Doug Wilson on marriage

Doug Wilson, and his fans, are pretty busy telling everyone that the courts allowed Steven Sitler to get married, so Wilson himself is blameless if said marriage produces abuse or “sexual stimulation” involving an infant, even though Wilson officiated the wedding of this couple, both of whom attended his church. Presumably, Sitler was also under Wilson’s counseling during this time, as he had been prior to this.

The recording of a court hearing 10 days before Silter’s wedding doesn’t totally match up with this line of reasoning, though. The recording indicates that there was “concern” from the Department of Corrections about the marriage (31 minute mark). Sitler’s parole officer states that “we discussed that children and family were core and central to his [Sitler’s] religion,” and that once Sitler’s fiancée/wife was finished with college, “they were going to start trying to have a family at that point.” The concern about children was “because Mr. Sitler has been diagnosed as a pedophile.” As such, “he wouldn’t be allowed to have unrestricted access to his children. He wouldn’t be allowed to live with his children.” Thus — no brainer — the Idaho Department of Corrections did not support the marriage.

The judge ultimately “approved” the wedding. However, the courts don’t have a ton of power to prevent of-age couples getting married. Felons get married, all kids of people get married; nobody even blinks. There’s not much precedent for blocking the weddings of pedophiles, to the point that I have been unable to find a single instance of this happening. The most courts can do is intervene once a pedophile has kids and is discovered (no surprise) being “sexually stimulated” by them. This doesn’t stop experts from advising women not to marry sex offenders, whatever the sex offenders claim actually happened.

So the courts really didn’t decide much in Sitler’s particular case. However, according to Doug Wilson, churches should be at the forefront of “reforming marriage,” and Wilson not only should have known that Silter’s religious beliefs included children as part of marriage, but Wilson should have realized he was actively encouraging this. Wilson explicitly defines marriage around “openness” to children. Wilson states here that “capacity for procreation is essential to marriage. It is not essential for a marriage to occur or to exist, but openness to children is an essential part of the definition of marriage.”

Doug Wilson either 1. did not bother to ask if Sitler planned to have kids or 2. decided it was fine that Sitler wanted kids, or at least fine enough that Wilson was cool performing the actual marriage ceremony. Either option shows a complete and utter disregard for Sitler’s future children, who, best-case scenario, would never be allowed to give their dad a hug without a chaperone eying his crotch. And I can’t imagine encouraging (implicitly or explicitly) a woman to marry into this situation either. Wilson claims that the gospel orders him to forgive people if those people are “repentant” — but forgiveness doesn’t mean you agree to marry the dude to a sheltered 23-year-old who said yes to a second-date proposal, and you agree that convicted pedophiles should have access to the ovaries of fertile women. Also, let’s get real: no truly repentant pedophile who’s just molested a string of children wants to have kids himself. While we’re on the subject: Wilson has a terrible track record deciding who’s repentant and who’s faking (Jamin Wight, anyone?)

Wilson is not being inconsistent, however, because he routinely encourages marriages that might give sane people pause. Why? Because, in Wilson’s view, marriage encourages sanctification. He learned this from his father, the same man who encouraged my ex-husband to find someone to marry essentially the moment my ex became “a Christian,” never mind the fact that my ex was busy running around breaking all the rules of Christian courtship with multiple women. Fast forward to a month past our divorce, after some seriously weird crap had gone down: Doug Wilson was telling my ex that he would officiate his wedding to a Christ Church woman. And, well, Wilson was sure the reason our marriage hadn’t gone well was because my ex wasn’t a good enough leader (I have this on record). Never mind all that other weird stuff, which, yes, Wilson was fully aware of. Gender roles: the answer to all of life’s persistent questions!

If I had to summarize all of the talks I’ve heard Wilson give, all of the books on the subject he’s written, and all of the private emails I’ve perused, I’d say Wilson believes that marriage cures sexual sin. As well as many other types of sin. Wilson will defend this position come hell or high water, using Bible verses, veiled accusations (I see what you post on Facebook! You’re doing it because you’re bitter!), and the kind of humor that allows him to get a kick out of people worried about child molestation. But he will never, never apologize for putting children at risk. That just doesn’t jive with his image.

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14 thoughts on “Doug Wilson on marriage

  1. How other Christian leaders can tout Mr. Wilson as someone to listen to is beyond me. He repeatedly shows a lack of ability or inclination to act in a truly pastoral fashion.

  2. In all of this fall out, I have never once read one word of apology from Doug Wilson. A simple truth (and litmus test) of Christianity is owning your part of anything.

    1. Exactly. I’ve never heard or read a single word of apology from Wilson on any subject, ever. Nor have any of the many, many injured people who came out of his community that I’m in contact with. Wilson is defensive, cutting and arrogant in this situation as in all others, and it’s not a situation that remotely calls for that kind of behavior.

  3. “Why? Because, in Wilson’s view, marriage encourages sanctification. He learned this from his father”

    Actually, it’s in the Bible. You might want to check it out sometime.

    1. Where in the Bible does it say that people should get married if they want to become better Christians? Even if their spouses are pedophiles? Or serial liars? Or even if you’re a pedophile? Or a serial liar?

      1. 1 Cor 7. If you are dealing with sexual temptation, one obvious way to potentially help yourself is to get married and thus find an outlet for your sexual needs.

      2. If you are sexually attracted to children, or those of the same sex, marriage won’t really cure your “burning with passion.” Also, it really sucks (and actually contributes to the unsatisfied “burning with passion”) to be the one married to the person who’s not into your gender/age. Ask me how I know.

    2. @darius t

      1 Cor 7. If you are dealing with sexual temptation, one obvious way to potentially help yourself is to get married and thus find an outlet for your sexual needs.

      How on earth would being married, satisfy, or replace the urge to have sex with children? He is attracted to children. He should not have gone looking to a woman, or to marriage, for that matter, to be cured of this.

  4. “Also, it really sucks (and actually contributes to the unsatisfied ‘burning with passion’) to be the one married to the person who’s not into your gender/age. Ask me how I know.”

    Excellent piece. And I’ll bite: How do you know?

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