[Vision2020] Doug Wilson makes another major newspaper - and not in a good way

Rose Huskey rosejhuskey at gmail.com
Mon Nov 13 17:49:03 PST 2017



Roy Moore's alleged pursuit of a young girl is the symptom of a larger
problem in evangelical circles

Roy Moore

Roy Moore looks at a Ten Commandments display as he arrives at the Judicial
Building in Montgomery, Ala., in 2003. (Dave Martin / Associated Press)

Kathryn Brightbill

We need to talk about the segment of American culture that probably doesn't
think the allegations against Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore are
particularly damning, the segment that will blanch at only two accusations
in the Washington Post expose
fe9-4f60b5a6c4a0_story.html?utm_term=.404480b14734> : He pursued a
14-year-old-girl without first getting her parents' permission, and he
initiated sexual contact outside of marriage. That segment is
evangelicalism. In that world, which Moore travels in and I grew up in,
14-year-old girls courting adult men isn't uncommon.

I use the phrase "14-year-old girls courting adult men," rather than "adult
men courting 14-year-old girls," for a reason: Evangelicals routinely frame
these relationships in those terms. That's how I was introduced to these
relationships as a home-schooled teenager in the 1990s, and it's the
language that my friends and I would use to discuss girls we knew who were
in parent-sanctioned relationships with older men.

One popular courtship story that was told and retold in home-school circles
during the 1990s was that of Matthew and Maranatha Chapman
m/archives/000151.php> , who turned their history into a successful career
promoting young marriage. Most audiences, however, didn't realize just how
young the Chapmans had in mind until the site Homeschoolers Anonymous
he-2014-cheo-convention/>  and the blogger Libby Anne
y-i-included-laurens-picture.html> revealed that Matthew was 27 and
Maranatha was 15 when they married
tha-story.html> . Libby Anne also drew mainstream attention to Matthew
Chapman's writings, in which he argued that parents should consider marriage
for their daughters in their "middle-teens." At that point the Chapmans
stopped receiving quite so many speaking invitations.

The evangelical world is overdue for a reckoning. 

Child marriage advocate Vaughn Ohlman followed more or less the same arc. He
made a career out of speaking at home-school conventions until the wider
world heard tell - again thanks to Homeschoolers Anonymous - of his planned
retreat for families to arrange child marriages
o-set-up-arranged-marriages-for-teen-girls/> .

"Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson advocated for adult men to marry 15- and
16-year-old girls
le-cook-and-marry-when-they-are-15/>  and deemed age 20 too old because "you
wait until they get to be 20 years old, the only picking that's going to
take place is your pocket." Home-school leader Kevin Swanson, whose 2015
convention was attended by several Republican presidential candidates
anti-gay-pastor.html> , defended Robertson on his radio show after the story
on-and-dave-bruehner-defend-phil-robertson/>  Advocating for child marriage
hasn't slowed down Robertson's career. He just got a new show
ect-political-correctness-1047866>  on the conservative digital network

As a teenager, I attended a lecture on courtship by a home-school speaker
who was popular at the time. He praised the idea of "early courtship" so the
girl could be molded into the best possible helpmeet for her future husband.
The girl's father was expected to direct her education after the courtship
began so she could help her future husband in his work.

In retrospect, I understand what the speaker was really describing: Adult
men selecting and grooming girls who were too young to have life experience.
Another word for that is "predation."

Much of the sexual abuse that takes place in Independent Fundamentalist
Baptist, or IFB, churches involves adult men targeting 14- to 16-year-old
girls. If caught, the teenage victim may be forced to repent the "sin" of
having seduced an adult man. Former IFB megachurch pastor Jack Schaap argued
ml>  that he should be released from prison after being convicted of
molesting a 16-year-old girl, asserting that the "aggressiveness" of his
victim "inhibited [his] impulse control." In the wake of the Schaap case,
numerous other stories emerged
uble-at-First-Baptist-Church/>  of sexual abuse cover-ups involving teenage
girls at IFB churches. In another high-profile case
ty-baptist-church-deacon/story?id=10806348> , pregnant 15-year-old Tina
Anderson, who was raped by a church deacon twice her age, was forced to
confess her "sin" to the congregation.

Prominent conservative Reformed theologian Doug Wilson has a documented
-1741890280>  history
moscows_christ_church/>  of mishandling
my-mouth.html>  sexual abuse cases within his congregation. Nevertheless, he
continues to be promoted by evangelical leaders such as John Piper, whose
Desiring God site still publishes Wilson
<https://www.desiringgod.org/authors/douglas-wilson> 's work. When a
13-year-old girl in Wilson's congregation was sexually abused, Wilson argued
that she and her abuser were in a parent-sanctioned courtship
with-pastor-who.html> , and that this was a mitigating factor.

There's no shortage of such stories. A Presbyterian Church in America, or
-ORNPR000191-topic.html> , pastor attempted to discipline a woman who warned
home-school parents of the convicted sex offender in his congregation. (The
sex offender had gone online to solicit a 14-year-old girl for sex.) Another
PCA church allowed that same convicted sex offender to give the invocation
at a home-school graduation ceremony. He wasn't perceived as an attempted
child rapist, and he was "repentant."

Growing up, I witnessed an influential religious right leader flirting with
some of my teenage friends and receiving neck and shoulder massages from one
of them. I've been expecting a scandal to break with him for years, but in
the meantime, this man has put significant time into campaigning for
anti-trans bathroom bills while deeming trans people "predators."

The allegations against Roy Moore are merely a symptom of a larger problem.
It's not a Southern problem or an Alabama problem. It's a Christian
fundamentalist problem. Billy Graham's grandson, Boz Tchividjian, who leads
the organization GRACE <http://www.netgrace.org/>  (Godly Response to Abuse
in a Christian Environment), believes that the sexual abuse problem in
Protestant communities is on par with that in the Catholic Church.

The evangelical world is overdue for a reckoning. Women raised in
evangelicalism and fundamentalism have for years discussed the normalization
of child sexual abuse. We've told our stories
<https://kathrynbrightbill.com/2016/04/25/get-your-own-house-in-order/>  on
social media and on our blogs
<http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/tag/child-marriage>  and
various online platforms
<https://homeschoolersanonymous.org/tag/child-marriage/> , but until the Roy
Moore story broke, mainstream American society barely paid attention.
Everyone assumed this was an isolated, fringe issue. It isn't.

Kathryn Brightbill is legislative policy analyst at the Coalition for
Responsible Home Education, a nonprofit advocating for the interests of
home-schooled children.



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