Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Views Correlate

posted by Scot McKnight

One’s view of women says what one’s view of men is; one’s view of men says what one’s view of women is. If you think of women as the temptress, you think of men as seduced. Carolyn Custis James has a great post about this, and I’d like to carry her post to this site:

“. . . you are the devil’s gateway. . . you are she who persuaded him, whom the devil did not dare attack. . . . Do you not know that you are each an Eve? The sentence of God on your sex, lives on in this age; the guilt, necessarily, lives on too.”
Tertullian
The view of woman as “temptress” has early roots and is alive and well today both in the wider culture (see links below) and sadly also in Christian circles.
I was a speaker at a gathering of pastors who were interested in doing a better job of utilizing women’s gifts. The first question asked during the open forum afterwards stunned me, “If we work with women, won’t we be tempted?”
What followed was not a candid discussion about the heart and where is the real problem when there is a moral failure (as in as what goes on behind closed doors when a man is alone with his computer), but a laundry list of precautions to safeguard oneself from moral hazards when working or dealing with women.
Women find this kind of thinking offensive, and rightly so. This low view of women conflicts with the Bible’s high redemptive view of us. What strikes me as I think about this, however, is that this negative view of women also reflects badly on men as testosterone driven, morally weak, and unable to control themselves. This is not to say that our sex-saturated culture doesn’t create serious problems for everyone. But it is one thing to think wisely about modesty and conduct and quite another to view women as seductresses.
So here are my questions:
First, are men also outraged by the temptress view of women because of what it implies about them? And second, is it possible to hold a low view of women without degrading men?
Your thoughts?



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RJS

posted March 17, 2010 at 7:48 am


The question and conversation reported is very common – and the effect of the attitude that leads to “a laundry list of precautions to safeguard oneself from moral hazards when working or dealing with women” is devastating.
But I don’t think that the view of women is “temptress” or “seductress.” I don’t think it springs from a low view of women. Rather there is a lack of comfort in how to deal with the situation … better safe than sorry and avoid even the appearance of impropriety.



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Mark Atteberry

posted March 17, 2010 at 7:49 am


Interesting topic. I can see both sides of this discussion. I’m not outraged by what the temptress view of women says about “me”, because I know myself to be a weak vessel that is easily tempted. On the other hand, using the temptress view to place guilt on women seems misguided and very unfair, after all if a man finds himself in a situation that is tempting, he should run (not walk) away from the situation. If a man can deal with temptation through prayer and accountability partners and effectively work with women without issue, it would say a lot about his walk with the Lord and commitment to serve. But expecting all men to do this in work situations with all women may be a little unrealistic. We (both sexes) are human. Second question – no.



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KrisAnne

posted March 17, 2010 at 7:51 am


Thank you for drawing attention to this and for articulating it so well.
Also, when we characterize women as the feelers, and the ones who are relationship oriented, who are the “receivers”– this limits the definition of what it means to be a man. They may NOT feel, may not be oriented to relationships and may only give, not receive.
Neither men nor women are allowed to be fully human in these cases. And that is offensive. Men and women are different, but HOW they are different is up for debate, I think. Perhaps we are in danger of destroying that beautiful mystery when we try to define those differences and boil them down to words. Better to live them… together.



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Diane

posted March 17, 2010 at 7:55 am


I’ve been thinking about Bathsheba lately and the commonly held view–though without Biblical evidence–that she deliberately bathed on the roof knowing David would watch her and be enticed. It is sad to me how little views about changed in 3,000 years. Yes, thinking about working with women primarily in terms of guarding against temptation reveals much about men’s weakness and childishness, but also, I think, the extent to which some men don’t regard women as fully human–we are not minds or spirits or souls–but wholly body, wholly temptation, wholly vehicles for sex. And we are so much more. We bear and raise children for only about a quarter of our lives, if that much–unlike most other animals. That’s God’s plan. But I digress. Habits of mind that see women one-dimensionally diminish everyone. As we noted in another blog on Dorothy Sayers, Jesus treated women as fully human, and perhaps we should examine that more often and more fully. Just a thought. :)



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JHM

posted March 17, 2010 at 7:58 am


I always thought of it more practically (I guess) as, “guys have a track record of doing stupid things so it’s good to remove that temptation.” In churches that I’ve been where there was this hesitancy to mix genders in leadership, scandals involving pastors (often mega-church or famous/influential types) were often pointed to as a major reason.
So it seems to me that it’s a matter of having a low view of humanity in general, not a particular gender. I found on Politico, “40 percent of Americans surveyed said they have had sex with someone at work or worth with”. Somewhere else I found 20% but in any case, I think that kind of stat gives people some pause.
On the other hand, one would *think* that the percentage among workers at the local church would be different …



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Diane

posted March 17, 2010 at 8:17 am


I would agree that pragmatism is at work here. I think we can all agree on that–and to that extent praise the males for being pragmatic. However, the deeper issue is–Why is protection against sexual temptation the first thought? How can we help create a generation where that’s NOT the first thought? Coming from Quaker circles, where women have been granted equality for 350 years, that would never, ever come up as an issue (at least not in any context I’ve experienced). Much of that attitude is socially constructed–and I also know the sex drive won’t go away–but seeing women in multi-dimensional terms rather than primarily as sex objects can be achieved and will help everyone. And the male pastors are taking the right first step in at least trying to deal with their objections to working with women. But what is the next step? I think that’s the important question.



