A Few Notes

The saying is “life comes at you fast.” Mere days after videos and reports first circulated that Dr. Burnett L. Robinson condoned marital rape from the pulpit, he has been removed from his pastoral position and resigned. As this story ripped through the social zeitgeist, unbound even by the metaphysical walls of Adventism, the verdict was swift and clear, as it should be. There is no explanation, context, or justification that can rationalize Dr. Robinson’s concept of submission as analogous to body possession such that the horrors of rape could be justified or allowed. Although you can find comment sections on social media where some would be willing to attempt what could only be described as an asinine argument in response, the condemnation is the simplest first step. As we continue to move through the aftermath of these events there are some other things that are worthy of note:


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11519
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I am not sure whether the “publicity” of the apology is a standard for quality (never mind sincerity). Here is why:

  1. Every public appearance could be abused or perceived as an attempt to downplay, make what has happened “undone” or to somehow justify it with a qualifying “but”. Personally I would suggest it would be a far better signal for Dr. Robinson to keep silence. I fear he will not do that… [Edit: the comment by @marshallgeoff seems to prove me right … if indeed his first public comment was one of some kind of martyrdom… that’s exactly what I had in mind ]

  2. The conference as his (former) employer published his apology. [Edit: as some people are overlooking it: it’s published in the second paragraph of the Conference statement. Some may wish it was on his own letterhead - I don’t; see above ] It is in the public realm - for everyone to see.

  3. Furthermore any public statement given by Dr. Robinson himself will receive an undue amount of attention and will definitely not satisfy anyone. Calls for resignation were followed by calls to not allow him to step down, but rather to be fired. What next? It simply cannot be enough.

It seems to me that our calls for “apologies” by Dr. Robinson are suited to split off our own (systemic) involvement and responsibility. Hence I actually was impressed that the Conference apologized…

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But not from GC, strangely silent!

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After the arrogant and self righteous judgement recently by the GC Pres. One wonders how they could.

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  1. His first public comment was indeed an attempt at claiming martyrdom. He should have made a public apology just saying “I was wrong for saying what I said, and I’m sorry” and then keep silent after that.
  2. The conference published THEIR apology for what he said, not him making his own statement as far as I can see.
  3. Any public statement that wasn’t a mea culpa would get that attention, because what he said was very horrible.

The calls for apologies were made because he did something that needed an apology. I hope you’re not saying he didn’t need to apologize.

Unfortunately this thinking / mindset / “theology” is rife and especially in Africa. When I worked in the church system many female colleagues were talking about how they had to submit to their husbands (many of them pastors or church leaders) The descriptions that they gave of what they needed to do outside of the bedroom were truly mind bending and the obvious “submission” in the bedroom was just sad. 100% of the time, their explanation was that it is their culture and that they want to keep their husbands happy

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Why are so many missing the elephant in the room? This is precisely the culture which Ted has counted on to suppress WO. There are more Adventists in Africa by far than there are in the Western World. The fact that this pastor could present this kind of sacrilege before his congregation without immediate repudiation, shows just how the culture in that part of the world looks at women in all aspects of their society including the ministry. I have said it several times on this blog that this is the society that still practices female genital mutilation in some places. It explains why we are still grappling with WO. This bares the very bones of Ted’s ability to squash WO at the GC

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From what I have heard in the GNYC, a group of young people in his congregation confronted him immediately about his statements. Apparently, they had already been disturbed by other displayed attitudes and actions before this latest incident…iow, this was not a one off. During this latest confrontation, he largely waved them off, and they continued their efforts directed towards him on social media.

The congregation were not just silent sheep. Thank God for young people of conscience.

Frank

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I am so glad to hear it. I totally agree. Maybe the youth will reform this dinosaur of a church.

Now that we’re at the end of this I wanted to quickly comment. First as always thanks for reading. I will admit to not necessarily understanding your point here. Obviously if he doesn’t mean his apology than he shouldn’t apologize, but the problem here is that a secondhand pseudo apology does not feel genuine. Let me address your points in turn -

  1. Every public appearance wouldn’t be this if he were sincerely apologizing right? So I don’t think the comment afterwards proved you right. In fact what it does prove is the point I was making - that the apology is lacking and doesn’t feel genuine. If Dr. Robinson had done it the right way it wouldn’t have been a problem. The fact that he didn’t is telling.

  2. You seem to think that this statement (Pastor Robinson deeply regrets the statement and knows it caused injury and has given an unqualified apology.") from the second paragraph of the conference statement constitutes an apology. I think if you read closely it does not. It does say he regrets the statement, but regret does not mean that you apologize for it. And while it does say he gave an unqualified apology it does not say to who or for what. I actually highlighted this point in the piece itself. Again the point was that the apology was not to his church who he said it to, or the public who heard it. Those bodies deserve an apology as well, not just the conference who told us that he apologized. To be even more basic - if I did something that harmed you and then I said to someone else, “I apologize for what I did.” If that person then puts out a statement saying that I apologized, would you say that I have apologized to you? I wouldn’t say that. I have no idea what you’re apologizing for or even who you’re apologizing to. I can’t see how anyone would say that apology is sufficient.

  3. You may be right that it wouldn’t be enough, but we’ll never know because he didn’t try. This point only carries weight if you think he actually apologized (see my point above about why I don’t think he has - at least not as thoroughly as he should). If you hurt three people you should apologize to three people. Right now at the very least it seems he only apologized to one.

I actually agree with you that I was impressed the conference apologized, but to think that their apology would be sufficient I think is myopic. Demands for an apology are what they are a call for someone who has made a mistake to do the right thing. What amazes is me is the lengths some are willing to go to absolve Dr. Robinson of even the most basic steps.

Thanks again for reading,

Dr. Jason Hines

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In my opinion we missed an opportunity to require that the theological underpinnings of that statement be debated and once and for all repudiated in all their manifestations.

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