Questions about morality, sexism, and hypocrisy among theologians

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

“What do you do when you find out the theologian you respect is kind of slimy?”
On her Tribal Church blog for The Christian Century, Carol Howard Merritt addresses the hypocrisy she has seen and the painful disillusionment she has felt upon learning of certain attitudes and behaviors of various highly respected theologians, professors, and other religious leaders of the past and present.  “I don’t know what it is but when I hear stories about men I respect (I haven’t heard of any women), I breathe deeply with disappointment,” she writes.   She wonders, for example, why sexual harassment is so prevalent in religious fields as she listens to the accounts of women academics and graduate students. “Is it a field that’s not used to women so men don’t quite know how to act?” she wonders.  She talks about the disenchantment she experiences after admiring great theological writings like those of Augustine, or Martin Heidegger, or Paul Tillich, and then learns about aspects of their lives that are less than admirable.  Merritt’s  essay is composed mainly of questions. But they are good questions that others might be wondering, too —and we might even have more of our own to add.

Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Letha Dawson Scanzoni (1935-2024) was an independent scholar, writer, and editor, and the author or coauthor of nine books. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992). Letha served as editor of Christian Feminism Today in both its former print edition (EEWC Update) and its website for 19 years until her retirement in December 2013.