Roy Moore Allegations Prompt Reflections on Fundamentalist Culture in Which Some Christian Men Date Teens By J. Zauzmer
This article unfortunately (Link): quotes Brad Wilcox. The only positive thing I can say about Wilcox’s contribution to this article: at least he was not defending teen girls dating or marrying 30 year old men.
….That courtship of underage girls is especially common in conservative religious communities.
“We should probably talk about how there is a segment of evangelicalism and home-school culture where the only thing Roy Moore did wrong was initiating sexual contact outside of marriage. 14 year old girls courting adult men isn’t entirely uncommon,” Kathryn Brightbill, who works for the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, tweeted Friday, prompting a flurry of responses from other people who also had watched teenagers date much older Christian men.
…The culture of courting that Easter and Brightbill described is one limited mostly to fundamentalist religious communities, including certain Christian groups and those of other religions, such as some Orthodox Jewish or Mormon communities.
For most evangelical Christians, relationships between older men and teenage girls are viewed as wholly inappropriate.
Moore, who was reported in the Post story to have initiated a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old when he was 32 and to have dated three other teenagers when he was in his 30s, has long established himself as a staunch defender of conservative Christian beliefs.
Evangelical leaders’ responses to the allegations that came out this week ranged widely, from Ed Stetzer, who wrote in Christianity Today, “If Roy Moore did what he is accused of, he should be out of this race and face the consequences,” to Jerry Falwell Jr., who said to Religion News Service, “It comes down to a question who is more credible in the eyes of the voters — the candidate or the accuser,” and added, “I believe the judge is telling the truth.”
Most prominent evangelical pastors did not immediately reflect publicly on whether the evangelical culture Moore embraced in Alabama contributed to his pursuit of teenage girls.
…“You didn’t want to lose your strapping 19-year-old son if he was working for you on your farm,” Syrett said. “Generally speaking, daughters’ labor was not as valuable as sons’ labor. Girls were destined for marriage, and doing it at a young age was appropriate. A parent was interested in having her marry and move on.”
Even as farm economics became less relevant to most families, Syrett said, the conservative religious emphasis on preventing girls from engaging in sexual activity outside marriage caused the cultural preference for girls’ marrying at a young age to continue.
…Randy Brinson, an influential evangelical pastor who ran against Moore in his primary race in this election, said that the evangelical Christians he knows in Alabama would generally not approve of such a relationship.
“People kid about some of this in rural areas. There are very conservative communities where some of that is condoned, where you have these teen brides and all that sort of thing. But for the vast majority of evangelicals, that’s not accepted behavior,” he said.
…For most of them, a relationship such as the ones Moore is reported to have pursued with teens is far beyond the norm. But the idea recurs frequently. Even “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson, a conservative Christian who married his wife when he was 20 and she was 16, caused a firestormyears ago for advising men, “You got to marry these girls when they are about 15 or 16.”
Easter said she experienced this courtship culture herself. As a woman in a fundamentalist Christian church who was expected to remain under her father’s roof until he handed her over to her husband, Easter became a “stay-at-home daughter” after high school. She said she understood the pressure a teenager might feel to marry an older man as a way to gain some measure of independence.
Easter left her fundamentalist community four years ago, at age 21, after breaking off a relationship with a man her father selected for her.
Now, she helps run Courage Conference, a gathering of people who have left abusive religious communities, and listens to the struggles of the women who attend. “Their lives are very difficult now that they’ve gotten free. When you have never learned to make your own choices, you haven’t learned how to be in charge of your life. Working through that can be very scary,” she said.
(Link): Singles Advocate DePaulo Responds to Right Wing, Conservative Critics of Singlehood, Who Blame Singles For Breakdown of The Family (reminder: I myself am right wing)