The Things Pat Says…

Say what you want about Pat Robertson, but the brother sure knows how to stir the pot. The wikipedia page “Pat Robertson Controversies” runs for, I kid you not, 25 different entries. Mr. Robertson has managed to offend or disturb groups ranging from Episcopalians to college professors to Hugo Chavez to the U.S. State Department. Impressive.

But I think my favorite Robertson controversy is when he claimed, at 74 years of age, to be able to leg press 2000 pounds. 2000 pounds! Nevermind that, according to the wiki page, “when [future NFLer] Dan Kendra set the Florida State University record of 1,335 lb (606 kg), the leg press machine required extensive modifications to hold the proper amount of weight, and the capillaries in both of Kendra’s eyes burst during his successful attempt.”

If Pat Robertson can leg press 2000 pounds, I can jog a 1:20 marathon…

With all of this as backdrop, I introduce Pat Robertson’s latest outrageous remark, a zinger he offered up two days ago on the topic of the David Petraeus sex scandal. The full article is here, but the remark I want to comment on is this one:

“The man’s off in a foreign land and he’s lonely and here’s a good-looking lady throwing herself at him. He’s a man.”

“He’s a man.” With these words, Robertson has essentially justified or at least explained away Petraeus’ actions. What Pat Robertson is implying is that it’s understandable, or reasonable, or perhaps logical that Petraeus committed this affair. After all, she was pretty, he was lonely, and, most of all, HE IS MALE.

This way of thinking is one place where privilege lives for men, in the culture at large and, get ready, in the church in particular:

Sexual transgressions are more about the woman, and, more often than not, the man is portrayed as the victim.

I’ve been reading a really engaging book by blogger and author Rachel Held Evans called A Year of Biblical Womanhood. In the book, Evans attempts to live out the Bible’s commands for women as literally as possible for a full year. It’s fascinating and insightful. In her chapter on beauty, Evans relates a story about a pastor encouraging the wives in his congregation to dress up for their husbands when they come home from work. Later, with this quote, she captures well the spirit of what I think Pat Robertson is typifying:

“At the last Christian women’s conference I attended, several speakers mentioned the importance of keeping a beauty routine that husbands will not be tempted to ‘look elsewhere.’ The message is as clear as it is ominous: Stay beautiful, or your husband might leave you…and if he does, it’s partially your fault.”

Pat Robertson has nowhere near the influence that he once had in Christendom. I think that’s largely a good thing. But he does continue to represent a brand of evangelical Christianity that holds that when it comes to sex and sexuality the onus is on women to protect the chastity of men.

So let me be clear about a few things this morning. One, General Petraeus is just as culpable as the woman who he cheated with. After all, they both transgressed their wedding vows. Two, when it comes to fidelity to the Bible’s teaching on sex and sexuality, men and women bear the burden of joyful obedience together. In fact, we need each other to honor God in this area.

And, third, for the record, as I type Amy is decked out in pink pajama sweats, fuzzy blue socks and a ratty old sweatshirt. No doubt about it, she’s absolutely beautiful.

What about you? How you have experienced this uneven gender dynamic in the church world?

4 responses to “The Things Pat Says…”

  1. Una says :

    The part of Robertson’s comment that really bothers me is the assertion that the woman threw herself on Patraeus. Do we know that she initiated with him? Does Robertson really think that married men don’t initiate infidelity? His view is insulting to both men and women.

    • rdixon1365 says :

      Una, I’ve been thinking about the power element as well. As in, how did his positional authority factor into this scenario, both in terms of how she viewed him and, perhaps more significantly, how he viewed her?

  2. Jon says :

    I agree with a lot of what you say here, but the 2000 lb leg press is really not a stretch. 1) He probably didn’t do a full press, 2), in this picture I found in the link on Wikipedia, he’s also using his arms to help press the weight, and 3) leg press machines, depending on their angle, cut the weight in about half. I lift casually, and can easily press 1000 lbs, which sounds like a lot, but really isn’t if you train for it. The 1300 lb press that ‘burst the capillaries’ of the football player was probably a full press (down most of the way to his rear end), and was probably on a machine that uses a higher angle – 45 degrees or so, which increases the weight from about 50% of load to 70%.

  3. David says :

    Painful to read. Important to confront. Rob, thank you for engaging in this and helping me see behind the veil of male privilege.

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