Doug Wilson is totally sticking by his decision to preside over the marriage of a pedophile who had made no secret of the fact that he wanted children. Wilson states that “when Boz Tchividjian is barely introduced to the subject, and then pops off with this, ‘Wilson’s unwillingness to acknowledge his ignorance about child offenders makes Christ Church an unsafe place,’ one doesn’t know where one should look exactly. Boz doesn’t have an earthly about what I know or don’t know, counseled or did not counsel, said or did not say, and this means that he wants to protect your church from such offenders using his amazing gifts of clairvoyance.”
But Wilson’s ignorance is obvious even in this statement. What Tchividjian and those like him are worried about is precisely that Wilson, in his own words, thinks that “[t]he wedding between Steven and Katie was a lawful wedding. There were no biblical grounds to prohibit it. When there are grounds to refuse, a minister should refuse. I would refuse to do a wedding if one of the parties was unlawfully divorced, for example.” In Wilson’s eyes, the fact that a convicted, repeat pedophile is getting married at least in part to produce offspring is not a “biblical reason” to object to the wedding. But, you know, performing the marriage of a divorcee who ran out on her husband because he was emotionally abusive: totes not biblical, and not something he would do.
People’s objection to this, no matter what Wilson may think, has nothing to do with Wilson himself. Just to test this theory, I commented to someone who had never heard of Wilson or this situation, “there’s this pastor who performed the wedding of a convicted pedophile who had said he wanted kids.” That’s literally all it took for the person to be outraged. “And he knew he was a pedophile?”
Put this in a different context: a Catholic priest who’s been caught molesting children red-handed. After multiple instances, he goes to jail for 20 months and claims he’s cured, because he’s “repented.” He can’t be a priest anymore, so he’s going to get married and have kids. Never mind that the state won’t let him hang out with any kids without a watching chaperone. Never mind that he’s struggled with sexual attraction to minors his whole life. Never mind that it took some serious pressure to get him to admit that raping kids was wrong. Never mind that he reoffended after admitting this.
Does facilitating his marriage to a sheltered Catholic girl, and therefore giving implicit endorsement of his clearly-stated desire to have kids in the marriage, seem like a good idea? Does it seem like the right thing to do? For the Catholic girl or for the future kids?
Wilson’s ignorance also lies in the fact that he claims getting married “helps against immorality” in the context of pedophilia. Pedophiles are sexually attracted to minors, by definition. Although they may be able to have sex with adults, having sex with people above the age of 18 does not cure them of this attraction. At least some pedophiles recognize that this attraction is abhorrent, and do not act on these urges. But, like recovering alcoholics, they have to stay away from temptation as much as possible. If Steven Sitler had stayed away from temptation, he would not now be facing the breaking up of his family over him being “sexually stimulated” by his infant son. If Wilson had recognized that 1 Cor. 7:2 isn’t just something you slap on a situation in the hope that it might cure pedophilia, the family might not be on the verge of breaking up either.
Here we come to another problem, by the way: Wilson, by his own assertion, wasn’t even convinced marriage would cure Sitler of pedophilia. But that didn’t stop him from performing the marriage either.
But none of this is even the biggest problem with Wilson’s most recent blog post. The biggest problem lies in this passage:
“Relationship meltdowns can be very messy, and sin can leave a big smoking crater, and the same thing is true when a family blows apart. If I were in the middle of one such situation, and one participant in it comes out years later to ‘tell the story,’ I am not in a position to set the record straight if the cost of defending myself is to volunteer information about other people involved in the meltdown. A shepherd doesn’t use the sheep to shield himself from wolves. It is supposed to go the other way…
“I am not giving hints about any particulars. But I do say that in both the Steven Sitler situation and the Jamin Wight situation, the principle outlined above is extremely relevant.”
Translation: the injured people who are “telling the story” (notice the scare quotes) about Steven Sitler and Jamin Wight are the ones labeled “wolves.” Let that sink in. Read the passage it in its original context if you doubt the translation.
And if you still don’t believe this translation, check out this screen capture of Wilson accusing someone (?) of lying about something (?) in the Jamin Wight case. Wight was a “skunk,” but… somebody’s still lying.
Let’s be clear: Jamin Wight was convicted of having sex with a then-14-year-old/15-year-old. Years later, long after he had been reinstated as a repentant member of Christ Church/Trinity society, he was found to have strangled his then- (now ex-) wife. These are matters of public record. And yet Wilson has the gall to assert that the Jamin Wight case, “telling the story” after the fact isn’t legitimate, and he’s certainly not going to answer any questions about it. Because “protecting the sheep.”
Here’s one question that Wilson can answer that absolutely does not conflict with pastoral counseling confidentiality: Doug Wilson, did you, in fact, tell the victim of Wight’s sexual abuse that she needed to repent of her “sexual sin” with Wight? She has publicly stated that you did. Furthermore, she has said that after she left your church (still a teenager at this point, and hurt on multiple levels), you told her she could not partake in communion until she came in and explained herself to you/your elders. Unsurprisingly, none of this inspired her to return to your church.
This is a yes or no question that does not involve anyone but her and you. Yes, you did tell her she needed to repent from being statutorily raped by a serial abuser, or no, you didn’t tell her this.
And, while we’re at it, was this wrong or right of you?
I know that there are people in the Christ Church/Trinity community who, particularly in retrospect, are horrified by how the Jamin Wight case went down, and who do see their past involvement as implying “support” of Wight. It saddens me that they have been silent, and I can only assume it’s because of Wilson’s shady rhetorical tactics and backhanded control moves (e.g. if you “tell the story” you’re a wolf, and the sheep must be protected from you by the pastorly knight in shining armor).
Church communities where victims are told to repent and stay silent, and where abusers are allowed to flourish in the name of Christian forgiveness, are not safe places. At least not when the leaders are justifying their behavior and refusing to apologize/admit fault for the way things were handled. Because I know and love a lot of kids in the Christ Church/Trinity community, this is deeply personal for me. History repeats itself, and this pattern will repeat itself if nothing is done to change it.