Thursday, May 2, 2013

On Machismo and Sexual Paradigms: An Epilogue to Monday's Post

My immediate previous post--on Jason Collins coming out as gay and being the first active male American athlete (the possibly soon-to-be-unretired Robbie Rogers notwithstanding) to do so--generated a bit of buzz on Facebook, and the response made me realize that there is still more that needs to be said before this particular subject can be put to bed here on the blog.

Namely, what grabbed my attention in all of the hubbub this week was one seemingly almost cast-off line from Washington Post columnist Mike Wise as he went about calling for consistency from Collins' religiously-oriented critics:

If the outrage at Collins is all about religion, where was the contempt for Shawn Kemp's and Antonio Cromartie's serial fathering?  Really, why is an openly gay athlete evoking such fervor while a womanizing athlete is just one of the fellas?

If I  may be so bold as to suggest an answer to Wise's question (a question which I think has significant merit), I would submit that the reason we don't come down on womanizing athletes the way many have on Jason Collins is because womanizing still largely fits within the frat-boy paradigm of a guy openly bragging on his "smoking hot wife."

Again, a word of caution: I am not universally condedmning such expressions of attraction.  Seriously, it's okay to say your significant other is the hottest thing since Vesuvius.  That's great.  Please, be enthusiastic in your love for one another.

It's when it becomes a cultural expectation that things become a bit more worrisome, because it leads to things like bullying of gays and lesbians, or of women who feel called to be ordained pastors, or of younger pastors trying to right the wrongs of previous generations in the church on questions of sexuality and gender.

It leads to things that we should never, in any sane world, be willing to tolerate.  And yet we do.

In point of fact, I think a big reason why we are more willing to tolerate--or at least forgive--behaviors like adultery, divorce, and having children out of wedlock is because those are all things that fit within that exact same paradigm that encourages guys to blather on about their smoking hot wives.

Jesus, when asked in Mark 10 about the Mosaic law's allowing for a man to divorce his wife (but not the other way around--for a wife to divorce her husband), taught not that the rights of divorce should be given to the woman as a means of evening things out, but that these rights should be taken away from the man, for, as He put it: "what God has brought together, let no one separate."

But wow, do we have a problem today with even suggesting that maybe we shouldn't be allowed to do certain things that we have become accustomed to doing, like divorce and it's 50% frequency rate.

I know I'm not the first person to make this argument, and I surely won't be the last, but based on Jesus' words in Mark 10, if you aren't fighting for a ban on divorce with the same fervor that you are fighting for a ban on same-sex marriage, that is hypocritical to do.

As Mike Wise pleads with us, at least be consistent.

And if we can't be, then maybe at least be a little more humanly decent to people who aren't like us.

It's a start.

Yours in Christ,

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