ColumnsWhat A World

What a World: Rahab, Rekers, and the Rent Boy

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Nancy Ford

Another antigay fundamentalist is outed. So what else is new?

by Nancy Ford

Funny now to think how those blue-haired Sunday School teachers of my youth so thoroughly whitewashed the Bible’s dark themes of sex and violence for our tender ears and psyches:

—How, following the eligible-bachelor-decimation of the Great Flood, Noah selflessly became the daddy to his daughters’ babies.

—How Lot was willing to release his daughters to “entertain” Sodom’s mob in lieu of their “hurting” God’s visiting angels.

—How King David ordered Bathsheba’s soldier husband killed in battle so he could “date” the notorious beauty.

One of the most memorable R-rated Bible tales to receive a G-rated Sunday School makeover was the story of Rahab of Jericho. Rahab’s fellow townsfolk had scorned her—“because she was too friendly,” my Sunday School teacher would explain gingerly.

Some scholars say Rahab was a food vendor; others say she was an innkeeper. Most say she was a ho who helped Joshua and the Israelites bring down the walls of Jericho with a good long horn-blowing.

At its core, the story of Rahab is not about prostitution or food vending or whose horn she may or may not have blown. It’s about judgment and hypocrisy, and how the practice of either invariably brings your world tumbling down around your ears.

Last month, arriving like a gift-wrapped package from Hypocrite Heaven, Dr. George Rekers, 61, was photographed in Miami International Airport wheeling his luggage cart in the company of a young man known as Lucien. Lucien is a companion Rekers had obtained from Rentboy.com, an online gay hook-up site, to attend to said baggage on a two-week European vacation.

“I had surgery,” Rekers explained to the Miami New Times without a trace of irony. “I can’t lift luggage. That’s why I hired him.”

Bad back aside, Rekers is credited with co-founding the Family Research Council, a virulently antigay organization, and has published materials dating back to the 1980s discrediting same-sex parenting, adoption, and fostering. In 2004, his testimony supporting an Arkansas law restricting gay foster care was called “extremely suspect” by the judge who overturned the discriminatory law.

As recently as 2008, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum bought Rekers’ testimony for somewhere between $60,000 and $120,000, depending on who’s counting, in support of Florida’s law banning gay adoption.

“Dr. Rekers’ beliefs are motivated by his strong ideological and theological convictions that are not consistent with the science,” the judge stated before finding the law unconstitutional. The law is currently under appeal.

I’ve spent some time in a courtroom myself, having recently escaped/avoided jury duty. Don’t judge—at least I showed up for the 8 a.m. cattle call. Listing “lesbian comedy writer” as my profession on the jurors’ questionnaire is usually sufficient reason for attorneys on both sides of the judge to deem me unsuitable as a juror. Our judicial system has a limited sense of humor, it seems.

This particular case concerned a young Asian woman who could not speak English, and who had been arrested for offering to provide more than a massage to her ailing, stiff client. (Not sure if luggage was involved.)

When the lawyers screened us potential jurors, I shared my personal conviction that prostitution is a victimless crime, that prosecuting this “offense” is a drain on our tax dollars and law enforcement resources and, if this young woman was being held by the court, I hoped that her client was also being held. Big surprise: he wasn’t.

Truth be told, who among us isn’t a prostitute?, my inner Alan Shore reasoned. How many of us jumped out of bed this morning eager to perform tasks we would prefer not performing for employers or clients, in exchange for a mutually agreed-upon payment? And didn’t the U.S. Supreme Court recently make prostitution legal when it OK’d limitless corporate campaign contributions to candidates? That’s a happy ending for a john if ever there was one.

Needless to say, I was out of the courthouse, clutching my promise of six dollars’ compensation, quicker than you could say “expert witness.” Apparently, my expert testimony about prostitution was too valuable to be shared.

At its core, the story of Rekers and the Rent Boy isn’t about prostitution or who carried whose luggage. It’s about the blatant hypocrisy that accompanies a deeply closeted gay man who earns a substantial living by tearing apart gay families. It’s about misguided, biblically based judgment condemning homosexuality perpetuated by hate organizations like FRC—which has already purged its website of references to Rekers, their one-time standard-bearer. It’s about the conflicted young gay person who believes the rantings of closet queens like Rekers and descends into self-loathing, and worse.

There is an upside to this reeking Rekers mess: it’s unlikely that Christofascism-defending lawyers will continue to buy Rekers’ “expert testimony,” and for that we can be grateful. Unfortunately, a seemingly endless platoon of the same ilk is poised to take Rekers’ place in the pulpit and political circles. Each of them, like Ted Haggard and Mark Foley and Larry Craig and all the rest, knows at his core that same-sex families are just as valid and worthy of honor as his own family.

According to the Old Testament, Rahab the Jericho Ho earned the protection of her city’s conquerors by becoming an Israelite, eventually leaving her indelible mark on ancient texts as the Virgin Mary’s great-grandmother or aunt or something significant to the bloodline of Jesus. And this was all before Ancestors.com, mind you.

So let’s keep an eye on Lucien the Rent Boy. Chances are, his legacy has only just begun. Wouldn’t you love to hear the Sunday School version of his story?

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