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Tag: Human Sexuality

Is it a Sin to Kiss Your Boyfriend?

kissing

Every day, without fail, women somewhere in the world search for “is it a sin to kiss my boyfriend?” Thanks to the post, Hey Girlfriend: Is it a Sin to Kiss Your Boyfriend?, this blog is the number one Google search result. I can’t remember the last time I looked at search logs and didn’t see a handful of visitors coming to this site to find out whether it is okay to swap spit with their boyfriends. I say female visitors, because I’ve never seen a male come to my site as a result of a “is it a sin to kiss my girlfriend” web search. It seems that women have a lot more angst about kissing their boyfriends than boyfriends do about kissing them. I’ve often wondered what it is that drives women to seek out anonymous Internet advice about boyfriend-kissing. Are these women being pressured by their boyfriends to be physically intimate? Probably. Kissing is very much a part of the human experience. Sadly, as with most things that are pleasurable, Evangelicals have deemed kissing between unmarried men and women to be a sin. Let me explain how Evangelicals come to this “Biblical” position.

First, Evangelicals believe that, thanks to Adam and Eve’s eating of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden 6,024 years ago, the human race is, by nature, sinful. Born into sin, every human being is at variance with God. The Bible says that infants come forth from the womb speaking lies. We don’t become sinners, we are sinners. The Bible says human hearts are deceitful and wicked, so much so that none of us can truly know our hearts. Because of our fallen nature, we desire to fulfill the lusts of the flesh. At the top of the Evangelical lust list are a variety of sexual sins: fornication, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, incest, masturbation, petting, spooning, and looking at a woman with lust in your heart. Believing that inappropriate physical contact with the opposite sex (there are no gays in the Evangelical church) is a gateway to serious sexual sins such as fornication and adultery, many Evangelical sects, churches, pastors, and families adopt strict rules governing physical intimacy between unmarrieds. For those not raised in Evangelical churches, they will likely find the remainder of this post beyond belief, but rest assured that what I share next can be found in countless Evangelical churches and homes.

I attended Midwestern Baptist College in the 1970s — the era of free love. While hippies were smoking marijuana, listening to rock music, and exploring their sexuality, the unmarried students at Midwestern were expected to maintain a six-inch distance from each other at all times. If you have not read the post, Thou Shalt Not Touch: The Six-Inch Rule, I encourage you to do so. It goes into great detail explaining how the puritanical leadership at Midwestern made sure students kept their distance from each other. Most of the students at Midwestern came from Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches that also had some sort of prohibition against physical contact. During my teenage years, I was a member of Trinity Baptist Church, Findlay, Ohio, and First Baptist Church, Bryan, Ohio. Both churches frowned on teenagers and young adults touching one another. Violating the no-touch policy resulted in scoldings and separation during church services from your boyfriend or girlfriend. Sometimes, the pastors would spend time during their sermons rebuking sexually aware unmarrieds for their inappropriate touching. Time was also spent during youth group meetings drilling it into the heads of teenagers that God did not approve of them intimately touching each other. It should come as no surprise then that when unmarrieds were unable to abstain from acting on their normal, healthy sexual desires, they were often filled with guilt and fear. And I’m not talking about having sexual intercourse. More than a few teenagers found themselves ridden with guilt over holding hands with their girlfriend during church services or putting an arm around their boyfriend when no one was looking. Of course, there was certainly plenty of rounding-third and sliding-into-home sexual activity going on. In recent years, I’ve had the privilege of becoming reacquainted with several friends from my high school days. The stories they tell about their own sexual experiences during our youth group years are certainly different from mine. I’ve concluded that pretty much everybody in the youth group was sexually active except me. I was a good Baptist boy who played by the rules. While I certainly held hands with girls, put my arms around them, and kissed them, I (barely) maintained my virginity until my wedding day.

There are several verses in the Bible that Evangelical preachers use to justify their hands-off rules. 1 Corinthians 7:1-2 states:

Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

It is good for an unmarried man to NOT touch a woman, God says. Didn’t Jesus himself warn that just an inappropriate look at a woman can cause men to commit adultery in their hearts? From these verses, Evangelical preachers justified their no-touch rules; rules, by the way, that most of them didn’t keep when they were young unmarrieds.

Preachers also used what I call the kitchen-sink verses to prop up their preaching against sexual sin:

Abstain from all appearance of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:22)

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (1 John 2:15,16)

Neither give place to the devil. (Ephesians 4:27)

Those raised in Evangelical churches know that these verses (and others) were often used by preachers to label virtually anything and everything “sin.” (Please read The Official Independent Baptist Rulebook and An Independent Baptist Hate List.)

Young women in particular were psychologically abused by Evangelical preachers who felt it was their duty to make sure that the women were virgins on their wedding day. Preachers shared horror stories about women who engaged in premarital sex. Virtually all the preaching was directed towards women. After all, they were the gatekeepers. It was up to them to keep their legs closed when horn-dog young men came sniffing around. Men are weak, the thinking goes, so it is up to Susie to make sure that both Johnny and Susie are virgins on their wedding day. And the best way to do this is to not have physical contact with each other before marriage. Just remember, the preacher says. No girl has ever gotten pregnant without holding hands or kissing a boy first! I kid you not, handholding was viewed as some sort of gateway, a gate which, once unmarrieds walked through, would lead directly to them being given over to fornication. I know this sounds crazy, but this line of thinking is still quite prominent today. This is why so many unmarried women do Google searches for “is it a sin to kiss my boyfriend?” They likely attend churches that prohibit physical contact between unmarrieds. Yet, when they are away from the prying eyes of their pastors and parents, these sexually aware young adults engage in various forms of sexual intimacy. Fear and guilt follow, so they seek out “help” for dealing with their “lustful” desires.

Here’s my advice to those who are psychologically and spiritually troubled over holding hands with their boyfriend or girlfriend. Your feelings and desires are normal. Sexually aware people naturally desire physical intimacy. The key is to embrace your sexuality and act responsibly. This means you will have to ignore what your windbag preacher is telling you. It’s highly unlikely that any of the adults who are telling you that physical contact is a sin practiced what they preach. These hypocrites should spend their time teaching unmarrieds sexual responsibility. Most young adults will have sexual intercourse before they are married. While your church may consider this a sin, those outside of the Evangelical church view sexual intimacy as a normal part of the human experience. Educate yourself about sex and make sure you always use birth control. I realize your preacher likely has said that using birth control is you preparing to sin, but I think we would all agree that unwanted pregnancies are a bad idea, and the only way to avoid them is to use birth control. Don’t allow the puritanical sexual standards of others to dictate what you will do. It’s your body, your life. And as far as kissing your boyfriend is concerned? Kiss away. A kiss is just a kiss. It can lead to more intimate behavior, but it also can be just that — a kiss. Remember, you — not your church, parents, or preacher — are in control of what you do sexually. Those who demand that you maintain your distance from the opposite sex are stunting your development.

Part of growing up is the exploration of our sexuality. This includes masturbation. Anyone who tells you that masturbation is a sin is someone you need to stop listening to. Much like the desire for physical interaction with the opposite sex, masturbation is normal, healthy behavior. I guarantee you that most of the married adults in your church masturbated before they were married. And I think I would be safe in saying that many of them still do. Masturbation is a great way to release sexual tension, especially when one is not ready to have sexual intercourse. What I’m saying here is that it is all good. Sexual want, need, and desire are very much a part of the human experience. I encourage you to embrace your sexuality and enjoy all the pleasure that comes from doing so.

Please see Hey Girlfriend: Is it a Sin to Kiss Your Boyfriend?

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Pity the Poor (Pathetic) Evangelical Men Who Are Too Weak to Own Their Sexuality

the lusty men movie

Evangelical preachers continue to churn out sermons, blog posts, and tweets about the deplorable, sinful dress of women. I am almost sixty-five years old. Evangelical preachers have been preaching about short skirts, tight pants, shorts, cleavage, and the feminine shape for as long as I can remember. Clothing styles have changed over the years, but Evangelical preaching, especially in sects such as the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement, has not. Preachers continue to demand that women be sexual gatekeepers, calling on them to keep the horndog men around them from having lustful thoughts. Based on all this preaching and writing about female dress and male lustfulness, you would think Evangelical churches are filled with whores and perverts.

