Yesterday I nearly posted something on Facebook about the ridiculousness of boycott culture. Some of my gay-affirming friends are cheering on calls to boycott Chick-Fil-A because the president of the company doesn’t share their support for same sex marriage. Not that he’s refusing to hire homosexuals, or serve them chicken and waffle fries. Mr. Cathy has just expressed a point of view that is becoming increasingly unpopular. Others of my Facebook friends are calling for people to eat Chick-Fil-A on August 1, in support of Cathy’s values.
Personally, I think as long as he’s not engaged in discriminatory business practices, Mr. Cathy’s views are irrelevant. Or maybe I don’t think that. Maybe it just doesn’t hit close enough to home for me to get worked up about it. Maybe that’s what’s really separating me from the Chick-Fil-A activists among us.
I realized that my perspective on boycotting might not be completely unbiased today, when I was going through 12 years of homeschooling materials, trying to get rid of something, anything to create more shelf space. I came across my copies of Latin Primer 1 & 2, teacher editions. I persist in believing that someday I’ll successfully teach a child Latin. I mean, it hasn’t happened yet, but hope springs eternal. And Latin Primer is a really solid curriculum. So Latin Primer should stay, right? But then I looked at the book again: Mars Hill Textbook Series; Canon Press; Moscow, Idaho. That may not mean anything to you, but I know who is behind Canon Press: Douglas Wilson.
Oh, dear. Douglas Wilson. An excerpt from one of his books, Fidelity, caused a dust up in Christian blog world last week. Here’s the passage that Jared Wilson (no relation) highlighted, approvingly, in a blog post at The Gospel Coalition:
The sexual act cannot be made into an egalitarian pleasuring party. A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts. This is of course offensive to all egalitarians, and so our culture has rebelled against the concept of authority and submission in marriage. This means that we have sought to suppress the concepts of authority and submission as they relate to the marriage bed.
We cannot make gravity disappear just because we dislike it, and in the same way we find that our banished authority and submission comes back to us in pathological forms. This is what lies behind sexual “bondage and submission games,” along with very common rape fantasies. Men dream of being rapists, and women find themselves wistfully reading novels in which someone ravishes the “soon to be made willing” heroine. Those who deny they have any need for water at all will soon find themselves lusting after polluted water, but water nonetheless.
So there’s that. And then there is the stunningly boorish way in which Douglas Wilson responded to the ensuing controversy. That link is to the last in a series of posts, none of them exhibiting the kind of of grace and humility one might hope to see in a pastor and theologian. And his daughters got in on the action, making the entire family seem obnoxious with these posts. Nasty, belligerent and proud of it.
All that to say that today, when I looked at my old Latin Primer books, I knew they had to go. And so does Introductory Logic, authored by Douglas Wilson himself. It’s not that I think there’s objectionable material in those books. I just can’t bear to give even the tiniest endorsement to a man whose theology and conduct I find so repugnant.
This is not the first time that I’ve rejected curriculum because of its source. Although Bob Jones University Press is very popular in the homeschool community I made a commitment when I began teaching that I would never, repeat never, use anything they published. It took the university entirely too long to drop their racially discriminatory practices.
So I won’t purchase from BJU, and now I won’t buy from Canon Press. Does that mean that I’m pro-boycotts? Am I a hypocrite for not joining in efforts to punish or protect Chick-Fil-A, or JC Penney? Maybe. Or maybe I think we should just make conscientious purchasing decisions for ourselves, rather than trying to shame everyone else into doing as we do. I think the mayor of Boston is behaving like an out-of-control autoucrat at the moment, to be honest. You don’t want to support Chick-Fil-A, sir? Don’t eat their chicken. Go ahead and tell your friends, “I don’t eat at Chick-Fil-A because blah blah blah.” Whatever. But let other people, including people who live in your city, make decisions for themselves. Will you be vetting the political positions of all the business owners in Boston, by the way?
I get it: after this past week Chick-Fil-A’s image has changed. For some people those chicken sandwiches will forever be a symbol of oppression – or of cherished traditional values. But sometimes a waffle fry is just a waffle fry, and for some people Latin Primer is just a Latin curriculum. Let’s back off and give each other the space to make our own buying decisions. Provide information? Sure. Bully and shame each other? No.
You don’t do Starbucks or Nestle, Lifeway Books or Home Depot? Great. I’m glad you think about the ethical decisions that are involved in buying. We can have a conversation about that, and perhaps we can even learn from each other.
By the way, I don’t do Answers in Genesis either. And I won’t eat at Burger King. But you, friends, should do as you please. I want you to follow your conscience, not mine.
Now, back to going through those books….