I heard an ad for the Episcopal Church on the radio this morning. It was a bitty thing, not even 30 seconds, and it went something like this:
Voice 1, female: “My daughter is growing up so quickly! She’s becoming a teenager, and she needs help learning to make wise decisions.”
Voice 2, male: “The Episcopal Church welcomes you!”
Or to paraphrase, “Take your daughter to a church so she doesn’t get knocked up, and at our church, we decide.”
Now, it’s a good thing that they’re advertising. And understandable: when your customer base is leaving, whole congregations at a time, you’ve got to do something to fill those pews. But as a message, this is fairly lame. Puberty is fairly late to be dealing with religion; God being limitless, you can’t say “Christ before eight, or else it’s too late” (or the less salacious Jesuit version), but there’s a point there. And the Church is not really a place to “learn wisdom”, but a place of transformation. I became a Christian because I realized, based on personal and societal historical evidence, that people were not capable of making “wise decisions” about morality on their own. Indeed, there are girls who were brought up in Christian homes who still manage to make bad decisions, because we fallen people do that, and because they hadn’t prayed for the grace to overcome temptation.
Now, it’s pretty hard to get a coherent Christian message into the ad size that ECUSA could afford. A paraphrase of John 3:16 would work, but you know, that’s so fundy. If they hear this little spot, maybe they’ll be inspired to tune in to one of the many Episcopalian radio stations where they can hear catechesis with John Shelby Spong and Robert Farrar Capon’s charming cooking show…oh, wait….
Now, the subtext here is definitely sexual. I mean, why do teenagers (and teenage girls in particular?) need help with wise decisions any more than those younger or older? That makes this particularly rich, given that the consensus of ECUSA management is that, in certain elements of human sexuality, the decisions of the Bible and of the historic universal Church are not as wise as their own. It screams for parody:
V.1: “My daughter is growing up so quickly! She’s becoming a teenager, and I’m afraid she’ll start licking another girl’s cooch.”
V. 2: “The Episcopal Church welcomes you!”