This is the blog post you write because you’re angry.
This is the blog post you write because you’re angry at men. And you’re angry at evangelicalism. And especially you’re angry at white, American, evangelical men.
You’re angry because today, two days after they announced plans to begin hiring gay, lesbian, and bisexual people (I have no illusions about including the T of LGBT here – that would be a bridge waaay too far) who are in same-sex marriages that are sanctioned by their home churches, in addition to the celibate LGB people they were willing to hire before — two days later, in response to enormous pressure from pearl-clutching conservative evangelicals, World Vision announced that they’re dreadfully sorry for taking such a controversial stance (hiring gay people who aren’t even sorry for being gay! the horror!) and they’re not going to hire same-sex-married people after all.
You’re angry because scores of evangelicals pulled their support — their promised, life-giving support — from needy families and communities because doctrinal purity is more important than helping the least of these. Because making sure LGBT people know that they’re in no way welcome in the body of Christ is more important than helping the least of these.
Because feeding the hungry and clothing the poor and helping the sick — those are all well and good, but when it comes down to it, those children are really just pawns in the culture wars.
And so you write because people you care about are hurt and angry and surprised (but not really surprised — this is not nearly as surprising as it should be) at World Vision’s reversal, and because when your friends express their hurt and anger on twitter and on their blogs, white evangelical men show up and tell them that they are responding too hastily. That their anger needs to be tempered by time before they are allowed to express it. That it’s okay to question this decision, but do it carefully, because unity.
Because showing unity with people who are willing to further alienate LGBT people is more important than being angry at them for the injustice they are perpetuating.
Because what’s really important — no one is saying it but it comes through loud and clear — is doctrinal purity. (Where doctrinal purity equals rigid gender roles and policing people’s sexuality.) Because God desires mercy, not sacrifice, unless there are gay people involved and then it turns out what God really desires is the sacrifice of hungry children on the altar of Law. Because mercy only triumphs over judgment insofar as we’re not judging (gasp!) sexual sin.
You’re writing angry because once again, you’re confronted with the inescapable reality that evangelicalism is a gendered religion. In evangelicalism, you’re subject to a specific set of rules and roles that change depending on your gender and your sexuality. Men are to behave like this, and women like this. Marriage is encouraged, idolized even (God help the single 30-something member of an evangelical church), but only if you’re straight; if not, suddenly celibacy is a high and holy calling, and all of those verses we trot out at weddings about love and marriage and cords of three not being easily broken don’t apply to you the way they do to everyone else. Searching the scriptures and studying the Bible are important, but if you are a woman it doesn’t matter how spiritually strong you are; you must have a husband to be your spiritual leader, and you must not ever, ever teach a man, nor — heaven forfend — presume that God is calling you to be a pastor.
This is the blog post you write because tonight your son went to midweek programming at your old church (get it, programming as in what you do to a robot) and you came around the corner where his class was playing just in time to hear him yelling NO and crying, because one of the leaders had tried to pick him up without his permission and he said YOU’RE HURTING ME and the leader said, Whatever, you’re fine, you’re not hurt. Get up. Because it’s not enough to get in his personal space without his consent, but then when he tells the leader that he is hurt, when he tells the leader NO, the leader argues with him about what he’s feeling, doubles down on his own right to pick up a child without their permission.
Because what midweek programming is for is to teach boys how to twist themselves until they fit into narrow gendered boxes, and the box marked “male” includes nothing about bodily autonomy and consent and emotional vulnerability, and everything about wrestling and unwanted physicality and denying one’s feelings. The box marked “male” is the one where they tell boys to “shake it off” and “be a man.” Boys play dodgeball and go to wood shop, while the girls are off in their programming making crafts and planning their father-daughter dance.
And you are angry because when you confront the leader, instead of backing down, instead of apologizing, he ignores you and condescendingly tries to explain to your son what he meant. You are saying “consent” and “bodily autonomy” and “boundaries,” and the leader is talking past you to your crying boy about “I was just” and “all I meant was.”
And so you are sick to death of white, evangelical, cisgender heterosexual American men. Sick of patriarchy and condescension and those narrow gendered boxes. Sick, utterly sick of the evangelical idolatry of gender roles that is carried on the backs of hungry children and hurting children and children caught in the crossfire while the adult world of the culture war rages on around them.
Because hell yes, you are angry.