I don’t think there’s anything weirder than religious sexual obsession. Sex is tough enough without layering our obsession about it with some bizarre religious viewpoint.
Jim Jones was obsessed with sex. David Koresh couldn’t keep his hands off his female followers. A group of radical polygamists were recently exposed for their dirty little secret of sex between older men and the young teenage girls who became their wives.
Like sex, religion is tough to keep squared away without it being overrun with bizarre social and personal viewpoints. Flannery O’Connor aptly said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd.” I don’t think she was inviting us to make weirdness into an art form and blessing it in the name of God. I think she was holding up a mirror so we would see ourselves more clearly.
Over the years since the takeover of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the ickiest viewpoints about sex, procreation and pleasure have been lurking in the theological minds of the president and professors who teach there.
Once a viable center of creative and respectable theological thinking, now we are subjected to the strangest of sexual obsessions that focus on the means and motives of sex slimed by the notion they claim to represent the viewpoints of the God who created sex.
Remember, this is the seminary that has defended the torture of prisoners of war by our government as a means of self-defense in a world marked by international terrorism.
One is left to ponder what it means that both viewpoints are held by the same professors of theology and about the theological worldview that is now forming the faith and thinking of those who study there.
In the past few years, the greatness of the seminary has been tainted by an obsession with procreation and filling the womb of young Christian women who are sexually submissive to their husbands as an act of their commitment to God. The Southern faculty have advocated in the past that Southern Baptist young women must serve as willing sexual partners with their husbands making babies together as often as God (as in the life-giving reproductive powers of nature) wills.
Why would these professors make pronouncements that God wills for these young women to be so open to their own fertility as to spurn birth-control methods and label them as acts of disobedience? Such a theology they call “a full-quiver theology,” meaning the quiver of a man is filled with the arrows of the offspring they sire with their obedient wives.
These Southern professors have also condemned the rebellion of young Southern Baptist men and women who might choose not to marry until they are older. Again waiting until they are ready is deemed as disobedience and condemned, as if such condemnation was according to the eternal plan of God. Should there not be some gladness to such wisdom from our young adults who would thoughtfully enter into marriage and creating a family? Does it really matter much to the rest of us when they make this choice?
Back to the latest weirdness at hand … this past Friday, a report was carried on EthicsDaily.com of a sermon preached recently by Bruce Ware, professor of Christian theology, at the Denton Bible Church pronouncing that women bring physical abuse by their husbands upon themselves by their desire to have their own way rather than submitting to the authority of their husbands.
There’s only the thinnest of blame offered to women who suffer brutality at the hands of their abusive husbands, which he claims is linked to Eve’s sin of rebellion in the Garden of Eden. Men whose wives demonstrate such rebellion often act in one of two ways, claims Professor Ware. They react either in strength and beat their wives, or they acquiesce and become weak male partners with their domineering wives.
Perhaps warning signs should be posted at the entrance of the seminary: “Warning! Sexual Obsessions Abound Here … Enter at Your Own Peril!”
Keith Herron is senior pastor of Holmeswood Baptist Church in Kansas City, Mo.
Intentional interim minister at Countryside Community Church of Omaha, Nebraska, the Christian partner in the Tri-Faith Initiative, a partnership with the American Muslim Institute and Temple Israel. He is author of Living a Narrative Life, Exploring the Power of Stories (Smyth & Helwys, 2019).