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While their ages are not given in the Bible, in some evangelical circles they are believed to be an adult male carpenter and young teenage girl.“There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here,” said Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler, defending the notorious former state chief justice’s alleged dates and assault of girls as young as 14.He added, however, that he doesn’t “remember ever dating any girl without the permission of her mother.”One of Mr.Moore's defenders compared a grown man dating a teen as akin to the biblical Mary and Joseph.About 5 in every 1,000 15 to 17 year olds in the United States are married, according to the Pew Research Center, with child marriage more common in the South.Over the past few days, dozens of men and women have recounted a dynamic in which older Evangelical men have often pursued, or have even been pursued, by young teenage girls.When some of Roy Moore’s defenders seemed to justify the idea of older Christian men dating teenage girls, a number of conservative Evangelical Christians, like a number of Americans, were both outraged and appalled.The embattled Republican nominee for Alabama’s US Senate seat conceded Friday that he “dated a lot of young ladies” 40 years or so ago when he was in his 30s.

Nevertheless, the president’s most ardent supporters still come from white Evangelical quarters.“So a larger swath than I think most people expected don’t seem to want to condemn Moore’s past relationships, or critique that,” continues Professor Du Mez, a professor of religion and gender who has traced evangelical ideas of masculinity.Suddenly, I found myself in conflict with my mother.She was responding as she had when I was still in high school, asking when I would be coming in at night, urging me to drive safely, and watching what I ate.And many described, too, a vision of gender roles in which young girls are at their most malleable and vulnerable, while older Christian men are understood to be their protectors and providers.“Roy Moore is a symptom of a larger problem in conservative fundamentalist and evangelical circles,” tweeted Kathryn Brightbill, legislative policy analyst at the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, which advocates for home-schooled children.My mother had failed to notice that I had changed, and I was eager for her to get with the program.In a similar way, when Mary and Joseph discovered that their twelve-year-old, Jesus, was not with their party on its way out of Jerusalem, they did not know where to look for Him.“It's not a Southern problem, it's a fundamentalist problem.Girls who are 14 are seen as potential relationship material.”The reasons for this are complex, scholars say, but over the past few decades, many Evangelicals have asserted a more muscular understanding of Christian masculinity, one that affirmed traditional '50s-era gender roles – but in a much more militant and aggressive way. Proverbs The summer after I graduated from high school, I (JCD) traveled fifteen hundred miles from home and entered a college in California.I will never forget the exhilarating feeling of freedom that swept over me.

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