Political pundits pronounced themselves perplexed when conservative Christians – while proclaiming “family values” at every opportunity – threw their voting support behind Donald Trump.
Some evangelicals even claimed Trump, a thrice-married philanderer who bragged that surviving the sexual promiscuity of the eighties without contracting a sexually transmitted disease was his “personal Vietnam” was chosen by their God. (Though he keeps bragging about passing that dementia test, his obsession to talk about it casts doubts that he escaped the eighties unscathed.)
Yes, the guy who partied for years with convicted sex offender Jeffery Epstein; the guy who bragged about sexually groping women; the same guy who had an affair with a porn star while his third wife was recovering from the birth of their son was anointed by Jerry Falwell Jr., Franklin Graham, Robert Jeffress and others as a “Savior” without the least awareness of irony or hypocrisy.
Perhaps the pundits missed too much Sunday school back and failed to qualify for attendance pins. Had they been on hand, they would have realized that Trump’s loud and proud misogyny dovetails smoothly with that of many Christian denominations.
It starts with Eve. Taking them at their word, many conservative Christians believe the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (4004 BCE, according to Bishop Ussher). Ignoring the simultaneous creation story in “Genesis” (along with the polytheism it represents), fundamentalists embrace the story of Adam being created first and then losing a rib so that God could create Eve. (I remember the anatomically incorrect insisting that men had one less rib than women.)
Eve arrives second and then perpetrates the duo’s downfall by eating of the tree of ethical knowledge and encouraging Adam to do the same. Her curiosity earned her the pains of childbirth. And, by the way, “Your desire shall be for your husband and he shall reign over you.”
With this inauspicious beginning, womanhood was constantly cast in a role subservient to the male of the species, “weaker vessels” enjoined to “submit to your own husbands.” “Proverbs” ends with a famous description of the capable wife. Turns out, the ideal woman works all the time (“never puts out her light at night”) while the husband sits in idle honor at the city gate with other idling elders.
Paul reinforced women’s lower ranking, telling Timothy, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.”
This second class status applies to religious involvement as well. Paul tells the Corinthians, “The women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.”
The misogynies of Trump and the fundamentalists parallel along the same assumption that women are objects, not subjects. They do not have equal status, equal rights, with men. They must submit.
Trump’s promise to appoint judges to codify women as second-class people only added to his appeal to preachers who saw their authority threatened by independent women. They must submit.
It helped that this unscrupulous alliance included judicial candidates willing to lie under oath at their confirmation hearings. (Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.) The end justifies the means (and the meanness).
Yes, that sounds like commissar talk, but, as those on the left and right of the political circle approach the bottomlands of tyranny, domination and control are all that matter.
The surest sign of a failed dogma occurs when its advocates quit appealing to the hearts and minds of others to embrace controlling them bodily, by force, through raw, brute, governmental power.
Of course, they will never admit that their shift in focus acknowledges the bankruptcy of their position. They will proclaim a political victory as a theoretical triumph.
But, if the message were so powerful, it would have won over society on its own – no force needed. Actions do speak louder than words. So, since late June, while ostensibly celebrating the degrading of women into second class citizenship, anti-choice religionists have also been demonstrating that their message, as a message, has failed.
The only way they can influence others is through governmental regulations. But, that’s fine. Control was always the goal for most public political Christians and the power-mad preachers who have perverted Christian love into every kind of divisive hatefulness imaginable.
Control. Power. Domination. Most of the people celebrating the overturning of Roe v. Wade supported Trump’s Big Lie and continue to support his attempted overthrow of our government despite piles of evidence that the loser knew he lost.
They might call themselves Republicans, but they are anti-republic. Nor are they Christian Nationalists. Their happy hatings disqualify them from the one, their theocratic cravings disqualify them from the other.
They just want power, control. Any passing ideology that abets their ambition to tell others what to do is fine for the moment.
(Duncan resident Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party.)