Rape Culture, High School Boosters, Church Fathers, and You

martinshirtDid you hear the one about the high school booster club (a group made up of parents mind you) that printed up a bunch of rapey t-shirts to amp up school spirit (and the football team)? No? Well, it happened right here in the Bible belt where I live – or is that the porn belt? – oh, I forgot, those are one and the same.

Why is that do you think?

The shirt in question, pictured above, was approved by both Bob Wager, head football coach at Martin High School and booster club president Kevin White who said that “they never considered the message on the shirt to be potentially inappropriate, with each adding that if they had they would have never allowed it to be made or worn.” This should come as no surprise to anyone. This is the problem with rape culture; the first rule of rape culture is don’t talk about rape culture. “Rape culture is a concept that examines a culture in which rape is normalized due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality.”  Normalized. That just means you don’t notice it anymore. It has become normal, like the sky being blue. You see, the attitudes and systems we were born into have people programmed to be desensitized. It has gotten so we are able to read the text on that shirt and NOT EVEN SEE that it could be read in a way that glorifies rape.

Back to the Bible belt/porn belt thing for a minute. What do you think that has to do with this entire ruckus? In a recent study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior titled, Do American States with More Religious or Conservative Populations Search More for Sexual Content on Google? by Canadian psychologists Cara MacInnis and Gordon Hodson, it states:

[W]e observed moderate-to-large positive associations between: (1) greater proportions of state-level religiosity and general web searching for sexual content and (2) greater proportions of state-level conservatism and image-specific searching for sex. These findings were interpreted in terms of the paradoxical hypothesis that a greater preponderance of right-leaning ideologies is associated with greater preoccupation with sexual content in private internet activity.

In both the 2011 and 2012 Google data sets MacInnis and Hodson studied, they also found that:

increased state religiosity was significantly associated with increased searches for sex, gay sex, porn, free porn, and gay porn.

It would seem that the Bible belt has been unbuckled and the fly is now open. Heck, the pants may even be down around the ankles.

These facts, like the normalization of rape culture are also not a surprise given that the dominant religious (predominantly evangelical) male dominated culture of the Bible belt buys in 100% to either Complementarianism (fancy Jesus speak for “Everyone is equal in the eyes of God. Men are just more equal.”) or even worse, flat out patriarchy. Let me share with you a few of my favorite quotes from modern day evangelical prophets.

Now that’s one kind of situation.  Just a word on the other kind.  If it’s not requiring her to sin, but simply hurting her, then I think she endures verbal abuse for a season, she endures perhaps being smacked one night, and then she seeks help from the church.  – John Piper

Women will be saved by going back to that role that God has chosen for them. Ladies, if the hair on the back of your neck stands up it is because you are fighting your role in the scripture. —Mark Driscoll, founder of Mars Hill

“I don’t think a pastor can give a woman “permission” to do Bible teaching before the church, because the Bible says not to do that. Would we say a pastor, or a board of elders, could give a woman “permission” to violate the command, “You should not steal”, or to violate any other command of Scripture? No pastor or elder board has authority to give permission to anyone to disobey the Bible. It’s God’s Word and we need to obey it. – Wayne Grudem

But I still think that a woman who serves as a pastor, preaching to both men and women, is disobeying the word of God. There are always negative consequences to that. First, there will be an erosion of trust in the Bible and obedience to the Bible, generally in the congregation, because the methods of interpretation used to justify what she is doing often involve misinterpretation of scripture or eroding of the authority of scripture. – Wayne Grudem

Feminism is a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians. – Pat Robertson

I knew that if you married a woman when she was fifteen, she would pluck your ducks. If you waited until she was twenty, she would only pick your pockets. Now, that’s a joke, and a lot of people seem to laugh at it, but there is a certain amount of truth in it. If you can find a nice, pretty country girl who can cook and carries her Bible, now, there’s a woman. She might even be ugly, but if she cooks squirrels and dumplings, then that’s the woman you go after.”  ― Phil Robertson

The Holiness of God is not evidenced in women when they are brash, brassy, boisterous, brazen, head-strong, strong-willed, loud-mouthed, overly-talkative, having to have the last word, challenging, controlling, manipulative, critical, conceited, arrogant, aggressive, assertive, strident, interruptive, undisciplined, insubordinate, disruptive, dominating, domineering, or clamoring for power. Rather, women accept God’s holy order and character by being humbly and unobtrusively respectful and receptive in functional subordination to God, church leadership, and husbands. —James Fowler, Women in the Church, 1999

I can see your wheels turning. And you are thinking okay, but what do these guys have to do with the early “Church Fathers” ?

Well, let me tell you.

They are where all of this craziness in Christianity–and by extension the Bible belt–got it’s start. They sure as shootin’ didn’t get it from Jesus. It seems that most Christians have no idea where they get their theology about male/female relationships.

