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    November 06, 2006

    The vulnerable male heterosexual

    Posted by: Chris

    If we held out any hope that the very public meltdown of a leading evangelist would give his allies some pause to reconsider their instruction on homosexuality, the early signs aren't encouraging. If anything, it seems that Ted Haggard's fall has hit way too close to home for many conservatives, leading them to circle the wagons to protect their most vulnerable: themselves, the heterosexual male.

    Remember how the New York state supreme court defended limiting marriage to straight couples because, in part, it increased the odds that heterosexual males would stick around after impregnating their women? Well, this defense of traditional marriage as a curb on straight male sexuality is growing stronger.

    From the National Review, conservative Jewish author David Klinghofer makes the rather incredible argument that if gay couples can marry, more straight men will succumb to gay sex temptations:

    Haggard confirms what we’ve said all along. It is pervasive moral weakness that makes [defending traditional marriage] necessary. 

If everyone were in control of his appetites, there would be no need for the government to be involved in endorsing some sexual relationships while withholding endorsement from others.

    The more society undermines ancient standards of moral conduct, the harder it becomes to withstand temptation. This is why gay marriage threatens heterosexual marriage. When the awe in which people once held matrimony is diluted, by treating it as a man-made and thus amendable institution rather than a divinely determined one, heterosexuals find sexual sins of all sorts harder to resist.

    Oh, come on. He isn't saying that heterosexual men are more likely to indulge gay vices if we gay guys can marry, is he? Oh yes he is:

    Did the acceptability of gay love in today’s culture hasten Haggard’s fall? No doubt it did. It’s possible that the same man in a better time and place would have been beset by no such temptation.

    Such willful ignorance about the basics of sexual orientation is a common theme. A number of Christian websites have been linking to a blog post by Pastor Mark Driscoll, who leads a large evangelical church in Seattle, who gives rather telling advice to other pastors in the wake of Haggard's fall on how to avoid sexual sin. These heterosexual male pastors are so vulnerable, he argues, that their church secretaries should be men — heterosexual men — preferably with beautiful wives of their own:

    Churches should consider returning to heterosexual male assistants who are like Timothy and Titus to serve alongside pastors. … I have been blessed with a trustworthy heterosexual male assistant who can travel with me, meet with me, etc., without the fear of any temptations or even false allegations since we have beautiful wives and eight children between us.

    Markdriscoll_1 Having a spouse who is very attractive physically is apparently also crucial to these spiritual leaders. Driscoll emphasizes it repeatedly when faced with temptation. ("Thankfully, I was married to a beautiful woman.") He even puts it on the pastor's wife to keep herself in shape to satisfy her man (a pretty ballsy request considering that from this photo it looks like Driscoll could use some time on the StairMaster):

    It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Solomon is so frank about is not responsible for her husband’s sin, but she may not be helping him either.

    Driscoll goes on to urge pastors not to ever work alone in the church office, and to never ever travel alone. Ben Witherington, another influencial fundamentalist, has similar advice, urging close scrutiny of the heterosexual male minister: "Who's checking the minister's emails, voice mails and the like? In Haggard's case it is voice males which did him in." Yes, Witherington wrote "voice males" not "voice mails." Freud strikes again.

    One reverend, commenting on Wetherington's advice, goes even further: "I'm a pastor and my rule is quite simple: it's never ok to be alone with anyone except my family. Even in counseling my rule is strictly adhered to. If someone needs to talk to me, either someone they choose can be there or my wife will be there. Period."

    Witherington blames Haggard's sin on the delicate phase of the "male menopause," in the late 40s and early 50s, when "there is a biological clock ticking which sends the subtle message that time is running out on one's sexual life, and 'it's now or never' if one is going to have some sort of fling or walk on the wild side. This internal prompt leads to immoral behavior."

    Are heterosexual males really so vulnerable? As gay men, we interact daily with friends and acquaintances who are also gay men (and often in great shape and physically very attractive) and yet somehow we manage to avoid the temptation to bed them. Yet it would be inconceivable for these self-styled moralist leaders to have a female close friend (much less one more attractive than his wife).

    Aside from their apparent lack of self-control, are these evangelicals really so ignorant about basic human sexuality? I feel completely comfortable saying that even the most attractive, single, flirtatious female secretary would never tempt me into sexual sin. And though "male menopause" is thankfully still a few years off, I can't imagine my ticking biological clock leading me into trysts with women. I don't find them sexually attractive; I'm gay.

    Do these leaders really fail so completely to grasp the way human sexuality works? Or is the fundamentalist ministry full of closeted gay and bisexual men? Do they have so little faith in the effectiveness of their moral teachings that they must go to such extreme lengths to ward off sexual sin? They are, after all, but a few steps down the slippery slope from the Islamic fundamentalists, who cover their women in burkas to prevent men from engaging in sexual sin.

    In this context, it's clearer why Haggard's "overseers" fired him, even though he still denies being gay or having sex with another man. Receiving a massage from a gay man was "sexually immoral conduct" enough.



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    1. Alan on Nov 6, 2006 1:04:02 PM:

      A friend of mine once said to me that all men are gay - 1/3 know it and openly admit it, 1/3 know it and are in the closet and the remaining 1/3 just haven't figured it out yet.

      Obviously these evangelicals agree.

      Amen brother.

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