The Turkey and the Nun
It sounds like the start of some silly joke, doesn’t it? And perhaps it is. Those references actually come from two opinion pieces written by two men who, like me, claim the title evangelical. And it was pretty painful reading them.
The first was a reaction to a Thanksgiving-themed news article. It seems that the Butterball Turkey Hotline that for years has been active on Thanksgiving to give advice to folks with “turkey emergencies” will for the first time have some men answering hotline calls. Butterball claims that, as 25% of the calls now come from men, they have chosen to make this change.
However, there are some in evangelical circles who see this change as indicative of our country’s moral decline. Men cooking turkeys! What is the world coming to! While the guy complaining allowed that there are some reasons why a few men might have to cook, his example was where a “self-centered career woman” abandons her family, the idea that there are a growing number of men who are willing to share a household duties with their wives horrifies him. He is also quite sure it horrifies God.
(Full disclosure: I have cooked a turkey but usually my wife does that chore because she is better at it. I do share other cooking duties.)
Not to be outdone, another manly evangelical, on the same day, was taking a shot at nuns and also based his opinion on his sure and certain belief that he speaks for God on this issue. It seems he is convinced that the role for women, all women, is to be “wives, mothers and keepers of the home.” By not doing this nuns are exercising “selfish personal choices.”
This gentleman bases his opinion not just on the Bible but backs it up with an urgent social reality. He contends that, to keep the population stable, every woman needs to bear 2.2 children. Nuns, and other women who exercise “selfish personal choices,” force other women to assume “an additional burden” to replace their child-bearing responsibilities.
While I am touched by his call to action to stave off the imminent danger of the extinction of the species I find that the numbers don’t back him up. In spite of all the nuns, and other women, running around not having babies the world population, and the American population, continues to increase. There does not appear to be any particular danger of extinction, or even population decline. The idea that you can seriously and with great concern cite a danger that is exactly the opposite of reality does not really make evangelicals look clever.
While I started by saying that writing of these two gentlemen with whom I share the title evangelical was painful I find that there are some lessons I have taken from them. (By the way, I have deliberately not linked to these guys as I am not encouraging traffic to their sites. I am sure, if you really want to read their stuff, there are enough clues here to let you find them.) So here is what each of these guys have taught me.
Turkey guy: When you take your understanding of the Bible and make micro-applications to 21st century daily life the likelihood that you are not speaking for God, and that your application could be pure fantasy, is dangerously high.
Nun guy: When the application of your theology leads you to criticize a class of people who have devoted their entire life to God, and who are engaged in a variety of self-sacrificing services to others, there is a good possibility you are spouting nonsense.
Happy Thanksgiving, no matter whether turkey plays a part in your day or who is cooking it if it does.