Oh, hey! Mittens likes to threaten single pregnant ladies with hell and excommunication if they don’t give up their babies. At Pandagon, Amanda Marcotte discusses the religious obsession with controlling women’s sexuality, which is, of course, completely applicable and true, as is the practice of using single mothers as incubators to provide babies to “deserving” couples.
But there’s another element to this story I want to talk about. The interesting (and by interesting, I mean especially fucked up) thing is that the “sin” of extramarital sex had already been committed, but she wasn’t being (formally) chastised and threatened with excommunication for that. Instead, she was in trouble for not following church doctrine and keeping the physical evidence of her “sin” in her life. The policy of requiring women to give up children born out of wedlock for adoption strikes me more as an attempt to keep up appearances than anything else. I’m sure that that the Mormon church would argue that children need two parents, or that women who lack the moral character to refrain from having sex outside of marriage aren’t qualified to raise kids, but really, does anyone doubt that this is about destroying the evidence of the sins of congregation members using the most “moral” means possible?
Many religious communities aren’t built on personal accountability or integrity. They’re built on appearances. It’s more important to look righteous than it is to be righteous. When he was training for the ministry, my father said that he wouldn’t perform a wedding ceremony for a couple who had been living together “for propriety’s sake.” Did he believe in virginity tests or interrogating couples about their sexual relationship if they didn’t live together? Of course not. It wasn’t important that they didn’t have pre-marital sex; it was important that he could pretend they didn’t. The “argument” that queer people can be queer all they want as long as they don’t practice their queerness (ie, love and fuck the people they want to love and fuck) is similar—you can “sin” in your heart all you want, as long as you don’t show physical evidence of your icky, icky gayness.
Obviously, the idea that extramarital sex is a sin is founded on controlling women’s sexuality. But the emphasis on propriety and appearances is just as harmful. It creates deception and prevents people from being authentic. It perpetuates all sorts of abuse. It exacerbates the obsession with control over women’s bodies by encouraging church members to appear scandalized enough to prove themselves to be upright Christians. It’s the reason why the term “tightly-knit community” gives me hives.
It also explains why, as Erin Gloria Ryan writes, Romney’s “views are so wildly inconsistent that I’m beginning to think that Mitt Romney is actually two conflicted souls trapped in the same body, like Gollum from Lord of the Rings.” It’s clear that Romney only gives a fuck about Romney, and while he may have some tendencies toward being a reasonable, thinking human being, he’ll throw them away if he has a chance to make himself look better. He’ll threaten a woman with excommunication and hell if it protects the church’s appearance and, more importantly, preserves his place in its hierarchy. His community, his party, and his religion encourage it.