By: D’Anne Witkowski*/Special for TRT–
Pop quiz time: Your son, barely out of diapers, starts acting a little, well, “girly.” What do you do?
If you answered, “Punch him in the face” you just might be North Carolina pastor Sean Harris or one of his congregants. Because that’s what he said to do during an April 29 sermon. (Watch it here).
“So your little son starts to act a little girlish when he is four years old and instead of squashing that like a cockroach and saying, ‘Man up, son, get that dress off you and get outside and dig a ditch, because that is what boys do,” Harris says. “Dads, the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch.”
That’s right. Punch a four-year-old for Jesus. Even more horrifying is that this suggestion elicits laughter from the audience. Like a small “girly” child getting his clock cleaned is just the most hilarious image.
Harris then advises that after the punch you tell your son, “You are not going to act like that. You were made by God to be a male and you are going to be a male.”
I hate to quibble, but gay males are, well, males. By definition.
Gender roles to the max
But not to Harris. This is a man who believes in rigid gender roles (do I need mention his disdain for trans folk? It’s intense to say the least) for boys and girls.
Girl acting too butch … be a girl
He continues his rant, saying, “And when your daughter starts acting too butch you reign her in. And you say, ‘Oh, no, sweetheart. You can play sports. Play them, play them to the glory of God. But sometimes you are going to act like a girl and walk like a girl and talk like a girl and smell like a girl and that means you are going to be beautiful. You are going to be attractive. You are going to dress yourself up.’”
Sexism much? Harris clearly has lots of respect for girls with his clear directive that they be “attractive” – to men, obviously. Even if they play sports. But no dykes in the house of God, no way. Spray those bitches with Love’s Baby Soft and pull a dress over their heads. Problem solved.
Love from homophobic parents to their “heterosexual” kids
Just in case anyone in his congregation was doubting his wisdom, Harris beats them to the punch. “’Can I take charge like that as a parent?’ Yeah, you can. You are authorized,” he says. “I just gave you a special dispensation this morning to do that.”
Got it? Your pastor just gave you permission to beat up or doll up, depending on their gender, potentially gay but at least not gender role conforming children. Amen.
Sorry? Too little, too late
Unsurprisingly, Harris has received much attention for his “advice.” Now he says he’s sorry and that, hey, he was just kidding.
But listening to the audio of Harris’s sermon is chilling. He sounds so angry. He’s literally yelling these words, his voice hoarse. This doesn’t sound like a stand up routine, unless Harris was doing his best Sam Kinison impression.
“If I had to say it again, I would say it differently, no doubt,” Harris told the Fayetteville Observer. “Those weren’t planned words, but what I do stand by is that the word of God makes it clear that effeminate behavior is ungodly. I’m not going to compromise on that.”
Right. So it was just off-the-cuff hatred, not scripted hatred, which is somehow supposed to make a difference? Because he meant what he said regardless of the words he used.
*D’Anne Witkowski has been gay for pay since 2003. She’s a freelance writer and poet (believe it!). When she’s not taking on the creeps of the world she reviews rock ‘n’ roll shows in Detroit with her twin sister.