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Scandal in Moscow

The last thing I read about the controversial Reformed pastor Doug Wilson, he was making a case for why Christian women are prettier than non-believing females [1]. Excerpt from that:

Unbelieving women either compete for the attention of men through outlandish messages that communicate some variation of “easy lay,” or in the grip of resentment they give up the endeavor entirely, which is how we get lumberjack dykes. The former is an avid reader of Cosmopolitan and thinks she knows 15K ways to please a man in bed. The latter is just plain surly about the fact that there even are any men.

So there’s that. It’s apparently a rhetorical tic among the Moscow, Idaho, bunch; longtime readers will recall a younger pastor associated with Wilson’s church claiming that Protestants who convert to Catholicism or Orthodoxy are the spiritual equivalent of perverts who masturbate to pornography. [2] He calls himself “one of those grenade launching Protestants.” Um, yeah.

This morning, though, a reader brings to my attention a situation in the Moscow circle that is far worse than any culture-war sniping and snarking.

Earlier this month, a convicted sex offender named Stephen Sitler was prohibited by a judge from having contact with his infant son without a chaperone other than his wife p [3]resent — this, after he was discovered being sexually stimulated by such contact. Sitler was convicted in 2005 of child molestation; he molested several children in a family

Sitler eventually pled guilty to only one count of lewd conduct with a child under 16. Despite allegations that Sitler had molested other children, none of the other families would cooperate with investigators. [4]

Doug Wilson wrote to the judge asking for leniency [5], and expressing his hope that Sitler could one day be rehabilitated and become a productive member of society. Sitler was sentenced to life in prison, but released on probabation in 2007 after 20 months behind bars. Six weeks later, he was caught in an act of voyeurism, and confessed to masturbating while peering into a neighbor’s window. [6] In 2010, an elder at Doug Wilson’s church and his family set up a meeting between Katie Travis, a young woman at New St. Andrews college in Moscow, and Sitler; Sitler describes it all on the website announcing his and Katie’s 2011 wedding. [7]

Doug Wilson married them in his church in 2011 [8] — this, knowing that Sitler was a pedophile.

The Sitlers had a baby boy, and as of this month, Steven Sitler is not allowed to be with his son because a court has reason to believe that he is sexually stimulated by the presence of the baby. You can well imagine the ruckus this has caused in and around the Christ Church (Doug Wilson’s church) community. Wilson defends his actions forcefully in this September 5 “open letter” on his blog. [9]Excerpt:

Seventh, in the latest round of accusations, much has been made of the fact that Christ Church approved of Steven’s wedding to Katie through the fact that I officiated at the wedding. First, it should be noted that in our community, weddings are not arranged or determined by the church. Katie and her family had all the facts when she agreed to marry Steven, which was important, but the decision to marry was the couple’s decision, not ours. That said, I officiated at the wedding and was glad to do so. While we do not believe that marriage is an automatic “fix” for the temptations to molest children, we agree with Judge Stegner who approved the wedding and said that ‘an age-appropriate relationship with a member of the opposite sex from Mr. Sitler is one of the best things that can happen to him and to society” (emphasis added). Moreover, if everything is on the table, we do not believe the church has the authority to prohibit or “not allow” a lawful marriage.

Really? The church has no authority to prohibit a lawful marriage? I suppose same-sex couples in Idaho can show up at Christ Church and expect Pastor Wilson to marry them, then. This, and the claim that the church can’t withhold marriage from anybody, as long as both parties know what they’re getting into, is a pretty shameless example of passing the buck for a disaster. Wilson subsequently praised himself for the way he’s conducted himself in this matter [10], saying that persecution is a sign of his righteousness, and sneering that his wife celebrated the criticism coming their way by buying him a bottle of single-malt Scotch. He also said those complaining about him are “bitter” and are the kind of nasty people who would turn sinners away from church. But that’s misdirection. It doesn’t seem to me that the objection is that Wilson welcomes a child molester into his congregation (as long as he tells the congregation what’s going on), but that he blessed the courtship and marriage of a convicted pedophile to a young woman in his church, knowing that they intended to have children.

The state is investigating whether or not the baby boy born to the pedophile and the woman that Wilson married has been molested by his father … and Doug Wilson thinks this is a matter to be laughed at, while raising a glass of Scotch to spite the critics? That is insane.

This is not the first time this has happened in the Wilson circle. Homeschoolers Anonymous has an account of the case of Jamin Wight [11], a convicted child molester who began a sexual affair with a 13-year-old girl when he was 23. Libby Anne at Patheos has more. [12] At the time of the abuse, the Greenfield family (Natalie Rose Greenfield was the victim; she has come out as Wight’s victim) were members of Wilson’s church, and Wight was a parishioner at affiliated Trinity Reformed, pastored by Peter Leithart. In 2005, after it all came to light, Wilson wrote to Gary Greenfield, the father of the abused girl, saying his irresponsible conduct in the situation (the Greenfields allowed Wight to live in their house, even after he said he was interested in courting their underage daughter) left the Christ Church elders “just as distressed” as they were by Wight’s abuse of the girl. You can read the entire letter here, in the original. [13] Leithart and Wilson appeared in court alongside Wight at his sentencing; the victim of Wight’s crime was unaccompanied by either pastor.

 

On September 15, Peter Leithart, who was the pastor of Jamin Wright at the time, publicly apologized to the abuse victim and her family [14]for his pastoral failures during that crisis. He said, in part:

It is clear now that I made major errors of judgment. Fundamentally, I misjudged Jamin, badly. I thought he was a godly young man who had fallen into sin. That was wrong. In the course of trying to pastor Jamin through other crises in his life, I came to realize that he is deceptive and highly manipulative, and that I allowed him to manipulate me. A number of the things I said about Jamin to the congregation and court at the time his abuse was uncovered were spun in Jamin’s favor; I am ashamed to realize that I used Jamin’s talking points. Though I never doubted that Jamin was guilty, I trusted his account of the circumstances more readily and longer than I should have, and conversely I disbelieved the victim’s parents (to the best of my recollection, I had no direct contact with the victim, who was a member of Christ Church). I should have seen through Jamin, and didn’t.

As a result, I didn’t appreciate how much damage Jamin did and I was naive about the effect that the abuse had on the victim’s family. I recently asked her and her parents to forgive my pastoral failures, which they have done.

That was the Christian thing to do. But I guess that means no celebratory Scotch for Leithart.

