Most discussions of Roy Moore and Alabama voters have focused on his preferences for chasing young teenagers or on how it seems that many Alabama voters would rather vote for a sexual predator of teenage girls than for a Democrat. While party affiliation plays into their decision, it is still odd that many of these voters are Evangelical Christians who rail against immorality — and sexual predation of a minor usually rates high on lists of immoral acts. How, then, do we understand why so many Christian voters who claim the moral high ground have publicly defended Moore against charges that are not dismissable to most Americans? Another way to look at this is not in terms of sexual predation but of personal and social domination of girls by men.
In her Op-Ed, “Roy Moore’s alleged pursuit of a young girl is the symptom of a larger problem in evangelical circles” (http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-brightbill-roy-moore-evangelical-culture-20171110-story.html), Kathryn Brightbill argues that many evangelical men pursue young teenage girls. She has encountered a culture that condones and promotes the pursuit of young girls by older men by having been part of that culture herself as a child and then as the Legislative Policy Analyst and a Board Member of Responsible Home Schooling. In her Op-Ed, she describes a culture that not only cultivates these relationships, but also shields the men from culpability by characterizing the girls as courting the men, even though it is the men — with the consent of the girl’s parents — who dominate the relationship. Although Brightbill describes the culture, she does not explain the widespread acceptance in many Christian households.
If we think about the values of these Christian households, though, we can readily divine the reasoning: these are largely the same Christians who rage against feminism, condemn the LGBTQ community, and denounce African American protests of inequality. By permitting a male sexual predator to groom, date, and (possibly) marry a teenage girl, the evangelical community is able to ensure that these girls are dominated by men before the young ladies can fully explore their own beliefs and identities. By being forced to marry so young to an older male who is more likely to exercise great control over their lives, the girls are less likely to adopt feminists views, to identify as LGBTQ openly, or to date or marry someone who is not white.
This overwhelming influence also has political ramifications. A recent study by Christoperh Stout, Kelsy Kretschmer, and Leah Ruppanner (http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1065912917702499, but also discussed here https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/sep/25/white-women-husbands-voting) indicates that conservative white women vote according to their husbands’ political views, even if doing so goes against thier own political interests, because they are more concerned about maintaing the relationship and pleasing their husbands than they are about advancing their own rights or benefits in political and social spheres.
In this way, even though cultivating relationships between older male hebephiles and girls just entering puberty would seem to go against religious values, some conservative Christians view it in a moral vein, because subjugating young women reinforces and perpetuates a white, straight patriarchal culture.