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Punch Your Gay Kid Straight

The pastor of a Baptist church in Fayettesville, N.C., Sean Harris, told parents that if they have a boy who wants to act like a girl or a girl who wants to act like a boy, then they need to “squash like a cockroach” such gender diversity for the glory of God (you can watch the sermon here). According to Pastor Harris, parents need to enforce strict gender roles on their children:

Dads, the second you see your sons dropping the limp wrist you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up! Give a good punch… ‘You’re not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you’re going to act like a male.’ And when your daughter starts acting too butch you rein her in. You say ‘Oh No Sweetheart. You can play sports… but sometimes you’re going to act like a girl, walk like a girl, talk like a girl and smell like a girl. And that means you’re going to be beautiful and attractive and dress yourself up! ‘

You say can I act like this as a parent? Yes you can. I just gave you special dispensation…”

In Pastor Harris’ statement in response to the media firestorm, he said

The purpose of this document is to issue an official statement of retraction of any and all words that suggest that child abuse is appropriate for any and all types of behaviors including (but not limited to) effeminacy and sexual immorality of all types. I should not have said what I said about “cracking,” “punching,”  …. Nor should I have used the words “special dispensation.”

…However, I do not apologize for the manner in which the Word of God articulates sexual immorality, including homosexuality and effeminacy, as a behavior that is an abomination to God. Nothing in this official statement of retraction should be perceived as an apology for the overarching intent and message of the sermon and the need to define marriage as one man and one woman and to maintain the gender distinctions that God created from the beginning when He made them male and female (Genesis 1).

All of this was delivered by the pastor, by the way, to get people to “cast their ballot” (presumably for Mitt Romney who is no girlie man and certainly believes that marriage is between one masculine hunk of a man like him and one feminine female like his stay-at-home, motherhood is the most important job in the world spouse).

I know very little about the Bible, and even less about why voting for Mitt Romney will ensure that you don’t end up with a limp-wristed son or a softball-playing daughter, but the claim that there is a biblical injunction against gender deviance struck me as unlikely- if for no other reason than the rules of gender change so dramatically over time and place. So being the butch gal I am, I did something very, very scary for an atheist heathen: I read the passage the good Pastor listed as justification for his rant, Genesis 1.

Okay, I admit that I didn’t read a real Bible, but a quick Google search found the New International version online. The only order from God relating to men and women in Genesis 1 (or this version of it):

Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.

Um, OK, did I miss the part where God said, “And your sons shall play with footballs and your daughters with Barbies”? Did I miss the part where God said “If your daughter goes onto sports as does your son, beseech her to wear extra strength deodorant so she remains with the scent of a female”?

I don’t think so because I don’t think there was anything biblical about Harris’s sermon. Instead, it was based on more recent (well, 19th century) beliefs that homosexuality=gender inversion and heterosexuality=gender normativity. These Victorian beliefs continue to shape much of what Americans believe today, including the idea that our sexual identities are fixed and written on the body (or at least on the brain).

The sermon was also based in much more recent “culture wars” whereby white, married and nonurban Americans are paid in the wages of straightness to vote for GOP candidates that in no way represent their actual class interests. But I guess, at least for many people who believe that God hates sissies, the wages of straightness are worth far more than their actual wages.

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