Monday, November 15, 2010

Why Do We Christians Have to be so Weird About Imperfections?

Pictured is Dr. George Rekers, the country's (previous) most outspoken critic of homosexuality. He is at the Miami airport in May with his . . . paid . . . gay escort.

Now why am I bringing this up now? Honestly, it had completely slipped beneath my radar back in May. Apparently it was big news with the story broke. After all, he was James Dobson’s right hand man and his chief architect for programs to persuade people from becoming gay, and to re-convert them to heterosexuality. He had credentials. Besides being a Baptist minister, Dr. Rekers, is a Harvard graduate in neuropsychology. If you want to know more click on the title above and it will lead you to an excellent NY Times article.

Two of my sons were home this weekend, Ramsey and Quentin. Quentin is a very smart guy (PhD student in math and computer science). He’s the one who has made comments about what drives him away from Christianity is its farce factor. Quentin is the one who told me about the Reker story. So, I do take these things very personally . . . because they are. I am always haunted by the statistics that 85% of kids raised in “good Evangelical homes,” leave the church by the time they are 25.

But I hesitated bringing this up here. It seems that I’m always out to criticize Evangelicalism. But my point isn’t really about the hypocrisy of preaching against homosexuality, while renting “toy boys” for your own sexual gratification. This story sounds reminiscent of Ted Haggard doesn’t it?

It also reminds me of something one of my psychology professors described to me. He referred to it as the “St. Paul factor.” I think this was a layman’s term he used because—although he was teaching at a state school—it was in the Bible belt. What he meant was that those people who fight the hardest against certain moral vices . . . are themselves most tempted. I’m sure there is a more clinical term for the phenomenon.

What bothers me the most is a far more troubling and pervasive problem within Evangelicalism than simple hypocrisy . . . it is weirdness. I’m not sure if I can even put a handle on it right now but I think you know what I mean.

So when the Miami Herald sighted Dr. Rekers and published the story, he gave a couple of statements in the media (and on his blog). He tried to explain that he had surgery and he needed someone to carry his luggage during a vacation to Europe (notice in the photo the good doctor seems to be handling his own luggage pretty well thank you). So, he found this young man (and stranger), whom he paid, to travel with him an assist him in carrying his bags. The young man’s only advertising, though, was on a very graphic (may I say pornographic) web page. The page was explicit about its purpose, renting young, gay men for sexual favors.

Dr. Reker’s next statement was that he shared Jesus with the young man during the trip and that was the main purpose. However, soon after those clumsy explanations . . . Dr. Reker vanished. He stepped down from Focus on the Family. He stopped blogging the next day as well.

I’ve searched the web and I can’t find a single statement by James Dobson . . . not in Dr. Reker’s favor or against. This is the weirdness, which is the greater sin.

Say, that you completely believe Dr. Rekers. After all, we Christians are brainwashed—er—I mean taught to never question other Christians, especially if they are in a position of leadership. It falls under the “judge not least you be judge” misinterpretation. Even his story (if it was true) is bizarre. Would you really go online and rent a boy from a graphic gay porn site, not realizing he was an escort, just to carry your luggage on a European vacation? Who are we kidding here?

I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. Then I thought of the most extreme situation. I knew a Dr. Black. He was handicapped with a spinal cord injury. He was also wealthy as he was a department head of a very famous medical center. Dr. Black couldn’t carry language very well. But he did travel a lot as he did medical talks all over the world. He never rented strange men from the Internet to carry his bags. I’m sure that colleagues helped him, the airlines helped him, his wife helped him or his medical students helped him. Dr. Rekers also taught in a medical school. As a leader of Focus on the Family, he was surrounded by capable people who could have helped him, especially if he was willing to pay their way. It not only doesn’t add up, but it is such a stupid explanation that it assumed that we are all idiots. Maybe the Christians buy such nonsense but those on the outside, and those like my son (whom I care dearly about) aren’t that stupid.