Let me share several examples of this kind of thinking.

The first example comes from Kevin Schaal, the president of Foundations Baptist Fellowship International and the pastor of Northwest Valley Baptist Church in Glendale, Arizona. Schaal is a graduate of Bob Jones University — an uber-fundamentalist institution in Greenville, South Carolina. The goal of FBFI is to “perpetuate the heritage of Baptist Fundamentalism complete, intact, pure, and undiluted to succeeding generations of fundamentalists.” Evidently, blaming women for the lustful thoughts of men is part of “perpetuating the heritage of Baptist Fundamentalism.”

Yesterday, Schaal wrote a post titled Beth Moore on Modesty and Creepy Righteous Dudes. Schaal spends a good bit of time holding men accountable for their sexuality. Unfortunately, he undid his admonition when he wrote:

Spirituality is not immunity.

“Aha! If men were more spiritual, I would have to be less concerned about the modesty of my dress.”

That is not how it works. I want Christian women to understand that the spiritual walk of a man does not desensitize him to visual sexual temptation. In fact, it might make him more sensitive to it.

Why is this?

The godly man does not fill his mind with inappropriate images of women on his computer or TV screen. The man that tells you that immodesty has no real spiritual impact on him is either lying or so filling his mind with inappropriate imagery that he now lacks sensitivity to the visual stimuli around him. There is the possibility that he simply does not have as much sex drive as other men, but the one thing I can guarantee you is that his walk with the Lord will not make him immune. Young Christian men are especially vulnerable.

So, if that is the case, what does God expect men to do when faced with visual temptation?

Look away.

God expects godly men to look away when confronted with visual temptation. In some cases, this might require making the very conscious choice to focus on a woman’s face only. In other cases, it might mean looking away from her entirely.

And from the roof, he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold. (2 Samuel 11:2)

Many argue that David should have been with his men in the field at this time, and maybe that was true. Some argue that David should not have been lounging around in his house at this time of day, and maybe that was true. But what I know to be true is that when David caught a glimpse of Bathsheba, he should have controlled his thinking, averted his gaze, and not set his eyes on her long enough to assess her beauty.

Walk away.

If the situation demands it, God expects godly men to remove themselves from the company of those that are tempting to them as Joseph did when tempted by Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:7-15). He must do this even if it causes offense—as it did with Potiphar’s wife.

Stay away.

Walking away might also mean staying away. The foolish young man of Proverbs 6 made the fatal error of going by the corner of the woman who was dressed for (and seeking for) sin.

So, here is a sincere question. What do you think God thinks about a woman who dresses in a way that forces His most faithful sons to look away, walk away, or stay away? God does not call on women to dress to please men. He does call on women to dress to please Him.

I am discouraged by the growing disregard that Christian women, even in our own fundamental churches, have for their brothers in Christ. The men aren’t going to say anything about it to women who are not their wives or daughters—and they certainly don’t enjoy people like Beth Moore calling them creeps. We do not need to be catered to just because we are men, but we are God’s children, and we matter to Him.

So again, I ask, what do you think God thinks?

Schaal asks, “What do you think God thinks about a woman who dresses in a way that forces His most faithful sons to look away, walk away, or stay away? God does not call on women to dress to please men. He does call on women to dress to please Him.”

Neither Schaal, nor anyone else for that matter, can know what God thinks about anything. Memo to Pastor Schaal: the Bible is the words of men and the voice in your head is yours. This issue starts and ends with men. I have seen my fair share of attractive women over the years, both in church and in the “world.” At no time did I ever blame women for me thinking they are sexually desirable. Have I ever had to turn away? Sure, but that’s usually due to me snickering at a woman with a size 20 body stuffed in a size 10 pair of leggings. Not sexy, but damn funny. I accept that sexuality is part of the human experience, and it is up to each of us to own our sexuality and control our response to men and/or women we find appealing. You would think that those Schaal calls “faithful sons, who are filled with the Holy Ghost, their teacher and guide, would be able to control their thoughts. And if they can’t follow Schaal’s advice, they should look away, walk away, or stay away. See how easy that it is? Instead of blaming women for male weakness, how about teaching men to be grown-ups, and if they can’t or won’t do, tell them they can’t play with the big kids.

I left Christianity almost 14 years ago. Since then, I have had ample opportunity to be around attractive women. I have had women hit on me, including a 70-something-year-old woman who came up to me at the grocery store and told me what I fine-looking man I was. She turned to my wife, Polly, and said, “you sure lucky to have a man like that on your arm! As the “real” Santa Claus, I have had women get quite up-close-and comfortable with me. One woman, in front of 1,500 people at a high school basketball game I was shooting, plopped down on my lap and told me what she wanted for Christmas. Fortunately, it wasn’t me. Another woman, also at a basketball game, snuggled right up next to me, put her hand on my leg, and shared her Christmas wishes with me. To be fair, at the same game, a 16-year-old teen boy, on a dare from his friends, did the same. At no time did I feel out of control sexually. Uncomfortable? Sure. But, I’m a big boy. And, quite frankly, any woman, even if she is 70, thinking I am a nice-looking man, is good for my self-esteem. 🙂

Polly and I, in the sunset years of life, occasionally frequent upscale restaurants, bars, and pubs. We see lots of attractive people, people on dates, looking to hook up, or out with their friends. We are people watchers. It is not uncommon for us to talk about the people around us — men and women. Both of us are secure enough sexually and maritally, that we can point out someone we find attractive. Innocent, fun banter, which we never could have had as blood-bought, sanctified, sexually repressed, born-again Christians. At no time have we had thoughts of hitting on someone or having a quickie with them in the restroom. We have a simple rule: it’s okay to look, just don’t touch.

On to my second example. My friend Ben Bewwick recently wrote several posts on Modesty. You can read them here: Modesty, and Modesty Two. Fake “Dr.” David Tee/David Thiessen/TheologyArcheology/TEWSNBN — who is obsessed with Ben’s writing and mine — responds in his typical fashion to Ben’s posts.

Here’s what he had to say in a post titled Modesty 1 & 2:

It has always struck us as strange that women would listen to certain men who promote the idea that women should expose themselves more in public. According to one story, a husband put up a photo of his wife in not so modest clothing as a defensive strategy.

We do not think much of that husband. The only reason we can think of that would explain why certain men would defend women’s behavior of stripping down is that they are perverts.

It is not as altruistic as they let on. They are not really defending the right of a woman to dress in as few clothes, they are defending their right to ogle such women. Or so it seems as they produce no real legitimate argument to support their point of view.

The one piece of ‘evidence’ is the go-to one that is tired and worn out. MM blames the bible and other religions for the reason people do not want women to expose themselves in public.

….

Why blame the Bible? After all its instructions are guiding both men and women to holy behavior and stripping down, taking photos of one’s body (male or female), and then posting those photos for the world to see, is not modest or holy behavior.

Sexual misconduct comes from letting the sin nature rule one’s life instead of Christ ruling it and following Christ’s instructions. It does not come from the way men and women dress. However, there is a right and wrong way to dress in public.

These certain men and women do not care about dressing the right way or encouraging women to do the same. They need to be avoided and not listened to. The right way to dress is to be modest at all times especially when strangers are going to be looking at your images and body.

Again, this applies to both men and women. The Bible is not to be blamed for sexual sins. Its instructions when it comes to men and women relating to each other are often ignored and the rules of people like Playboy, Playgirl, Hustler, and other secular sources are the ones that are followed.

If there is a problem, blame those sources, not the one book that is designed to keep men & women safe. But to MM the Bible is always to blame because he thinks he, and other men like him, is more moral than God.

….

Lustful thoughts can also lead to other sins as David is a prime example of when he used to view Bathsheba taking a bath. She was not innocent either as the timing of her bath and location of it could have been meant to catch the eye of the king.

Willfully leading people to sin is just as wrong. When men and women post those x-rated images or dressing in an x-rated manner in public, they are willfully leading people to sin. The reason behind that statement is that they actually know what they are doing and do it anyway.

