Written by the Right Reverend John H. Taylor (Bishop of Los Angeles) and posted to his Facebook page this morning -- shared with his permission.
A conservative website has given its readers the opportunity to cull intimate emails and photos of Representative Katie Hill. It's a sad story. She's having a lousy divorce. But that's public life for you. Members of Congress should follow its ethics rules. Candidates shouldn't have affairs with subordinates, as Hill admits doing. She may have issues with alcohol, for which she deserves our prayers. The House ethics committee will no doubt do its work diligently and hold her appropriately accountable.
Meanwhile, down the street is someone who is finally being held accountable for his shadow foreign policy but not his well-illuminated male predation. A new book adds scores of stories to what we knew already. Sickening behavior toward women that, it were undertaken in the form of assaults on members of almost any other cultural group -- African-Americans, Jews, Muslims, Latinx people -- would result in eternal disgrace. But in our society, you can still do that to women and get away with it. If you are a bisexual woman, and you comb your friend's hair, you get your naked pictures on a blog, and an investigation promptly ensues. If you're a powerful man, assaulting women time after time, your buddies say “but Clinton” and line up for your reelection campaign.
As for why there’s such a double standard, my siblings in faith, it's our fault. We Christians, at least in the aggregate. It's because of the continued distortion of the true gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It's because many of us have committed the error of male supremacy.
A powerful 80 million-strong bloc of conservative Christians keeps Trump in power while participating in ecclesial polities that keep women down. One of the authors of the new book "All The President's Women: Donald Trump And The Making Of A Predator," Monique El-Faizy, nails it in a "Huffington Post" interview:
"The structure of the evangelical church, where Trump gets the bulk of his support, is very patriarchal. For them, this kind of patriarchy is what God has instructed them to do, and they find all kinds of different ways of rationalizing it. Early on, I called an old source of mine. I said, 'How on earth are you supporting him?' And they said, 'God uses imperfect vessels.' So they rationalize it by saying, [Trump] is being used, he’s a tool of God. He doesn’t need to be perfect, we’re all sinners. But at the very core of their support is just a comfort with patriarchy and the idea that women are supposed to be submissive to men."
Not every evangelical or Christian Zionist, of course, behaves or thinks abusively about women. Obeying their male preachers and Bible study teachers, many treat women with deep respect and reverence. Male supremacy reigns nevertheless. We see it parts of the Muslim world, unfortunately. But we also see it in our Christian home town. Most non-denominational churches won’t permit a woman in the pulpit or top leadership. If your daughter or granddaughter wants to preach the gospel, for instance, she had better not be a Southern Baptist, the denomination Jimmy Carter left over just this issue.
No enlightened Bible scholar can actually find reliable warrant for such prejudice. Your local male-dominant pastor will probably quote Deutero-Pauline writings such as this clunker from Ephesians: "For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church." But these are probably not the the apostle’s words. Scholars have known this for hundreds of years. Try this: Read 1 Corinthians 13 and then Ephesians 5. It's like comparing Yeats to the second inaugural address of Calvin Coolidge. Paul thought Christ would return in Paul's own lifetime. He didn't think people should bother to get married. So he devoted no energy to deciding who should take out the garbage. A loyal member of Paul's movement probably wrote Ephesians as the church dug in for the long haul and Greco-Roman male dominance smothered living memories of our Lord's egalitarianism.
Yet Ephesians' household codes and the work of post-Pauline writers and editors -- not the gospels, not Paul's genuine texts -- undergird the social teachings of modern evangelicalism. They help keep Trump on Air Force One while poor Katie Hill girds for ignominy. If there's a deep state in control of our civic lives, there you have it -- deep in the darkness of misogyny committed in the name of him who came in light and love to save and lift up all people to love God and care for one another in the spirit of mutual self-sacrifice.
So come, spirit of the risen Christ. Come cleanse, teach, and unite your church. Show us the way to the Oxford Annotated Bible, Education for Ministry, and a really good seminary like Bloy House, The Episcopal Theological School at Claremont. That includes all us preachers in the progressive denominational church, who must do the hard and sometimes unwelcome work of sifting the canon for its essential nuggets of justice, righteousness, peace, and love. It means teaching explicitly about what Paul said and probably didn’t say.
Because in these times, now more than ever, we need well-educated Christians — Christians who refuse to acquiesce any longer in the heretical error of male supremacy.
(Photos: All Saints Pasadena; Rep. Katie Hill)