Nine days ago, Natalie Rose Greenfield posted an image of a letter on Christ Church stationery that Doug Wilson wrote to the case officer in 2005 [15], saying that yes, Jamin Wight sinned, but the Greenfields were foolish parents. Natalie Rose Greenfield comments:

I feel the need to rehash this particular line that Doug typed: “I do not believe that this in any way paints Jamin as a sexual predator.” Not a sexual predator? Forgive me if I’m beating a dead horse or being too loud about an uncomfortable topic, but Jamin is most certainly a sexual predator. Let me describe a scene to you, one scene of many, many more just like it. [Emphasis in the original — RD]

All of this gets to me in part because of my well-known history of dealing with the sexual abuse of children and minors within the Roman Catholic Church. Very little makes me angrier than seeing church authorities (and congregations) mistreat victims and then try to blame others for their failures. This one is particularly troubling to me, personally, because despite Doug Wilson’s (and Toby Sumpter’s) reputation for “grenade-throwing,” their Moscow, Idaho, community was on my short list of places I was considering profiling as a Reformed example of the Benedict Option. The way that community handled the sexual abuse of minors within it, and the way Doug Wilson, who knowingly married a young woman to a convicted pedophile, is proudly trashing his critics, and refusing to admit error in any respect, is deeply discouraging, to put it in the mildest possible terms.

I don’t think Ben Op communities are any more susceptible to harboring child molesters than any community, secular or otherwise. We know all too well that communities of all kinds have a tendency to scapegoat those that threaten its beliefs about itself — and sexual predators take advantage of that trust. You find it in Catholic churches, Orthodox churches, Protestant churches, public schools, Scout troops, all over. Still, this Moscow mess is a very good reminder that the problem of authority and accountability is one that has to be forthrightly addressed and attended to by any Benedict Option community, whether its an intentional community, a school, a church, or what have you.

How did anybody in Christ Church [16]think it was a good idea to encourage and enable a young woman in their community to marry a convicted pedophile? I cannot comprehend it. And I cannot comprehend the apparent unwillingness of the congregation to hold themselves and their pastor accountable for this catastrophe that has befallen the Sitler wife and child. Maybe someone from within that community can explain it in the comments section of this blog. From the outside, it does not testify to the integrity and spiritual health of that community. I could be wrong.

UPDATE: Doug Wilson responds this morning to this blog entry. [17]He writes:

I also wrote Rod to see if he were interested in any private communication. I haven’t heard back there either. For someone in his position, I believe that he should be heartily ashamed of himself. This was really bad.

I have received no e-mail from Doug Wilson, neither at my TAC address, nor at my private address. Just so you know.

Second, who is Doug Wilson, of all people, to get mad at others on the Internet for not doing “due diligence” and fact-checking before writing about something? I filled my post with links to primary documents from the court record (including letters signed by Wilson), media reports, and statements on the matter from Wilson himself. For the sake of brevity in an already long post, I linked to a summary of the Jamin Wight case by a group called Homeschoolers Anonymous. I trust my readers to examine all of these links and judge for themselves.

Wilson’s strategy, and those of some of his vocal supporters, is very familiar in the story of how religious figures and institutions handle sexual abuse: blame those who draw critical attention to him and his actions, get legalistic with Bible quotes in an attempt to get critics to be silent, question their motives, suggest implausible conspiracies, or flat-out say that the critics hate God.

Doug Wilson believes he has adequately answered the criticism of him in the Sitler [18]case; I disagree, and I’m not the only one. He apparently thinks that nobody should object to him being a smart-ass, e.g., this remark in his long, bird-flipping to those who criticize his actions in the Sitler case: [19]

6. This kind of controversy gives fuller meaning to the communion of opprobrium that faithful ministers of every age share. Jesus says that we are to rejoice when people revile us, in part because of the company it puts us in.

“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matt. 5:11–12 [20] [21]).

And Jesus doesn’t say we are to be a little bit glad. He says exceeding glad. He says that we are to go around the corner, get out of their sight, and do a little jig. In this case, Nancy — a Puritan jewel — celebrated by buying me a nice bottle of Laphroaig.

We are talking about an instance in which he presided over the wedding of a convicted pedophile to a young woman, in full knowledge of this man’s crimes. And now the state of Idaho has opened an investigation into the Sitler family [22], and a judge has decreed that it is too dangerous for Sitler to be alone in a room with his own baby son.

Given all we know about pedophilia and pedophiles, and given that this wedding didn’t take place in the distant past, but in 2011, Wilson has a lot more to answer for than he thinks. Being cute on the Internet is not going to make the questions go away.

UPDATE.2: I’ve been traveling most of today and been unable to address this mounting controversy. Turns out Doug Wilson did write me this morning, but he used an old email address that’s inoperative. I’ve offered to post anything he sends me in response to this post as a stand-alone blog entry.

Lots of email from people in and around Moscow, Idaho, alleging that the anonymous websites I link to above as sources for these documents are run by bad people, and that I shouldn’t link to them. I have no idea who runs these sites, and nobody put me up to anything. A reader who is in no way connected to Moscow or that community flagged me, saying there’s a controversy I should pay attention to. That’s why I started poking around. The information should be judged on its quality, not its source. I tried to link only to court documents, news reports, and things like that. More on this later…

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144 Comments (Open | Close)

144 Comments To "Scandal in Moscow"

#1 Comment By Irenist On September 30, 2015 @ 3:23 pm

Oh, Mr. Wilson?

If people are mocking your perpetual motion machine, you might be the next Galileo. Or you might just be a crackpot.

If people are reviling you for recklessly endangering a child, you might be a martyr. Or you might just have been reckless.

#2 Comment By Wagon On September 30, 2015 @ 3:23 pm

Rod, please do those of us in the Confessional Reformed tradition a favor and look somewhere other than Moscow for your book. Reach out to Carl Trueman, professor of church history at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, and a writer at First Things, for some direction/discussion. Mike Horton and Kim Riddlebarger at Westminster seminary in Escondido, CA would also be good sources. It just makes me sick to my stomach to think that the only representation that our tradition will have in your book is from the reconstructionist branch of the family tree… Moscow might be a good cautionary example, but it is not representative of Confessional Reformed theology.

#3 Comment By Eric On September 30, 2015 @ 3:26 pm

I continue to be discouraged by the “arm-chair quarterbacking” of serious issues such as this from behind the comfortable glow of the laptop screen. This blog post and many of its commenters represent a much more serious concern to me than the actual issue at hand (as serious as that is). All I see from those who are attacking Doug Wilson, are excuses like “Well if Doug Wilson wants to write provocative things for all the public to see, then we have every write to attack and slander him in public….” And since “provocative” likely equates to “sinful” or wrong with many of this blog’s readers, the commenters shout “let him have it!”
I’m not claiming that Wilson et al are handling everything just perfectly, but boy I sure would be arrogant to sit here and pontificate as though I had all the inside scoop. Its just downright irresponsible the way that many respected reformed scholars and pastors are responding to this issue.

#4 Comment By MBrown On September 30, 2015 @ 3:33 pm

@TA – As far as I know, everything you said is accurate.