“Men will find ways to indulge in lustful thoughts irrespective of a woman’s state of dress. The thoughts themselves are rooted in natural biological urges. (Modesty 2)”

No, MM is wrong here. It is not coming from a purely biological urge nor are those urges always natural. Most of the time, those thoughts come from the sin nature, and without conquering them, they can lead to more disastrous sins that do not end well for anyone.

“This demand that women be ‘modest’ to protect the thoughts of men is overbearing and it’s also pointless (Modesty 2)”

One, the demand is for both men and women to dress modestly. Two, it is not pointless. Defeating sin is a very valuable effort and needs to be done if one wants to be holy and have an impact for Christ.

Should a woman’s outfit be seen as an excuse for such behaviour? Is that reasonable to Brian? He demeans men and women by thinking along such lines. His message fails to teach men to be responsible for their own actions. It is unfair to force women to be held accountable for a man’s inability to behave. We should put such notions to the bonfire. (Modesty 1)

No one should make excuses and no one should point the finger but that does not mean that both men and women have permission to disobey God and dress immodestly.

And do not let women off the hook here. Some ladies’ nights at the local bar can be very lustful, adulterous and women commit many sexual sins while attending them. You can say that the bars and men participating in these ladies’ nights are willfully leading women to sin.

That is not right either. Those events are certainly not biblical or done in obedience to God’s instructions. Christians are not just blaming women. They blame men as well as many men go to the same beaches with the same lack of clothing and tempt women.

That is not right either. God’s commands and instructions do not stop at the beach parking lot. While we are allowed to enjoy the water and the sun, we need to do so for the glory of God and not lead people to sin.

Modesty works both ways. Both men and women should be mindful of how their dress and actions affect others. It is not that someone is weak-minded and forcing their will on others. Modesty is done to protect everyone from sin and falling into sin.

Much like Schaal, Tee gives the perfunctory Evangelical disclaimer that says “I am speaking to men and women.” However, in real-life applications, most of the preaching, blog posts, and tweets are directed AT women, not men. If women would only cover up their bodies from head to toe and de-emphasize their bodies, Christian men wouldn’t lust anymore, or at the very least wouldn’t have thoughts of banging Sister Sally (or Preacher Bob) on the front pew during the sermon on Sunday morning.

And let’s not forget that Schaal and Tee aren’t talking about Christian women who are strolling into church on Sundays wearing clothing better suited for Saturday nights at the corner pub. What’s causing these pathetic Evangelical men to lust is any cleavage, leg, or form-fitting clothing. These women aren’t street walkers parading themselves down the aisles of First Baptist Church. They are women who just want to dress nicely. Few of them think, “I think I will wear ____________ so Deacon Joe will feel a bit of Holy Ghost stirring when he gazes on my comeliness.” There may be some of that going on with sexually aware teenagers and single young adults, but most women just want to look nice while they worship the God who supposedly looks at their hearts, not their clothing.

Women aren’t the problem, men are. Men such as Schaal and Tee need to quit enabling juvenile behavior. Men need to be taught to own their sexuality. They need to learn how to be in the world, but not of the world. Attractive women are everywhere. Attractive men are everywhere. Attractive non-binary people are everywhere? Unless we want to lock ourselves in a darkened room somewhere with no outside exposure — but, even then you have your “thoughts” — we must learn how to successfully navigate a world filled with sexual beings.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Hey Girls: Did You Know Spaghetti Straps are Sinful?

girl wearing spaghetti straps
Girl Wearing “Sinful” Spaghetti Straps

When people think of Christian fundamentalism they most often think of the fundamentalism found in Evangelicalism and the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement. However, as the following story will show, fundamentalism is alive and well in the Roman Catholic church too.

Melanie Pritchard, Founder of Vera Bella Catholic Girls’ Formation Program and the Executive Director of the Foundation for Life and Love, wrote an article about why she does not let her four-year-old daughter wear spaghetti straps (link no longer active):

My four-year-old daughter Ella received a doll from a relative for Christmas that was wearing a fluffy pink skirt and a spaghetti strap tank-top covered by a sweater. To my daughter’s wild surprise, she also received the same outfit as her doll, in her own size. She put on her new outfit immediately to match her doll. I call them “the twinsy-bops,” since my daughter proceeded to try to wear the same outfit as her doll for the few days following Christmas.

Although I love the doll’s and my daughter’s outfits in their completion, I don’t allow my daughter or her dolls to wear spaghetti straps without something covering the tank-top. Some may think I go overboard or even call me a prude, but I am parenting with an advantage. I have inside knowledge of the working relationships between parents and their teenage daughters. Since I have been speaking to teenagers and their parents for the past 15 years, I have gained an extensive knowledge of the kind of drop-down-drag-out battles parents have with their teenage girls and their wardrobes.

One of those battles is over spaghetti strap tank-tops being worn without something else covering them. Now, I’ll admit, when my four-year-old attempts to wear the new spaghetti strap tank-top, she doesn’t look immodest. She still manages to look innocent and dignified. So, why won’t I allow my daughter to begin wearing these types of tank-tops at age four? Because the battle she and I will inevitably have over tank tops will be a lot easier to win if the standard never changes. The same rings true for two-piece bathing suits and other clothes that will not protect her dignity and mystery when she is at a more womanly stage in her life…

For those of us raised in the IFB and Evangelical church, Pritchard’s argument is quite familiar. Better to win the battle over clothing when a child is young and impressionable than when she is a teenager. Better to teach her “modesty” at age four than try to get her to dress “modestly” at age fifteen.

Pritchard recounts a story about her daughter that she thinks illustrates that her daughter is starting to understand the importance of modesty and why she should not wear spaghetti straps:

A couple days later, we went to enjoy taco Tuesday at a locally owned restaurant in town. We were sitting at our table waiting for our food when Ella grabbed my arm and pulled me close to her. She was pointing to the hostess with the very womanly figure wearing a spaghetti strap tank-top that kept sliding up to reveal her stomach and was accentuating and revealing her large chest. Ella whispered in my ear, “Mom, her mystery isn’t protected. She is wearing a spaghetti-strap and it’s not modest.”

Ella saw it for herself. It clicked for my four-year-old. She began to have a small amount of judgment in her voice as she continued to talk about this woman. I explained gently, “Ella, we can’t judge her or talk about her behind her back. She may not know her beautiful mystery and why she should protect it. Instead, we should pray that God may reveal it to her, so she knows just how special she is.” Ella was satisfied with my answer and agreed to pray for her.

Later in the article Pritchard reveals the real reason she won’t let her daughter wear spaghetti straps. Some day, her daughter will be a teenager, and if she hasn’t learned to be modest she might dress immodestly and attract poor, helpless horn dog Catholic boys:

I meet many parents who have allowed their daughters to wear spaghetti-straps, tube tops, leggings as pants, two-piece swim suits, and other clothing when they were young when their figures hadn’t emerged, only to find out there comes a time when they become extremely uncomfortable with their beautiful, womanly, innocent, teenage daughters wearing them in public. Fathers are by far the ones who cringe the most when they speak to me. They know teen-age boys. Every father was a teenage boy once. They cringe at the way their daughters are dressing, but the fight is so big, they often back down and let their girls wear what they want.

As a parent of six children, I know the importance of teaching children to dress appropriately. However, there is a difference between appropriate and puritanical. Pritchard goes far beyond appropriate and teaches her daughter a way of thinking that will result in her thinking her now-womanly body is sinful and must be covered up lest poor, helpless men take sexual advantage of her.

Pritchard, with her silly objection to her daughter wearing a top with spaghetti straps (and tube tops, leggings as pants, two-piece swimsuits), is making sure her daughter will grow up to be a sexually repressed Catholic woman. Instead of teaching her daughter to dress appropriately, she is planting the seed of sexual repression.

Her ban of certain clothing will do little to help her daughter when she becomes a sexually aware woman. Silly talk about a woman’s “mystery” will not keep her daughter from desiring what is natural: sex. While we can certainly debate whether it is a good idea for teenagers to have sex, the fact of the matter is they do:

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the year 2007, 35% of US high school students were currently sexually active and 47.8% of US high school students reported having had sexual intercourse. This percentage has decreased slightly since 1991.

