The NY Times has a story today about allegations of sexual exploitation against the head of a Georgia mega-church, one Bishop Eddie Long.
Not many details have come out so far. The four men say they were not underage, but they were coerced into a sexual relationship through the Bishop’s considerable authority over them, not to mention they were given jobs, money, cars, and so on. I’m sure you’ll be shocked to hear that Bishop Long is a social conservative, speaking out often against gay rights and even running seminars that proposed to “cure” people of their homosexuality.
It’s still early in the story. Bishop Long and his representatives have denied the allegations and intend to fight the lawsuits in court, but at this point I pretty much assume any public figure that speaks fervently against gay rights is in the closet. It’s possible, sure, that the allegations are fiction, but that wouldn’t be the way I’d bet.
Now, there’s been a bit of a furor over purported Newt Gingrich quotes in which he tells his about-to-be-ex-wife that he was entitled to give speeches on family values while cheating on his wife because it didn’t matter how he lived. He had to stand up and say what was right, even if he would never live that way himself. Hey, he’s a sinner, just like all of us, right? Speechifying for what’s right, and moral, and good is what politicians are supposed to do, and if he can’t live up to his own standards, it doesn’t mean the standards are wrong.
That’s the theory anyway. I’m not a Christian, and while I have pretty solid ideas about right and wrong, I’m not too keen on the concept of “sin.” I’m also not keen on the prosperity gospel (to get back to Bishop Long) or “muscular christianity”. The only reason a wife should “submit” to her husband is if they’re into that sort of thing, not because some dude in a silk suit says it’s the only way to be rich in this life and heaven-bound in the next. Frankly, there’s a lot of different kinds of “sin” out there; when you climb into the pulpit, be sure to direct your condemnation at those vices you won’t be indulging in after services are over.
And I’m perplexed by the willingness of social conservatives to forgive public figures for their hypocrisy on sexual matters (Did you know Ted Haggard is starting a new church?). Would they be so forgiving to a politician who accepted bribes while campaigning against corruption? I don’t think so. To me, it’s all hypocrisy.