Let me just say this: I can construe two generally plausible scenarios: one under which Wilson acted entirely appropriately and one under which Wilson was dangerously foolish. And none of us has the information required to discern between those two scenarios.

#5 Comment By LAK On September 30, 2015 @ 3:35 pm

Gay marriage may be considered “legal”, but it is not lawful. I hope one day you figure out the difference, since it will make a big difference in Benedict communities.

#6 Comment By MBrown On September 30, 2015 @ 3:43 pm

@Irenist – You are correct to say that imprudence can be culpable. I shouldn’t have dismissed that reality.

However, I’m not sure, and I don’t think any of us can be sure, that it did rise to that point in this case.

And the Manson analogy is faulty because it begs the question of whether imprudence in this case rises to the level of sinfulness.

#7 Comment By MBrown On September 30, 2015 @ 3:44 pm

An interesting sidenote here is that, IIRC, Wilson would advocate capital punishment for child rapists.

#8 Comment By Mr. Libertarian On September 30, 2015 @ 3:50 pm

As I have mentioned before, I am a torts lawyer, and sex assault cases are really, a core part of my practice. OK? I have seen a lot of these pedophiles and sex maniacs before, 90% of them I would say are not treatable, not even Jesus Christ can heal them, and certainly, they should not be married, and most certainly should not in be charge of kids, i.e. parents. I remember, one case I worked a long while back, involved sexual assault of a minor, and the defendant I was suing, was in prison, and he wrote me a letter once from prison saying, in effect, I should never be released from prison, prison is good for me, I dread ever being released from prison.
Now, a lot of people are saying well Doug Wilson had no choice. I’m not a pastor, but the way I would’ve handled it, is I would’ve gone to the guy and I would’ve said: Son, I heard you wanted to get married in this church and have kids in said marriage. Son, I think this is a really bad idea. For liability reasons, this church cannot do that. We won’t condone that. Son, you’re a pedophile and a convicted sex offender. What good do you possibly see coming from that? Son, God places challenges in everybody’s life. In your case, he gave you the challenge of pederasty and being a convicted sex offender, and a sex maniac. You have sinned. You need help. You are a sinner. You’ve let the Devil grab a hold of you in ways you never imagined. You’re so full of sin. The Lord sometimes presents us with challenges, doesn’t He? If you could grab the Lord’s hand for help you would, but He does these things all the time, these mysteries that he presents to us while we wait for his word.
And the word I’m getting from the Lord is that you should not get married. You should not get married and should not have kids. That’s what the Holy Spirit told me the other day. You should become celibate. Live as a monk in solitude and reflection and continue to go to therapy and take your medication. Take one for the Lord. Stay away from children. Stay away from the kiddies. Oh and by the way if you think that woman loves you just wait until I’m finished with her.
That’s what I would’ve done.
Now I’ve read all the documents and links that Rod Dreher has provided. His opponents were invited to provide their evidence and facts and did not do so as of this writing. I am now prepared to render judgment and my judgment is this: Dreher is entitled to summary judgment as there is no disputed issue of any material fact, and Dreher is entitled to win based on those facts. The opposition doesn’t have a leg to stand on. They’re washed up!
Folks, I’m telling you this is a belly flop. A face plant. A five spiral crash. A fail. These people, they have a saying in law: If you don’t have the facts, argue the law. If you don’t have the law, argue the facts. If you got neither, pound the lectern. And that’s what these people are doing. Pounding the lectern. These Wilson acolytes need to go back to Moscow, tell their master they failed to take down Dreher in the court of public opinion, and let him decide what punishment to mete out.

#9 Comment By Mr. Libertarian On September 30, 2015 @ 3:51 pm

@ Dana Ames

I completely agree. Mr. Dreher is clearly doing his homework and protecting his stellar reputation. He knows that the Benedict Option would be discredited if he held up as exemplars places that are viper’s nests. And he knows that unfortunately cloistered living can be a magnet for crackpots and sex fiends. You know, you could argue that Jonestown was a very early version of the Benedict Option, but it had some crack pots running it and you know what happened there.
So yeah, I think Dreher sees the wisdom in vetting these Benedict Option places before giving his readers a recommendation to move there.

#10 Comment By JESSE CONE On September 30, 2015 @ 4:44 pm

Doug Wilson’s post shows a blind spot. Wilson accuses Dreher of false witness via hastiness and lack of fact checking. Wilson is also hasty and lacks evidence of fact checking, opening himself up to also being guilty of false witness. Wilson’s evidence of Dreher’s sin? Two words: “This morning”. He does not actually know what Rod knew and when.

Moreover, this post does not address anything substantial to Doug Wilson or Moscow. It is the blogging equivalent of the timeless trick of little kids, “Pay no attention to my wrong-doing, his was wrong-er!”

#11 Comment By Thursday On September 30, 2015 @ 5:13 pm

I think it is entirely legitimate to criticize Wilson for marrying a pedophile with a history of acting on his desires, even if the girl and the family were fully informed. Any children from such a marriage would be exposed to an increased risk. That seems to me poor judgment.

That said, our host’s original post here also contains some pretty dubious stuff published very quickly. It would have been better to slow down, do some more investigation and contact Wilson for comment.

Second, who is Doug Wilson, of all people, to get mad at others on the Internet for not doing “due diligence” and fact-checking before writing about something?

I’m not sure “He did it too” is much of a defense.

#12 Comment By Thursday On September 30, 2015 @ 5:15 pm

What has, over the years, been bemusing to me is that Wilson repeatedly and willfully, even joyfully (and justifying it with his book “The Serrated Edge”) says or writes words that are deliberately controversial, and deliberately confrontational. And then when his words, some of which are downright inflammatory, are countered, he often in response, refers to those who criticize him as his “enemies”. Interesting choice of word to apply to those who dare differ with him.

Being controversial, even inflammatory, is not quite the same as making allegations about a specific individual.

#13 Comment By Tom Thistleton On September 30, 2015 @ 6:14 pm

Rod,

Your post includes a number of links and facts. I don’t have the time to check every one of them and it’s beside the point. As a journalist, you know that you can take one set of facts and tell many different stories, some wildly different from others. The issue is what’s included or excluded, how they’re positioned, the context provided, etc. This was not a “just the facts” piece. It was written to disparage Doug Wilson. Just be honest and don’t hide behind the “I’m just a journalist delivering the facts”.

Second, every leader, especially a Church leader knows that when you combine sin, sinners (including church leaders), and the actions of sinners, you get a complicated mess. In these kind of situations, every detail matters and one detail, played out a different way, can result in very different approaches to addressing a situation. For all I know, Doug Wilson might deserve all that’s being dumped on him. But that’s just it, I don’t know a lot about this situation and neither do you. And yet, you wrote this piece based on several hours of Internet research that was designed to drag Doug Wilson through the mud (along with the other people involved in this situation) without even making an attempt to understand any of the details.

