March 8, 2017

How evangelicals replaced Jesus with masculinity

Religion & Politics - Trump is a man who boasted of his “manhood” on national television, who incited violence at his rallies, and bragged of assaulting women. He is a man who spoke in the chapel of a Christian college in Iowa and claimed that he could “stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody” and not lose voters.

Certainly, his behavior did little to dissuade the 81 percent of white evangelicals who voted for him, a constituency that proved key to his victory.

The truth is, many evangelicals long ago replaced the suffering servant of Christ with an image that more closely resembles Donald Trump than many would care to admit. They’ve traded a faith that privileges humility and elevates the least of these for one that derides gentleness as the province of wusses. Having replaced the Jesus of the gospels with an idol of machismo, it’s no wonder many have come to think of Trump himself as the nation’s savior.

Indeed, white evangelical support for Trump can be seen as the culmination of a decades-long embrace of militant masculinity, a masculinity that has enshrined patriarchal authority, condoned a callous display of power at home and abroad, and functioned as a linchpin in the political and social worldviews of conservative white evangelicals. In the end, many evangelicals did not vote for Trump despite their beliefs, but because of them.

The roots of this ideology can be traced back to the 1970s, a decade in which evangelicals began to stake a new claim on politics and culture. As they mobilized around “family values” issues, defining masculinity and femininity was central to their task. James Dobson was one of the earliest and most influential proponents of this effort. The psychologist rose to fame with his 1970 book Dare to Discipline, but it was five years later that he began to articulate his gender ideology: men and women differed “biochemically, anatomically, and emotionally.” To wit, men like to “hunt and fish and hike in the wilderness”; women prefer to “stay at home and wait for them.” More significantly, “men derive self-esteem by being respected; women feel worthy when they are loved.”...


Scott McLarty said...

The roots of this kind of Christianity go back a long way, much longer than the 1970s. They can be traced to the "muscular Christianity" of the 19th century, an alternative to the sentimental feminized Sunday School version of Jesus. It showed up in the businessman's Christianity of the 1930s too. There's a good account of this history in Jeff Sharlet's book " The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power."

greg gerritt said...

machismo is usally associated with patriarchy, whichis ultimately defined as old men controlling the ferttility of teenage girls, with rights to use it, trade it, or sell it. Souncs like many of the perverts running evangelical churches