Self-report surveys suggest that half of all 15- to 19-year-olds have had oral sex. That percentage rises to 70% by the time they turn 19, and equal numbers of boys and girls participate. Research indicating that oral sex is less risky to teens’ emotional and physical well being than vaginal sex has been advanced; researchers at the University of California do not believe this conclusion is warranted. They found that oral sex, as well as vaginal sex, was associated with negative consequences. Of adolescents engaging in oral sex only, girls were twice as likely as boys to report feeling bad about themselves and nearly three times as likely to feel used. Despite their behaviors, 90% of adolescents “agree that most young people have sex before they are really ready.”

The average age of first sexual intercourse in the United States is 17.0 for males and 17.3 for females, and this has been rising in recent years. The percentage of teens who are waiting longer to have sex has been increasing. For those teens who have had sex, 70% of girls and 56% of boys said that their first sexual experience was with a steady partner, while 16% of girls and 28% of boys report losing their virginity to someone they had just met or who was just a friend.

Pritchard belongs to a sect that is known for sexual repression and the denial of natural human sexuality. The Church also condemns masturbation and birth control. One would think if the Church wanted unmarried Catholics to remain sexually pure that they would encourage masturbation as an acceptable release of sexual tension. One would also think that the church would encourage Catholic women to use birth control since it would help eliminate the need for abortion. But they don’t. I wonder how different the discussion and rules would be if women were allowed to have a say in the teachings of the Church.

When it comes to human sexuality, the male-controlled Catholic Church is fighting a losing battle. In 2012, the Guttmacher Institute had this to say about Catholic women having sex and using birth control:

“Guttmacher’s analysis of data from the federal government’s National Survey of Family Growth found that the vast majority of American women of reproductive age (15–44) — including 99% of all sexually experienced women and 98% of those who identify themselves as Catholic — have used a method of contraception other than natural family planning at some point. Women may be classified as sexually experienced regardless of whether they are currently sexually active, using contraceptives, pregnant, trying to get pregnant or postpartum.

“By their early 20s, some 79% of never-married women — and 89% of never-married Catholic women — have had sex. (Presumably, all married women have done so.) In short, most American women (including Catholics) have had sex by their early 20s, and virtually all of them have used contraceptives other than natural family planning.

It is now known that the best way to combat unplanned teen pregnancy is to provide sex education and easy access to birth control. Just say no because God says so, is not a plan. Yet, Pritchard’s church wants to deny teens and unmarried women the means to keep from getting pregnant.

Knowing how the Catholic church views human sexuality helps to explain Pritchard’s puritanical obsession with her four-year-old daughter’s clothing. She doesn’t want her daughter to grow up to be one of those “easy” Catholic girls whom boys are fond of talking about.

Instead of teaching her daughter to embrace her sexuality and prepare her for life as a sexual being, she is teaching her that a woman’s body should be covered up so her “mystery” is not revealed. This is no different from the teaching of the IFB church, with its prohibitions against wearing any form of clothing that reveals the female shape and body. The reason? The teens and men of the church are pathetic, helpless creatures who are little more than dogs seeking bitches in heat.

Instead of teaching accountability and responsibility, religious zealots such as Pritchard teach repression and impotence. Sexually awake young women wearing spaghetti straps is not the problem. Any teen boy or man who can’t sexually control himself if he sees a woman wearing a top with spaghetti straps is pathetic. Men, regardless of their age, need to be responsible for their sexual behavior and the manner in which they treat women. Women should not be forced to manage not only their own sexuality but the sexuality of men who supposedly can’t help themselves. They are not the gatekeepers, the protectors of the “mystery.” Men need to own their sexuality and act appropriately (as the Catholic church needs to own its cover-up and protection of the real predators that roam the sanctuary and rectory: Catholic priests.

Lest readers think Pritchard is a lone fundamentalist Catholic, I leave you with the advice another fundamentalist Catholic woman, T.M. Gaouette, gives to sexually aware Catholic girls:

In a 2004 article titled “The Forgotten Virtue: Modesty In Dress,” author Monsignor Charles M. Mangan lays out a basic guide founded upon principles of modesty set by Pope Pius XII in 1957. These values are still valid today and I’ve found them to be very helpful in determining what’s modest and what’s not.

With Mangan’s help, I will offer specific guidelines on dressing modestly.

To dress modestly is to avoid deliberately causing sexual excitement in oneself or one’s neighbor (Mangan).

The objective of modesty is to refrain from wearing clothing that causes lustful thoughts, whether intentionally or unintentionally. When dressing modestly, Christian girls should avoid clothes that reveal, enhance or highlight certain body parts.

Bust: Avoid tight or see-through shirts or tops without appropriate undergarments, and tops with low plunging necklines that reveal a cleavage. If you have a large bust, then you should also stay away from spaghetti straps and strapless designs.

Thighs: When it comes to skirts, select those that are no shorter than above the knee. Make sure you account for how high the skirt rises when you sit. When it comes to shorts, opt for those that don’t expose too much of the thigh.

Back: Refrain from wearing backless shirts or dresses that plunge in the back. These styles are designed to look sexy.

Stomach: Shirts and tops should always cover the stomach.

Butt: Avoid tight skirts, shorts, dresses and pants that reveal the shape and curve of the buttocks. I also would avoid pants with words printed on the butt, since they are designed to cause the eyes to gaze at that area of your body.

I added “butt” to Mangan’s list because it often causes lustful thoughts in men when highlighted by tight shorts, pants, dresses and skirts.

There usually are no exceptions to the above rules in the case of everyday clothing. When it comes to athletic wear, make sure that your ensemble doesn’t look sexy.

Clothing fulfills three necessary requirements: hygiene, decency and adornment. These are ‘so deeply rooted in nature that they cannot be disregarded or contradicted without provoking hostility and prejudice’ (Mangan quoting Pope Pius XII).

In addition to these guidelines, I believe that, in some instances, modesty is subjective. One item of clothing may be immodest on one person, but modest on another. For example, spaghetti straps can look both modest and immodest, depending on the size of the person’s bust. However, modesty in this case can usually be attained by adding a cardigan or light jacket.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Slut-Shaming Unmarried Pregnant Baptist Women

sexual sin

It is commonly believed by most Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church members that unmarried members are virgins and that they do not masturbate or have lustful thoughts. Listening to preaching multiple times a week, daily reading the Bible, and praying — along with cold showers — are sure antidotes for sexual sin. When the preacher’s daughter someday marries the deacon’s son, everyone will think that both of them are pure as the driven snow, with thoughts of only serving Jesus. This is the myth that is promoted in Baptist sermons, books, blogs, and websites. It has no basis in reality, but people sure do believe it. After all, if getting saved turns sinners into new creations and gives them a desire to love and follow Jesus, why, any thought of hormone-raging Fundamentalist young adults engaging in any sort of “promiscuity” is preposterous. As is often the case, reality paints a far different picture.

In recent years, a plethora of Fundamentalist ministries have begun ministering to those with addiction problems. Based on the number of ministries geared towards helping Christians addicted to porn, one can easily conclude that Evangelicalism has a huge porn problem — easily the size of John Holmes, AKA Johnny Wadd. If Jesus is the cure, the solution, and the answer for what ails the human race, why are there so many Christians committing what Evangelicals consider sexual sins? Why are there so many IFB preachers and church leaders who can’t keep their pants zipped up or have Google search histories that would make Hugh Hefner blush? Why are the biggest hypocrites on Sunday the men standing behind the pulpits of Evangelical and IFB churches?

