Last week a young pastor named Jared C. Wilson authored a blog post in which he meant to bring criticism against the very popular and vulgar book, 50 Shades of Grey. In this post Jared utilizes an excerpt from Douglas Wilson’s (no relation, I think) very good book Fidelity.

This excerpt was originally from Doug Wilson’s (henceforth, Doug) section of the book which dealt with the idea of rape. One of Doug’s purposes in this section was to show the juxtaposition of the way men sinfully misuse their God-given attributes of strength, power, authority, etc. and pervert these attributes to harm and shame women. This is what rape is. It is the taking of God’s good gifts of sex, strength, authority, etc. and perverting them into something grotesque, which we call rape. It is a sin. It is an abomination to God. It is unacceptable.

Now, to me, who has read Doug’s very good book, the meaning of Jared’s post and Doug’s original excerpt combined to bring criticism against 50 Shades of Grey was very clear.

But the blogosphere did not think so. They’ve not read Doug’s book. They don’t understand the way in which he utilizes the terms in the particular excerpt in question (terms like penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants) and, I think for many, they actually refuse to understand. They are trying very hard to obfuscate and mislead. What do I mean? Let me draw an analogy.

The Apostle Paul wrote some very interesting and provocative things in his epistles. Many people approach these sections of Paul’s writings with an attitude of humility, intending earnestly to discover the meaning that the author originally intended. These people are to be commended. And I think that if Paul were here to explain himself, to tell us what he meant by some of these oft times confusing passages, we would accept his explanation, thank him for it and move on. At least I think most of us would.

But, what if the Apostle showed up, sat us down to read through…oh let’s say the book of 1st Corinthians with him, explained everything he wrote, clarifying where we have misunderstood him, and then we, in our absolute arrogance and self-importance, refused to accept his explanation and instead insisted that we knew better than he, and that if he really wanted to say “thus-and-such”, he would have said it “in this way” and “with these words”; in ways that we, the arrogant and self-important readers, all would understand, and that because of the confusion we have been through, he should retract what he said, and how he said it, and if he didn’t, then he was guilty of some sort of insensitivity and condescension. Ludicrous, right? Paul wrote what he wrote. It’s our problem, now two thousand years removed, to figure out what he meant.

But this is exactly the situation that has happened to Jared. Both Jared and Doug have taken the time to clearly explain in follow up comments and posts what they actually meant. And though they have done this, there is a certain group of readers which refuse to accept the clarification. Now, who do you think is being uncharitable?

Writers get misperceived all the time. Even the President of the United States has to clarify, almost on a daily basis, comments he has made and things he has written. It happens to the best. Most decent people accept the clarification, thank him for it and move on. But there exists a certain segment of the population who are either so extremist, or who are so easily given to drama and hyperbole, that they refuse the explanation. This is sad.

It is particularly sad in this case because both Wilsons (again, no relation, I think) are good, Godly men who shepherd their flocks well. Both men are quick-witted, controversial, and skilled with words, so they are able to quickly and deftly wake up the reader’s senses and draw out points of view that many of us may simply have not considered. Such is the case with the post in question.

It is also sad because the people bringing the most ridiculous of the accusations and harshest judgments are supposedly Christians.
The Wilsons have done their part to explain. Can we thank them, and move on please?