Relative Absolutism: Doug Wilson & the Age of Consent

Absolute Relativism

“And yet others in this splendid array of choices opt for that sexual kinkiness that makes their women dress up in prairie muffin dresses by day and submit to spousal rape by night. Why do you care? I care, of course, but I have this absolute standard that I appeal to. But why do you care? About anything?” Douglas Wilson

In the last two “age of consent” posts (here & here), we saw that Idaho code deems anyone under the age of 16-years old a “child” and Idaho denies that a child can legally consent to or participate in sexual behavior. That is, children do not have the legal capacity to consent. Pastor Douglas Wilson of Christ Church, Moscow, affirmed his agreement with Idaho’s age of consent laws, specifically as they apply to Jamin Wight’s sexual violations of Natalie Greenfield. However, we saw that his public affirmation of the age of consent contradicted his testimony to the court, when he argued that 14-year-old Natalie consented to her abuse, describing the crime as “sexual behavior occurring between Jamin and Natalie.”

Doug Wilson has never accounted for this dishonesty. His tone suggests he could not abide a lesbian defending a higher moral standard than him. Whatever his reason, the truth is that Mr. Wilson believes Jamin Wight committed the crime of “sexual behavior with an underage girl,” which he claims “was a species of statutory rape.” However, Doug Wilson believes in a crime that does not exist. Idaho has no such law on its books, and at the time of Natalie’s abuse Idaho drew the line for statutory rape at 18 years of age. Natalie was 13-years old when Mr. Wight began grooming her and she was 14-years old when he began abusing her, which is why the state charged Jamin Wight with two counts of Lewd Conduct With A Child Under 16 and one count of Sexual Abuse Of A Child Under 16. Neither crime is a species. Both are child rape.1

The following list of blockquotes is a compilation of every use of the word “consent” from Blog & Mablog,2 as he applied the term to consensual sex. These citations cover a 13-year span and Mr. Wilson wrote all of them after Jamin Wight abused Natalie. In each case, Doug Wilson defends the age of consent with one exception — Natalie Greenfield.

Two quotes in particular deserve special consideration. Mr. Wilson’s entry titled “Vice, Victims, and Vision Forum” describes a hypothetical scenario that is exactly on point: Jamin Wight was “a trusted spiritual leader”3 and Natalie was 14-years old when he began abusing her. And in a post called “If I Were the Devil . . .” Mr. Wilson describes his assault on the age of consent in Natalie’s case. Readers may decide if he wrote autobiographically.

* * *

August 7, 2003

But obviously you believe that the law should be informed by morality. Otherwise, why would you care about consent? The need for consent is (obviously) a moral issue. But whose formulation? Whose morality? And if a fifteen year old girl is not competent to decide whether to join the harem of an old coot on the mountain named Elijah One Tooth, then how is she competent to decide whether to sleep with some fifteen-year-old in her class at school? (“gay marriage and bananas”)

August 22, 2005

“. . . the sexual behavior occurring between Jamin and Natalie . . . does explain what kind of criminal behavior it was.” (Letter to Officer Green)

June 15, 2006

I have received a couple of response to the question I posed to Joan Opyr about the age of consent. One question was from someone wondering if I have any trouble with our current age of consent laws. And the answer to that one is simple . . . no, I don’t. . . . But at the same time, Joan’s responses were generally reasonable, and I would answer just about all the questions she posed the same way that she did. “Was that 14-year old psychologically ready to engage in consensual sex with a man ten years her senior? In my opinion, no.” And so Joan and I agree completely. (“Age of Consent”)

September 26, 2012

Okay. I would define rape as having any kind of sexual relationship with someone apart from or against her or his consent. So far, so good, probably, but she then objects to our recognition of the possibility of varying degrees of foolishness on the part of the victim, and she interprets this recognition as somehow meaning “when they say they are against rape they don’t mean all rape.” (“A Tall Tree and a Short Rope”)

March 4, 2014

When the bad guys have pushed that kind of thing sufficiently, they will then take the next step. In fact, their agenda is far enough along that they have already been taking it. What’s with that tired old category consensual? The first place that this comes under assault is with age of consent laws. Those laws presuppose the old order of Christendom, and a childhood protected from sexual predations was a cultural artifact of the Christian gospel. I thank God for it. The apostles of Progress are trying to dismantle the entire thing, and I really don’t think we should be helping them in any way. (“If I Were the Devil . . .”)