No matter how many moral scandals rock Evangelicalism and the IFB church movement (please see the Black Collar Crime Series), their pastors, church leaders, Sunday school teachers, evangelists, bloggers, and culture warriors continue to present Christianity as some sort of superior way of living. Never mind studies and anecdotal stories that suggest otherwise, these purveyors of Evangelical “truth” continue to say that Jesus is the only way to keep unmarried young adults from committing fornication. Just say YES to Jesus and NO to physically and emotionally satisfying romps in the hay.

fornication

So what happens when church teenagers and young adults ignore the moral standard or, in a moment of understandable passion, give way to sexual desire and fulfillment? Most of the time, as long as the keepers of the chastity belts do not find out, these fornicators and pleasurers will continue to engage in behaviors that — according to their parents, churches, and pastors — will land them in Hell. As one aged preacher tried to impress on us young preachers: a stiff prick has no conscience. Once aroused, sexual desire usually wins the battle. On those Sundays when pastors rage against immorality, frothing at the mouth and pounding the pulpit as they wage war against normal, healthy sexual behavior, those who have given into their desires will be drowned in seas of guilt, shame, and fear. Sometimes these fornicators will make their way down to the front of the church, and kneeling at an old-fashioned altar, they will promise God that they will never, ever spank the monkey, ring the bell, or engage in any behavior remotely considered sexual. If need be, they will pluck out their eyes. Yet, come Saturday night they will be tempted to break their vow. While some will hold out, most will engage in the very “sins” they confessed the week before. Why? Not because they are in any way morally inferior or weak. Much like drinking and eating, desiring sexual fulfillment is an essential part of what makes us human. It is these preachers of sexual abnormality who are the problem. Instead of teaching sexually aware young adults how to handle their sexuality and how to engage in thoughtful, satisfying sex, these deniers of human nature do everything possible to shame and guilt people into obedience.

Since no one in Evangelical churches is committing fornication and everyone is waiting to have sex until they are married, there is really no need for church young adults to be taught about birth control. As a result, it is not uncommon for church girls to get pregnant or for young adults to come down with sexually-transmitted diseases. How do pastors and churches respond when such things occur? Often, not very well.

I want to conclude this post with several stories that I think will illustrate how some Evangelical churches handle sexual indiscretions.

One of the teenage girls in the first church I worked for, Montpelier Baptist Church, became pregnant. Here is how the pastor, Jay Stuckey, handled it. He told the girl that she must immediately marry the father. She was also told that because she was no longer a virgin, she forfeited her right to a church wedding. Only her family would be permitted to attend the wedding. No announcement would be made to the church about it. And if these prohibitions were not bad enough, the pastor informed the pregnant teen that she would not be permitted to wear a white dress. She had sullied the name of Jesus, and as a result she would be required to wear an off-white dress. Much like wearing a red A, it would be clear to everyone that this girl had violated the holiness of God. Marked forever as one who could not wait, she would carry shame the rest of her adult life. Perhaps, in time, her fellow church members would forget her scandalous behavior, but, for now, she had to bear the weight of her indiscretion. The severity of the punishment was meant to be a deterrent. Church girls, seeing how severely _______ was punished would think twice before letting some boy have his way with them.

One church I know of required exposed fornicators and pregnant unmarrieds to stand before the church and confess their sins. I remember one young woman weeping uncontrollably as she admitted having the sex that led to her pregnancy. Sadly, this kind of slut shaming still goes on today. Described as church discipline, it is really an attempt — through fear, shame, and guilt — to make sure that any other prospective fornicators toe the line. Who wants to stand before the church and have her — it is almost always teen girls and young women — secrets exposed for all to see?

fornication

As many former pregnant out-of-wedlock Evangelical women will attest, some churches subscribe to the out-of-sight, out-of-mind way of handling fornication. Unmarried young women who find themselves in the family way are often shipped off to Christian boarding schools or homes for unwed mothers. Since their pregnancies are viewed as acts of rebellion against God, the Bible, and Evangelical morality, it is hoped that intensive authoritarian indoctrination and control will force slutty Baptist women to see the error of their way and recommit to following the Evangelical moral code. While they can never regain their virginity — unlike salvation, once virginity is lost it can never be regained — these fornicators can have their sexual indiscretions washed in the blood of Jesus. Once washed in his blood, their lives will once again be pure.

While I may have been a card-carrying Evangelical and a subscriber to narrow moral strictures, I never heaped shame, guilt, or fear upon the heads of those who failed to measure up. Part of the reason was that I knew about the moral failings of more than a few Evangelical preachers. I also knew that I was not without sin. I readily admit that my preaching — at times — was quite hypocritical. As many Evangelical preachers do, I sometimes used the pulpit as a way to confess my sins and atone for them. What better way to assuage one’s guilt and shame over a perceived moral failure than to admit before the church — in a generic, nonspecific way — that I understood their moral struggles and failures. More than a few church members were upset by my honesty concerning lust. These faux pillars of moral virtue wanted a preacher who could be inches away from a hot naked woman and not be tempted to touch. They wanted a man who was above the fray, a man so holy and righteous that having a front-row seat for a wet T-shirt contest would not cause arousal or heightened sexual desire. After admitting that I knew what it was like to lust after a woman, the super saints moved on to other churches, oblivious to the fact that their new pastors were no different from me. Now I am in no way suggesting that I cheated on my wife. I didn’t. But I am saying that I always understood what it was to be a normal, healthy heterosexual man. One time, my child-molesting Evangelical grandfather publicly objected to a sermon I preached on the sin of mixed bathing (swimming). He told me that he could go down to the beach and look at women wearing bikinis and never have a lustful thought. I looked at him and told him that I did not believe him and that perhaps he needed to be examined by a doctor. I do not believe for a moment that a man — in particular an Evangelical man — could watch a Sports Illustrated swimsuit photoshoot and not have sexual thoughts. Thinking otherwise is a denial of human nature and abnormal. I knew then, as I do now, that it is normal and healthy to have sexual thoughts, and that having these thoughts does not make someone a bad person.

As an Evangelical pastor, I frequently counseled members who had some sort of moral failing. While I certainly held to the Evangelical interpretation of the Bible’s moral teachings, I understood that no one was perfect. People are going to make mistakes — including having sex before marriage and getting pregnant. When one of the unmarried women of the church found herself pregnant, I did not berate or heap shame upon her head (though I am sure my preaching likely had this effect). Once the deed was done, there is no way to undo it. The only question that mattered was now what? Instead of publicly shaming unmarried women — again, men are almost always given a free pass — I did what I could to help them make the most of a bad situation. What possible good could ever come out of publicly humiliating someone because of some sort of moral failure? Surely it is better to help them pick up the pieces and move on with their lives.

Of course, I now understand that the real solution is to distance oneself from religious moralizing and puritanical sexual beliefs. These Bible-thumping liars help no one. Guilt, shame, and fear only lead to more of the same. The solution is to get away from those whose goal in life is to destroy human nature and self-worth. The 1960s birthed a sexual revolution that continues to this day. There is no going back, and the sooner Evangelical churches and pastors understand this the better.

Having lost the battle against heterosexual immorality, Evangelicals are now focused on LGBTQ people and their “sins” against God. Preaching with all their might about those evil queers, Sodomites, perverts, and reprobates, these keepers of moral purity fail to see that they are driving scores of millennials and thoughtful older people away from their churches. To these preachers of puritanical morality I say, keep up the good work.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Three Failed Ways Evangelicals Deal with LGBTQ Church Members

homosexuals must repent
First Conservative Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Florida. Gene Youngblood, pastor.

Note: I don’t typically use the word homosexual in my writing due to the fact that the word is used in a pejorative sense among Evangelicals. I use the word in this post because I want to attract Evangelical readers through various search engines.

According to the dictionary, a homosexual is someone who is attracted to a person of the same sex. Homosexuality is the sexual attraction to (or sexual relations with) the same sex. Evangelicals believe that each of us is born a heterosexual male or female. In accordance with this errant understanding of human sexuality, they refuse to accept that anyone is born homosexual. They believe gays choose to be homosexual and engage in same-sex sexual behavior. According to their interpretation of the Bible, homosexuality is a soul-damning sin.

Some Evangelicals think a person can be attracted to the same sex and not commit sin. It is the act of homosexual sex that is a sin. If people who are attracted to others of the same gender abstain from same-sex sexual behavior, it is possible for them to be considered Christian. However, anyone who engages in habitual homosexual sex is not a Christian. Since anal and oral intercourse are usually the way gays engage in sex, shouldn’t these very same practices among Evangelical heterosexuals land them in the same Hell as homosexuals? Further, if homosexual sex is just one of many sexual behaviors that God condemns, why is it that the sins of adultery, fornication, and masturbation among Evangelicals are rarely treated identically to same-sex sexual behavior? Why the obsession with how and with whom LGBTQ people have sex?

