Doug Wilson

Douglas Wilson

Article: The Empathy Wars

March 17, 2021
by Douglas Wilson

In this episode, pastor Doug Wilson discusses the recent hubbub surrounding Joe Rigney and the Man Rampant episode, "The Sin of Empathy."

  • Empathy has multiple meanings

  • Sympathy and Empathy debate

    • Sympathy

      • is a Christian virtue

      • saving a someone by keeping one foot on the bank and reaching out to the drowning person

      • is sympathy a sin? saying this could be seen as provocative. Brene Brown attacked sympathy in her video. She criticized all sympathy, it drives people apart, is creates disconnection. So why can't we say empathy drives disconnection, disconnection from reality and facts on the ground. (They seem upset about this criticism and how it was done.)

    • Empathy

      • Joe and I see empathy as problematic

      • is identifying completely with the person downing.

      • The sin of empathy is totally entering the other person

      • Being provocative with saying empathy is sin is a way to get at a real issue.

      • The Woke see feelings as autonomous and unquestionable by outside reality. versus we all have our own truths.

      • Joe says Empathy B is. If I am miserable, then you must be in sin.

        • Story, a woman was making accusations against someone else and they didn't add up. the counselor said, "this is her truth", but what is the truth Doug asks. (that is why there is a trial.) Social Justice demands the primacy of feelings and it's just about power. Feelings must be measured against social justice. justice is about power and what you can get away with. This starts with empathizing with people and their feelings and not trying to find out if it is true. It sounds good to say to believe all victims, or all women.

        • is about

          • feelings versus facts

          • mobs versus courts

          • injustice or justice

          • damnation or salvation

        • Joe says, "we can grieve with others but not lose ourselves in the grief of others." putting someone else in your emotional drivers seat.

Joe says, "empathy is the parasitic version of sympathy. It is what sympathy looks like when it goes bad."

Article and Audio David French and the Pink Spiders of Empathy
September 20, 2021
by Douglas Wilson

Doug Wilson responds to David French's article. The American Crisis of Selective Empathy.

  • "David French recently wrote about what he sees as a significant developing problem with the issues of empathy and sympathy in the church. As yours truly got mentioned in his piece, I thought this would be a good time for a refresher on this most significant topic. "

  • This topic is a big deal.

  • Confusion of empathy and sympathy.

  • References Brene Brown empathy/sympathy video

    • is upset that Brene Brown is saying sympathy causes disconnection. using a strawman argument.

    • also the video has problems.

  • when we hear a story, we don't have all the facts so we need to withhold judgement and stay detached and get all the facts.

  • If someone tells us a horror story of a racist taunt, or abusive behavior, withholding judgement is not telling the person they are lying. It demonstrates a commitment to the truth.

    • you should not empathize with the accuser because we know how frail our judgement can be. (we can empathize with both. or all sides and bring the parties together to empathize with each other to work out the issues)

    • 3 Examples
      (rather muddled understanding of empathy. Would be good to put these stories into an empathy circle and play them out)

        • 1

        • 2

        • 3

    • America is burning down and the fuel for this is empathy. lynch mobs come from empathy. go right to the feeling and act on it.

    • empathy is the weaponization of untethered emotion.

    • if a women accuses a man of rape, and you empathize with either of them, you don't deserve to be on the jury.

      • (seem to think empathy is agreement. he doesn't understand that empathy is sensing into all the parties experiences and and then bring the parties together to empathize with each other. Would again be helpful to do an empathy circle and model this. )

    • there is a disconnect between what the person is saying and what is happening.

    • if someone is sharing a delusion, if you empathize with them, you are supporting the delusion and the lack of objective reality.

    • facts do not care about your feelings (but feelings are a fact, people are experiencing feelings and that is a fact.)

    • this is applied to the issue of racism, We are supposed to accept their accusations of racism, and empathize with it and not say anything in response. ( ver. empathizing with what they say, and then have them empathize with you, and have a mutually empathic dialogue.)

    • empathy mean you set aside THE TRUTH, if it happened or not. and enter into the malady of whatever the person has. by acknowledging they other persons Truth is burns down western civilization.

    • Brings in the whole culture wars. and Woke Social Justice.

Nov 11, 2021
In this episode of Doug Reacts, Pastor Doug Wilson responds to Brene Brown's video on empathy, sympathy, and truth.

Otter transcript


Hey, we're gonna be reacting to a video by Brene Brown on sympathy and empathy nice music good info

and why is it very different than sympathy? Empathy, fuels connection, sympathy drives disconnection and why on earth would we take a word sympathy that has been used positively for 1000s of years? We have high priest who can sympathize with us and our weakness.

Hebrews tells us this. For millennia, sympathy has been a good thing true sympathy has been a good thing. False sympathy, of course, not so much. But true sympathy has been a good thing. Empathy is a newfangled word, just developed in the last century or so I think. And all of a sudden, it's going to be the good, good guy over against the bad guy sympathy, something fishy. is going on.


