This post has an alternative title: “Terrible thing Pat Robertson says provides opportunity for reflection on how terrible Pat Robertson and his ilk are.”
Let’s go to the tape, shall we?
First, the statement in question,
A woman came to a preacher that I know, and she was awful looking. I mean, her hair was all torn up and she was overweight and looked terrible, clothes bad and everything. And she said, ‘Oh, Reverend, what can I do? My husband has started to drink.’ And the preacher looked at her and said, ‘Madam, if I was married to you I’d start to drink too.’ We need to cultivate romance, darling! … You always have to keep that spark of love alive. It just isn’t something to just lie there, ‘Well, I’m married to him so he’s got to take me slatternly looking.’ You’ve got to fix yourself up, look pretty.
When I was doing fieldwork for my thesis in the evangelical churches of Portland, I came to realize how much of evangelism really is about the family – and how much pastors have to say about marital relationships – and how off-base most of what they have to say is. Bad relationship advice sounds innocuous, but when you consider how seriously the pastor’s word is taken by parishioners, the whole “obligation to have sex with your husbands” thing that many pastors do, and the ultimate fact that pastors aren’t trained relationship counselors, the whole thing gets a whole lot more alarming.
So can we have a mandatory session at all seminaries that trains evangelists on what are and aren’t causes of alcoholism? Or maybe a little bit of training on domestic abuse? You know, especially because Robertson thinks domestic violence is hilarious.