I’m not defending Doug Wilson as if I know he’s right in this situation. I do know Doug and have learned a lot from him. But, he’s a sinner just like you and me. I am defending Doug though, from people 1,000 miles away doing a quick read of linked info on the Internet and then writing a piece to disparage him without any knowledge of the details of the particular situation. That happens all the time and it violates many basic Biblical commands like thinking the best of others, hearing both sides before deciding a matter, etc. and I expect better from you.

Tom

[NFR: “Designed to drag Doug Wilson through the mud.” You know this how? — RD]

#14 Comment By Tom On September 30, 2015 @ 7:21 pm

No one should really come out of this looking good, except Rod Dreher and Peter Leithart.
Fact One: Wilson was exercising pastoral diligence in seeing to it that Sitler had a church home, and was watched while there.
Fact Two: Wilson failed miserably in acceding to the marriage, and in his response to criticism.

Now, for the editorializing. This is not, as many of Wilson’s critics claim, some kind of evidence that Wilson is totally down with pedophilia. (Note: this is not Dreher’s tack.) What it is evidence of is the same sort of dogmatic naivete that characterizes his political philosophy, which he calls “theocratic libertarianism,” and his position on such matters as the Civil War.
It’s the strange idea that the moment you become a Christian all your messed-up brain wiring and patterns of thought get fixed automatically, and it doesn’t work that way, as he should know.

[NFR: For the record, I don’t for one second think that Wilson favors pedophilia. At all. I have no reason to believe that anything Wilson did broke the law. I am deeply dismayed at the pastoral negligence, and the atmosphere within the community that led many of them (not just Wilson) to set up a convicted pedophile with a young woman in the community, and to encourage them to marry — and then to defend the indefensible by attacking critics personally, and saying that ha! we’re drinking Scotch to celebrate having pissed all you Jesus-haters off! I mean, good grief, we are talking about allegations by the State of Idaho that Sitler exhibited sexual arousal around his baby boy, allegations so serious that a judge has forbidden Sitler to be in a room alone with his child. That’s no laughing matter. — RD]

#15 Comment By Thursday On September 30, 2015 @ 8:00 pm

I tried to link only to court documents, news reports, and things like that.

Rod, this is untrue. Libby Anne and Homeschoolers Anonymous are nothing of the sort.

It’s time to take a deep breath and sort this out over the next few days.

[NFR: You’re right, “only” was overstating it. “Mostly” is the right word. But I don’t see anything wrong with linking to critics who have made what I consider to be legitimate criticisms. — RD]

#16 Comment By Charles Cosimano On September 30, 2015 @ 8:34 pm

“1n that environment, you are right that she could say no. However, it takes a lot of internal strength and resolve to buck the trend and do so.”

Which is why the state should come in like a pack of hungry wolves and remove every child from that community. Not only would it save the urchins from such a future, but it would be a good message to send to any other such community. You want to keep your kids, keep a lid on that nonsense.

#17 Comment By AKindredSpirit On September 30, 2015 @ 9:44 pm

May God bless you for calling out Doug Wilson. He’s been flying under the radar far too long. God has said “enough is enough” to Bill Gothard, Doug Phillips, and many more like him. It amazes me that so many intelligent people are duped by Wilson. The Wilsonites in my neck of the woods are some of the most intelligent people I know. It’s really scary.

#18 Comment By Willis On September 30, 2015 @ 11:21 pm

“Lots of email from people in and around Moscow, Idaho, alleging that the anonymous websites I link to above as sources for these documents are run by bad people, and that I shouldn’t link to them. I have no idea who runs these sites……..I tried to link only to court documents, news reports, and things like that. More on this later…”

Those two statements do not go together. I think that everyone is quick to attack a fellow pastor. It may be that Doug Wilson did wrong, but why trash first and investigate later.

Further, if you think Wilson has a history of doing this himself, fine. Do two wrongs make a right?

#19 Comment By James On September 30, 2015 @ 11:26 pm

@Dave:

I’m speaking as someone who grew up in Christ Church, spent my early adult years in Christ Church, truly thought Doug Wilson was a great pastor, but was harshly disillusioned down the road. I notice many of the things you say as being the same thoughts I had over the years before I realized how blinded I was by Doug Wilson’s rhetoric. Here are a few quotes from your comments,

“There is no scandal in Moscow. There are some people, who hate God, who wish there to be scandals and they push at Wilson and Christ Church every chance they get.”

And this,

“CN, living in Moscow, you know those who continue with attempts to burn Wilson at the stake and you know that they continue to lie or misrepresent what the real situations are. I agree that there are those who don’t agree with Wilson, but those who continue to start fires using stones for fuel really do hate God.”

I want to address this idea that the harsh critics of Doug Wilson do so only out of hatred for God. I remember this idea being stated over and over from the pulpit as a child. I also heard similar lines, claiming that hatred of Christ Church only came from those who hated God and were bitter towards the “truth” that was being preached at Christ Church. I remember thinking that my town, Moscow, was full of heathens who hated us for our purity. I now strongly feel that I couldn’t have been more wrong. Moscow is full of faithful Christians who see Doug Wilson as a verbally abusive, arrogant, and irresponsible man who leaves a wake of damage behind him.

Since leaving Christ Church, my family and I have attended a growing nondenominational church in the community. One of the most interesting things to note of its growth is the number of new members who have recently left Christ Church. Many of these new members share very similar stories about how poorly they were treated by Doug Wilson and Christ Church. These fellow members of the body of Christ do not “hate God” or “push at Wilson and Christ Church every chance they get.” They are believers who spent years even decades trusting Wilson only to have that trust shattered. Now they seek new Christian communities throughout the town of Moscow.

Growing up, whenever a family left Christ Church, rumors quickly flew around, destroying the character of those that had left. I imagine there are rumors like that about my own family. I also distinctly remember hearing that Jamin White had sex with a seventeen year old girl so it was really a legal technicality not a ‘true sex crime’ (I can’t believe I ever thought along these lines) only to find out years down the road the girl was thirteen at the time. The point is, Christ Church is a community that thrives on playing the victim in controversy, labeling critics as godless, and defaming those who leave the fold. I hope someday that will change, but I truly believe that Doug Wilson is too arrogant to question his actions and make true apologies. I hope the publicity of this scandal encourages those new to Moscow to seek Christian guidance from other churches rather than following a bully like Doug Wilson who will never understand the biblical concept of humility.

#20 Comment By Dave On September 30, 2015 @ 11:30 pm

Mr Libertarian, I am waiting for Rod Dreher to respond off line. In a private manner, I presented facts that showed some of the many lies he linked to so that he would have a chance to answer. Dreher said he was busy today, so I will wait for his answer tomorrow.

