Our theme for the month of June is “Sex and the Church.”
The following is an actual quote from a religious leader in October 2016 after Donald Trump said he likes to grab women by the pussy:
“Naturally I’m disappointed, but, you know, the Bible tells me that we are all sinners saved by grace and I don’t think there’s probably a person alive that I know of that hasn’t made some mistakes in the past.”
Ladies and gentlemen, our moral authorities have spoken!
Our writers have talked in this space before about the smugness of Christians, looking down disdainfully from their morality-girded high horse on the unwashed masses. Nowhere was this manifested more clearly than in sexuality. TV shows were forbidden because they didn’t show “Christian virtues.” Premarital sex was maybe the most egregious sin a person could commit, behind adultery.
There was a time when I drank this particular Kool-Aid—when I actually bought into the notion that Christians were somehow better, more upright, more righteous. Why wouldn’t I? It’s all I’d been taught, implicitly or explicitly, my entire life.
I’m happy to say I no longer suffer from this delusion, and haven’t for many years. It was a slow process which accelerated as soon as I left the West Michigan bubble, and was further expedited by the fact that the Church (by which I mean white Evangelicals) has hitched its wagon to the Republican Party. The Republican Party was bad before Donald Trump and will be bad after him. But even with my new, more liberated perspective, I admit to being amazed at the level of support and contortions the Church has gone through for Donald Trump, an admitted adulterer and sexual predator with more pending harassment lawsuits than lifetime church services attended.
And by no means should the Church get all the credit. The god-fearing representatives of the Republican Party have held up their end of the (Faustian) bargain as well. Since a few dared to criticize Trump for his “vulgar” comments in the Access Hollywood Tape, they have been in lockstep with their fearless leader. His policies are now their policies, his views their views. One can imagine the sorts of conversations this leads to at home:
PAUL RYAN, devout Catholic and doting father, enters his son’s room.
PAUL: Sam, it’s time to talk about the birds and the bees. Now, you’re probably feeling strange things happening in your body, and that’s okay. You’re probably getting some funny feelings about girls, and that’s okay too.
SAM: Actually Dad, I’ve been thinking about Derrick a lot latel—
PAUL: Hush, Sam, hush. Speakest not these foul thoughts aloud, lest ye spend eternity in a pit of hellfire.
But anyway, the important thing to remember about these feelings is that they’re perfectly natural, but remember to obey the scriptures. As our bible says in Access Hollywood 1:15 of the King Donald Version, make sure to use Tic-Tacs when around women, in case you just starting kissing them. And remember, if you’re a star, you don’t have to take no for an answer. They’ll let you do it. They let you do anything.
SAM: Whatever you want?
PAUL: Whatever you want.
Me personally—I don’t much care about the Church’s position on sex. Christianity has long since forfeited the right to tell anyone how to live their lives. But for the sake of future generations, let me offer this advice to future Church leaders: when adopting stances towards public figures, be consistent, or be honest. Either hew to the standards which you profess to believe, or inform your followers that you hold public figures to a different standard. That way, when the next Roy Moore comes along, you can at least be up front about the fact that pedophilia doesn’t matter if he has an R next to his name.
After working in Washington, D.C., for two years, Andrew Orlebeke (’10) is in graduate school in Seattle, Washington, studying public policy. In addition to public service, he has a passion for traveling and an abiding love of sports.