Christianity,  Culture,  Theology/Bible

Doug Wilson Takes on Gay Activists in Q&A

Doug Wilson’s recent lectures on sexuality at Indiana University are absolutely riveting. If you start these, beware, because you might not be able to stop. Wilson followed the lectures with two hours of Q&A with a raucous, offended crowd. There were forty questions and forty answers in all. Watch the first trailer above and the second trailer below. To see the lectures and the Q&A, click here.

This is quite an amazing thing to watch, and it’s worth offering some reflections on this spectacle.

1. The gay activists shouting for “tolerance” are the most shrill, intolerant personalities in the room. The irony seems to be completely lost on the protesters and naysayers who are quite disrespectful and cruel to Doug Wilson throughout his presentations. They demanded Wilson to give them logic and respect, but they gave him none in return.

2. Thanks be to God for Doug Wilson who rose to the task and answered their questions biblically and with good humor! He actually looks like he enjoys the sparring. That kind of winsomeness goes farther than winning every argument (though he also seems to win every argument too). Christians, take note. When reviled, do not revile in return (1 Pet. 2:23). Instead, bless those who curse you (Luke 6:28). Sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness (Prov. 16:21). A gentle answer turns away wrath, and the tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable (Prov. 15:1-2).

3. Post-modern gobbledygook thinking is on massive display here. The students aren’t interested in attacking the reliability of the Bible on scientific or historical grounds. Traditional apologetics would have been useless here. Almost to a man, they were concerned with judging the morality of the Bible. They deconstructed the Bible and manipulated texts to their own ends but then also stood in judgment over the Bible where it didn’t fit their views. In everything, their intuitions and feelings about the nature of reality defined everything.

4. It is not difficult to see how the hostility on display in this video might be turned into open persecution of Christians. I do not mean to be an alarmist, but it is hard to ignore the level of vitriol that more and more seems to be directed toward Christians for their views on homosexuality. This encounter with Wilson is just a single instance of a disdain that is becoming more widespread in the culture. What will be the public implications of that disdain in the next 10, 20, or even 30 years? It seems to me that the vitriol on display in this video is on its way to becoming the majority view. For Christians, this is not likely to get any easier for us going forward.

5. The Lord’s arm is not too short to save (Is. 59:1). Our culture’s spiritual decline is not inevitable. Who knows what God might do if we bear witness faithfully to the gospel of Jesus Christ? Let’s do that, and pray for God to have mercy on us and our neighbors.



  • kevin peterson

    I wish Doug Wilson would be interviewed in more public places than people like Joel Osteen as the “token Christian”.
    He’s so good.

  • Sam James

    I could be completely mistaken, but in the second video at the 1:24 mark, does that young man seem on the verge of tears? Is a tolerant society really moved to tears of frustration when one man in the room expresses his worldview?

  • James Harold Thomas

    I’m also glad that he was able to do those debates with Hitchens. I’d be surprised if any of the other New Atheists would give a conservative Christian the time of day.

  • Lily Schmoo

    Yes yes yes to each of your reflections, Denny! I am not familiar with Doug Wilson and already had an upset stomach before I even watched the Q&A session thinking, “here’s another representative of Christians who’s going to embarrass us.” How happily mistaken was I! “Winsomeness” is a great word for his presentation. He was gracious and the crux of the Gospel was shared over and over again.

    I am finishing up my lunch break and just read Luke 21 – verse 15 is what stood out to me in light Doug’s talk: “…for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict.” The whole chapter is especially relevant, especially in regards to your reflection on current and coming persecution. “This will be your opportunity to bear witness…” (verse 13) Blessings!

  • donsands

    Doug is a good brother in Christ. may our Lord protect him from the spiritual wickednesses that are behind this, and may Doug be filled with the Holy Spirit of love power and a sound-mind. Amen.
    Thanks for posting this. It helps. I have to share the good news of Christ at times with those who don’t like it, and it is difficult to stay calm at times.
    I always hope the people are hating the message of Christ, and the Gospel of repentance and faith and grace, more than my sharing it. I realize I am not perfect in sharing the truth, and so i pray the Gospel is what offends. Amen.

  • Martin Clarke

    Thanks for posting this. I’m afraid I didn’t heed your warning, and have just spent two hours watching the Q&A. It is indeed quite remarkable, and I think your five reflections are brilliantly put.

    I think I’d want to add a 6th reflection that acknowledges (and solemnly and prayerfully reflects on) the deep pain and rejection that many of the crowd clearly feel. I think we, as part of Christ’s church, must accept a part of the blame for this.

    I’m with Lily – how I desire that same sense of winsomeness (while not compromising the gospel) as Doug so often shows in this video. Er, I wouldn’t object to having his brain either!