Your post ignores the information in the links you looked at because the most casual observer could see that they were obvious attack sites full of misinformation. Does the law take into account improper, yea illegal use of copyrighted material? Yes, yet you ignored that small problem with the Dreher links. Does the law allow hearsay evidence? No. A simple reading of the blogs linked to shows ample hearsay that is quoted as fact when it is not. Does the law allow anonymous accusations? Isn’t there something about facing your accuser? The Bible does not allow anonymous accusations at all. Does the law allow pastor confidentiality? Yes, yet you ignored that minor problem with the statements in the links.

Your made up talk with a young sinner shows a lack of Biblical understanding and required actions by Christians, especially pastors, which is where the rubber meets the road in this situation.

#21 Comment By Matt On September 30, 2015 @ 11:47 pm

“Well if Doug Wilson wants to write provocative things for all the public to see, then we have every write to attack and slander him in public….”

First, who actually said this?

Second, what slanders? What are the slanders and where are they?

#22 Comment By Isidore The Farmer On October 1, 2015 @ 1:00 am

I tend to really like Wilson’s writing on his blog. I also like Rod a lot, too, even though their styles are almost 180 degrees different. There is room for and a need for each. Each style has its limitations, though, or those times when it can be ineffective for a given topic or issue. I think this is one area where Wilson’s style, which usually serves him well for his particular calling, works against him.

I think the main thing Wilson needs to address without snark, given that people who otherwise like him are honestly confounded, is what he means when he says he has to perform a lawful (in the Christian sense) marriage, and is glad to do so, even though (seemingly) all sound judgment seems to advise against it in this particular scenario. I really don’t get that….

With that said, I don’t know how much to fault him for being wrong. It is, after all, our secular justice system that continually releases pedophiles back into society (this happens all the time). And I can assure you that someone, somewhere will get stuck with that particular hot potato, screwing it up somehow. How do you do deal with a pedophile roaming about freely? By locking him back up. Short of that, disaster of some sort is almost inevitable.

The root problem here is that a life sentence wasn’t a life sentence. My understanding is that Wilson reported these crimes to the law upon becoming aware of them. He did not, it appears, attempt to cover them up. So when the law releases the perp back into society, ministers, of all people, are more likely to feel an obligation to handle the hot potato with mercy (everyone loves Pope Francis for saying mercy, after all). Basically, a society that expects common pastors to be expert in dealing with pedophiles has a criminal justice problem, not a pastoral problem. If it is true that pedophiles can’t resist becoming repeat offenders, well, that’s what jails are for. Don’t expect pastors to hand out the gallows when their job description is mercy.

As for the other case, there seem to be a number of details missing that may or may not justify Wilson’s actions at the time. I can’t tell. I will only say this, from the details we do have: if Wilson holds guilt for not realizing the depth of the abusive relationship (and he may, I’m not sure), as a third party, how much more shame and guilt do the girl’s parents deserve for allowing it to go on for months upon months without noticing? I’m slow to judge pastors that may stumble here and there given how truly difficult it can be to discern the truth when dealing with that level of dysfunction within a family. When it comes to slick and deceptive pedophiles, we have a tendency to forgive everyone but the pastor for not seeing the situation with clarity at the time the deception is occurring. What world do people desire to live in where they believe this is a skill normal humans should possess with perfect application? What does that say about the society you have constructed?

In our (very small) church we are dealing currently with a dysfunctional situation involving the pastor’s family. We love the family dearly, but the situation threatens the life of the church, and basically guarantees that after 20 years we will have no choice but to fire him. And despite hours of talking with people, praying, listening to people, seeing grown men cry, etc., I can’t discern the full truth. There is no getting to the bottom of it. Sin is just messy…

There is a sense in which the sexual revolution is throwing off this shrapnel, everywhere. And we blame the very pastors who have been warning us against taking this road for not preventing all the negative consequences upon having taken it.

A society steadily rejecting Christianity and its sexual ethics that nonetheless requires and expects pastors to be total experts in dealing with said society’s growing pedophilia problem is a society that needs to look in the mirror and consider repenting.

I say that without ‘acquitting’ Wilson of any wrongdoing here. The marriage of Sitler, especially, is bewildering…

#23 Comment By Mr. Libertarian On October 1, 2015 @ 1:08 am

@ Dave
First of all, that exposition is totally wrong. Totally wrong, but I am not going to get into this right now because it’s not relevant to this discussion and is another deflection by the Doug Wilson people.
My conclusions are primarily based on court documents in the public record and direct evidence in the form of a video, a 42 minute video I saw which had Doug Wilson officiating at the wedding. And the complaint, the gripe, is that he should not have done that. Now you can say that, that’s what happened, but this was positive. But you’re saying, no we have other facts that prove that that is not what happened. Doug Wilson had nothing to do with it. That marriage never happened.
But that’s all admissible evidence, even though that’s, this isn’t a court of law. But even if it were, that’s all admissible. And like I said, where’s the evidence that you were going to use to say this is untrue? Why can’t that be produced? Especially if Wilson sued Dreher for defamation, which I am guessing he won’t, but if he did, it would only compound Christ Church’s problems by making a story it desperately wishes would go away not go away. And they would lose, because no one demonstrated something that they could prove was false regarding the story. And you’re even still doing this, saying that you have the smoking gun, but not producing it. So your contention is Rod Dreher is going to produce the smoking gun sometime in the next few days? Why can’t you do that now? Show me the link. You know today I read a lot of Doug Wilson’s material on this. I didn’t find it persuasive. It seems he, and his followers, cannot bring themselves to either say, this was a huge mistake and we’ll reforms ourselves to make sure this never happens again, or, this happened and it was a great a decision and this is the reasoning. But just suggesting, no that’s not what happened, when the argument is really, we don’t really feel proud of it, but, it is what it is…come on, give me break.
And what would be wrong with Wilson saying to Sittler, go to a justice of the peace, a clerk or judge, and having a civil ceremony? He makes it sound like he’s running a Vegas Wedding Chapel. You know in the past month, I was a guest at a Roman Catholic wedding, I was actually good friends with both bride and groom, and both were devout Catholics. Nevertheless, the priest interviewed them before their marriage, and was very probing. I don’t agree with it, but other churches seem to get it done.
And as for my personal speech I’d give as a hypothetical pastor, it was based on imagination. I’ve read the Bible cover to cover. Give me a break; I know what’s written in it. That’s my interpretation. Maybe your interpretation differs. I don’t care. If you have to cite Ezekiel 25:17 or John 18:37-38, just get it done. Get the correct result and get it done.
And just say, as a minister, marriage is not appropriate for Sittler. We will continue to speak to you in a controlled and supervised setting away from children. We’ll give you support if you get into temptation. But it will be off grounds and away from children. We will give you an accommodation to livestream church services, so that you’re away from kiddies. But not everyone is called to marriage. Some will be celibate, and called into monastic living.

