by Jack Hoehn, 22 November 2017         

Like a dam with a small crack, the trickle has become a flood, and is tearing away such large chunks of that dam that soon there will only be a river flowing where a huge concrete wall of male pride, power, and privilege was holding back an unhappy ocean of female suppression and subordination.

The # MeToo movement has encouraged millions of women to publicly admit that they too have tasted mental, emotional, and physical boundary incursions into their feelings of safety, comfort and advancement by male-generated intrusions.  The ocean of female suppression, tacit submission, and embarrassment in the face of mostly clumsy and inept male sexual advances has been as underestimated by us men, as has been our understanding of the daily suspicion-bias suffered by most black men.    

I enjoyed the comedy of Bill Crosby, I rooted for the golf of Tiger Woods, I found Bill Clinton a great communicator, and I tried to watch Charlie Rose at 7 am as many mornings as I could after he joined the CBS Morning News.  He got along so well with his two female partners on stage, I felt like I could get an adult view of the news from the trio.

When he reported on Donald Trump’s foul mouth and hands, and Hollywood magnate Weinstein’s actress degradations I thought I saw disapproval and disappointment in Charlie Rose’s comments. Was I only seeing feelings of how stupid other men were to get caught?  

What were you thinking, Mr. Rose?  Did you taste that it would be your juvenile, alcohol-fueled attempts to satisfy male needs without the investments in commitment, partnership, and mutuality that sexual happiness requires, that would next be the headline news?      

Perhaps, at 75, age had tamed your libido?  Perhaps now you were truly embarrassed at men in general and yourself in specific? The infantile gestures of grabbing, the clumsy phone calls to embarrass yourself and your female victims, the stupidity at not understanding that male nudity mostly excites homosexuals, not most women. Especially, of course, when the nudity is of older, wrinkled, bent or obese white men with hairpieces!   

Only the lure of money, the hope of celebrity, the need of employment and perhaps occasionally in some very generous hearts, some pity could possibly make such pathetic gestures even slightly tolerable to any young or most not-so-young women.  Mostly you were exploiting your powerless employees. For that, the dirty shame washing over you and your many celebrity friends is completely and sadly justified.

This is not the first time, nor the last, that I too, am ashamed of being a male.

This is not the first time, nor the last, that I too, am ashamed of being a male.

I am ashamed also of being me. I remember with sharp pain the tearful accusations of male hubris in not understanding or wanting to understand how some women I have worked with as a male co-worker have felt during my professional life. Once I urged a family to stay in our practice, because I wanted the husband as a partner, and did not consider the needs and feelings of his very unhappy wife. She said I was insensitive and did not understand how I had hurt her by urging them to stay, and she was right. I was thinking of my needs, not hers, and I had not been willing to invest the time and emotional energy to consider her point of view. I wasn’t aware of what I was doing, but I should have been. I wanted her to be just “one of the guys.” She wasn’t, and I should not have assumed she was.  

I have not appreciated how my male gender and my white skin has placed me in the position of privilege I had to do nothing with but to accept and make work. I have never been judged by my hairstyle or my clothes. It has never been assumed that I might have to take a leave of absence to have a baby. I have not been pressured to look sexy, young, wrinkle-free as a prerequisite to being employed. I do not have to expose just the right amount or size of my breasts to ensure I am hired for a job. No one has ever insinuated that if I wanted to succeed I would need to help satisfy their lusts at my own harm and pain. And there is no glass ceiling above my innate interests, abilities, intelligence, diligence, industry, or calling from God. There is one over every woman, every person of color, every alien with an accent.

Jesus was so right: we are whitewashed graves, white and pure on the outside, inside full of rottenness, decay, and corruption. So called “Evangelical Christians” prostitute their sense of personal morality by refusing to look beyond the whitewash in their leaders, because they think Donald Trump or Judge Moore will agree with them on abortion or reading the Bible in public schools. And so called “Adventist Christians” permit authoritarian male power preservation and female subordination to thrive in our church under the myth that God wants it so.  

Did God want women to not vote? Did God want women to not be able to attend Harvard University with men?  Did God want women to not be able to be physicians? Did God want black women to not use the same bathrooms as white women at NASA?    

And yes, the damned-dam of inferiority, subordination, suppression, and exploitation is breaking and it soon will be washed away. If Adventists don’t repent of their institutionalized gender discrimination; of removing the racial misunderstandings of people of color towards white people and white people to people of color; of our present damaging approach to actual LGBTQ needs and the wonderful provisions God has made to improve LGBTQ happiness and safety in same-sex marital relationships, then this top-heavy church and all its little organizations and committees and 28 rules, will be washed away along with all other dams and vestiges of subordination and suppression.  

Male headship believers, don’t click your tongues at Charlie Rose, Harvey Weinstein, Judge Roy Moore, Bill Clinton, Al Franken, Louis C.K.,  Kevin Spacey, or the up to 30 other men publicly shamed and demoted for female exploitation and abuse, since October 5.  

Tolerance of female suppression is gone, and even if you never grope girls or sexually touch women or men, you cannot hide behind your black leather Bibles written for long-dead societies and long-gone conditions having no relevance to today’s reformed and progressive communities. You may not continue to demean and suppress the right of women to equal opportunity in ministry of all kinds with men.  The question is not what was right in tribal societies, nor what was right in Greco-Roman cities. The question of what God wants now, must no longer be hindered by what God in reluctant accommodation permitted men to do then.  

We are not permitted to quote Bible verses to the Holy Spirit! As Peter had to learn, what animals God has cleansed, let no man call unclean, even if his Bible called them unclean. If God calls women to ministry, or same-gender attracted people to join his church,  “forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven!”    

It is time to let the Holy Spirit explain those 2,000-year-old Bible verses to us, to reapply them and reinterpret them, and remind us that in Christ there is no Jew or Greek, no Slave or Free, no Male or Female, and yes, no Gay or Lesbian. We are all equal sinners, saved by Grace alone, who will walk in newness of life, morally in the position God has permitted us to have.     

Moral Jews will not abuse girls or women,  moral gays will not abuse boys or men. Moral Evangelical Christians will not support women-abusing politicians, no matter how much we agree on economic, military, or abortion views. Moral Adventist Christians will not support holy-men-of-God who continue to suppress holy-women-of God’s rights to advance in ministry and administration as far and as fast as God encourages them to go.  

Jack Hoehn is a frequent contributor to both the print and on-line versions of Adventist Today. He has served on the Adventist Today Foundation board since 2012. He and his wife Deanne live in Walla Walla, Washington. He has a BA/Religion major from Pacific Union College, and an MD from Loma Linda University. He was a licensed minister of the SDA church for 13 years when serving as a missionary doctor in Africa. His patients know him as John B. Hoehn, M.D.

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