Repost: Against the Neo-Jovinians

Repost, but certain events brought it to mind.  I’ve come across passages in some Canon Press books.  We know that Doug Wilson’s people demean women.  That’s a self-evident truth.  But it’s always jarring to see new evidence to the effect. It’s especially worse when it is by a woman.  It is by someone with the last name “Wilson.”

says the wife’s identity is found (only) in the husband. The husband *is* her.  (p. 62).

she also says that a woman before she got married didn’t have the depth of character and she was so boring.

Those are more or less word-for-word quotes, but given the Canon Press method of citing sources, no need to get too picky.

Jovinian was an intellectual in the ancient Christian world who scandalized everyone by suggesting marital relations and celibate virginity were on the same level.  Jerome responded.  And what a powerful, if hilariously wrong, response it was.  


Now, I believe Jovinian had the better exegesis.  To quote Kelly, when Jerome has a useful card he overplays it, and when he doesn’t have any evidence, he engages in the wildest reasoning (Kelly 186).  Further, I reject a lot of the metaphysical and ethical assumptions behind Jerome’s defense of celibacy.  (Ironically, however, Jovinian’s view of baptismal regeneration was much closer to later Catholicism than Jerome’s view).  


Still, there is something Jerome can teach us.  Sex and feasting don’t exist for themselves.  Even if one doesn’t hold the view that sex is only for reproduction, that doesn’t mean sex is for sex’s sake.  It’s for the uniting and binding together of husband and wife.


We can add another point.  Sex isn’t a panacea for mental illnesses.  This brings us back to the CREC scandal.  The Wilsonistas are wrong to think that:


(1)   “marrying” him off will provide a safe outlet for one’s urges.


I think many critics of medieval celibacy used to think that.  Sadly, this is not the case.  If it were, one could save a lot of people heartache by simply introducing these people to their right hands.  Crude, yes, and some could argue that such an act is immoral, but at least no children are harmed.


Therefore, we have to add another line of reasoning:


(2)  The problem is not built-up sexual tension, but mental-spiritual.  


If it is true that pedophiles are “wired” differently, then it is hard to see how (1) will solve the problem.  


Is the “fallen” (defined as someone who committed a terrible sin but has repented) Christian guaranteed equal access to the marriage/family life?  


Many “Wilsonistas” say it yes.  They assert it but never argue it.  This doesn’t appear to be the Apostle Paul’s position.  The Wilsonistas say, “If you can, and why can’t you?, by all means get married.”  Paul said if you aren’t married now, then you might not need to get married (1 Cor. 7:7-8, 26-28).   We can now add another premise;


(3) There are many good reasons for staying single.
(3*) The Church is not obligated to provide you with a family.


The Wilsonistas will say that married sex provides a legitimate outlet for sexual passion.  That is true in normal cases.   But psychology and counseling have shown that men/women who are addicted to porn do not become unaddicted because they get married.  The problem is still there, even if there is an “outlet” for it.  And the outlet does not solve the problem.


This is also true if the spouse is a convicted pedophile.  Where is the wisdom in his “outlet” providing him with more victims?   Wilsonistas will respond, “Would you deny him the opportunity for a family?”




There are alternatives.  None of them fun, but they are noble and workable.  He can join a monastery in the desert and spend the next 30 years denying himself.  Surround himself with a handful of elderly, cantankerous men who do not put up with nonsense.  And who knows, he might be able to find peace and stillness in a way that he wouldn’t in Moscow, ID.



About J. B. Aitken

Interests include patristics, the role of the soul in the human person, analytic theology, Reformed Scholasticism, Medievalism, Substance Metaphysics
This entry was posted in Book Review, Cults and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Repost: Against the Neo-Jovinians

  1. Evan says:

    Right on the money. There is a stark contrast between the average man’s sexual urge and mental illness (or spiritual illness). Marriage may help the former, but cannot by itself solve the latter.

    Jacob, do you think most Protestants devalue celibacy? In the church it seems to be– at least implicitly– ignoble. The average wisdom seems to be– to reverse St. Paul’s words– “if he must, let him remain celibate.”


    • JB Aitken says:

      I don’t know if most Protestants devalue it. Many in the Bible Belt do. Celibacy gained a bad rap during Roman Catholicism days, and understandably so.

      The anti-celibacy, or shucks, the anti-singleness mentality is annoying at best and can be brushed off. Personally, I don’t give a s*&% what people think of me. It is w hen someone is in a cult like Wilson’s that it gets soul-killing.


  2. Evan says:

    What are your views on birth control?


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