So it’s nearing closing time at the Evangelical Bar and Grill and the pickin’s are gettin’ mighty slim: 2 moderate Mormons, a twice-divorced Catholic convert, a dowdy Catholic true-believer, a diminished Dominionist who smells of Texas political manure and desperation, and a Libertarian coyote with a gaggle of questionable admirers. What’s a good, solid pillar of the conservative power structure supposed to do?
Why, go lookin’ for Mr. Right, of course.
As Richard Land, president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention, said in an interview with NPR broadcast this morning, “Before we marry the guy next door, don’t you think we ought to have a fling with a tall dark stranger and see if he can support us in the manner to which we’d like to be accustomed? And if he can’t, we can always marry the steady beau who lives next door.”
I know what he meant: they’re still looking for a Not Romney. And I could see that phrase coming out of the mouths of many women that I know–especially the ones I know just looking for Mr. Right Now. And I have a number of gay male friends who might express that idea in those words. But I about fell over when I heard Mr. Land use an analogy that amounts to a same-sex relationship to describe the Religious Right’s current conundrum. I can’t even imagine Phyllis Schlaffley or Anita Thomas using that analogy.
Now, most men I know, to express a similar idea, would refer to “the girl next door” and a fling with a beautiful woman. But, perhaps, Mr. Land is so entrenched in his male-centric view of leadership that he never thought to veer from masculine mindset. On the other hand, there have been enough Ted Haggard-style revelations that maybe Mr. Land’s Freudian slip was showing.
The other problem with Mr. Land’s analogy is his callous and casual attitude towards courtship and marriage. For a man who represents a denomination associated with covenant marriage, works to oppose same-sex marriage, and supports traditional male-female unions, this is disturbing. Does he really believe a pre-marital fling is a good idea? Certainly his denomination would disagree.
I know that Mr. Land was probably doing his best to make a joke. And granted, it was funny–but probably not the way he intended. I certainly got a good laugh out of it and had to listen a second time to be sure he really said that. But like so many jokes this political season, in many ways, it’s not very funny at all, but it does tell us a lot about the person who told it: it’s gettin’ close to closin’ time and the choices aren’t gettin’ any prettier. He’s probably just hoping that he doesn’t wake to a coyote morning.