It is very much like my recent leaving of my old church. It could have been a healthy leaving. I wrote a very flattering letter to all my friends explaining that I love them, respect them and am not leaving mad. But, that letter was canned by the pastor. My leaving was instead swept under the rug . . . like a scene from bizarre-o-world. They now pretend that I never existed. It is the same bizarre behavior as James Dobson sweeping Dr. Rekers under the carpet. So, if Dr. Rekers does have a gay side, that isn’t the biggest problem he has. No, it is the strange world that has developed around the Evangelical kingdom . . . where all hands on deck are smiling . . . with smirks, while who knows what the hell lurks below deck.


Anonymous said...

What he meant was that those people who fight the hardest against certain moral vices . . . are themselves most tempted. I’m sure there is a more clinical term for the phenomenon.

Remember a couple years ago, when Rush Limbaugh was the War on Drugs' Number-One Fan while he was fighting a secret Oxycontin addiction?

And around 100 years ago when recovering alcoholic Billy Sunday preached a Gospel all about being against Demon Rum while hardly mentioning Christ?

(Makes you wonder about Fred Phelps, doesn't it?)

I’ve searched the web and I can’t find a single statement by James Dobson . . . not in Dr. Reker’s favor or against. This is the weirdness, which is the greater sin.

It's called "doubleplusunperson -- memhole."

My leaving was instead swept under the rug . . . like a scene from bizarre-o-world. They now pretend that I never existed.

Again, doubleplusunperson.

Headless Unicorn Guy

(Incidentally, the terminology references are to 1984 by George Orwell. If you haven't put this downer on your list of "500 greatest books", do so. You'll find a lot of parallels between Airstrip One, Oceania, and the Evangelical Cosmos.)

Anonymous said...


When my husband, who was on full-time staff at our church, stepped down and was then diagnosed with severe mental illness (along with allegations of abuse, porn and alcoholism...quiet but firm allegations made by me, his wife), our senior pastor, a man who claimed that his calling from God was to save marriages from divorce, told me to not tell anyone but to keep it very quiet.....and then proceeded to completely ignore us.

Not that he could have helped. He couldn't have...because the problem was actually quite complex and not something that the little 1,2,3 formula's of evangelicalism could fix. But, still...the fact that he turned his face away from us, after we served with him for years, really hurt.

My thoughts as to why? We made him look bad. The pastor is only as good as the facade he is able to maintain, both in his own family and also in his church. Or so says the evangelical unwritten creed.

Our senior pastor was a really normal guy---not a creep like the pastor in your former church (who fits the description of a few Bible=based almost-a-cult-kind-of-church leaders I have known, including my ex)... Our pastor then wasn't the brightest bulb in the pack, but his heart was sweet and he genuinely cared, or, at least, he tried hard to genuinely care. He was someone who I never thought would turn his back on us like he did...but, oh, he did. Kept it totally hush, hush to our former congregation----to the point that I'd run into people a year later in the grocery store or something and they'd say, "What are you doing here!? I thought you guys were off in ___ as missionaries!"

If the truth comes out when we are weak, then the truth about evangelicalism is out and people like your son see it. What is that truth? That there's not much there, under the shiny glitter. It isn't a place to build anything on, because there's nothing firm underneath the facade.

...At least, that's my opinion, as one who built everything on top of that beautiful strong-seeming lie.

PS. Ooooh, I love 1984, HUG. It's one of my top five favorite books. So good.

jmj said...

It has been a while since I read 1984 . . . maybe high school.

I can imagine Evangoworld, where the Evangelicals have had control of all society for a few decades (I mean total control, a theocracy in other words). In that scifi story, people would walk around like smiling zombies. Then, anytime one has any observable flaw, from a severe outbreak of acne, to lessor mental health issues to sociopathic behavior, they suddenly and totally disappear. Somewhat like the daughter in "Flight Plan." Were there is no trace of the person. No s.s. number, passport and even their name on previous censuses (or censi). would disappear

It is the "disappearing" that concerns me, much more than the flaw itself..

Jaimie said...

If you want to read the Evangoworld book, I highly suggest The Handmaid's Tale.

Anonymous said...

I'm a regular reader of your blog, I recently watched a video by bishop jim swilley that I happened to come across in the blogsphere,
scroll down the blog to come to the video (i'd never heard of him before this). He talks of knowing he was gay since he was 4, a very honest talk, would be interested in your thoughts.