Jeff Crawford, a pastor for Cross Church, a multicampus Baptist church in Arkansas and Missouri, said in a sermon Sunday that women don't have rights over their bodies, particularly in the context of abortions, because "God owns you."
During a portion of the sermon on the dangers of what Crawford describes as "theological dualism" — his belief that the spirit and body are separate — he explains why pornography is sinful. By watching pornography, one ends up exposing "your eyes and the receptors to your brain" to harmful images, which end up "offending your body," he says in a video of the sermon, which Raw Story posted on YouTube.
In it, he quickly turns attentions to the topic of abortion.
"Our soul and our spirit is uniquely linked to our body," he says. "They cannot be separated. This idea that you hear about in the abortion debate that it's a woman's right to choose and she has the right over her own body: no, that's not true."
"Your body's a temple to the Holy Spirit," Crawford continues. "And what that means is that your arms and your legs and your head and your eyes — it all belongs to God."
Crawford's comments are timely, given the prominent role women's reproductive rights have played in national political discourse recently.
Mic reached out to Crawford to discuss his sermon, but he did not respond before publication.
God, gals, guns and the GOP: The Republican Party's recent fight to defund Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit organization which offers reproductive and maternal as well as general health services, has reinvigorated religious influence over women's healthcare, with many staunchly Christian and Catholic candidates' voicing opposition to abortion.
"There can be no denying that Planned Parenthood is a morally bankrupt organization," Republican senator and presidential candidate Marco Rubio wrote in Life News, a media outlet for the "pro-life community."
"Planned Parenthood should never receive another dime from American taxpayers," Rubio added. (While Planned Parenthood receives approximately $500 million in government funds, none of that money is used to fund abortions. Incidentally, abortions account for just 3% of the nonprofit's work.)
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO and presidential candidate Carly Fiorina argued passionately against abortion and Planned Parenthood during a GOP debate in mid-September: "This is about the character of our nation, and if we will not stand up to force President Obama to veto this bill [which would fund Planned Parenthood], shame on us."
Another GOP presidential candidate, devout Catholic Rick Santorum, described Roe v. Wade as "the cancer that is infecting the body of America," MSNBC reports.
On The Daily Show with Trevor Noah in early October, the comedian and host called out the irony of the GOP's simultaneous pro-life and pro-gun stances.
"The point is, if pro-lifers would just redirect their power toward gun violence, the amount of lives they save could reach superhero levels," Noah said. "They just need to have a superhero's total dedication to life. Because right now they're more like comic book collectors: human life only holds value until you take it out of the package, and then it's worth nothing."
Unsavory as Crawford's sermon may be to some, his argument will likely play a pronounced role in the presidential race, where personal and religious beliefs are intersecting with civil liberties.
Crawford is not unique in his Weltanschauung, having frequently voiced opinions of many of the wedge issues framing mainstream political discourse. In a May 7 blog post against same-sex marriage he wrote, "I will no longer put myself under the tyranny of State on this issue."
Candidates like Trump have pulled their party's ideology far enough to the right that Crawford's comments, which at one time may have been seen as peripheral, are becoming increasingly mainstream.
The GOP base desires "a strongman personality who will embrace all of their irrational fears (Islam, immigration, homosexuality, socialism, etc.) — not someone with practical ideas and moral values, and a commitment to those ideas and values," wrote Salon's Conor Lynch, regarding this political shift.