I have reached the point, after forty years, that I can embrace the good things of evangelical culture: the joy of singing hymns with your fingers touching the girl you love (if only for this month) as the two of you share a hymnal, the soft wind and sound of the river at a baptism, home baked beans with bacon and mountain oysters at the church pot luck, sneaking away from chapel with the same girl at church camp convinced she’s the one even though you snuck away with a different “the one” last summer. Quiet moments of prayer in an empty chapel.

I can even sit through a service and not feel any enticement to return. Perhaps because services are now cranked up to 11, choreographed, hymns sung from words on a video monitor, the sense that people are swept away by stagecraft more than spirit. With time, even the deep scars of caustic faith fade.

I do find it ironic that only now, with Roy Moore under fire, are people learning how Baptist (and charismatic) culture encourages older men to groom younger women for marriage because they’re still dumb and trainable. And young women, especially younger evangelical women, associate an older man with their authoritarian father and are more likely to submit.

My wife Carol, raised Episcopal in a liberal military family, believes all of these young women, like you, will awaken and leave. My experience is that too many sew their eyelids shut and cower, as they are expected to do.

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Living metaphor. Follow me @stephens_pt.

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