this strict gender role system, men are always the alpha male while women are always the submissive subordinate. So in Calvinism, human relationships reflect God's nature, which, in this case, is dominating.
Of course, if you try to point this out to a Calvinist, he or she will usually flip open their ESV Bible and say, "God said it, I believe it, that settles it!" For the Calvinist, all 66 books of the Bible are literally the divinely dictated inerrant Word of God. Which, as most educated biblical scholars can tell you, is just simply not true. The Bible is a collection of books written over thousands of years by many different (human) authors trying to make sense of these incredible encounters they've had with God. Sometimes they get it right, and sometimes they don't. (For more information, see chapter seven of Leslie D. Weatherhead's The Christian Agnostic.)
But if you do what Tripp and Bo at Homebrewed Christianity suggest, and read the bop-bibbity-bop-Bible (a phrase I shameless stole from Tripp) using Jesus, the Living Word of God, as the hermaneutical lens, then things look quite different. For example, as I mention once before, a closer look at the Pauline gender rolls in Ephesians chapter 5 will reveal that Paul is actually calling for mutual submission between husbands and wives.
Now I'm not saying that Calvinist hermanuetics automatically lead to sexual abuse. That's taking things a bit too far! But I do believe that if you worship a dominating God, then you're gonna end up with some pretty unhealthy views on human relationships. I'm just sayin'!
*UPDATE 07/23/12: Jared Wilson has since apologized.