This has been a week of great thrills and great disappointments.
Thankfully, the thrills were REALLY GOOD. Our new books The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex and The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex launched, and they’re doing really well! Thank you for your support. Let’s make these the go-to wedding shower gifts from now on!
The disappointments have been things that make me feel rather sick for evangelicalism.
Christianity Today announced that two senior managers had sexually harrassed women for years–decades in one case–and nothing was done about it.
The flagship magazine for evangelicalism apparently had a sexual harrassment problem itself, even as it’s supposed to be covering the news. Read all about the sexual harassment here.
They commissioned an independent investigation into the allegations, and also wrote their own investigative story, on how Mark Galli, the editor in chief, and another senior marketing manager were inappropriate with women.
One of the problems was that the head of HR also golfed with both senior managers, so how were women supposed to feel like their concerns would be taken seriously? And, indeed, they didn’t. So the women in the workplace formed an informal alliance to protect each other. But the harassment didn’t stop. They were often told, if they did complain, that Galli was of a different generation, and he didn’t mean anything by it. But should this be an excuse in a workplace?
I feel so badly for these women.
But what concerns me for evangelicalism as a whole is this: If senior managers were sexually harrassing women, how can we have any confidence that Christianity Today treated women well in its coverage?
Since this broke I’ve been watching story after story from women drop on Twitter of stories that Galli spiked about sexism or sexual harassment, or stories that were slanted in the wrong direction. So many people have asked if this influenced the slant of The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill Podcast, which rightfully called out Driscoll’s misogyny, but refused to note that it was quite typical of evangelicalism–and the worst things that he said about women were echoed in our best-sellers! (A point that we made in The Great Sex Rescue before the podcast even broke).
Kristin Kobes DuMez wrote about a story being spiked. Meghan Tschanz wrote a wonderful Instagram update, with slides, which is worth perusing. There were so many others, but I’ll post Meghan’s words here:
An article came out from Christianity Today telling on their own culture of sexism and sexual harassment in the workplace. They claim, rightly so, that this behavior is common among evangelical culture– they are absolutely right.
They report on two men, in particular, former editor in chief Mark Galli and former advertising director Olatokunbo Olawoye.
I had the opportunity to pitch an article to the accused Mark Galli at a writer’s retreat in 2019. I summed it up as “We can’t help women overseas until we change the way we treat women in our own churches.”
I argued, “I think some fail to realize that limiting women’s voices in their [own Christian] institutions is actually contributing to the inequality we see globally.”
The argument was an indictment against evangelical practices of sexism that led to the abuse of women.
His response was asking me to essentially “prove it” saying “the studies I’ve seen, in fact, seem to say that women in what’s called soft complementarianism feel the happiest in their marriages, vs. egalitarian marriages or strict complementarian marriages”
I didn’t have the words or research at that point to back up my claim as well as I would have liked.
I do now.
A 2015 study done by Peter Warren at the University of South Carolina shows the fundamental “male headship” in religion is a risk factor in Intimate Partner Violence.
Abuse, both domestic and sexual, is about power and control– and arises from unequal power dynamics. Psychoanalyst Lyn Yonack says “when someone rapes, assaults, or harasses, the motivation stems from the perpetrator’s need for dominance and control.”
According to a medically reviewed paper by Psych Central “Abusers use domestic violence to gain power and control over their targets.”
Here’s some of the evidence that Mark Galli requested in order for my article to be considered.
Turns out, Mark Galli himself was proof.
It turns out that Mark Galli sexually harassed and inappropriately touched employees– and that when those incidents were reported nothing was done.
Those women’s voices were silenced, allowing the abuse to continue.
I stand by what I said in 2019, we can’t address injustice against women globally until we first get serious about addressing it in our own evangelical churches.
We say we are better, but I think this article and the countless like it show that we aren’t.
Patriarchy, even “soft-complementarianism” endorsed by Galli in his response to me, is dangerous.