#24 Comment By Larry On October 1, 2015 @ 1:26 am

This blog may not have been perfectly written, but objective court documents and acknowledged facts are sufficient to warrant grave concern about Wilson and the Church. Arguing the “fine points” is to ignore the elephant in the room.

Moreover, bullying from the pulpit, coarse and insulting talk and personal attacks on dissenters, and controlling behaviors all have the mark of many cults.

It makes me sad and mad that this church is not being held accountable by the denomination and that many Christians look the other way when this happens. Bullying and insulting behavior seems to be the trend not only in politics and society, but now in the church? No wonder many “spiritually minded” people have left the church–there is no witness of the Spirit of Christ in either the abuses or the church tolerance of abuses–of all types.

#25 Comment By Cali On October 1, 2015 @ 5:15 am

A few comments for Wilson’s ardent followers, defending his prideful ranting, and stating that anonymous sources ought not be credited:

The person running the anonymous site is anonymous for a reason; perhaps that reason is personal safety. Anonymity does not, however, discredit primary source documentation made available that the kirk would prefer left in darkness.

RD is 100% correct! The reporting of the truth is not slander. Stating anything to the contrary does make you sound like a cult member. Sorry if that stings a bit.

The crimes Sitler confessed to were heinous, regardless of the miraculous plea deal he was given and the bizarre suspended LIFE SENTENCE he received.

Had Sitler shown true repentance, he would have accepted his punishment as a reasonable and appropriate consequence to his egregious acts, and pursued his relationship with his Savior in prison, where he could be 100% certain the psychological illness he suffers from wouldn’t hurt another innocent.

He did not do that. Rather he had a high profile attorney, a supportive minister requesting leniency, and 6 counseling sessions with a pastor with NO EDUCATION that would equip Wison to understand or treat someone with a psychological disorder. (Forced oral copulation from a 2 year old child is sin AND a huge steaming pile of mental illness.) Should every truly repentant sinner receive the ministry of his church? Absolutely! The location of said ministry is not relevant. Prison ministry shares the gospel and sacrements as well as a chaperoned Sunday at the kirk.

Wilson likens the unnatural sexual attraction to children as a sexulal sin, like adultry.

From Wilson’s blog, “Put off the old man — and all its lusts — and put on the new man, created in righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:24Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)). Put off the old man, who is a horny bastard anyway.”

But it’s not a simple lust/sin problem.
From WebMD:

SEXUAL ASSAULT AND RAPE
What Is Pedophilia?

Ray Blanchard, PhD, adjunct psychiatry professor at the University of Toronto.

“What is a pedophile?
A pedophile is a person who has a sustained sexual orientation toward children, generally aged 13 or younger, Blanchard says.

Does the medical community consider pedophilia to be a mental disorder?
Yes. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has included pedophilia in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders since 1968.

In the DSM, which is updated periodically, pedophilia has been grouped with other paraphilias — which the APA defines as “recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors that involve children…”

So a young man, with a mental disorder, is treated like a lusty sinner who has come to repentance under ithe inadequate non-medically trained counseling of Doug Wilson. This diplays his hubris as well as his lack of qualifications to speak to this subject in anything other than minister/congregant relationship. In short, Wilson overstepped.

Now we move to the young woman who was egregiously set up with a mentally ill child molestor… Katie Travis went to an elder at the kirk, a man she(in her own words) considered a grandfatherly figure,for support & guidance, bemoaning the fact that she was still unmarried after graduation from NSA. Her trust was betrayed when a less-than-suitable suitor was found. This community made her feel like an old maid at 23! THAT is a significant problem in Moscow in and of itself.

To those who don’t know, the prosecuters and Sitler’s probation officers (those who knew ALL aspects if Sitler’s psyche and confessions)STRONGLY objected to Sitler’s marriage, especially after he revealed he planned to have children. If I understand correctly, Katie was in a courtroom, listening to corrections officials argue against the marriage in the weeks prior to the wedding. What kind of environment is Christ Church, that a woman would have sit through that and have her spiritual advisors condone and then actively participate in such a wedding?

In regards to the original reporting of the sexual molestation (of minors under the age of 10) the first action of the father of the abused children(after getting Sitler to admit his guilt) was not to: a) demand Sitler leave his residence or b) contact law enforcement immediately. Oh no, his first call was to Doug Wilson who recommended they take no hasty action and rather have the the family come to his office the following afternoon!
*Sitler remained under his roof that night!!!
*The police weren’t notified until AFTER the family met with Wilson.

What kind of environment has been fostered in Moscow? One that matchmakes desperate women, because their self-worth is determined primarily in marriage (Jane Austen anyone?) 23 is too old to take any chances. And one where a father’s first response to learning that Sitler molested his children was not to throw the bum out while dialing 911, but rather to call the high priest of single-malt in order get his take on the matter.

In essence, Christ Church has created an environment where the congregation must not think for themselves but let Wilson and the elders do all thinking for them…wolves leading the sheep.

The blind devotion to the man/kirk IS cult-like behavior. And if you don’t walk lock-step with leadership, they fence the table from you, abandon you in your need, blame and shame victims of abuse, and tear apart marriages in the process.

Read the impact Wilson’s “gospel of mercy” had in the Jamin Wight case on the victim in her own words. [23]

The comments defending Wilson and Christ Church turn my stomach. I pray that our LORD would give you eyes to see, and ears to hear, that you might take a step back and view critically and logically the totality of what is REALLY going on there. Otherwise YOU, brothers and sisters in Christ will have become complicit in the twisting of the spiritual health of Jesus’bride on earth, Christ’s living church.

Thank you to Rod Dreher for bringing these dangerous happenings into the light, where they belong!

#26 Comment By Tom Thistleton On October 1, 2015 @ 5:53 am

Rod,

If you didn’t write it knowing that it would drag Doug Wilson through the mud then why did you write it, with minimal investigation and a clear negative slant? You must’ve realized that it would result in mud dragging and encourage others who have already been mud dragging on this issue.

I would guess it appears black and white to you as it does to many others but I’m equally as sure that it’s a complicated pastoral situation (as most are), one that would be almost impossible to judge without knowing at least some of the people and the particular details.

If Doug had written a blog post and you vehemently disagreed with it, go ahead, have at him. That’s fair game. But a complicated pastoral situation like this requires more before a Christian brother goes public with a critique of another Christian brother for the all the reasons I cited above.

Tom

#27 Comment By AKindredSpirit On October 1, 2015 @ 6:11 am

Doug Wilson came on the scene when homeschooling started gaining ground. That’s where I first encountered him. As with many of the other “self-proclaimed homeschool gurus” the homeschooling crowd gave him an audience and a market to peddle his wares. Wilson promoted classical education and was affiliated with federal vision for a while. People were impressed with his C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton quotes. No one bothered to check him out. He rose to celebrity status very quickly among many of the reformed homeschool groups. Intelligent people are drawn to Wilson and unfortunately they tend to check their brain at the door when he speaks. It’s really bizarre. Very cultish.

