Sean Harris is an idiot.
How’s that for the first line of the first post for this blog?
As I’m sure you’ve read by now, Sean Harris is a Baptist pastor over yonder in Fayetteville, N.C. whose most famous (and recent) sermon describes how fathers should punch their sons should they show any signs of “effeminate” behavior. Think I’m kidding?
“Dads, the second you see that son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give them a good punch. OK?”
Not content to pick on just one gender, though, he also went after the girls:
The sermon saw Harris urge parents of girls who are “acting too butch” to make them “walk like a girl and talk like a girl, and smell like a girl.”
So, let me repeat: Sean, you’re an idiot. You’re also a bad father and, while I’m pretty confident–based on reading your parishioners’ recorded responses to what you said–your feelings are accepted lingua franca in your church, you’re also a terrible pastor.
I accept that I’m a flawed dad. I recognize that I’m grumpy and impatient; that I’m a little too willing to allow my son to take a break from the dining room and give his (and my) attention to the TV during dinner; and that, now that Spring weather has arrived for its short, short stay, I don’t drag him outside enough to take advantage of it.
But I will never hurt my son, insult him, or make him feel even a little bad for being “effeminate” (whatever that means). Never mind that I already take issue with defining our sons and daughters by flimsy and vague (not to mention belittling) gender roles, but whittling my son’s spirit down to a nub because he’s not following what’s considered a traditional male path? Never.
If my son evinces characteristics most often associated with girls, so what? Who cares? First, there’s nothing wrong with having those characteristics, and second, my job as a parent is to support him; to teach him kindness and respect; to show him how to be strong and independent; to guide him as a critical thinker so that he can make informed decisions and accept and adapt when he’s wrong; and to both show him love and teach him empathy.
He can end up gay, he can end up straight; he could end up entirely alone because he feels that’s what’s good for him. And I will love him fiercely. Proudly. And happily. Because he’s my son and I want him to live life not as a good man, but as a good person.
I’ll stumble along the way, but I’ll learn to be a better father. I just take comfort now in knowing that I will never be like Sean Harris.