Bobbie Houston and the Casual Cruelty of Evangelicals (LSP #178)

Bobbie Houston and the Casual Cruelty of Evangelicals (LSP #178) February 8, 2021

Hi and welcome back! Y’all, the internet is forever. Everything people do seems to show up there eventually. And you’d think TRUE CHRISTIANS™ would be more aware of that, considering their intense focus on their witness. Bobbie Houston, the co-founder of the Hillsong megachurch, released an audiobook in 2003 that used a hurtful slur. She’s making the usual disclaimers to excuse herself. So today, Lord Snow Presides over yet another evangelical hypocrite using yet another slur and issuing yet another not-pology — and what this behavior does to their witness.

LOAD EM UP
(Vick Bufano.) I have no idea what a hydraulic crane looks like, but this was labeled as one.

(Christianese: a Christian’s “witness” is their credibility level and reputation. They’re supposed to care a lot about it, but they usually don’t. “Kingdom” refers to the one-world government (OWG) that evangelicals are trying hard to achieve — for Jesus, of course.)

Bobbie Houston and the Weird Sex Focus.

Today’s Christian-Behaving-Badly is Bobbie Houston. In 1978, this New Zealand-born Christian moved to Australia with her husband Brian. There, they worked for his dad Frank Houston at his church. Shortly afterward, they started a couple of other churches on their own. In 1983, they hit pay dirt with what is now known as Hillsong Church. Bobbie Houston has been an indelible part of Hillsong ever since.

In 2003, as part of her leadership of Hillsong, Bobbie Houston released an audiobook called Kingdom Women Love Sex.

“Kingdom women” is Houston’s quirky way of saying “TRUE CHRISTIAN™ women.” If the title sounds a lot like she’s making a testable claim about TRUE CHRISTIAN™ women, that’s because that is exactly what she’s doing.

Evangelicals love to claim that when people’s sex drives are properly-corralled and properly-harnessed by Jesus, their sex lives improve dramatically — and in fact get way better than the sex lives of poor widdle heathens. It’s beyond bizarre that they’d even try to make such an easily-refuted claim, but they’ve been making it since at least the 1980s and 1990s when I was evangelical.

This audiobook isn’t even the first time she’s reached for sexual innuendo in her ministry. A few years later in 2008, she published a self-help book called I’ll Have What She’s Having. The title referred not to a restaurant meal but to a Christian woman’s witness: Houston thought it should be so amazing that others should see it and want whatever had made that woman so cool.

And if the title sounds like a slam against Christian women who aren’t having good sex lives or don’t love sex at all, that’s because it very much is.

Inside the audiobook, we’ll discover that she hasn’t even gotten started yet.

Bobbie Houston and the Fateful Audiobook.

Kingdom Women Love Sex is now out of production, but New York Post says it was a 3-CD box set aiming to teach evangelical wives how to capture their husbands’ sexual interest for life. It sounds beyond cringey, though Bobbie Houston does seem to have accurately noticed evangelical men’s extreme focus on appearance. She offers women advice like:

Have plastic surgery if it makes you feel better and it is for the right reasons. [. . .] Minimize the negative of aging. Aging does strange things to us. It discolors your teeth. Things sag when you get older. [. . .] Back pain. Plumbing bits. OK, get them fixed, get healed, or go to a doctor. I’m not joking.

As one can imagine, she hammers hard on the fat-shaming, too:

How are you going to do anything to surprise your man when you need a hydraulic crane just to turn over in bed?

Yeah, because fat women can’t possibly surprise (meaning: sexually please) their men.

Just imagining three CDs of this dreck makes me feel sorry for all evangelical women all over again. It sounds like Bobbie Houston’s entire career has been marked by sexism and regressive teachings.

Bobbie Houston and the Hurtful Slur.

It was her fat-shaming attitude that led her to the current controversy. As part of her drumbeat patter of looks-oriented advice, she casually used a slur denigrating the developmentally-disabled:

“If I carry weight I feel like a [slur],” she said in regard to her own ideals regarding the ideal weight and fitness. [source]

It’s just so thoughtless.

She’s implying that gaining excess weight makes her feel foolish, and I can kinda see her point there. Of all the women in her culture, she’s possibly the most aware of them all regarding how looks-oriented evangelical men are. I mean, she’s the one who released three CDs containing so much advice about maintaining one’s looks — and thus, one’s entire value to men.

A woman who knows that her entire value to men rests in her physical appearance and is okay with that would, indeed, likely feel a bit foolish if she gained excess weight anyway. (I’m not saying it’s great that she’d feel that way, just that I can understand why she might.)

There were a lot of words she might have used to describe that kind of chagrin. But she reached for the R-word to describe it.

