Case 1) Rape Ontology: “Penetrate, Conquer, and Colonize; Receive, Surrender, Accept”
ontology: 1: a particular theory about the nature of being or the kinds of things that have existence 2: of relating to essence or the nature of being
self-justification: a self-centered attitude by which people defend their actions and beliefs without reference to G-d. Scripture insists that the confidence and ultimate justification of believers lie with G-d, and condemns those who look elsewhere for these (source: Bible Gateway).
rite: a religious or other solemn ceremony or act 2: a body of customary observances characteristic of a church or part of it.
Valiant defender of complementation theology, Jared Wilson of the “Gospel Coalition,” once articulated a gender theology that reflects his strictly Reformed ontological commitments by making one of the boldest public statements about gender relations on record from a Christian figurehead (summer 2012). He wrote:
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…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.
What Wilson has done here is astonishing. He has set before his readers a theology for gender relations that suggests our very ontological identity as created beings of gender is one that suggests we are created in the image of a power structure between human beings and G-d; therefore, such a hierarchy (one where “true authority” meets “true submission) is to be reflected and sustained in the relationship between male and female. Therefore, anything other than obedience to this strictly hierarchic ontology would be falling into the traps of a gender “pleasuring party.” Wilson makes it clear: For a woman not to “submit, receive, accept” man and for a man not to “penetrate, conquer, colonize, and plant” woman is the basis for people of gender falling into a self-fulfilling religion. Therefore, for Wilson (and his metaphor that is quite obviously overrun with sexualized undertones), this is the basis for how people of gender fall into the trap of self-justification (the religious belief that your works are sufficient before the righteousness of G-d). While I would say that such a theological statement is initially true and substantiated in Scripture (disobedience to the Creator amounts to self-justification), it is the relational values of this ontology that substantiate the gender relations of Creation that are what I have seen to be the basis for “rape ontology;” because the message is clear: to deny the authority of the divinely designed gender hierarchy is to self-justify oneself before the Creator and asserting rather, “I’m doing it my own way!” To disrespect the ontological gender hierarchy is, therefore, sinning against G-d as Creator.
Let me encourage you to regard such a thing as nothing more than the theological undergirds of gnosticism and spiritual abuse; because what Wilson does not realize is that he has done precisely the opposite of what he is intending to escape (self-justification). What he has clearly done is created an ontological framework that is fertile for establishing a cult of male self-justification that has been scandalously veiled by ontological notions of “divine authority.” Such a thing, therein, finds its telos in sexual intercourse (man “penetrates” and woman “accepts”) thus making it the theological basis for creating human life and sustaining human flourishing.
Thus, according to Wilson, if a woman does not accept the ontological rite of her husband to conquer her (if she does not “submit, receive, and accept”), she has made of herself an idolatrous rogue fighting against her very purpose in the Created Order as per G-d’s intended purposes for gender relations. Likewise, if a man does not form his life with the ontological philosophy of “penetrate, conquer, and colonize,” he is certainly not a man of G-d and is, thereby, sinning against the Creator as he has plainly transgressed obedience to the Creator by failing to claim his primacy and relative rite to rule over woman. From here, the “erotic necessity” of human reproduction fails to find concrete expression because neither have lived up to G-d’s design for creation.
As I have wrestled with this sort of theology, I have come to the belief that this is precisely the theological pasture of gnosticism for which the seed of “rape ontology” is sown; because it is by the divine decree of the Creator that a man has primacy over his wife and, thus, the wife must accept this rule just as the man accepts primacy over himself from G-d (being “penetrated” by G-d so to speak). And so, as a theological consequence, man is the divine witness of G-d (and His rite to power) to woman by embodying a gender relation that gives man primacy over woman. Therefore, if one were to flesh this out in terms of relational ethics for every day living, man has clearly been granted a special place of privilege over woman; therefore, at every juncture of gender relations, female obedience to the divine rite of male primacy is normative for living faithfully into the ontological narrative of Scripture.
And so, as we are beginning to see, the term “rape” is quite appropriate here when describing this sort of thing. G-d decrees the power structure; therefore, it is her position not to question the power structure at all but to accept it, receive it, submit to it, and ultimately find her way through a life of faith that never questions her role to submit, never questions the character inherent to divinized notions of hierarchical primacy, but simply that her submissive role is inevitable, divinely ordained, inherent to the call of her gender, and, therefore, must never form any relation of discord with man. G-d has righteously given man the privilege of “penetration, conquering, and colonizing” her that foils her privilege to submit to all such things.
This understanding of the Created Order clearly has the workings of a “rape” mentality inherent to it. Man can count on the religious rite of her submission and she has the religious rite of being ruled; just like every vile rapist and pagan sodomist who has ever lived might suggest. “It is my rite, ordained by the divine, to have primacy over you and it is your religious rite to submit to such primacy. This is the divine will. Submit or disobey the gods!”
However, when we are faced with Scripture, we will see this is the classic move pagans have made for millenia when they misuse, misappropriate, abuse, and ultimately gnosticize theological language to justify their religious rite to power and primacy. Thus, what Wilson has done is nothing more than reinterpreted a classically pagan ontological framework for underwriting the “rite of rule” for an imperial religion/cult. However, rather than form it in the image of Caesar or Pharaoh, he has scandalously formed it in the image of a self-fulfilling religion of male supremacy.
Thus, as we have seen, the ontology of Jared Wilson (something very common in the Christian Church) is clearly ripe for birthing the dangerous religion of sadists who hide and sedate their outward expressions of lustful behavior with the justification of ontological notions of male privilege and female “submission.” This protects them from repenting of the villainous ivory tower incumbent to their idealism that has ultimately created a gender relation that amounts to nothing more than the vile civil religion of an imperialistic male cult.
To be fair, I do not think Jared Wilson is a rapist. I do not even think he would ever advocate for such an action. However, it is quite clear to me that his use of ontological language is overrun with rape thinking. Such thinking veils him from considering the truth that the ontology of his “gospel” propels Christian men in an ethical direction where they must never go through the pains of mercy necessary to be reconciled to their sisters. They would rather dismiss all such feminist heresy to protect the self-idolatry of the many Christian men who cop out of such costly work; because such repentance might require he admit that the male imperial cult of Western Christianity is just as much of a sadistically idolatrous, gnostic crime against humanity when lived out by Christian men as it was when lived out in eerily similar fashion by the cult of Rome who ultimately slew our Messiah in the blind spot of their own imperial cult and self-justification.
In my next letter, we will take a look into where Scripture challenges rape ontology. We will then hopefully arrive in a place where we may more faithfully strive for relational holiness; a place where we no longer have to hide the historic male lust for power with faux notions of justification.