First lets hear from the Protestant reformers:

The word and works of God is quite clear, that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes. —Martin Luther, Reformer (1483-1546)

If [women] become tired or even die, that does not matter. Let them die in childbirth–that is why they are there. — Martin Luther

Women are ashamed to admit this, but Scripture and life reveal that only one woman in thousands has been endowed with the God given aptitude to live in chastity and virginity. A woman is not fully the master of herself. –Martin Luther

No gown worse becomes a woman than the desire to be wise. —Martin Luther

Even as the church must fear Christ Jesus, so must the wives also fear their husbands. And this inward fear must be shewed by an outward meekness and lowliness in her speeches and carriage to her husband….For if there be not fear and reverence in the inferior, there can be no sound nor constant honor yielded to the superior. —John Dod, A Plaine and Familiar Exposition of the Ten CommandementsPuritan guidebook first published in 1603

Do not any longer contend for mastery, for power, money, or praise. Be content to be a private, insignificant person, known and loved by God and me….of what importance is your character to mankind, if you was buried just now. Or if you had never lived, what loss would it be to the cause of God. —John Wesley, founder of Methodist movement (1703-1791), letter to his wife, July 15, 1774

Yet consider now, whether women are not quite past sense and reason, when they want to rule over men. –John Calvin

Woman in her greatest perfection was made to serve and obey man. –John Knox (1505-1572)

Now lets move further back to the really early “Church Fathers”:

[For women] the very consciousness of their own nature must evoke feelings of shame. —Saint Clement of Alexandria, Christian theologian  

In pain shall you bring forth children, woman, and you shall turn to your husband and he shall rule over you. And do you not know that you are Eve? God’s sentence hangs still over all your sex and His punishment weighs down upon you. You are the devil’s gateway; you are she who first violated the forbidden tree and broke the law of God. It was you who coaxed your way around him whom the devil had not the force to attack. With what ease you shattered that image of God: Man! Because of the death you merited, even the Son of God had to die… Woman, you are the gate to hell. —Tertullian, the “father of Latin Christianity” 

Woman is a temple built over a sewer. —Tertullian

Men should not sit and listen to a woman…even if she says admirable things, this is of little consequence, since they came from the mouth of a woman. –Origen

Woman was merely man’s helpmate, a function which pertains to her alone. She is not the image of God but as far as man is concerned, he is by himself the image of God. —Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo Regius 

What is the difference whether it is in a wife or a mother, it is still Eve the temptress that we must beware of in any woman… I fail to see what use woman can be to man, if one excludes the function of bearing children. Saint Augustine of Hippo, Church Father, Bishop of Hippo Regius

Woman does not possess the image of God in herself but only when taken together with the male who is her head, so that the whole substance is one image. But when she is assigned the role as helpmate, a function that pertains to her alone, then she is not the image of God. But as far as the man is concerned, he is by himself alone the image of God just as fully and completely as when he and the woman are joined together into one. —Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo Regius (354-430)

Woman is a misbegotten man and has a faulty and defective nature in comparison to his. Therefore she is unsure in herself. What she cannot get, she seeks to obtain through lying and diabolical deceptions. And so, to put it briefly, one must be on one’s guard with every woman, as if she were a poisonous snake and the horned devil. … Thus in evil and perverse doings woman is cleverer, that is, slyer, than man. Her feelings drive woman toward every evil, just as reason impels man toward all good. —Saint Albertus Magnus, Dominican theologian, 13th century

As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of woman comes from a defect in the active force or from some material indisposition, or even from some external influence. —Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church, 13th century

In a world where our church fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers passed down a view of women that is so vile, so condescending and so hateful is it any wonder we don’t recognize the mistreatment of women, the use of them as a punch line, the view of them as subordinate or their position as one that men are glad they do not have to occupy as normal? Almost any man in any church in the Bible belt will tell you that he believes women are equal to men in the eyes of God. However, the proof is in the pudding and when you have a culture where porn is ubiquitous, women are seen as having the greater role in causing sexual sin, and we have become so blind that we cannot notice a statement so obviously rapey as “We take what we want…Shhh just let it happen,” it is time for us to start breaking the first rule of rape culture and start talking about it.

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4 thoughts on “Rape Culture, High School Boosters, Church Fathers, and You

  1. scribblegurl says:

    Okay, first off, that shirt is gross and just chock full of ew. Seriously. Second, man, Martin Luther was a DICK. And I say that as a Lutheran. I can’t believe that guy founded the church I grew up in and the catechism I studied. Those things you quoted make me want to hurt him. They make my soul throw up in its mouth. Third, reading through all those quotes reminds me why I reject organized religion and the church. Given the millennia of misogyny in most religions, it’s a wonder women have gotten anywhere, and that’s painfully obvious in those quotes. No wonder rape culture is alive and well. 😦

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