Bobbie Houston and the WTF Not-Pology.

Naturally, Bobbie Houston had to release a statement about this offense. And she did so on January 8 on Hillsong’s official website. It is nonstop not-pology action (the whole statement is in this subsection, just broken up for commentary):

A recently published media article included comments that I made almost 20 years ago while I was teaching on the subject of healthy marriage, intimacy and family.

Gosh, y’all, it was 20 years ago! TWENTY!

Also: nothing about this audiobook sounds remotely “healthy” to me. It sounds, in fact, like a guarantee of misery for evangelical women.

In that teaching I used certain words and examples that were unwise and offensive, and especially so in a world where appropriate and sensitive language is of absolute critical importance.

By “certain words and examples” she means this whole audiobook, right? Because I’d say it was extremely “unwise and offensive” to refer to fat women needing “a hydraulic crane” to move and never being “surprising,” or to advise evangelical women to go to extremes to maintain their youthful appearance. But she did all of that instead of maybe teaching evangelical men to do better. (It’s always easier for evangelicals to attack those without power than to suggest change to the powerful.)

I unreservedly and humbly apologised then for any hurt incurred, and I do so again. For over two decades, I have sought to champion the value and rights of women, but that was not reflected in my comments.

I wish evangelicals would act like they take the Bible seriously. Luke 6:45 tells them, “Out of the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks.” They can’t declare this thing I said isn’t who I really am, when their own mouths tell us who they really are.

We live in a world where words carry enormous weight and consequence, and rightfully so. Life brings with it many lessons and moments of deep regret. I hope and pray that those affected will find it in their hearts to forgive me.

CUZ JESUS SAID YOU HAVE TO.

This Word Was Always a Slur.

I’d like to mention here that nobody ever thought this was an okay word to use even in 2003.

Around the 1990s, I began hearing this word used as an insult. Mostly, it was tweens and teens using it at the time. I don’t remember any adults thinking it was okay or letting it slide.

Bobbie Houston would have been in her mid-40s then. (La Wiki says she was born in 1957.) She was no teenager when this slur first began going around in young adults — though she might have been the parent to teenagers by then.

By the mid-1990s, advice books were telling parents and teachers to teach kids never to use this word. A 1990 managerial guide produced for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) calls out this slur specifically in a list of words managers should never use. The EEOC wrote that such slurs are “not only inaccurate but hurtful, derogatory, and demeaning.”

By the 2000s, people were even more aware of how hurtful and derogatory this slur is. Most online groups had rules by then about not using it.

So there was never, ever a time when it was even vaguely okay for anybody to use this slur. It was always recognized as mean-spirited and hurtful. In every venue I’ve found and remember, authority figures always advised against its use.

Bobbie Houston and the Casual Cruelty of Evangelicalism.

I wish I could say it’s weird that Bobbie Houston had absorbed the slang insult by 2003, but not the message about its hurtfulness. In every way, she represents yet another example of the trope of the thoughtlessly-cruel, thoughtlessly-hurtful privileged Christian.

In her not-pology, Houston uses a variety of excuses to escape consequences, but she never gets around to the real parts of a real apology:

You know, the parts where she tells us that she understands the hurt she’s done to others, takes responsibility for her actions, describes how she’s changed her behavior and/or thinking to reflect her contrition so that moving forward, she won’t do it again, and most importantly makes no demands whatsoever of those she’s hurt and offended.

And in her use of a not-pology, Bobbie Houston joins her husband Brian Houston in a long tradition of Hillsong not-pologies.

Hillsong’s having a lot of trouble lately. And they deserve all of it and more. I’m hoping that at least a few evangelicals maybe start wondering why their god never does anything about all these predatory wolves in shepherds’ clothing.

Today, Lord Snow Presides over the painfully-obvious hypocrisy of Bobbie Houston — and the typically self-interested way she dealt with the exposure of her hypocrisy.

 NEXT UP: Todd Bentley is back, ugh, and nobody’s surprised. See you tomorrow!


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About Captain Cassidy
Captain Cassidy grew up fervently Catholic, converted to the SBC in her teens, and became a Pentecostal shortly afterward. She even volunteered in church (choir, Sunday School) and married an aspiring preacher! But then--record scratch!--she brought everything to a screeching halt when she deconverted in her mid-20s. That was 25 years ago. Now a comfortable None, she blogs on Roll to Disbelieve about psychology, pop culture, politics, relationships, cats, gaming, and more--and where they all intersect with religion. She lives with an adored and adoring husband named Mr. Captain and a sweet, squawky orange tabby cat named Princess Bother Pretty Toes. At any given time, she's running out of bookcase space. You can read more about the author here.
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