  • Don Johnson

    I watched the 2 talks and some of the questions before being overtaken by life. I learned some things I did not know about repeated themes in the Bible. I also learned some things about not losing one’s cool. Of course I agree that Gal 3 and Eph 5 need to be put together, as an egal I just put them together differently than Doug.

    • Don Johnson

      Doug also taught the common Reformed idea that the Mosaic covenant can be divided into 3 parts with some parts going away and some not going away. No matter how much this idea is taught or believed, this idea simply cannot be true, in the Bible a covenant is a unity, either it all is in effect or it is terminated and none of it is in effect. So the claim of cafeteria style selection of what Doug wants to keep applies in full force to repudiate his claims dealing this aspect of his argument.

  • Andrew Nordine

    Darn you Denny Burk! There went almost 3 hours of my day… This was excellent and enlightening. And sobering. What struck me was the looks on the faces of so many in the audience. So many faces spoke of immense pain, and a deep need for the gospel.

  • Daryl Little

    I noticed the pain as well.

    It seemed to me that the one guy who kept asking “so what am I supposed to do” and to whom Doug explained that the issue of Christianity isn’t about good people getting credit, but bad people being saved.

    I hope that young man finds what he seems to be looking for.

  • Scott Wallace

    I agree when you ask what is in store for the church in the next 10, 20, 30 years. Gosh, I am impressed by Doug Wilson to stand up there and not back down in front of all these hostile students. At the same time, I’m wondering if there were conservative students who would fire back at the pro-gay students. I don’t really “feel the pain” for gays (empathy not my strong suit), but I feel an overwhelming desire to protect or defend Christians who get attacked. It’s like if you see someone burning the flag. I hope the church does not cave out of fear of gay aggression. There used to be men who would be burned at the stake rather than compromise. There was a fierceness to their faith. The same is needed again today. I fear too many Christians have been raised to be nice and polite but not how to handle hostility towards their faith.

  • Charlie Wallace

    For the cross is foolishness to those that are perishing, but to the those are that are being saved it is the power of God.

    It certainly seems these people think biblical, historical christianity is foolishness. Pray their hearts will be changed.

  • Nathan Cesal

    Watched the Q&A only, so my comments are about that section only…

    Not sure if I would characterize them as “gay activists.” How about just gay people? Or _DW Takes on LGBT_?

    Comments on point 1. First, I think the raucousness of the crowd came from a minority of the attendees. I am not surprised that DW got some animosity — in their minds, he is a representative of what they consider a major source of the animosity they’ve received their entire lives. Plus, he advocates to use power to control LGBT lives differently than straight lives.

    Comments on point 2. DW did a good job overall. The worst part was that he wouldn’t retract his statement about the propriety of using the term “that’s so gay.” He’s against bullying, but supports kids demeaning another’s gender expression. Words are stones, DW — he that is without sin can start casting them.

    Another area that DW is all wet is his idea that each culture has a particular set of gender norms that God expects people to follow. These things may change from one culture to another. So, part of God’s morality is determined by the world? That sounds messed up to me.

    Comments on point 3. I was surprised by how much the audience didn’t understand DW’s view of Christianity.

    Comments on point 4. The tides are turning. I think the reaction you are seeing is that homosexuals have been treated like criminals instead of sinners or someone that you just don’t agree with. Once there is power used to control another group — there is going to be pushback.

    Comment on point 5. Yep.

    • Jake T

      As a gay individual and one who tries to stick to his morals, I think you are exactly right… it seems *both* sides have decided to demonize the other. Your response to Mr. Burk’s post to me seems to be more grounded in understanding & appreciation of how people feel they have been treated. Here are a few things I would add:

      1. “Plus, he advocates to use power to control LGBT lives differently than straight lives.” I think this is what is at the heart of lashing out: It is easy for a straight, white, Christian male to want to legislate over a minority… but not having been a minority himself it is inherently harder for him to be empathetic. Lack of empathy and understanding, then, is what makes it so easy for them to want to tell this certain minority what to do. LGBT “activists” don’t necessarily want him to agree with them, but to let them lead their lives as they see fit. To us, it’s a freedom of choice to make decisions within our personal lives.

      2. “He’s against bullying, but supports kids demeaning another’s gender expression. Words are stones, DW — he that is without sin can start casting them.” I will agree with other readers that it seems the audience is casting their fair share of stones. I feel the underlying issue is that he’s an advocate of not empathy with understanding but of judgement without knowing. If Christians really want us to work with them, they have to be willing to meet us half way… and I would posit that **it is the Christian’s responsibility as followers of Christ who advocates love to make that first step**. But the gay community hasn’t seen this, but really only felt the stinging judgement by these “stones.”

