Why does a man wearing earrings drive Christians crazy?
Swearengin is an author, emotional & spiritual well-being coach, podcaster and content creator through his social media presence as Unconventional Pastor Paul. He talks religion and politics at times joined by his wife Ashley, a former elected official and community leader. Find him at Pastor-Paul.com.
I often like to wear earrings on my social media content; the more dangly and blingy, the better.
Well, first, because I kind of like them. But, also I like how it makes rightwing leaning American Christians howl like a backyard dog hearing a fire truck siren. And, like that backyard dog, no attempt to assuage their fear is going to quiet them.
"God said a man shouldn't look like a woman," they'll comment on my social media.
"You're no pastor; you're twisting the Bible to live a sinful life," they'll chirp in synchronized religious mantras.
These reactions give us insight into how some Republicans have successfully used the demonization of queer people - more specifically the recent hatred shown through some 250 proposed laws from across the country aimed at the cross-dressing and trans community - to manipulate Christians for their support. Finding a group to marginalize is an oft-repeated religious practice, particularly in American Christianity.
"Don't run like a girl, don't throw like a girl, and, above all else, don't cry like a girl," males of all ages are told in Christian Church. The patriarchal, misogynistic mindset of some in this religious community hints that all things female are bad - or at least second class. Why want anything feminine in a male life being groomed to be 'head of their household' with submissive wives and obedient children one might ask.
Well, as we know, life rarely works out as it does in a movie, book or religious fantasy. When these men fall short of being the perfect strong, silent, brave "John Wayne," the shame of a religion that calls humans "sinners at birth," "dirt," and "depraved flesh" kicks in. The only hope these men have for numbing these thoughts is to mask with faux manliness and to project that shame onto others through what they believe to be biblically-supported homophobia. Republicans have seized onto this "godly bigotry" and shame-based fear of femininity for their advantage.
What's interesting in this scenario is that these Christian men must ignore the fact that the Bible itself speaks very differently of gender and clothing. From the very beginning of the Jewish and Greek writings that protestant Christians now call 'The Bible' it says that humanity ('adam' = "mankind") was created in the image of God, with male and femaleness in each one (Genesis 1:27.) In the book of Proverbs "God" is portrayed as a very mysterious, very feminine form called "wisdom." In the Christian New Testament, the Greek for God's Holy Spirit is the feminine noun Pneuma.
As for clothing, while many Christians point to a Deuteronomical prohibition of men dressing as women, (an example of how Christians choose to impose some "Old Testament" laws onto others while ignoring many for themselves) the Bible displays the changing of gendered clothing over time, just as it has evolved throughout history.
In Exodus 32, we see the priest Aaron telling the Israelites to take the gold earrings from their wives, sons and daughters to supply material for the golden calf. Again, in Exodus 35, men and women brought all kinds of gold, including their earrings. There were no gender denotations. Gender specific clothing has always been a man-made construct as high heels, wigs, frilly/puffy shirts, pink colors and, yes, earrings were all created for men to wear as a sign of class and hierarchy. Heck, even Jesus never wore pants.
Yet, the need for self-righteous, self-protection and - let's be honest - the desire for lower taxes and a strong, masculine military - causes Christians to scream loudly whenever gender differentiation is broken down.
And the Republican culture war machine knows how to speak to those Christian 'itchy ears' to compel them to do their bidding. After all, Trump doesn't seem to have been wrong when he said he could "shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue" and not lose any support. The Christians need to have someone in charge tell them they are better than "those people" is a powerful itch to have scratched.
I encourage all men to consider if the toxic masculinity of their church hasn't driven them into a dark hearted view of the LGBTQIA+ community and that neither the Bible nor history support Christian homophobic beliefs. The command of the Bible is to love even your enemies, so, affirming those who look different than you is biblical. Asking your politicians to demonize them is not.