[NFR: Well, I have very little knowledge of Doug Wilson’s world. I have seen very good fruits from it in my own community, re: classical homeschooling. And I have enjoyed most of the things I’ve read of his — he’s a fabulous polemical stylist — but I concede that I’m not a regular Wilson reader, and some of the things that flop over my electronic transom from him are … weird. Point is, I am unwilling to condemn Wilson outright, because I have benefited indirectly from his teaching, but at the same time, those good fruits do not obviate concerns over allegedly bad ones. Mostly, though, I don’t care to pursue any further what I now see as a huge and nasty fight among the Wilson’s supporters and detractors. — RD]

#28 Comment By Irenist On October 1, 2015 @ 9:08 am

@MBrown:

Thank you for being so gracious about the culpability of imprudence.

Going on what I’ve seen in this post, the Manson analogy seems apt. If the reality differs from that reported in Rod’s sources, then the analogy might indeed be inapt.

But having come to agreement on the principle (which I am passionate about) I am quite content to defer to you, and to what further investigation will reveal, on the application.

All the best to you, MBrown.

#29 Comment By Irenist On October 1, 2015 @ 9:14 am

@The Quiet One:
Your comment, both for its Scriptural citation and its citation of the Epistle to Diognetus as kind of charter for the BenOp, really deserves its own thread. Don’t be so quiet! While I think the name “Benedict Option” is set, that Epistle is such a rich text, almost Pauline in the height of its insights, about how to “be Church” in a world that it not a Christendom. Thank you for such a wonderful contribution. I deeply hope it gets more attention.

#30 Comment By Tim H On October 1, 2015 @ 11:03 am

Important clarification: Wilson is not a “Reformed pastor.” In fact, he has never even been a member of a Reformed church, and is probably not even ordained (i.e. by anyone), but certainly not by a Reformed presbytery.

#31 Comment By Dave On October 1, 2015 @ 11:34 am

“The Sitlers had a baby boy, and as of this month, Steven Sitler is not allowed to be with his son because a court has reason to believe that he is sexually stimulated by the presence of the baby.” Dreher

“The Defendant shall not associate with any person under the age of eighteen (18) years, including his own child, unless another competent adult, who has previously been approved by the Defendant’s probation officer (a chaperone) is present, and who has line-of-sight supervision over the Defendant and any minor child.” Judge Stegner

Mr Libertarian, there is a huge difference between Dreher’s statement and what the judge ordered. NOT ALLOWED versus UNLESS are worlds apart and the statements by Dreher and the anonymous individual on the links Dreher used are lies. You can quibble and say that the judge ordered shall not associate unless accompanied by a chaperone, but that is not the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Yes, both on the internet, in court and most importantly in our lives, the Bible prohibits us from giving false witness, and gossip. The law prohibits false witness and prohibits hearsay testimony. Saying that doesn’t count is saying I don’t care about the law or scripture. The links used in this article are full of similar disinformation, hearsay used as fact and lies. You didn’t read all the documents or you would have seen this one small example of lies. You are a specialized counselor in this area and you missed a critical point. Wilson can carry his own water, I am concerned about stopping the lies and living a Christian life rather than gossiping because a little internet bird flew in my window.

Who is praying for the Sitler family? Not you. Not Rod Dreher. Not the anonymous individuals casting stones.
-+

#32 Comment By Gary On October 1, 2015 @ 1:02 pm

RE: Dalton

If we live in a culture in which sexual relations with a person of the same sex, with an infant, or with anyone to whom we are not lawfully joined in marriage, is punished as a crime, we are responsible to conform our conduct to the requirements of the law, no matter what we may see in our lives that may give us sexual arousal. If we live in a culture where those actions which naturally follow from whatever stimuli engage our sexual arousal are not proscribed or heavily policed, we may consider ourselves blessed, or cursed, depending on the extent of our own spiritual maturity.

I’m not sure I understand your point. My response however is that your behavior should be in line not with what the culture says but with what your faith and the Holy Spirit says. I can’t imagine any circumstances where the Holy Spirit would say, “go lust after your baby.” Wilson was in a position of influence to at least try and dissuade Sitler from entering into a marriage that would create said baby. He didn’t do that. Bad move.

RE: JonF

Nota bene: The Mormons are entirely “in” the world. They may have retreated to Utah at one point, but these days they are everywhere, including online (my Mormon niece used to blather on all over Facebook– less so now after her third child; she doesn’t have the time). They also do not shun non-Mormon family and friends, in part (but only in part) because maintaining external contacts is an avenue for convert-seeking.

My understanding of BenOp (and for that matter the Gospel) is there is nothing wrong with seeking converts. And furthermore, my Christian understanding of how we should relate to the world is that we should be active in the world but not of it. The two principles seem entirely consistent.

On Mormon (and other) fertility rates however I have to ask if that is including everyone– such as even 90 year olds who had their kids many, many years ago when large families were more feasible. What size families are Mormon millennials having? My niece, as I noted, has three kids, and that’s going to be it for them, owing to both finances and some issues with her health.

The data accounts for adult fertility rates, from 18 to 100. But that’s true not just of the Mormon data but the Catholic, evangelical and other data sets. And your niece having 3 kids puts her well above replacement rate and above the Utah fertility rate. Compared to many secular individuals in big cities, she’s practically a Duggar.

#33 Comment By AKindredSpirit On October 1, 2015 @ 8:51 pm

I understand, Rod. My family has benefited indirectly from some of Wilson’s teachings, as well, and I’m a staunch advocate of classical education. All of my children were classically educated. “Weird” is a good description, along with “concerning.” I’m older and have been observing the “oddities” of the Wilsonite culture for a long time.

#34 Comment By CN On October 2, 2015 @ 10:49 am

As a member of a family with Moscow roots going back to 1883, I feel a need to let those who have never been to my hometown that Mr. Wilson writings, and his views are in no way representative of the larger community. He has created his subculture here, but by no stretch of the imagination is his worldview the dominant Moscow worldview.

#35 Comment By Mr. Libertarian On October 2, 2015 @ 3:52 pm

@ CN

I understand that. And I think most people understand that. Believe, no one associates you good Muscovites with Wilson’s questionable actions and statements.

#36 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On October 2, 2015 @ 7:49 pm

How many fathers have not, at some time, experienced an erection looking at their comely daughter

WTF? Uh, no.