      3. You are right in there seems to be a disparity in his want to accept the bible in full for everyone, but then wanting to tailor it for certain “parts” of the world. Can’t have your pie and eat it, too.

      Thank you for first meeting me half way in the conversation and then helping me think about these issues in a different way. I believe this conversation goes nowhere until with acknowledge and empathize with the other side. Thanks for taking the first step… it makes me much more willing to meet your comments half way.

  • Bill Trip

    I noticed the following:

    1. Hostility of students for an opposing viewpoint.

    2. Inarticulate nature of student’s questions. At times, they seem to ramble with no clear focus or direction. One student seemed high or drunk. Their attitudes were not only
    hostel but mocking. No respect for authority.

    3.Doug Wilson’s patience and graciousness at their hostility. He had to have known
    what he was going to receive before walking onto the campus.

    4.Doug Wilson’s transparency and self-deprecating humor.

    5.If these kids are the future of American, we are done as a nation. It’s over.

  • Nathan Cesal

    The question I would have asked:

    Churches don’t have a good track record regarding their engagement of the LGBT community, but I hear that they are trying to improve. What are the responsibilities that members of your church have toward LGBT? What responsibilities does a citizen in general that isn’t necessarily Christian have toward GLBT?

  • Chris Taylor

    Doug is at times, winsome, but he is often prophetic as well (i.e., like Elijah: not very winsome, see 1King 18:27). Is Doug taking all necessary precautions against inflaming (pun intended) this crowd? By his use of the word, PoMoSexuality, I think not. The smell of life in a fallen world is by necessity the smell of death. Winsomeness must be used in moderation.

  • James Bradshaw

    I’m not a fan of shouting people down. It’s not my style as a gay-rights supporter.
    However, let’s understand who is most frequently on the receiving side of persecution. Hint: it’s not the Christians.

    1) Christians oppose even fundamental protections for gays in housing and employment. Apparently, the Christian’s “right” to “hate queers” trumps the rights of gays to retain their homes and jobs.

    2) People oppose the ability of gays to form civil partnerships.

    3) Christian pastors like Rev Worley of North Carolina have called for pogroms and executions for gays with the full support of their congregations. Other pastors have insisted that government should be executing gays.

    So Christians: you want tolerance? How about you stop making this a zero-sum game and extending that tolerance to the same gay community you’ve targeted *via civil legislation* for years.

    • Mike Lynch

      Really, James? What you describe here is the norm? While believers should oppose the redefinition of marriage so long as they are able to vote on it in this country, nothing you describe is the norm. Believers should speak out against this sin just as they do other sins. That is not being intolerant, nor is it hate speech. It’s actually love speech. Maybe you need to understand Christian thinking on this issue instead of creating stereotypes. Check out John Piper’s sermon that Denny posted a few days ago, it’s excellent.

  • Richard Baker

    I’ve listened to just the Q&A. I feel the times of winsomeness were sparse and the sarcasm when used wasn’t well timed.

    I haven’t heard a lot from Doug Wilson but my take from this Q&A is that he is very knowledgeable and often balanced in his answers but at times there is a tone of arrogance, not sure if that’s the best word to use.

    I think a lot of the reaction from the university was because Doug Wilson things, he’s written and endorsed in the past that border on offensive though the truth is expressed.

    If someone like Tim Keller did a talk like that I don’t think the reaction would have been as volatile and the winsomeness would have been more consistent (he did do a GoogleTalk on his book on marriage but I’m sure the dynamics of audience was different).

  • Jake T

    I have to admit that I had no idea who this Doug Wilson fella was when I originally read this post. I also have to admit that I still believe that disrespectful dialogue is not the way to forge ahead in the midst of controversial subjects.

    HOWEVER. I feel I now have more context with the latest blog-ogedon. And must give my two cents.

    It seems clear to me now that the problem with Wilson is that he does not want actual dialogue with people who don’t agree with him. I mean, it’s one thing to discount the “others” outside the church but with the latest debacle over his very heavy word choice in his new book is one thing. **He not only declines to want to understand the women who are hurt by his words, BUT INSTEAD CHASTISES THEM** (( It is no wonder that gay rights activists are so pained and hurt… because just like with the raped women within the church that he has hurt, he simply refuses to empathize.

    I now have to remind us that Doug Wilson also has a responsibility in this discussion… which is to stay respectful and be open to hearing and receiving politely another person’s views. He seems too (to quote Richard Baxter) arrogant. Arrogance will not lead to open and constructive dialogue. It only lets hurt fester and turns everyone away from true understanding.

    So maybe then Doug Wilson must take some sort of responsibility in how these students respond to him… and furthermore how his Christian sisters are as well. He seems to forget the words matter and that we should always strive to have Christ-like conversations.

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