According to the Evangelical Christian interpretation of Romans 1, many (most, all) homosexuals have been given over by God to a reprobate mind. Reprobates are people such as myself who have crossed the line of no return when it comes to God’s mercy and grace. Reprobates are beyond redemption and will certainly burn in Hell for all eternity.

To a large degree, Evangelicals are a sect of sexually repressed people. Evangelical church-goers spend their lives being told what they can and can’t do sexually (and the “can’s” and “cant’s” vary from church to church, pastor to pastor). The blazing red line in the sand is this: heterosexual sexual intercourse between a husband and his wife is the only permissible form of sex (preferably in the missionary position and for the purpose of procreation). Attempts to spice up one’s sex life are often met with condemnation and judgment. When Evangelical husbands or wives ask their spouses to engage in sexual behavior that is considered kinky, they expose themselves to accusations of having watched pornography. After all, where would an Evangelical get the notion to engage in kinky sex without having been exposed to it elsewhere?

This is the world Evangelicals live in.

Back in the R-E-A-L world, we know that people are sexual beings. We have a natural desire for sexual intimacy. We also know that there are numerous sexual orientations, including heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, non-binary, and others. While we readily admit that environmental factors certainly affect our sexual desires, we also know that most of us are born with a certain sexual identity. I am heterosexual because I was born this way, and so it is for the homosexual.

It is a common occurrence these days to hear of an Evangelical who has been outed as a homosexual. Gay Evangelical pastors, evangelists, worship leaders, youth directors, college professors, and para-church leaders, among others, are regularly exposed and either end up repenting of their sin or leaving Evangelicalism. Many Evangelical homosexuals spend their lives in the closet, secretly indulging their nature, all the while living their lives as “normal” heterosexuals. Often they marry someone of the opposite sex, hoping this will “cure” them of their attraction towards the same-sex. They will engage in heterosexual sex, father or birth children, outwardly doing all the things heterosexuals are supposed to do. But inwardly they battle with who and what they really are. Frequently they are depressed, desperately struggling to maintain their Evangelical façade. Some even consider suicide, a sin only slightly less heinous to Evangelicals than homosexuality.

I suppose marrying away the gay works for some, but more often than not, this approach fails miserably. The homosexual feels trapped in a marital relationship that is not open and honest. Sometimes the spouse understands the dilemma and turns a blind eye to liaisons with people of the same sex. Sometimes the sexual hypocrisy reaches such a point that it results in divorce. Imagine the pain and suffering inflicted on heterosexual spouses, knowing that their significant other desires a man or a woman and not them. Envision the pain, agony, and confusion children go through when they discover one parent or the other is not heterosexual. The family and spouse have been indoctrinated with the Evangelical view of homosexuality that says such behavior is abhorrent and vile. Is it any wonder that Mom or Dad coming out of the closet often causes huge rifts? These fissures frequently cause irreparable damage to family relationships.

It is easy to understand, then, why many Evangelical closeted gays remain safely hidden in the darkened back of the closet. Loving their family more than life itself, they willingly hide who and what they really are. While I personally experience physical pain, I can only imagine the emotional and mental suffering endured by those forced to live a lie because the Evangelical God hates homosexuals. And make no mistake about it, he DOES hates LGBTQ people.

Sometimes, Evangelicals who struggle with homosexuality are told they just need to pray. When they are tempted with same-sex sexual desires, they are told to pray away the gay. If they will just pray hard enough, have enough faith, and trust that God will not give them more than they can bear, they will surely be delivered from their same-sex attraction. And if they still have this attraction? It’s is their fault. They didn’t pray hard enough, have enough faith, or really believe that God would deliver them. No matter what, it’s their fault.

Imagine the same scenario for a heterosexual. We know that the majority of Evangelicals engage in premarital sex. Most Evangelical heterosexuals are not virgins when they walk down the aisle at the local Baptist church. Add to this number those who masturbate, and it is clear very few Evangelicals actually keep the Bible’s puritanical, anti-human sexuality code. Imagine two Evangelical young adults, let call them Nathan and Abigail, regularly dating.  Over time, they become more physical with one another. Soon they find themselves rounding third and heading for home. What should they do? Pray? Have faith? Trust that God will provide them a way of escape (remember, masturbation is NOT a way of escape)?

It is likely that Nathan and Abigail will slide right into home. They will feel guilty afterward, promising God they will never, ever do it again. And then, just like a man who has a chocolate shake for the first time at Dairy Queen, who forever after yearns for a chocolate shake every time he passes a DQ, Nathan and Abigail want to have sex every time they engage in sexual intimacy. Once a person experiences sexual intercourse for the first time, there’s no going back.

Do you think fornicators Nathan and Abigail will be treated the same as two homosexuals when their sexual activity is exposed? Of course not.  All of the older adults at the local Baptist church understand youthful temptation and desire. They likely know from firsthand experience the guilt Nathan and Abigail are experiencing. As heterosexuals, they understand how such things happen. However, when it comes to two homosexuals sliding into home, they cannot begin to fathom such a thing. In their eyes, homosexuality is the one sin that is above every other transgression of God’s law.

Sometimes, Evangelical churches and pastors reluctantly admit that some church members are attracted to people of the same sex. They might even grudgingly admit these people were born that way.  But, make no mistake about it, born this way or not, their homosexuality is condemned by the Bible, and such conduct is never permissible. God creates us with sexual desires and then tells us we can’t act on them? Strange way to go about things, don’t you think? Evangelical homosexuals are told that they must live a sexually celibate life. They are never permitted to love someone, to know what it is to find sexual fulfillment in the embrace of their significant other. They must forsake what is essential to human nature and live like a celibate priest, all the while foregoing masturbatory relief (and we all know how well that works).

Evangelical homosexuals rightly consider marry away the gay, pray away the gay, and forced celibacy teachings to be an offensive denial of who and what they are. While many Evangelical homosexuals have strong faith in the Christian God and desire to worship him, they are usually forced to leave the church. The good news is that there are liberal and progressive Christian churches that will gladly accept them as they are.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

How to Make Sure Your Teen Age Son Can’t Handle His Sexuality

avert your eyes

Repost from 2015-2016. Edited, updated, and corrected.

Several years ago, Kristen Welch, author of Rhinestone Jesus: Saying Yes to Jesus When Sparkly, Safe Faith is No Longer Enough and Don’t Make Me Come Up There: Quiet Moments For Busy Moms, wrote a blog post titled, To the Middle School Girls at the Pool Who Told My Son He was Hot (link no longer active). Welch and her family went to the community pool and lo and behold there were girls there with bikinis on! I know, hard to believe. According to Welch, some middle school girls with bikinis on told her middle school son that he was hot. I wonder if these middle school girls really had bikinis on or if they just had bathing suits that were too skimpy for Welch’s Christian taste. I also wonder what age the girls were. Twelve or fourteen going on fifteen?  Middle school is usually defined as grades sixth through eighth. In my day, back when Ken Ham got off the Ark, middle school was called Junior High. The school I attended housed grades seven through nine. So, were these girls barely out of diapers, or were they menstruating females who are sexually aware? The same questions could be asked of Welch’s son. How old is he? Is he spitball-and-bra-snapping middle school age or is he sexually aware, desiring-the-attention-of-the- fairer-sex age?

According to Welch:

Maybe you didn’t see that my son was with his family at the community pool the other day, playing catch with his dad. Maybe you didn’t understand that he didn’t want to hang out with you when you kept bumping into him and following him around. Maybe you didn’t notice he was averting his eyes every time you walked by in your bikini. Maybe that’s why you walked up to him and said loud enough for his splashing sister to hear, “You are hot. My friend thinks so, too.”Maybe you didn’t see my son’s cheeks flame and watch him look to his father for help or hear him mumble “like I care” or see him get out of the pool to move away from you. Maybe not…

Here’s my first question. If you are a Christian family, what are you doing at the community pool? Surely, Welch and her husband had to know that various forms of nakedness would be on prominent display at the pool! I find it interesting that it seems to be no big deal for Welch’s pubescent son and middle-aged husband to be in an environment that is sure to stir sexual passions. Instead, Welch focuses her ire on a group of bathing-suit-clad middle school girls for telling her son he is hot. The middle school girls who dared to make Welch’s son feel the way any normal heterosexual teenage boy would want to feel will never read Welch’s post. Until the original writing of this post, I had never heard of Kristen Welch or her blog. Several of my Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) relatives posted this article to Facebook, saying how wonderful it was. Evidently, there must be a lot of Christian families with middle school sons who are hot and have girls hitting on them all the time.