The power differentials it espouses lead to sexual harassment and abuse, unequal pay, the silencing of women, and all-around injustice against women.
Galli, do you believe me now?
When I look back at what Christianity Today has chosen NOT to report on (including our ground-breaking study of 20,000 evangelical women–the largest that’s ever been done), you have to wonder if there’s a bigger problem there.
Do evangelical pastors even understand plagiarism?
The second thing that’s been bothering me this week is this tweet from Pastor Josh Howerton, Senior Pastor from Lakepointe Church in Dallas. He wrote:
PREACHER QUESTION:— Josh Howerton (@howertonjosh) March 16, 2022
how do you clarify in a sermon that a statement / idea didn't come from you when you got it from someone you don't want to attribute by name because it would come off as an endorsement and you don't want to point your people their direction?
For those who can’t read it, I’ll post it again:
how do you clarify in a sermon that a statement / idea didn’t come from you when you got it from someone you don’t want to attribute by name because it would come off as an endorsement and you don’t want to point your people their direction?
Let’s be clear what he’s saying: I like something someone said, and I want to use it to make my sermon better. But I don’t want to mention their name, because then my congregants might look them up. So what do I do?
Think about this question in any academic or business setting.
The answer is obvious: you cite your source. To not do so is plagiarism.
And yet what were the majority of replies advising him to do? Preface it with something like:
- I once read…
- Another theologian once said…
- I have heard it said…
All of those things are stealing. They are dishonest.
This makes me wonder how educated many of our pastors actually are, because I can tell you that in a secular university, this is the Evil of all Evils. You do not plagiarize. You cite your sources. Always.
Only in evangelicalism could we think that doctrinal purity trumps morality.
To use someone’s words without citing them is simply not allowed. I have been the victim of this–when I became She Who Must Not Be Named when I started calling out other authors. Gary Thomas, who used to cite me for many things, stopped citing me for those exact things and claimed them as his own because now I was viewed with suspicion in the evangelical world for saying that women matter just as much as men.
In this vein of thinking, it is more moral NOT to cite someone you disagree with than to cite them, because that way God’s Truth (which obviously you possess) will not be tarnished. Woe to those who call good, evil, and evil, good.
Recently many Christian bloggers and podcasters who have come out against The Great Sex Rescue have started talking about vaginismus–which is wonderful. But they are using our stats and our research without mentioning us. Again, in academia, this would not be allowed. In evangelicalism, it’s considered the right thing to do, because we wouldn’t want anyone to hear of their name and look them up!
The night before I saw Josh’s tweet I was reading in Exodus 22:
If anyone grazes their livestock in a field or vineyard and lets them stray and they graze in someone else’s field, the offender must make restitution from the best of their own field or vineyard.
If you benefit from the work that someone else has done, then you owe restitution.
In this case, it’s quite simple. Just cite your source. If you don’t agree with them on something, you can always say, “Look, I don’t agree with 90% of what Sheila Gregoire says, but this really resonated with me…” But you still cite your source.
The fact that so many evangelical pastors were in that thread and were trying to figure out how not to have to give someone credit for work they had done, while still allowing you to use it? Mind-boggling to me. Do morals not matter anymore?
It honestly has been a good week for me personally.
But both of these incidents leave me with the very strong impression that there is a big morality issue in evangelicalism. We are calling good evil, and evil good. There is such a basic misunderstanding of how we are supposed to function as believers, and that is slanting what we are hearing from our pulpits and our magazines.
We deserve better, but we will only get it when we stop putting up with evil, and start calling it out. I think we can make a change. And the sales of the new books is showing me that! We are changing the conversation about sex in the evangelical world (and the fact that people are talking about vaginismus finally, even if they don’t credit me, is still a change in the right direction). We are talking about the orgasm gap. We are saying sex is for women too.
But it’s because we’ve been loud, and because we’ve said, “we’re not accepting bad teaching anymore.”
May we continue to do so, loudly, and then, perhaps, our institutions will finally do the right thing.
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
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