by Candace Chellew-Hodge - Religion Dispatches
Editor's note: The following is reprinted with permission from Religion Dispatches. You can sign up for their free daily newsletter here:Religion Dispatches Subscribe link.
Faced with a growing acceptance of Gay and Lesbian people in both society and the church, the religious right is rolling out its new sales pitch for heterosexuality: "Married heterosexuals have the best sex!"
After failing to sell the younger generation on the intrinsic value of marriage as the best way to raise children, they've decided to back up a few steps and instead pitch the great baby-making sex that straight married couples apparently have.
"Those who worship God weekly have the best sex," asserted Patrick F. Fagan, senior fellow and director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) at the Family Research Council, according to a recent article in the Christian Post.
Interestingly, however, the article fails to mention that the National Health and Social Life Survey, from which FRC pulled its data, says that it's actually devout Catholics who have the best sex - not evangelical Protestant Christians. (As my good Southern Baptist momma will tell you straight up: "Catholics are not Christians.") But let's not dwell on such unimportant details. Instead, let's look at perhaps why the typically sex-averse FRC is now using sex to sell the straight lifestyle.
SOUND AND FURY
Could the urgency be linked to a new report by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution, which reveals that the white evangelical conservative base is shrinking with each successive generation?
The report, dubbed the "Economic Values Survey," uses respondents' views on everything - from God to the Bible to the role of government in the economy - to create a new scale of religiosity that divides Americans into four groups: religious conservatives (28 percent), religious moderates (38 percent), religious progressives (19 percent), and nonreligious (15 percent.)
Moderate and progressive religious people make up a strong 57% of the population. This is something you would never guess if you listened to the base of the Republican Party or the religious-right talking heads like FRC leader Tony Perkins that the media insists on inviting to give the "Christian" perspective on the day's events - especially if they include Gays and Lesbians.
Although, if you think about it, it's not really a shock that the popular idea of a "Christian" these days is someone like Perkins, since so many have dedicated themselves to being both vocal and visible, while moderate-to-progressive Christians tend to view faith as a personal issue. Certainly more centrist and left-leaning religious organizations like Sojourners are pushing for more moderate and liberal voices to be heard from the media stage, but Perkins and his ilk often make for far more controversial sound bites and viral videos being circulated through social media. Nuanced arguments from the left don't translate well in our ADHD-afflicted media, social or otherwise.
What the more liberal Christians need to pay attention to here, and challenge through that media megaphone (if you can stop thinking about sex for just one minute) is the FRC's absolute and total hypocrisy on the issue of welfare.
In this presentation, they point out that welfare recipients are the most productive workers, the "heavy lifters of the economy." FRC praises these families that have more mouths to feed, for their Protestant work ethic. Which begs the question about why FRC, and other conservative organizations like the Heritage Foundation, enthusiastically advocate for welfare reforms that would shrink the rolls of the working poor. You would think they'd want to increase social safety nets so these sacred "intact" families could continue to be "the core strength of the country."
Perhaps they're hoping that the great sex will make up for the lack of food and shelter these heroes of family values will experience when conservative policymakers get their way.
In the end, though, the FRC prefers to turn its sex-fevered brain from public policy to debauchery as they make the case for hot-sex-based heterosexual marriage:
"Abortion, homosexuality, infidelity, pornography, euthanasia, infanticide, all of these things were just the common sexual practice of Pagan Rome, and Christians were noted for being very, very different - monogamous, faithful, struggling for chastity," said Fagan.
The anti-Gay brain seems to have a habit of feverishly imagining the hot, sweaty, and ... oh, yeah ... terrible, awful, and sinful sex that their Gay and Lesbian (and anyone else not straight, white, and "naturally" married) counterparts must be having. Sadly, the facts of Gay and Lesbian life - as well as straight married life - may prove too much of a challenge for their sales pitch.
As writer and Soulforce founder Mel White once told talk-show host Larry King when King asked what he and his husband did in bed, Mel replied, "We do what every couple who's been married for over 20 years does. We sleep."
Candace Chellew-Hodge is the founder/editor of Whosoever: An Online Magazine for GLBT Christians and currently serves as the pastor of Jubilee! Circle in Columbia, S.C. She is also the author of Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians (Jossey-Bass, 2008).
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