The real purpose of Welch’s post is to whine and complain about the bad, bad world we live in, a world Welch describes as:

. . . a culture where anything goes. And sometimes it’s confusing to know how to handle all the messages media throws at you when the world you live in supports your right to do whatever you want. Truth changes more often than the weather and it’s getting harder and harder to stand on anything absolute.

Welch assumes the middle school girls are confused, lacking truth, and are products of a culture where anything goes and you can do whatever you want.  She sees their behavior as the product of a decadent culture, but I see it as sexually aware girls who think a boy at the public swimming pool is attractive. What’s more natural than that? This is much ado about nothing. Instead of writing a whiny post, perhaps Welch should take the time to teach her son how to gracefully handle his holy hotness. When one of the girls said “You are hot. My friend thinks so, too,” all Welch’s son had to do is smile, say thanks, and walk away.

You see, according to Welch, these girls are making it hard for her son to “live a godly life.” Once again, it’s the girls’ fault. This is a common refrain in Evangelicalism. Our sons and fathers are weak, pathetic horn dogs, and girls and women need to cover up lest they have impure thoughts and mentally fornicate.

Welch writes:

. . . We are working really hard to teach our son to live a pure life. We are encouraging him to bounce his eyes away from bikini-clad bodies. We are raising him to be noble. We are praying for him to have integrity. We are advising him to look into a girl’s eyes and not cleavage. We are warning him about sexting.


So, did Welch take her son to a public swimming pool so he could work on his eye averting skills? Why not go all the way and take him to the strip club? Perhaps it could be a father/son outing. The Bible says to abstain from (avoid) the very appearance of evil and the Psalmist said, I will put no wicked thing before my eyes.  I suspect Welch believes that wearing a bikini is sinful and wicked, so why did she put her son (and husband) in a position where they could sin and commit mental fornication?

I know I have written about this subject many times, but it bears repeating here. Instead of blaming women for the sexual failures of male Evangelicals, how about teaching boys and men to responsibly handle their sexuality? Grow up, be a man. Attractive women are everywhere. Biologically, sexually aware males want to have sex with sexually aware females. It’s human nature. Instead of demanding women cover up, how about teaching Evangelical boys and men how to be around attractive females (or the same sex, god forbid) without getting a boner and sinning against God (and perhaps going blind).

Next June, I will turn sixty-five years old. I am officially an old man. When I went to school in the 1960s and 1970s, there were no Christian schools, and home schoolers were few and far between. As a somewhat attractive Christian boy who was certainly attracted to nice-looking girls, I had to learn to how to handle my sexuality and maintain my technical virginity until my wedding day. I dated a handful of church girls, and a few girls outside of the church. I knew what it was to hold hands with a girl, put my arm around her, kiss her, and feel my sexuality rising, all without ravaging her. I was then, and I am still today, responsible for my sexuality. While I now know that if I had rounded third and headed for home it would not have been a “sin”, it was my choice and my wife’s choice to wait until our wedding night to cross the plate and score a winning run for Team Gerencser. Had we waited much longer to be married, we likely would not have been virgins on our wedding day. If we had succumbed to our desires, thanks to our Evangelical religious beliefs, we would have felt dirty, guilty, and ashamed, sure that God was going to strike us dead. What should have been a normal sexual experience for an adult couple in love was turned into something to be feared until we said I do.

Welch needs to teach her son and all her children to handle their blossoming sexuality. Saying thus saith the Lord, avert your eyes lest ye turn into an Evangelical horn dog is not the answer. Welch is right, the rules of sexual engagement have changed. Now there’s sexting that provides instant visual gratification. Again, it’s up to the smartphone user to control their use. If a teenager can’t act responsibly . . . here’s the shocker . . . take their damn phone away. Personally, I think adults, who have forgotten what it was like to young, have blown the sexting issue way out of proportion. Several years ago, a sexting scandal made the front page of our local newspaper. You would have thought local police had broken up a child pornography ring. Instead, it was sexually aware teens sending inappropriate texts and pictures to each other, no different from lifted shirts and dropped pants in the 1970s. We baby boomers survived, even if we are now blamed for all the decadent sexual behavior now on display in America.

I took 1,500 or so words to say to Kristen Welch, quit your whining and teach your son to grow up and embrace his sexuality. (This post was originally written in 2015. He is now in high school or college.) If he has impure thoughts or gets frisky with a middle school bikini babe at the public swimming pool, teach him to accept responsibility for his behavior. Do your best, Mom, to not turn out another weak, pathetic Evangelical man who can’t bear to see cleavage without having thoughts of banging the woman on the spot. We have enough of these kinds of men. They are likely sitting near you at whatever Bible-believing church you attend.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

“Don’t Dress Like a Whore if You Don’t Want to Get Sexually Assaulted” Says Lori Alexander

lori and ken alexander

Christian Fundamentalist Lori Alexander, a promoter of religious extremism, complementarianism, and patriarchalism, is known for saying hateful, outlandish things about women (and men) who reject her beliefs. Today, Alexander said that women who dress “immodestly” and later get sexually assaulted or raped are asking for it; that if they don’t want to suffer violence at the hands of men, women should stop wearing “immodest” clothing.

In a post titled, Don’t Advertise What You’re Not Willing to Give, Alexander states:

Recently, I shared an experience I had when I was 15 years old and just turned 16. The summer that I was 15 years old, I went to the beach often with another guy my age. He was tall and handsome. I had a major crush on him.

My mom wouldn’t let me to date until I was 16 years old, so she was the one taking us to the beach. At the beach, I wore a tiny bikini. He saw me in what looked like a bra and underwear all summer long. I didn’t understand about men’s visual nature then. Well, I did kind of know, since I received a lot of attention in my bikini from guys. It’s a power trip to have men ogle us. Don’t let them tell you otherwise in order to put all of the blame on men.

When I turned 16, he picked me up in his parent’s big old station wagon. He drove me to the drive-in theatre. Once the movie began, he climbed on top of me, began kissing me, and trying to take my clothes off. I demanded he take me home then, and he did. We never spoke again after than even though we had a class together.

I was always told that guys just want one thing. I thought the same of him, BUT I was advertising to him my body all summer long in immodest clothing. I was advertising something I had no intention of giving to him, but he didn’t know that. Guys are turned on when they see scantily clad women. This is why whores dress the way they do. They are advertising something they want to give for money.

A few weeks ago was the first time I had realized what I had done to him. I did this with my other two boyfriends in high school too. I wore bikinis and short, tight clothing around them. Of course, this is going to make it hard on them to not have sex with me. I was absolutely responsible for dressing the way that I did. This is why God commands young women to be discreet and shamefaced. God knows how men’s minds work. He created them! For all of these female Bible teachers/preachers to say otherwise is a lie. They act like women can dress any way the [sic] want. If guys come on to them, it’s all the guys’ fault. Don’t advertise what you’re not willing to give!

….

If you’re dressing sexually and guys are coming on to you, you are getting what you are advertising. Women at the beaches these days wear bathing suits that entice men. Most of their butts and breasts are showing. The bathing suits leave nothing to the imagination. It’s hard on men, women, when you dress like this. They were created to enjoy the female body! Stop denying this. Accept it, and do something about it!

Dress modestly as God commands. He wants us to dress modestly and shamefaced for a reason. Shamefaced means not wanting to draw attention to ourselves. Immodest clothing draws attention to ourselves. It’s for our protection and makes it easier for the men around us to dress modestly. Stop advertising what you don’t want to give. All of God’s commands to us are for our good.

Where oh where do I begin?

Alexander believes that men are inherently weak sexually; that if women don’t dress modestly, men (even those who have the Holy Spirit living inside of them like her husband Ken) won’t be able to control their sexual urges and might throw them down on a church pew and sexually assault them. Men are horn dogs who are sexually stimulated by what they see. Thus, according to Alexander, if women show too much cleavage or leg or dress in formfitting clothing, men won’t be able to control themselves sexually. In other words, women are surrounded by men who want to fuck them against their will.

