Religion

Christian pastor: Marrying a 14-year-old is okay as long as the parents approve

A passionate defender of Roy Moore reveals that he has dating standards that are far-removed from the 21st Century.

Right-wing anti-LGBT pastor Flip Benham got some brief internet fame this weekend after he got into a heated confrontation with reporters in Alabama, where he joined other religious leaders to defend Roy Moore against allegations that he sexually groomed and assaulted teenage girls as young as 14 when he was in his 30s.

On Monday, Benham was interviewed by Alabama radio hosts Matt Murphy and Andrea Lindenberg on the Matt & Aunie show and Benham’s logic went even further down the rabbit hole. The radio hosts challenged Benham over his support for Moore and things got testy very quickly.

“I think that, number one, you need to understand, 40 years ago, what the [culture] was like in Alabama,” Benham said.

“Judge Roy Moore graduated from West Point and then went on into the service, served in Vietnam and then came back and was in law school,” he continued. “All of the ladies, or many of the ladies that he possibly could have married were not available then, they were already married … So he looked in a different direction and always with the [permission of the] parents of younger ladies … He did that because there is something about a purity of a young woman, there is something that is good, that’s true, that’s straight and he looked for that.”

When asked if Moore possibly dated girls as young as 16, Benham replied that there would be no way for him to know that. After some cross talk, the pastor proposed a “simple question” to the hosts.

“Is it alright for man who’s 30-years-old to date and court a young lady who is 14-years-old with their parents’ consent?” Benham asked. “Is it or is it not?”

“No!” the hosts responded in unison.

“Okay, so who determines that?” Benham asked, clearly growing frustrated.

“I did,” Lindenberg responded.

“Okay, so the parents don’t have a right to [give consent]?” Benham asked, seemingly astounded that anyone would think an adult dating a 14-year-old with parental content is still wrong.

The interview took a disturbing turn when Murphy asked, “Is it alright for a man to court and date a young lady with her parents’ permission who is 10-years-old? Yes or no.”

After a brief silence, Benham said, “Well, I don’t think that, that would happen.”

“Yes or no!” Murphy insisted before repeating the question.

“No, the parents probably wouldn’t agree to that,” Benham replied before saying, “But it all depends.”

According to The Washington Post’s Julie Zauzmer, in Southern Christian culture where “people tended to date and marry younger in the 1970s and 1980s, when Moore allegedly was dating teenagers, an age gap such as that between Moore and the girls would still have been highly unusual.”

“In the South, in general, younger marriages would have been more common. But we’re talking here about … teenagers going steady in high school — maybe a year or two or three between him and her,” sociologist Brad Wilcox told the Post. “You don’t have 30-year-old guys dating a 14-year-old. It may have happened in some occasional context, but it would not have been a cultural norm.”

You can listen to Benham’s radio interview over at Right Wing Watch.

Featured image via Twitter

 

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