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Brian

posted March 17, 2010 at 8:31 am


Proverbs contains both the harlot and the virtuous woman imagery. It probably has some role in this discussion.



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AprilK

posted March 17, 2010 at 8:32 am


I read this on Carolyn’s blog when she posted it. I was somewhat speechless. I know that’s a commonly held argument in churches, but I think it’s hurtful to women.
I agree with the other posters who say that it’s a limited view of both men and women, reducing us to primarily sexual beings who are unable to overcome or resist temptation.
I believe holding this view keeps women from receiving the same level of discipleship and leadership development men have available to receive. The men won’t invest in women because they might be tempted. Women who have “discipled” me, with a couple of exceptions, have limited their training and teaching to telling me how to be a good wife and mother.



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faith

posted March 17, 2010 at 8:34 am


Just having women around does not cause men to fall into temptation. there are far more complex issue that surface in affairs. One’s self-care comes into question, one’s way of dealing with stress, the state of one’s marriage, if one has dealt with life issues etc…and one’s view of women.
i don’t think that creating strict spheres for men and strict spheres for women will really bring healing between men and women nor cure sin. women are seen as a threat then and their mere presence creates fear.
I think it would be better to move toward more life wholeness and spiritual maturity instead of projecting outward.



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AprilK

posted March 17, 2010 at 8:35 am


I wanted to add, also, that I am so grateful for women like Carolyn Custis James and Sarah Sumner. They mentor me through their books.



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RJS

posted March 17, 2010 at 8:47 am


AprilK (#8),
This discipleship issue is a very important point.
Scot posted an interview awhile back with a pastor who counseled younger pastors (men) to avoid discipleship situations with women. In essence he said that, if a women comes with doubts, concerns, and intellectual questions about the faith he should meet with her once and then refer her to a woman. He should not have any long term interaction.
For women who are thinkers – this is devastating advice as it means that those who have the most training and education to be able to deal with questions are not a resource.
They are left with books and, these days, the virtual world. The importance of flesh and blood interactions in these cases should not be underestimated.



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AprilK

posted March 17, 2010 at 8:54 am


RJS: I’ve said before that I would give my right arm to have the opportunities for discipleship my husband has available to him. He’s got a regularly scheduled breakfast which was initiated by an man who is a few years down the road in life and spiritual maturity. If I want something like that I have to go looking for it, and more often than not it just doesn’t work out with schedules syncing.
Books are great, and blogs, but I feel like trying to become a mature follower of Christ w/o an older, real life, more mature man or woman investing in me is like climbing Mt Everest w/o oxygen.



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faith

posted March 17, 2010 at 9:06 am


Thanks April and RJS… i felt the same way… Only until i went to seminary did I feel like i got what i needed spiritually and intellectually. finding other thinking women and learning from learned men and women professors was awesome. I am a T on the meyer’s briggs… and my T needs got met finally. (spells the need for women in ministry)



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dopderbeck

posted March 17, 2010 at 9:39 am


I was going to point out what Brian (#7) said. Folly is personified by the seductive woman throughout Proverbs. But Proverbs also includes portraits of the virtuous woman. So my take as a man is this: some women are, in fact, seducers, and should be avoided. In our culture today, is there really any doubt about this? IMHO, the “sexual power as empowerment” meme is a major failure of modern feminism. As a man walking down the street in Manhattan, I often have to avert my eyes from the soft porn advertisements staring down from the billboards. That’s not because I’m a particularly weak man, it’s because the seductive woman of Proverbs is staring down at me from her perch.
But nowhere in Proverbs (or anywhere else in scripture) are men excused for giving in to the temptress. No — the man who does this owns for himself the dissolution that will ensue. I have never heard anything to the contrary from any men’s minstry I’ve been involved with. If anything, most contemporary men’s ministries are even tougher on the man.



