Iowa Pastor Believes that Boys Can Touch in a "Familiar Way"

Iowa Pastor Believes that Boys Can Touch in a "Familiar Way" February 18, 2011

Well, that’s the only conclusion I can come to, since he doesn’t believe that girls and boys should be allowed to wrestle one another in the high school tournament, but he doesn’t seem to object when boys wrestle against one another.

A homeschooled boy withdrew from the Iowa State Wrestling Tournament rather than face a girl in a match.  To be fair, the statement released by the young man is very congratulatory to the two girls who made the state finals — a first in the 85-year history of the tournament.  However, he said that his religion does not allow him to wrestle those girls.

Here’s the relevant quote from the AP article:

Northrup’s father, Jamie Northrup, is a minister in the Believers in Grace Fellowship, an independent Pentecostal church in Marion that believes young men and women shouldn’t touch in a “familiar way,” said Bill Randles, the church’s pastor. “We believe in the elevation and respect of woman and we don’t think that wrestling a woman is the right thing to do.”

Of course, this makes me wonder what he thinks about boys touching one another in a “familiar way.”  If we’re honest about the fact that sexuality is a spectrum, then we can safely conjecture that there have been scores of boys over the past eight-and-a-half decades who have experienced attraction to the other boys against whom they’ve wrestled. And there have been dozens of boys who have been gay.

I honestly get the discomfort this adolescent boy feels about wrestling a girl.  I just think we should acknowledge that there are boys who feel the same discomfort about wrestling other boys.

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  • Sadly and ironically, I have observed that our homosexual revolution has made same-sex friendship-intimacy more difficult. (Actually, I can’t say much about the female sex in this regard.) There seems to be a heightened fear about being misunderstood or of provoking an unwanted sexual response by any show of affection.

    Despite the more plentiful sexual openness and experimentation, real intimacy has taken a hit. People are more alienated than ever.

  • Tony Arens

    It’s interesting that when we live in ways contrary to God’s hope for our lives, things get terribly complicated.

  • jamie

    I get your point. But speaking as someone who wrestled (and actually had to forfeit a match to a girl b/c my school wouldn’t let me wrestle her), girls wrestling boys is still quite rare. Whereas, if you sign up for the wrestling team as a guy, you know you’ll be wrestling boys every single day. So if you’re uncomfortable with that, it’s generally wise not to sign up.

  • Maybe he should have been more honest that he feared losing and the resulting ridicule he would have received (can’t say I blame him). I think this situation presented a no-win situation for the kid. If he wins he shouldn’t beat up a girl and if loses, he’s a wimp.

    Tony, I disagree with you that a homosexual male teen wrestling another male teen might feel discomfort at touching them in the act of competing in their sport. This is an age-old phobia that straight men fear from gay men… the act of being hit upon or attempted at being converted. It’s not the case at all. A teen wrestler who happens to be gay (or basketball, football or baseball player) is simply competing in their sport. Same is true for a gay person in the military just doing their job. The sport or job might be traditionally considered a heterosexual bastion, but we know now that to not be the case.

    Point I’m trying to make is this… in sports men playing against men is not considered sexual even though the wrestling positions (as an example) or actions might be considered sexual if in a different context. This context immediately changes when you place women inside a man’s sport. The context would also change if a homosexual male would have stepped forward at the same event and wanted to wrestle Rev. Northrup’s son. I’m sure he would have had his son also forfeit that match in fear of losing to “one of them”.

  • Charles

    I wish there were a Facebook “LIKE” Button, or a “thumbs up” counter, or some other way of agreeing with a comment. In any case, I think Steve is spot-on.

  • I grapple, BJJ, and have no problem with girls on the mat. Every so often I am aware that it is a girl I am wrestling. I am usually more aware when they are submitting me. But as for hand placement, it comes with the sport and sexuality isn’t a factor. It’s usually just akward, I am convinced some girls use this to there advantage.

  • Steve H

    I think Tony brings up a good point. Touching between boys and girls in a “familiar way” can be either appropriate or inappropriate depending on the context. Rev. Northrup should make a distinction between his son rolling around on the floor with a girl in a wrestling match and rolling around on the floor of his bedroom. Additionally, I think the other point Tony is trying to make is that if a straight boy can become aroused while wrestling a girl, then why couldn’t a gay boy become aroused wrestling another boy. The possibility exists in both scenarios, yet Rev. Northrup allows his son to continue wrestling with boys.

  • Yes, Steve H., that’s what I was getting at.

    Steve C., you have good points (as usual). But you seem to play into the same double standard that Rev. Northrup is. Why is it erotic for a hetero boy to wrestle a boy but not erotic for a gay boy to wrestle a boy?

  • Maybe he should have been more honest that he feared losing and the resulting ridicule he would have received

    Not much chance of that. He was 35-4 in the regular season, a far better record than his proposed opponent had. In fact she lost in the next round of the tournament.

  • Is that what I said?

    Anyway, I am admitting that there is a double-standard for people like Rev Northrup. I think I mistyped the last paragraph of my previous comment. Also, in re-reading your post I don’t think I disagree with the point you are making in your post. I think I misread that too. Damn cold medicine. Maybe I should just shut up now! 🙂

    All I was trying to say was that I think sports is sports and has nothing to do with being gay or straight, male or female. If you enjoy the sport you want to compete. Although I play basketball and regularly play with a couple of girls down at the gym that kick my ass up and down the court. I’m not above giving them a hard foul for showing up an old man like me. 🙂

  • Jim

    The wrestler himself seemed more concerned about the violent aspect than the erotic. It was his father who brought up the “familiar” touching.

  • ben w.

    This has nothing to do with eros or sexual orientation. This is classic, honorable chivalry. As Jim says, Joel is just suggesting that boys shouldn’t be violent or rough with the fairer sex. I would argue that even his dad’s comments should be read in the same light – that is, not touching girls in a “familiar way” means that men are to show special care and concern for women – especially physically (guarding, protecting – not throwing or pushing). One might disagree on whether this idea comes from the Bible or good theology (I personally don’t), but I find nothing in either the father’s or the son’s words that indicate they’re worried about the erotic consequence of wrestling a girl.

    Tony, honestly I think you read into this story much more than is presented, probably because this issue seems to have consumed your thinking (and/or you seem to take particular joy in taking potshots at “fundies” whenever possible).

  • Michael

    I really have to agree with the previous two commentors. It seemed very clear to me that both the father and his son in this case were concerned about the son having to act violently toward a woman. Personally, in an age where violence towards women – and casual violence at that – is increasingly the norm, I was very impressed with the stand these folks took, particularly as this young man was so gracious in his concession. No ranting or raving or frothing at the mouth about girl wrestlers being the downfall of western civilization, just reasonably expressed convictions running counter to the culture. How do we not applaud this?