April 8, 2014

At the same time, of course, we should make allowances for those situations where an abused girl was never given the opportunity to become a responsible adult. If a trusted spiritual leader starts abusing a girl when she is 14, it is not as though, after 7 years of abuse, a magic moment happens when she turns 21, making it easy for her to now walk away. In a situation like that, the word victim is appropriate. But we ought to reserve the word for situations like it, and not use it in circumstances like this one. (“Vice, Victims, and Vision Forum”)

May 20, 2014

Just watch. The drumbeat to lower the age of consent is going become impossible to ignore very soon, and the Christians most likely to give way to the new demands will be the very same ones who are giving way to the current demands now. Biblical law teaches us what the standards are, and what the consequences ought to be, and the gospel of grace teaches us to receive with grace every repentant sinner. (“Crime in a World Without Crimes”)

October 1, 2015

The Wight Situation
The other main object of attention in Rod’s post was the situation with Jamin Wight and Natalie Greenfield. We are in the process of reconstructing a detailed and documented time line for that situation as well. But in brief, Jamin was one of our Greyfriar ministerial students who was exposed in 2005 as having been engaging in criminal sexual behavior with Natalie Greenfield a few years before. . . . As my letter makes plain, Jamin was guilty of sexual behavior with a girl who was below the age of consent. She was underage. Our letter acknowledged fully that Jamin was guilty of criminal behavior, and we wanted him to pay the penalty for that criminal behavior, which was a species of statutory rape. . . . But the question before the court was what kind of criminal behavior it was, not whether it was criminal. . . Our elders had no problem with him being charged for the crime of sexual behavior with a girl who was not capable of giving legal consent (she was 14 and he was 23). . . Jamin’s crime was that of engaging in sexual behavior with an underage girl. (“Doug Wilson’s ‘Reluctant Response’”)

October 27, 2015, Christ Church HOH Meeting

“So I believe on just theological grounds that uh, we can’t, um, we, we can’t absolve someone who is 13-, 14-, 15-years old of moral agency, I don’t think we can give them full responsibility of an adult, I think we need to adjust it accordingly because different kids mature at different rates, but the things that were going on between Natalie and Jamin, she was fully capable — she’s a bright girl, she was fully capable of understanding that this would not be pleasing to her parents, that this was not good. I’m — and in saying that I’m not trying to flatten the responsibility between Jamin and — so Jamin 100 ×, Natalie 3 ×. . . .” (Doug Wilson to the Kirk HOHs, Unpublished Transcript)

* * *

In this last quote to the Kirk heads of households, Doug Wilson prorated the amount of responsibility he assigns to Natalie for Jamin Wight’s crimes much like an insurance adjuster prorates the value of damage to an automobile. He rated her responsibility at “three times” (3 ×). However, Mr. Wilson’s standard for this judgment is arbitrary and capricious, if not downright imaginary like his make-believe law “sexual behavior with an underage girl.” Moreover, there is no bluebook that can estimate the damage Jamin Wight did to Natalie — she was a lamb of the flock, not a Buick.

Pastor Doug Wilson of Christ Church, Moscow, has a well-documented record on the age of consent and he claims he has “this absolute standard” that he appeals to. But he has never explained why he waived this “cultural artifact of the Christian gospel” that ensures “a childhood protected from sexual predations” in Natalie’s case. And I suspect this is because Doug Wilson’s commitment to the Christian gospel is as resolute as his commitment to the truth.

Correction

This post has been corrected. It gave an incorrect number of criminal charges against Mr. Wight, and it incorrectly stated that Idaho code drew the line for statutory rape at 16 years of age. At the time of Natalie’s abuse, Idaho drew the line at 18-years old. HT: Boudica


1 As an aside, Idaho code does not make exception for children who are “beautiful and striking” and “about eight inches taller” than the man who rapes them. According to the law, age defines a child, contra Doug Wilson.

2 I have included Mr. Wilson’s statement to Officer Green of the Moscow Police Department, and his response to Rod Dreher, as well as his comments to the Christ Church heads of households, for points of reference.

3 During the time Mr. Wight abused Natalie, Doug Wilson trusted him enough that he allowed him to attend the weekly Kirk elders’ meetings and he sent him to California to fill pulpit supply.

14 Comments

  1. As someone who’s experienced terrible abuse in life, it’s my opinion — and certainly not mine alone — that this man should not be lay counseling anyone, especially abuse survivors, nor should he be waxing philosophical on laws related to abuse. Why not? Among many reasons, because he’s shown himself to be incapable of truly deferring to or submitting to those (lawmakers, therapists, research psychologists, etc.) who have more knowledge or expertise than he does in this area.

