I’m sure everyone has heard about the senate race in Alabama by now. The choices are Doug Jones (a democrat from a family of farmers, steelworkers, and miners who was a prosecutor) and Roy Moore (a republican judge who has a history of pedophilia and was banned from the mall for pursuing teenage girls). Yes. Sexual relations with young teenage girls is pedophilic and abusive by definition, even if you get permission from her mother. If a 30+ year old was sexually involved with my teenage son, they would be prosecuted (perhaps by someone like Doug Jones)! However, it seems that the choice between a democrat and a pedophile is difficult for much of the religious right.
Alabama State Auditor said, “Take Joseph and Mary, Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus. There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual.”
Franklin Graham has said that, “The hypocrisy of Washington has no bounds. So many denouncing Roy Moore when they are guilty of doing much worse than what he has been accused of supposedly doing. Shame on those hypocrites.”
Jerry Moore said, “He is being persecuted, like Jesus.”
Jerry Falwell Jr. has stated that he believes Moore, over his accusers. And the rest of the supporting facts, I suppose.
The president has said that, “He says it didn’t happen. You have to listen to him also.”
In September, James Dobson said that, “I can personally attest to his impeccable character as well as his sincere Christian faith. Throughout his career, Judge Moore has been a tireless champion of religious liberty, standing down those who want nothing less than to rid our nation of its Judeo-Christian foundations.” (He has not withdrawn this glowing support in light of the new information about Moore that has come to light.)
This is not just about Roy Moore, it is about what Roy Moore’s crimes have illuminated. The party that claims the moral high-ground, the people who believe they have sole rights to Jesus’s name, who have built businesses and fortunes off of Him, who have the ears and respect of most evangelical Christians, have become apologists for pedophilia and assault. Who cares if you abuse some teenage girls, as long as you put up the 10 Commandments and make a real good stink about it? The world is watching and this is their witness. This is what outsiders believe Christianity is. Who in their right mind would want to be a part of that? Where is the wisdom? Where is the grace? What part of that bears any resemblance to our Savior?
I don’t care what your politics are, if you follow Jesus, there should be a line between defensible and indefensible. We are called to side with victims, to bind up wounds, to love as we have been loved, to protect, to sacrifice ourselves for the good of others…and this is the opposite of all of that. This is sacrificing human beings for political gain. This is not a new thing for the church, sexual assault has long hidden within its confines and has been covered up by “godly” people who tell victims to forgive their assailants and rapists and keep in contact with them so that they may come to know Jesus. Girls who are abused are told to repent of “their part” in what happened. The focus is put back on girls and what they could have done to prevent the crime, rather than on helping them recover from it or holding the abusers accountable. If you don’t believe me, go to Twitter and search for #churchtoo. It will break your heart. All of these victims are just seeing the same thing replayed on a much larger stage right now.
The sad truth is that these people have the microphone and stage right now and have announced that they speak for Jesus, and the world is watching and listening. Outsiders are watching. Victims of sexual abuse are watching. Predators are watching. Christian women who grew up insides the bounds of the harmful purity culture that gave them baggage to last a lifetime are watching. And there is no grace in what they are seeing. No wisdom. There is only damage and depravity, and the message that power is more important than people, especially if those people are female. If Roy Moore had this same history with 14 year old boys, it would all be very different. He’d be a gay pedophile/monster. But since it is just girls, who can blame him by being bewitched by their “purity“? Of course it is desirable. Of course they wanted his attention. Of course it was okay if he asked their mothers. He’s a godly man, after all. It turns my stomach.
I will never have the platform these evangelical men have, but I will use the small platform I have to say that this isn’t okay. This has nothing to do with my Jesus. There is no room for whataboutism here. If you have been hurt, I will grieve with you. If you need someone to believe you, I will believe you. If you have been told your worth is in your purity, I will tell you that is a lie. You have worth because you are YOU, exactly as you are…every bit of you has value. If you need to be reminded of this, over and over, I will remind you. If someone failed to do these things for you in the past, I am so sorry. We must do better.