KEY POINTS

  • A pastor in Missouri told women to practice "weight control" and look less 'butch" to keep their husbands' attention
  • The pastor used Melania Trump as an example of what women should strive to look like
  • The pastor has since taken a leave of absence after facing intense backlash over his now-viral sermon

A Missouri pastor is facing backlash after delivering a sermon that urged women to lose weight in order to keep their husbands' attention and hailed Melania Trump as an "epic trophy wife."

Pastor Stewart-Allen Clark of the First General Baptist Church in Malden, Missouri, has received widespread criticism for a sermon he gave in late February that many have deemed "sexist." In a now-viral video, he said wives should not give their husbands a reason to look around and urged them to practice "weight control" and look less "butch."

During the sermon, he showed the churchgoers a popular meme of a man checking out another woman as he said, "Ladies, here’s the thing you need to know about men: Don’t give him a reason to be like this 'distracted boyfriend.' You hear me? Don't give him a reason to be looking around. Why is it so many times that women after they get married let themselves go?"

The pastor then pointed to the former first lady as an example of what women should strive to look like, though he acknowledged that "not everybody looks like that."

"Now look, I'm not saying every woman can be the epic, epic trophy wife of all time like Melania Trump. I'm not saying that at all," Clark said as a photo of Trump appears on the screen. "Most women can't be trophy wives, but you know, maybe you're a participation trophy."

"I don't know, but all I can say is not everybody looks like that. Amen! Not everybody looks like that. But you don't need to look like a butch either," he added.

During his sermon, he stressed how visual men are and put emphasis on their need to have an attractive wife by their side. He then told the female members of the congregation that they should be the most beautiful woman for their husband and should not "let yourself go."

While the original video has been taken down from the church’s website, one witness shared the video of his sermon on Facebook, where it has received thousands of comments.

"He says that lusting after other women in a relationship or marriage is acceptable if you are not perfectly up to par with the man’s expectations and implies you should be blamed if the man cheats or fails you. He objectifies women, antagonizes them, and practices sexism, all while acting like it’s hip or cool," the Facebook user who shared the clip wrote.

Other users took to the comments to criticize the pastor. "Beauty comes from within, if he loves her only as a trophy then she need stop find someone else. This preacher needs to walk away right now...I hope no one follows or approves of his message. Appalling," one person commented.

"Women these days have to raise kids and work full-time and then look like a model for this guy??? I am a Bible believing Christian and I love Jesus. I am so sorry that you women heard this guy. He DOES NOT represent Christianity!" another wrote.

However, some appeared to have no issue with Clark's words. "Women should do their best to look nice and please their husbands," one Facebook user commented. "People he’s not speaking on his own specific points he’s talking in a more of a general speaking I don’t see a problem with this message?? But likewise man also should do the same to be attractive to their wives as well!!!"

Following the backlash, General Baptist Ministries released a statement via Facebook saying Clark’s sermon was "not consistent with the positions and values" of the church.

"General Baptists believe that every woman was created in the image of God, and they should be valued for that reason," the church stated.

Clark has since taken a leave of absence, though it is unclear whether it is paid or unpaid, Fox 10 reported. The church also said the pastor is now seeking "professional counseling."

First lady Melania Trump WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 22: First Lady Melania Trump walks to the South Lawn to depart the White House on October 22, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump travels to Nashville, Tennessee for the final debate with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. The Commission on Presidential Debates changed the format this time, muting of microphones to start each of Thursday's debate segments. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images) Photo: Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images