Alexander, a Bible literalist, believes women are sexual gatekeepers. Since men can’t help themselves when it comes to their sexual desires, it’s up to women to keep big, bad wolves from blowing their houses down. They do this by dressing modestly, by following the teaching and commands of the Bible.

Alexander’s bikini story suggests that she thinks if a man sees a woman dressed “immodestly” one day, and then days later tries to fuck her or sexually assault her, it’s the woman’s fault. IT’S ALWAYS THE WOMAN’S FAULT! Astoundingly, Alexander calls her teen self a WHORE.

Last Saturday, my wife and I went grocery shopping in Toledo. We do this every two weeks, though rapidly increasing local COVID-19 infections will likely soon put an end to in-person shopping for us. Polly wore a top that showed a bit of cleavage. Coming from a religious world where Alexander’s beliefs were preached and practiced, Polly wearing such a top is a big deal — much like her wearing pants for the first time in 2004, at the age of 46 (ponder THAT for a moment). Why did Polly wear this top? Was she advertising to men that she wanted to have sex with them? Or did she wear this top because it was comfortable and she liked its colors? Or maybe she just wanted to look nice (for herself or her husband). Alexander believes my wife is a whore; that she was saying by showing cleavage she was available for sex (or advertising something she wasn’t willing to give). Of course, she was doing no such thing. ******************

I find it interesting that not only does Alexander blame women for men not being able to control their sexual thoughts, urges, and desires, she also blames God. Alexander wrote:

This is why God commands young women to be discreet and shamefaced [bashful, modest,respectful]. God knows how men’s minds work.

According to Alexnder, God knows “how men’s minds work.” Why? He created them that way. God created men to be the horn dogs they are. Why, then, is God not responsible for how men behave sexually? Is not the all-powerful Creator culpable for the behavior of the created? He could have created men to only want, need, and desire sex with their spouses, only in the missionary position, and only for procreation. Instead, he created men (and women) to want, need, and desire sex, not only in monogamous married relationships, but also when they are unmarried. God could have created men differently, but he didn’t. So, Alexander is right about one thing, God IS responsible for human sexual behavior.

Of course, there is no God, so we must look elsewhere to understand human sexuality, say BIOLOGY. We “are who we are” biologically, as any high school biology textbook will tell you. Further, according to modern social constructs, each of us is accountable for our sexual behavior. Just because a man sees an attractive woman in a bikini doesn’t mean the next time he sees her has the right to assault her sexually. It’s one thing to engage in a conversation with someone that might lead to consensual sex. ‘Tis human nature, right? It’s another thing, however, to try to take sexual advantage of someone, as Alexander says happened to her decades ago. It’s never right to force people to engage in sexual behavior against their will.

Alexander not only has a warped view of human sexuality in general, but also her own sexuality. She blames herself for what three boyfriends tried to do to her fifty years ago. Instead of calling these boys into account for their behavior, she blames herself for them attempting to assault her sexually. As someone who came of age in the 1970s, I understand Alexander’s view of her early sexual experiences. Such behavior was common. It’s 2021. Alexander has an opportunity to teach young Evangelical men and women about consent. Instead, she continues to promote warped justifications for men making unwanted sexual advances towards women or sexually assaulting them.

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Hey Girlfriend, When You Feel Tempted to Hug Your Boyfriend . . .

christian side hug

Repost from 2015-2016. Edited, updated, and corrected.

Hey girlfriend, when you feel tempted to hug your boyfriend, hug your dad, brother, sister, or an old lady in the church instead. Nothing quenches sexual desire like hugging a male family member or ancient Sister Bertha, right?

Paula Hendricks, a writer for the Lies Young Women Believe website, had this to say to young women who doubted an invisible Jesus could meet their sexual longings and desires:

 Apparently I’m not the only one who has wondered how God can satisfy when all I want is a pair of strong arms to hold me close. Here’s what Rebecca wrote me:

“The biggest thing I think my crush can give me that God can’t is his strong arms wrapped around me. Although my crush has yet to hold me in his arms, his physical closeness sends shivers throughout my body. I know that God is always there for me . . . but sometimes my feelings get the better of me, and all I want to do is be wrapped up in my crush’s arms and attention.”

Grace added:

“I think what always gets me is that God isn’t physically there like a guy is. He can’t wrap his arms around me. Sometimes I just want that.”

And finally, Isabella said:

“I have often thought, I wish God could come down here and give me a big bear hug. Then I would really be in love with Him.”

But here’s the thing . . . He has come down! And while He was here, He picked up kids and cradled them in His arms. (You have to admit, that shows a tender heart—few guys walk around doing the same thing!)

I know He’s not physically here now…But one day soon, we will see Him. We will be with Him.

When Christ comes again to “marry” the Church, His Bride, He will likely hold us too…

…Now that is something to look forward to! Jesus Christ is not an idea; He is a Person. A Divine Person with arms and legs and beautiful probing eyes. He loves you. Enough to spread His arms wide in order to bleed so you might be healed. And if you have put your trust in His death and resurrection on your behalf, you will soon see and know Him fully.

So in the meantime, as you wait for Him, by all means, hug! No, not your crush. Hug your dad. Hug your mom. Hug your brothers and sisters. Hug your friends. Hug those old ladies at church…

I wonder if Hendricks has heard about the Christian side hug, a type of hug sexually aware, virgin Evangelical young people can give one another without causing sexual stirring or lust?

Video Link

Rational Wiki describes the Christian side hug this way:

The Christian side hug is a means by which young Christians can show affection for each other without engaging in possibly tempting and impure front-to-front contact.

Instead of hugging face-to-face, the huggers stand side-by-side, and can be facing either the same way or in opposite directions. Unlike frontal hugging, side hugs minimize the risk of an eternal damnation which could result from possible incidental contact with a boob or penis of somebody to whom one is not married.

For extra affection, the side hug may be accompanied by a few non-contact blessing pats. If even the side hug is too intense, you can work up to it coyly with this elaborate sequence of gestures. There’s even a Christian side hug rap, which attracted the attention of The Young Turks. The degree of parody and satire intended in the rap version is unknown, but that doesn’t make it any better.

Several years ago, I wrote about the Six Inch Rule, a regulation used at Midwestern Baptist College — the college Polly and I attended in the 1970s — to keep young adults from touching one another. It proved to be a dismal failure. I don’t know of one couple who lived in the Midwestern Baptist College dorm when Polly and I did who didn’t violate the spirit and the letter of the six-inch rule. Something tells me — oh like common sense — that teenagers and young adults are still failing at keeping the touching prohibitions of Evangelical moralizers such as Paula Hendricks. Why, you ask? Simple. We are sexual beings and we desire physical, intimate contact with others. All the sweet, sexy Jesus in the world won’t quench human sexual desire. When it comes to choosing between sexual intimacy and Jesus, my money is on sexual intimacy.

jesus hug

What makes writers like Paula Hendricks so harmful is that they encourage teen girls and young women to act against their nature. They encourage them to repress their sexual desires. Sadly, when these girls later marry, they often bring a warped view of physical intimacy and sex into the marriage (and men can do the same).  Marriage is tough enough without starting life with sexual dysfunction. Instead of teaching teenagers and young adults to repress their sexual desires, they should be encouraged to responsibly act on their desires, starting with a hug or a kiss. If there is more to the relationship, then they can determine where to go from there. There are three bases between the batter’s box and home. Hendricks wants unmarried teens and adults to stand in the batter’s box, never moving or swinging when the pitch comes their way. No running to first, rounding second, sprinting around third, and sliding into home. Not a very fun or interesting game, yes?

Contrary to Paula Hendricks’ horrible advice, hugging is not a gateway to sexual intercourse. Teenagers and young adults can sexually experiment without having intercourse. And if they decide to slide into home base, the best advice to give them is on how to be sexually responsible and use birth control. Of course, this advice must be given to them BEFORE they are rounding third and heading for home. In fact, before they even get to first base, wouldn’t it be better to prepare single teenagers and young adults for their sexual future?

Hendricks now sports the last name Marsteller. She’s married, and I suspect is regularly playing baseball with her husband. I wonder if she touched her husband before they married?

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Bruce Gerencser