If we live in a culture in which sexual relations with a person of the same sex, with an infant, or with anyone to whom we are not lawfully joined in marriage, is punished as a crime, we are responsible to conform our conduct to the requirements of the law, no matter what we may see in our lives that may give us sexual arousal. If we live in a culture where those actions which naturally follow from whatever stimuli engage our sexual arousal are not proscribed or heavily policed, we may consider ourselves blessed, or cursed, depending on the extent of our own spiritual maturity.

Uhh….You don’t see any moral distinction between those three cases, do you?

#37 Comment By Jeremy On October 2, 2015 @ 8:09 pm

“Really? The church has no authority to prohibit a lawful marriage? I suppose same-sex couples in Idaho can show up at Christ Church and expect Pastor Wilson to marry them, then.”

I think this small part of your argument unfair. The word unlawful is ambiguous as it may refer to either to positive law or to natural law. My hunch is that he was referring to natural law. So-called same-sex marriage, then, would be unlawful regardless of what happens to be legal according to laws of the state (so would incest or polygamy). I’m not saying a church shouldn’t use some discretion beyond just making sure that marriage is lawful. Probably it should, but I don’t think the idea that you leave that decision up to consenting adults, as long as it is not unlawful (per natural/Divine law), is prima facie an irrational point of view. At least it is internally consistent.

#38 Comment By Ken On October 4, 2015 @ 10:51 am

Without presuming to judge if Mr. Wilson and the Judge did the right or wrong things, there is an elephant standing in the room that nobody seems to be willing to address. Child molesters are kind of like vampires. Once bitten their victims turn into vampires too.

Children who are molested have a very high probability of growing up to be molesters themselves, often beginning their predations in their early teens.

Does showing mercy to the victims of molestation include helping them as young adults to turn away from the twisted compulsion that comes over them?

Is it possible for molesters to repent and turn away, or should we just execute them all on the spot? Should we just lock up the kids as soon as they get molested so they cannot grow up to be molesters?

What is the church supposed to do with people who get let out of prison and probably were themselves raped while inside? Is there a category of people that Jesus and the Holy Spirit just cannot reach?

#39 Comment By Rebecca On October 4, 2015 @ 5:22 pm

Of course there is no one Jesus cannot reach. But the problem here is the conflation of Christian life with family life. People with these severe kinds of brokenness need the spiritual ICU of a monastery, for the healing of their own souls and to protect others from their brokenness. Wilson et al, with their fervent rejection of any asceticism and hyper-focus on the family, don’t really see how to be a Christian outside of a family context, and this situation is the most extreme result.

#40 Comment By stegokitty On October 9, 2015 @ 10:29 pm

Not sure how Doug Wilson (or anyone for that matter) would be able to stop a woman from marrying a man, even if it’s a woman marrying a man convicted of child molestation. If the man has repented, especially publicly, and has displayed a reasonable repentance and desire to live a life worthy of his calling in Christ, then it’s rather difficult to figure out exactly what it is that DW or any other pastor ought to think he has the right to say or demand.

I think you’ve got some good points, and I’m not really thrilled about the idea of this marriage either. And I say this as someone who really enjoys reading DW’s blog, all the while not being a blind fan boy. Wilson is still a man and a sinner like the rest of us, though he is in a position of spiritual authority, direction, and leadership.

With that said, you were doing fine until you said “Really? The church has no authority to prohibit a lawful marriage? I suppose same-sex couples in Idaho can show up at Christ Church and expect Pastor Wilson to marry them, then. ”

That’s the logical fallacy called equivocation. Don’t do it, because it makes you look unintelligent. You know and I know that DW ain’t gonna perform any (as he rightly calls them) “same sex mirage”. So don’t even go there.

Other than that, the only thing we can all do is to wait, and hope, that the marriage does not end up being a sham, and that DW and his elders ended up being duped like Peter Leithart did with Jamin. Let’s hope, for the sake of many things, including the well-being of the child, and the witness of a (hopefully) redeemed life demonstrated by a true endeavor unto holiness by Sitler.

[NFR: Doug Wilson could not have prevented Sitler from marrying Travis, but he did not have to facilitate it, or preside over it. He is not a passive bystander. — RD]

#41 Comment By Karen On June 11, 2016 @ 10:10 pm

This kind gross negligence, evil doing, and arrogant and slanderous polemics in certain Reformed and Fundamentalist leaders and institutions reveals a pattern of false teaching bearing its ugly fruit in spiritual abuse of members and rank hypocrisy in its narcissistic leaders. Who gets hurt? The most vulnerable –abused wives and defenseless children! Wilson, Gothard, Phillips, Hyles, Schaap, … These wolves in sheep’s clothing have long been trying to hide their slavering, devouring fangs by slander and intimidation of any who care to question them or expose the wrongdoing, then making the utterly laughable and blasphemous claim they are being persecuted for Christ’s sake, when they are publicly called out for their outrageous hypocrisy and perversion of the gospel call for the strong to defend the weak. They are stumbling blocks! Better for them, according to Jesus, if they had, had a millstone strung around their necks and been cast into the depths of the sea!

#42 Comment By Ross Leavitt On September 26, 2016 @ 11:58 am

Hi there, I realize this is an old article (by internet standards) and there’s a good chance no one is listening anymore. But I’d just like to ask if there was any followup done on this? Both Dreher and Wilson in their articles accuse each other of being non-communicative, but Dreher notes in an update that Wilson accidentally used an old email address when he reached out. Since that common digital error got cleaned up, was there any additional attempt at communication? Were there any follow-up pieces posted? Is there any mitigation of the charges against each other?

Or have the authors just assumed that they now hate each other, and always will?

#43 Comment By Jay C On January 21, 2017 @ 12:32 am

Hi Ross-

I don’t think they’re at the point where they hate each other and always will, but there were some follow ups with this story.

Doug contacted Dreher, who gave Wilson the opportunity to respond to this article on this website. You can read that here:

[24]

Then Dreher wrote one more article on it:

[25]

That, as far as I know, is the end of the story here. Wilson is still pastoring in Moscow, is still doing his blog, and is still fulfilling most of the responsibilities that he held a year or two ago when all this broke.

In my personal view, Wilson has so clearly violated the very first qualification of a pastor – ‘he must be above reproach’ (see I Tim. 3:2) – that he should not be anywhere near a church pulpit, and frankly, I found his responses/defenses to all of this far more concerning than even Dreher’s original article made it seem.

The Bible’s admonitions on these kinds of matters are clear – leaders will be held to a higher standard. And I really do fear for Doug on the day when he will have to come face to face with God to account for this chapter in his life.

#44 Comment By Chelsea On November 13, 2017 @ 4:36 pm

+1 to Wagon’s comment and his suggestions for better places to look for Reformed community than Idaho.
I would add only that Christ Reformed Church in Washington DC is a small but vibrant community of young and committed Reformed believers who use their faith to navigate tough jobs in politics and the agencies.