Super Bowl Halftime Shows, and Moral Authority

Super Bowl Halftime Shows, and Moral Authority February 12, 2020

Soon after the Super Bowl I posted the following to my facebook page.

Evangelicals: That halftime show was degrading to women and sexually exploitative. Don’t those dancers know what they are teaching girls and boys. They are role models whether they like it or not.

Also evangelicals: So what if we have a president who talks about women like they are pieces of meat? We did not elect him to be our pastor.

Well some of my evangelical friends took offense to this observation. But I see no way around it. Conservative Christians who want to talk about sexualization of Super Bowl halftimes will not be listened to as long as they support Trump. The hypocrisy is too great especially when so few of them are willing to call out his degenerate nature. Or even give him a mulligan for his sexual exploitation of women. Why in the world would people take them seriously when complaining about sexualizations of women when the ultimate sexualizer remains in office with the blessings of so many evangelicals?

I have warned Christians in the past about how they will lose their moral authority with their nearly unconditional support of Trump. This is but one manifestation of that loss of moral authority. There is moral and sexual rot in our society. Some of that rot resides in the White House. I have not watched the Super Bowl halftime for years, but if entertainers used a stripper pole in their show then I have no problem stating that the halftime show has that rot too. This is a consistent and coherent argument. If white evangelicals had not supported the rot in the White House, they would be in a position to make it. They can talk about the halftime show all they want, but the only people who will listen are other white evangelicals. I agree with their assessment of the halftime show and I still do not want to hear it from them. The hypocrisy is just too great.

I ask my fellow evangelicals, would it not be nice to have some moral authority to push against the degradation of women in our sports entertainment? Would it not be great to have an ability to offer perspective on the ongoing crisis of sexual harassment? Would it not be appropriate for us to be able to offer insight about the hook up culture that trades intimacy for gratification? Conservative Christians have taken themselves out of a lot of important conversations because they cannot be taken seriously. It has been quite costly to trade moral standing for unconditional support of Trump.

I know some would argue that people will not listen to us no matter what we do. Not true. There are those who will not care to listen to us regardless of what we do with Trump. But I do remember a time when the opinion of conservative Christians mattered. For a variety of reasons, we are past that time. One of those reasons is the type of hypocrisy illustrated by the way many evangelicals have supported Trump. I fully believe that conservative Christians have a right to a voice in our society and I am ready to fight the Christianophobic forces that would deny them that right. But on the other hand, if they waste that voice with the hypocrisy of supporting Trump while condemning the sexualization of women in a football halftime show then I cannot blame others for ignoring that voice.

Some evangelicals believe that if we do not support Trump then all sorts of evils will occur. Perhaps most notably, that in a post-Christian world there are individuals seeking to take away the rights of Christians. My research shows that there are legitimate reasons to have such fears. While I prefer for Christians to not vote for Trump, I am not pushing them to vote Democrat or even third party. I tried doing that three years ago and I do not want to go through that frustration again. Rather, I am arguing for them to have the courage to call out our president when he engages in dehumanizing treatment of women, and please stop excusing his actions by calling them mulligans. In other words, live out your stated principles.

This should not be hard stuff. As Christians our ultimate protection comes from God and not the government. This does not mean that we cannot participate in the government or support our chosen leaders, but it should mean that we do not depart from our values in order to look for governmental protection. Instead, we are to live out our values even as we engage with our government.
So, to my Christian friends, reality offers you a choice. You can continue to lose your moral authority and ability to speak to our society or you can begin to challenge this president. When he calls his ex-mistress Horseface or denigrates the National Prayer Breakfast you can call him out. You can begin to establish that you do not approve of his gross sins. Or you can continue to be ignored by everyone except those in your own inner circles.

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