    Until recently, it seems to me that his condition has been one of veiled megalomania. Well, that veil seems to be finally lifting for many people (and not fast enough in my opinion).

    To his church body, please hear this: without intervention, his condition, like a cancer, will absolutely ravage the body. It is destructive and it is terminal. There can be no other end.

  2. Doug’s an Old Testament kinda guy, so he figures if she didn’t scream it wasn’t rape. So if you’re still at CC or TRC, you better be teaching your daughters to scream.

  3. I am left wondering the same thing mentioned at the end of the original post: why has DW made Natalie the sole known exception for his support of the “age of consent” law(s) in Idaho? What is it about this particular case that has him in full-on spin mode? Is it Natalie? Is it Jamin? I am at a loss for understanding.

    Of course, it is a moot question and point. Age of consent laws are specific in nature and do not include exclusion clauses.

    1. @Burwell: “What is it about this particular case that has him in full-on spin mode?”
      His hatred for Gary Greenfield drives him. He blew off the age of consent in Natalie’s case because he wanted to blame Gary for it. Since then we have learned that Wilson accuses Gary of grooming his daughter to get raped by Wilson’s pet student, which demonstrates that Wilson’s hatred has blinded his sense of reason. There’s much more to the story and much of it swirls around Bucer’s, but the bottom line is that Doug Wilson hates Gary Greenfield and he uses Natalie’s horrors against him to exact retribution.

      1. I would argue hatred of Gary Greenfield combined with hatred/suspicion of women, especially when it comes to sexual matters.

        Doug talks a good game about consent, but the truth is, when a girl says she was raped, he thinks of her a seductress. And why wouldn’t he? He thinks a woman having breasts means she wants him to comment on them.

  4. To anyone who notices what DW says , it very much appears to me , the real reason DW does not hold to the consent standard for Natalie is because he was just as tempted by her tall beautiful frame as Jamin was, so he couldn’t completely condemn the rat but chose to blame the “temptress”. What a wolf in wolfs clothing folks; (Kirkers)!!!! Take the blinders off and pay attention to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit and run or better yet redeem yourselves and run him out of town.

  5. The more I read through this, the more it really, really pisses me off. I’d like to hit Doug Wilson in the balls with a crowbar, seriously.

    Natalie was a *CHILD*, Doug, you stupid, brain-dead, cretinous, blowhardy, limp-wrist lame-ass flabby pale pasty overweight callous slimey greasy gelatinous pathetic excuse for a pile of horse manure counterfeit human slug. Crawl back under your rock, you sad useless angry Caliph wannabe. You’re not welcome in the world of men.

  6. Why does Doug get to decide that Natalie was “fully capable”? What training and/or qualifications does he have to make such a claim? By what methods does he arrive at this conclusion?

    1. I think this is more of his famous “wordsmithing” and some sin leveling. Her parents said no to a relationship. She is old enough to know she should obey her parents and she is old enough to be able to obey them. Therefore, she is capable. There maybe some of the whole she is tall and striking, so she tempted him thrown in there as well.
      I don’t think he meant that she was capable of knowing what she was doing as far as giving her consent (not that coercion is consent), but he has put in a way that makes reasonable people think that. Plausible deniability so that he can question people’s reading comprehension. It sickens me the way you have to read and reread his words to make sure you get what he is saying. The devil in the details games he plays to make sure you can’t pin down him are disgusting.

      1. Whenever I read anything Doug Wilson has written, I always assume a priori that he’s a lying sack of cow sh**.

        That way I’m never confused, because I can simply dismiss the entirety of his discourse with the understanding that none of what he’s saying matters anyway. It’s best to get the facts from other sources first, and then use those facts as a measure against which to determine exactly how deeply Doug is trying to delude himself and his readers.

        What’s *really* funny is how profoundly Doug has convinced himself that we’re all so mind-numbingly stupid that we just nod our heads vigorously at his every statement and say “OH YES RIGHT OF COURSE, SILLY ME, HOW COULD I POSSIBLY NOT HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT IN THE FIRST PLACE, DUR DUR DUR.” It would be really insulting if it wasn’t just sad. It’s a perfect example of Dunning-Kruger: Doug can’t understand that we’re not all as stupid as he is, because he’s simply too stupid to understand that we’re not all as stupid as he is.

        Sorry Doug, you’re not fooling anybody. It’s just you. You silly fat bastard.

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