Quoting someone, even with disapproval, gives him or her credibility as a conversation partner. It implies that he or she has said something worthy of attention. I have no desire at all to give such credibility or attention to televangelist Pat Robertson, but something he reportedly said the other day is so outrageous and such an egregious distortion of the gospel that I must comment.

A viewer wrote to Robertson’s “The 700 Club” saying that her husband had been cheating on her. She had tried to forgive, and they had gone to counseling, but to no avail. She felt she could not trust her spouse any longer.

Robertson replied that she should make her home more “enticing” (that presumably included herself), and her man would not stray. She owed this to him and should be grateful if he was a good provider, nice to the children, and handsome. (It seems to me that made her little more than a prostitute, paid with financial security for keeping her mouth shut about his dalliances.) And besides, she should have expected his behavior, since men wander.

That poor woman, already burdened with grief over the brokenness of the marriage and the betrayal of trust, thus had even more heaped on her by a “Christian” preacher she trusted enough to turn to in her plight. She (and presumably she alone) was responsible for her husband’s behavior and for keeping him faithful.

It’s a short leap from Robertson’s notion that wives are responsible if their husbands cheat to the widespread idea that women are to blame by the way they dress or what they say for sexual assault and rape or for being beaten by spouses, boyfriends, strangers, their superiors in the office or the military, and kidnappers. “Boys will be boys.” “He’s a man.” If a man needs to feel powerful by raping a woman or a child, he’s just displaying his nature. Women have to ensure that men’s tendencies are kept in check.

Robertson’s comments deeply offend and anger me, as they should any faithful, loving man, husband or boyfriend. How dare he lump me and all the millions of good men with cheating scumbags like that viewer’s husband? And is he so naive as to think his opinion will not give the imprimatur of a famous Christian preacher to those who already are disposed to treat women as responsible for both all the wrong in the world, yet ironically also expected to hold back all the evil in the world? Each individual, whether man or woman, is responsible for his or her behavior, of any sort, and will be held accountable. And in the covenant of marriage, we are expected to help each other and keep our vows; the burden of morality and decency does not fall disproportionately on one more than the other.

Is it any wonder an increasing number in our nation see Christianity as woman-hating, power-hungry, and hypocritical? Robertson’s comments are as faithless to the compassionate Christ he professes to serve as that philandering husband’s affairs were to his wife. The televangelist should be ashamed, and one day he will be, as he stands before the judgment seat of the Lord.

© 2013 Tom Cheatham. All rights reserved.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/15/pat-robertson-cheating-husband-wife-marriage_n_3281416.html

Last Tuesday, Harvard professor Karen King revealed an ancient (4th century CE) scrap of papyrus in which Jesus, in a conversation with his disciples, refers to his “wife” and says that “she will be able to be my disciple.” (For the whole story, see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/20/jesus-wife-5-big-question_n_1898524.html).

It sounds like something out of The DaVinci Code, and I guess some people might be upset that some early Christians were even talking about Jesus being married. As King suggested, merely the thought that such a conversation took place could shake up centuries-old traditions.

I, for one, frankly wonder what the problem is. Why couldn’t/shouldn’t Jesus have been married? Actually, we know very little about his personal life from the gospels, which were never intended to be biographies or histories in any modern sense, but theological, persuasive documents, edited according to the author’s purpose and not intended to include every detail (see, e.g., John 20:30,31). So, the texts neither affirm nor deny that Jesus was wed anymore than they let us know what his favorite foods were or what he actually did for a living (carpentry is merely an assumption based on the customs of the day) or what his house looked like (and yes, he lived in house and had a home of his own; see Mark 2:1). We can say, based on the typical practices of the day, that rabbis, such as Jesus, were expected to be married, and it would have been odd indeed for a man of his age and calling not to have a wife.

The Catholic hierarchy apparently said all they intend to say during the controversy surrounding the Dan Brown book and movie back when, which as you know affirmed that Mary Magdalene was Jesus’ wife and that they had a daughter named Sarah. But if people are upset by this latest discovery, I believe it will be because of the skewed notions about sexuality and marriage that have grown up over the centuries, primarily in the Roman tradition. These are ideas that distrust the body, regarding it as evil (as the Greeks said) rather than the gift of God (as Judaism affirmed). Nothing divine could ever have any contact with something so fleshly as marital intimacy, so if Jesus was indeed God, he couldn’t possibly be married. And also, his mother had to have been immaculately conceived, because sin is transmitted through the “concupiscence” attendant upon intercourse, even in marriage. Desire is bad. Sex is wrong, wordly, always in some way sinful. At least according to this thinking. So of course, Mary the mother of Jesus remained a virgin her whole life (despite biblical evidence to the contrary, Matthew 1:25). Priests cannot be married, but must be single and celibate.

The irony of all this is that it implicitly denies one of the central tenets of the Christian faith, in the name of the Christian faith! I mean the notion that “God became flesh,” incarnate, and thus makes holy the human experience, affirms that it is through our expression of full humanity that we encounter God, who undergirds and sustains all that we have and are as the “Ground of Being” (Tillich).

How sad and misguided is it when the Church, of any stripe, doesn’t even understand and affirm the teaching of its own scriptures?

© 2012 Tom Cheatham. All rights reserved.