“I Promise to Love, Honor and OBEY”
When I was in college, I sang in eight weddings one year (all weddings of friends)! In one of the weddings, my friend married a man she promised to OBEY. They used the old line that used to be standard in weddings where the woman promises to “love, honor and obey” the man. At the time of that wedding, my friend had completed more education and achieved more career success than the man she married. In the year following that wedding, my friend’s husband made sure she fulfilled her promise to obey, by ordering her around in front of her friends. To our shock and dismay, she did what he told her to do. The dynamic was more fitting for a parent talking to a child than for a relationship between equal adults.
Dr. James Dobson’s Fancy Sports Car
A few years later, I traveled to California and visited with my friend and her husband. James Dobson was newly famous with his Focus on the Family organization. My friend’s husband worked for Dr. Dobson. I went to see the facility that housed Dr. Dobson’s organization. I don’t remember anything about it except for his shiny, cherry red Mercedes sports car.
‘Super-Christian’ and ‘expert’ in Child Psychology
Maybe I’m remembering incorrectly, but that car made an impression on me. He presented himself as the super-Christian with all the answers. But, he was enjoying the material benefits of his success in a way that seemed not to match the persona he presented. He had a PhD in psychology, had worked on a children’s unit in a hospital, proclaimed himself an expert on child psychology, wrote a book (which I could never read because it was simplistic and almost abusive in its content), shot to the top with the evangelical religious groups with his books and radio program, made a lot of money in the process (my assumption based on the shiny red car) and was on a never-ending journey to try to change the face of America.
“Most of my audience probably won’t understand …”
At first, I thought he had some good things to say. Then, the more I listened, the more I realized that he was not all about women in a positive way. He spoke down to women and spoke badly of single mothers. The day I realized how very much NOT all-about-supporting-women he was was the day he said, “Most of you probably won’t understand what I’m talking about, but …” just diss’ing his audience as not intelligent enough to understand his ‘important’ message and concepts.
Demonizing lgbt People – “The Gay Lifestyle” and “The Gay Agenda”
From there, I noticed that he talked an awful lot about gay people. And, I realized he was doing what just about every other television or radio preacher or teacher was doing. He demonized gay people and “the gay lifestyle” and “the gay agenda” for the purpose of fundraising. There’s nothing that lights a fire under people and gets them to open their bank accounts like fear of the evil ones who have come to destroy their way of life. In spite of that, I listened a little while longer just hoping he didn’t really mean all the bad things he said.
Hyphenated Radio Shows: Self-promotion, gay-bashing, fund-raising
Finally, many years ago, I gave up on James Dobson as a person having any credibility as a psychologist, author, teacher or religious leader. I had heard all I could stand to hear. The radio shows were thirty minutes long with about ten minutes of self-promotion and advertisement at the start and about ten minutes of asking for money at the end. And, in the middle was an interview that disrespected single moms or gay people.
Religious Non-Taxed Non-Profit Used For Personal Political Agenda
I am sure that there are others who have a different memory of this man and his organization. But, for me, he has represented those who want to make their religious views the law of the land. He has used his ‘religious’ non-taxed organization for political purposes. He has used his influence to cause harm to lgbt citizens of this country. He has never stopped, all the way to recent months when his organization spent way over a million dollars to deprive same-sex couples in California of the right to marry, a right they already legally had. His anti-gay actions have filled his coffers, and now they’ve resulted in job loss for many of the people who served him faithfully through the years.
Where is my friend now? Is she still ‘obeying’ her husband?
I’ve not seen or heard from my friend for years. I don’t have any idea how to even begin to try to find her. I’d love to talk with her again. My guess is that she’s still married with grown children and grandchildren. My hope is that her husband who wanted so much to prove that he was the “head of the household” has grown up and learned that there is more to being a man than bossing a woman around. [My definition of 'real man' does not include any attempt to control the women in his life. I hope his definition has changed as he has aged.]
James Dobson could have taught acceptance and inclusion. Instead, he taught condemnation and rejection.
I didn’t really start out to write this long post. I just wanted to note that Dr. James Dobson has resigned as the chairman of Focus on the Family. I am sure that he will still have a great degree of input and control. And, I am sure that the organization will not be stopping their gay-hating behavior any time soon (or, ever). But, it’s a good first step. I believe that Dr. Dobson has made serious and wrong choices throughout his career, choices that have caused immeasurable harm to many people. His influence has been vast. He could have been a voice for inclusion and acceptance. Instead, he chose to increase fear in the hearts of his listeners. And, he has chosen to cause tremedous harm to the lgbt Christians who are confused by the teaching that tells them they cannot be both gay and Christian (so, they try to be ex-gay, another lie promoted by the Dobson camp).
Will we ever learn? Will hearts ever be changed? People are people. Acceptance is the key.
I am sorry that Dr. Dobson has spent his life working to harm lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people. I am glad that he has decided to cut back on his work and move back a little from his Focus on the Family organization. I hope in time that people who have been wrongly influenced by his organization, and the lies they have promoted about lgbt persons, will learn the truth about the non-heterosexual people in their lives. I hope people will be ‘healed’ from the fear and hate and lies that have infected their hearts and minds and learn one day that lgbt people are just like everyone else, just with a different sexual orientation or different gender expression.
God is Love … not just for heterosexual people
When will religions teach love and acceptance instead of intolerance and condemnation? James Dobson does not speak for me. I believe God is Love, not just for ‘traditional families’ but for all of us. I hope some day the followers of Dr. James Dobson will have their eyes opened and their hearts expanded, so they can see that all are loved by God, all of us, each of us, just as we are. Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgendered people are not the problem in this land, or the cause of the problems in this land. Hate, exclusion and condemnation of other human beings is the problem.
Breaking News: James Dobson Resigns From Focus On The Family
Here are a few posts about Dr. James Dobson resigning from the Focus on the Family Board:
Statement by GLAAD President Neil G. Giuliano on resignation of James Dobson as chairman of Focus on the Family