Empathy is very interesting. Teresa Wiseman is a nursing scholar who studied professions, very diverse professions where empathy is relevant and came up with four qualities of empathy, perceptive take

four qualities or four things. perspective taking, perspective taking, which means that you step into the shoes of the other person, you are with them entirely. You share with them, you are their completely. You take their perspective, you look out at the world through their eyes, which means of course that the person you're empathizing with is in trouble, at least partially of his own making. You will be unable to help him because you have engaged in perspective taking.


You can take the perspective of another person or recognize their perspectives and their truth.


Note that deadly phrase there's poison in that phrase, their truth about the truth. What is the truth? What is the truth that over arches, these two preachers, this this bear in this box, what what is not truth, not their truth? So when you take when you engage in perspective taking, you are abandoning objectivity, out of judgment, not easy when you enjoy it isn't just staying out of judgment. In other words, there is absolutely no room for evaluating how this situation developed.

How many times have we dealt with someone going through troubles and they're going through troubles of their own making, they're going through troubles of their own devising You of course you don't want to show up like Job's friends and blame him for you know, for you don't want to vocalize everything that you think but if you stay on their judgment, if you take their perspective, and recognize their truth, and you stay out of judgment, that means that just like the person who's suffering, you might not know what's going on either.


Recognizing emotion in other people and then communicating that recognizing emotion, and other people, which of course, sympathy does as well. And then communicating that you recognize that emotion which of course sympathy does as well as sympathy does not do is completely identify with the person who's suffering. It's the difference between someone drowning in a river and you keep one foot in the bank and you extend your arm to them because you've got a foot on the bank. That's not an unfair advantage. It means you're in a position to help. Empathy the way we've defined it their truth perspective taking no judgment. That means you have to take a head or in the river with them. And start drowning along side them.


Empathy is filled with people that predicts SIM in sympathy means with sympathy is feeling with people. Empathy is according to Brene Browns definition, empathy is complete identification. You're you're all in there's no there's nothing that you hold back. There's no reserve that it's their truth. You've taken their perspective. You don't judge anything. You're in it with them completely and totally and that is disastrous.


And to me, I always think of empathy as this kind of sacred space, sacred space. Now, we're demonizing this. When someone's kind of in a deep hole, and they shout out from the bottom and they say, I'm stuck. It's dark. I'm overwhelmed. And then we look and we say, hey, down. I know that's like down here.


Do you really, in just a moment, we're going to be introduced to a dear character, who says also all kinds of stupid, thoughtless, clunky things, but this could be made into a clunky thing. I know what it's like down here. Suppose you don't know what it's like. Suppose they just lost a child and you've never lost a child. Suppose something disastrous is just happened to them? Do you really want to walk into someone's dark space and say, I know what it's like down here. Suppose you don't. Maybe it would be necessary to be sympathetic.


And you're not alone. Sympathy is, oh, it's bad. Uh huh. No, your sandwich.


This is what you might call reputation. Through funny voices or reputation through making your character say ludicrous things. It's a it's a variation of the straw man fallacy. This is straw deer. This is a decoy idea. This is a position that is easily refuted. One sandwich is a choice as a vulnerable choice because in order to connect with you, I have to connect with something in myself that knows that feeling.


Yeah, but suppose you don't know that feeling. You might be saying I know what it's like down here when you might not know what it's like down here. What are you supposed to do when you are loving people who are going through a worst time that you've ever had?


rarely ever, because an empathic Response began with athletes.


At least I know what it's like that here.


I had it. Yeah. And we do it all the time. Because you know what? Someone who shared something with us. It's incredibly painful. And we're trying to filter line yet. I don't think that's a burden. But I'm using it as one. We're trying to put this a little running around it so I had a miscarriage. At least you know, you can department. I think my marriage is falling apart. At least you have a marriage John's getting kicked out of school, at least Sarah with an ace students. But one of the things you have a bear down this hole that knows what it's like.

But one of the things we do sometimes in the face of very difficult conversations. If we try to make things better. If I share something with you, it's very difficult either you say I don't even know what to say right now. I'm just so glad you told me because the truth is rarely can a response, make something better? What makes something better is connection.


And for the last 2000 years, there have been people sympathizing with other people and doing it with honesty and integrity, who the person who was comforted comes back later and says you know when you were with me during that dark time, I don't even remember what you said. I just remembered that you were there with me. And that's this is true enough. But why on earth do you have to make sympathy into a bad thing?

Dec 29, 2019
Do you know the difference between sympathy and empathy? Society seems to want to confuse the two. Join me as I discuss the sin of empathy this week.


  • Empathy v Sympathy

  • Individualistic

March 17, 2021 Core Christianity
A recent listener heard Christian leaders saying empathy being a sin. They wanted to get Pastor Adriel's viewpoint on it.

  • Supports Empathy

  • Narcissist can not show empathy