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Last week, a dear friend of mine sent me the link to an article that he knew would get a rise out of me. It was an article about Stewart-Allen Clark, a pastor at First General Baptist Church in Malden, Missouri and a recent sermon he preached about women. The sermon can be found by clicking here. It's 22 minutes long, but it's worth watching. In case you don't have time to watch, though...
Here's some of the highlights of the sermon:
"Why is it so many times that women, once they get married, let themselves go?"
"Men have a need for their women to look like women."
"Here's a secret you need to know ladies: God made man to be drawn to beautiful women. We are made this way. We can't help ourselves."
"Men are going to look, but you want them to look at you. So don't let yourself go."
"What's the difference between a man's wife and a man's girlfriend? About 60 pounds."
"How important is [weight]? I have a friend who has put a divorce weight on his wife. Men want their lives to look good."
"Praise God for makeup. It's like crack-filler for dry wall."
"Wear makeup. It does miracles."
"Scientists have discovered a food that diminishes a woman's sex drive. It's called wedding cake."
"Men put this on your headboard: 1 Corinthians 7:4 says 'The wife has no longer all the rights over her own body, but shares them with her husband.' So whenever she's not in the mood, dig out your Bible."
"Men have to have sexual intimacy, or they're not happy."
"We are not lust monsters. God made us this way."
The above comments are just some of the statements that stood out to me in the 22 minute sermon. Please know, I'm typically not a pastor who nit-picks others' sermons. Preaching is tough and even if I don't believe with someone theologically, I try to give them the benefit of the doubt. This, however, was not a sermon by definition. This was a "how to please and keep your man" TED talk that no one wanted to hear.
I find it interesting this story has gotten as far as it has in the last week. When I first heard about this guy and read initial articles, I laughed. He's clearly not met a Texas woman--because that just isn't gonna fly for any woman I know! But when I actually sat down to listen to the sermon, I'm sad to say none of what he said surprised me and I have heard said just about every single thing he said.
The reality is, the above statements that he preached from a pulpit are the very things being told to every single woman. Sometimes it's told to them by other women and sometimes it's told to them by men. Your six year old? Yep, she's already hearing and seeing on TV or in the media or maybe even at school that she's not pretty enough. Your teenage daughter? She's hearing that being "fat" is not attractive and so she's wondering whether she should eat dinner or if skipping a meal or two will help her lose weight. Your college-aged daughter who so desperately wants her ring-by-spring or her MRS degree? Well, she thinks the only way to get and then keep a man is to have sex with him whenever he wants. Women who are struggling in their marriage are wondering if there is something wrong with them physically and how they can possibly change in order to stay married. And, the unmarried women out there are looking at themselves wondering why no one wants them.
The troublesome part of this sermon is that for the women who were in that room, it confirmed the many things they have heard their whole life. That they are too big, they don't have enough sex, they don't look pretty enough on their own, and that they only are married because a man wants to have sex with them or thinks she's pretty.
Today is International Women's Day. It's a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. In other words, it's celebrating the bravery and hard work of many women who helped women not just be seen as property but also to be seen as valuable human beings. We cannot properly recognize this day without not only celebrating the women who have been trailblazers. We also have to recognize the men who stood up for us along the way. This man who preached a sermon is not a person with an opinion that is abnormal. He's just someone that shows us we have a long way to go in how we teach girls, how we treat women, and how we talk about and to women. I'm grateful to be in a church that does not believe these things and to be surrounded by people who don't agree...and I pray that one day, that is a reality for all girls and women everywhere.