Fair disclosure: I am neither convicting nor exonerating Roy Moore. As I assess this situation, I am irritated with Moore on certain matters, while skeptical of the accusations.
In his defense:
(1) The timing is suspicious.
(2) Gloria Allred. Any time she inserts herself into a scandal, I get skeptical of whoever is making the accusations.
(3) The accusers have what appear to be significant holes in their stories. The latest accuser appears to have produced a forged “yearbook signing” by Moore, which–if authentic–would debunk his contention that he did not even know her. Others are working for the DNC in some form or another.
(4) The fact that he did not have sex with them–not even Monica-style–is huge. Fact is, given his reputation, he could have made a move on any of those women, and they likely would have gone along. That he kept it in his pants reflects an uncommon level of restraint.
(5) He appears to have asked the parents of the gals for their permission to date them. That is not predatory behavior.
OTOH, Moore is in a pickle, at least partially of his own creation, for one serious reason: his pursuit of gals who were on the bubble of adulthood–while being in his 30s–is, fairly or unfairly, creepy by today’s standards.
If I were the father of a teenage gal, and a 32-year-old man asked me for permission to date her, my answer would be a firm-but-polite no. Not because he is a bad person, but because the maturity gap simply is too wide. If she were in her early 20s, I’d grill him and–if he measured up–allow him to date her.
Unfortunately, what we are seeing is the unfolding of a multi-front war, featuring the Old South versus the New South, particularly old-school Fundamentalism versus newer Christianity. The confluence of these elements could not have come at a worse time.
When we refer to Fundamentalism, I am not referring to the Fundamentals–Biblical inerrancy, Deity of Christ, Virgin Birth, Substitutionary Atonement, Resurrection from the dead, and eventual Second Coming–but rather the “cultural Fundamentalism” that defines many conservative sectors. Those include:
- Homeschoolers who use materials published by Gothard, Phillips, or Pensacola;
- People who are members of the Independent Fundamental Baptists (IFB);
- Hyper-Patriarchal families who adhere to an “Umbrella” theology;
- Those who harbor racialist sentiments, potentially empathizing with the KKK;
- KJV-only adherents;
- Hard Calvinists.
Many in those sectors are proponents of marrying their daughters off at a young age. At face-value, that isn’t a bad idea: given that fertility begins to wane in the late 20s, it is within their best interests to marry sooner into adulthood rather than later.
The problem is that many are taking this too far: marrying them off in their mid-teens (sometimes 14), rather than early adulthood. And in these cases, mere age difference hardly tells the story. At 42, I married MrsLarijani, who was 14-and-a-half years my junior. She was 28 and had been out of college for four years. If I were 32 and she was 18 or under, that would have been iffy at best.
So when a West Point grad and Vietnam veteran like Roy Moore–at 32–pursues gals who are 16 and potentially younger, it ought to set off red flags.
At the same time, given the cultural backdrop–late 1970s, a country at war with itself, with the Sexual Revolution in full throttle–it is understandable that someone like Moore, an old-school culture warrior, would want a younger gal who had minimal baggage in order to marry and start a family.
And given that he asked the parents of the gals for permission to date them, that is what you expect in a gentleman of the Old South. Those do not appear to be the actions befitting a predator.
At the same time, a fair number of conservative Christians in the South are seeking to divorce the South from what are often seen as backward customs.
- While they may not oppose Patriarchy, they don’t subscribe to “Umbrella Theology” either.
- They may support younger marriage, but aren’t thrilled with borderline “child brides”.
- They aren’t into heavy drinking–and they may even be teetotalers–but they don’t buy into the farce that Jesus merely turned water into grape juice.
- They aren’t thrilled with the fact that many churches in the South have “family jewels” that include everything from sexual abuse to lynchings.
Compounding matters, the Church is in the midst of a slew of sexual abuse scandals encompassing NeoCal and Fundamentalist circles, including the defamation of victims and the failure to defrock those proven to be offenders.
No serious Christian–who pays attention to these things–wants to be on record for enabling a predator.
Against the 1970s backdrop, it is understandable as to why Moore would have desired a younger woman to marry.
Against today’s backdrop, it is understandable as to why a Christian would look at Moore’s actions in the 1970s and have serious reservations.
Compounding matters, the mainstream media–the “drive-bys”–are clearly grasping for any straw they can find to hit Moore.
Ultimately, someone is not telling the truth. Either Roy Moore is lying, or his accusers are lying. In the absence of hard evidence–stained dresses, receipts, phone logs, voice messages, sex tapes–it’s their word against his.
I can totally understand why one would be skeptical of Moore; I can also understand why one would be skeptical of his accusers.
Unlike Trump, Moore is flying the God-and-country banner. If he’s a creep, then he is, at best, the hard-fundamentalist hypocrite father on Footloose. If he’s innocent, then his accusers are as phony as the Duke Lacrosse accuser.
Which way should you vote in this election? That’s your call. If it were me, I’m on the bubble, although I’m extremely skeptical of his accusers. I do, however, want him to address the accusers in specificity.
If he’s innocent, he needs to keep fighting.
If he’s guilty, he needs to get out.