If your pastor sounds like he’s Taliban, he just might be..

I consider the preaching on the right obscene.  Disgusting. Spiritually ugly.   An affront to the gospel.

He reminds me of General Ripper in Dr. Strangelove, obsessed with “bodily fluids,” except that Reverend Al here appears to have perfected a “crack of the buttocks” version.  I don’t recommend watching anymore than you absolutely have to, in order to get the point, but underneath the annoying Baptist cadence, and the mouth-breathing intensity, and the obsession with “buttocks,” there are several lessons to be learned. (Update: my sister in law watched the first 3 minutes and didn’t go any further because she thought I was making fun of a valid premise;  watch 16:00 — 19:00.  He appears to work himself into a lather over ladies in pants, arm holes that are too big, blouses that show a woman’s shape, at all.)

The first lesson, I imagine, is that a legitimate issue — how we dress as Christians — can reveal some pretty ugly lesions in our character, and some weird rationing in the bedroom. Plainly, this pastor needs to take his wife off to a nice resort and get laid.  Anyone this obsessed with describing Spandex pants that are too tight on the ladies, anyone who appears to lose his breath when lamenting “arm holes” on a woman’s blouse just isn’t getting enough sex.   As a new farmer, I was once afraid to keep a bull on the property, since I thought they would be too dangerous.  There’s a simple solution.  Put a few cows in the pen with him.  He gets downright gentle.

Before anyone accuses me of deferring to the animal kingdom for truth, we just have to remember St. Paul’s advice.  “It is better to marry than to burn.” (1 Cor 7:9)  This guy appears to be “burning” right during the middle of his sermon;  I wouldn’t sit through teaching like this, especially if my wife and daughters were with me.  He looks like he might jump over the pulpit and cop a feel at any moment.  Even worse, in the process, he gives sex, romance, marriage and the gospel itself a bad name.

That neckline! It's plunging!
That neckline! It’s plunging!

Certainly, we’ve all known women who beam their sexuality clear across the sanctuary as though they were raking the pews with a pair of search lights, but describing her clothing, from the pulpit, and appearing to lose your breath doing it, only gives her more power. She knows who she is — and so do the other women in the church.  You can give that sermon — about the woman who sells her sexuality cheap without appearing as though you would be the first customer.

There’s another lesson here by way of careless exegesis as well.  He appears to equate a lady’s decision to wear a form fitting top with the adulterous woman of Proverbs 30:20, who eats and drinks and declares herself innocent of any wrong doing.   Catch that?  Wear a top that shows too much bosom and you’re an adulteress.

There was a time when the whole subject of female modesty was far more confusing to me, and that was when I was a very young believer, recovering from legalism and pietism.  I’m old enough to remember when Christian ministries were actually partnering with Islamic organizations around the world to fight abortion and atheism.  (This was before we all knew how much time they were spending making shoe bombs and the like.)  At that juncture, the image of the female Islamic head covering seemed like an exotic picture of old world modesty, but that, too, was before we stopped to ponder that Islamic misogyny is the result of the most sinister legalist tradition in the world, a tradition that offers its disciples absolutely no hope unless they burn a bruise in their foreheads praying five times a day.  Their lusts torment them so much they put a black bag over one of God’s greatest creations — the female form.  Some of them can’t even bear to look into a woman’s eyes without falling into an orgy of desire that angers them so much — that makes them feel so unworthy in the eyes of “Allah,” — they beat that desire down, sometimes literally with a poor woman on the other end of a stick.

But the odd, frightening thing?  There’s a version of this ugliness in the Christian church itself.   You see it in this pastor’s weird, tearful apology for desire.   He glimpsed an arm hole!   A bra!  A buttock!  Woe is me!

He felt something like desire, and instead of smiling, taking the thought captive for Jesus, praising God for the beauty around him, and giving his wife a peck on the cheek, he concluded, with no small rage, that some woman had stolen his Celestial Carnival Cruise Line ticket!  His heavenly paperwork was now all fluttering away, right into the stretchy waistline of Sister Anderson, wearing Spandex again.  His ticket to heaven had just slipped right down her panties!   If she’s even wearing them!

When Jesus told us that we are adulterers in our heart, He was only speaking the truth about our condition.  We want what we can’t have, (and not just sexually either, on all fronts.) We have been that way since the Garden.   We are hopelessly flawed, and heaven is so far out of our own reach, we need a Savior to reach it.   Jesus even exaggerated a bit there.  He said “cut off your hand” and “poke out your eyes” if they offend you, but, somehow pastors like this who claim to be so wounded by the flesh of women always seem to have all ten fingers and both eyeballs intact.   They don’t appear to be making themselves eunuchs for the kingdom’s sake either.     Obviously — or the wanton “arm holes” wouldn’t be such a problem.

The real problem is the blemish this places upon the church.  These are the sort of people who would sit in a corner of Cana, brooding, deeply angry that too many people were enjoying the wedding, that Jesus had made more wine, a lot more wine, and that someone would be having great sex tonight.   Why should anyone be singing?  Why should anyone laugh?   Don’t we show ourselves approved to God by demonstrating how miserable we can be?

It’s not up to me who makes it into the Kingdom, but when I hear preaching like this, my first thought is:  “do I have to share heaven with someone like that?  Can we at least live in different neighborhoods?”