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JHM

posted March 17, 2010 at 9:47 am


AprilK, faith, RJS:
Interesting thoughts. As a guy I wouldn’t have guessed there would be any significant difference in discipleship opportunities.
In the last few churches my wife and I have been to I’ve even found it a bit opposite. There are lot of womens discipleship/Bible study groups but about the only opportunities for guys are either addiction support groups or the more shallow “we’ll feed you breakfast … and maybe crack open the Bible” type of groups.
So would you say that the more important issue is lack of serious mentorship for women that is caused by (mostly) male pastors wanting to avoid too much inter-sex interaction?
It seems like there could be some good balance between avoiding pitfalls and still providing needed “shepherding”. One church I went to had a staff policy of no sharing office space between men and women staff, open door policy and/or public meeting with other gender, having both men and women counselors available. That seems reasonable to me.



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dopderbeck

posted March 17, 2010 at 9:47 am


And … if women who want to be involved in ministry alongside men aren’t sensitive to the sexual temptations that can imply, then they are fools and shouldn’t be in minstry. I have seen time and time again how easy it is for church leaders of opposite sexes who work closely together to become involved in extramarital sexual relationships. I’ve been involved in ministry teams in which this has happened, and the rest of us had no idea it was going on, because we lacked the “situational awareness” needed to deal with it.
This doesn’t mean people of opposite sexes can’t work together as leaders in churches, nor does it mean women can’t be leaders in churches — but it does mean that churches need to be exceedingly careful about accountability and transparency when people who might experience sexual attraction to each other work closely together. Anyone who is offended by the need to be careful here, IMHO, is naive.



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John W Frye

posted March 17, 2010 at 9:53 am


The view of women as temptress is not only demeaning to women (and to men), it is blasphemous. When will some church leaders grow out of their persisting hormonally-controlled adolescence? Yes, we live in a culture that attempts to eroticize almost everything, but this is where Christ-following men and women can shine; can show a better way. We, both men and women must acknowledge the power of sexual attraction and then put it in its rightful moral, ethical place. Those who fantasize and/or exploit the sexual dynamics for themselves automatically and sadly forfeit the label “Christian.”
Faith (#9) nailed it. People who freak out over opposite sexes serving together in kingdom of God-life or who bring up the slippery slope into temptation scenario have other deeper issues beyond sexual ones. I cannot believe this blasphemous view of women and men still has any traction in the Christ-following community. In saying this, I am not denying the need to be relationally alert and to honor one another as brothers and sisters in Christ and to maintain our moral commitments.



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Nitika

posted March 17, 2010 at 9:58 am


Great post, and ties in nicely with the legalism series. The “rules” say better to be safe, no spiritual discernment needed.
@RJS #11: Agreed on the discipleship issue.
@Brian #7: Both Proverbs “ladies” are metaphors for wisdom and folly. The book isn’t about women at all… yet how few read it that way. Glad you brought that up.



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Phil Atley

posted March 17, 2010 at 10:13 am


Have any of you actually read this quotation in its context in De cultu foeminarum and in the context of the rest of Tertullian’s writings, rather than in the printbite pulled out of context by Simone de Beauvoir and bouncing around the internet as gospel truth for decades? Have any of you looked at _On Fasting_ and the printbite found there on Adam’s gullet being responsible for sin entering the world?
See F. Forrester Church, “Sex and Salvation in Tertullian,” Harvard Theologicl Review, 68.2 (1975), 83-101 for an assessment of Tertullian’s alleged “misogyny” in the context of his entire corpus of writings. Along with the canard that Thomas Aquinas believed women were deformed men (based on philological malfeasance and put ineradicably into circulation by feminists in the 1970s), this is part of a huge feminist mythology as insidious as any cultural mythology built up over the centuries.
Most of you would object to prooftexting when it’s done with Scripture. I am tired of feminist proof-texting from the Church Fathers. Our age is a hundred times more misogynistic than any of the Church Fathers were and current misogyny has arisen in large part from feminism itself (abortion and contraception have resulted in women being used by men far more than they were in traditional Christian culture, but because women for the sake of “liberation” accede to their own being used, it’s okay). I make no brief for other, non-Christian traditional cultures, where misogyny may need have prevail or prevail currently. I am challenging the claim of a deep-seated misogyny in the Church Fathers and in the Christian tradition as a whole. The rise of misogyny in the West comes hand-in-glove with the rise of absolutism, Protestant de-sacramentalizing of marriage, and industrialization.



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T

posted March 17, 2010 at 10:20 am


First thought in reference to Tertullian quote: doesn’t the Christian tradition more pointedly tell us that women are “the gateway” of God, specifically the Christ? I’m personally okay with being fair and saying that women, like men, can embody Satan or God, but from a Christian narrative standpoint, how could we allow Eve to eclipse Mary? In any event, I agree that both men and women are harmed by over-sexualizing or over-gendering either, which the church tends to do out of fear rather than desire. KrisAnne (3) said it well in her second paragraph.
Men in the church, in my experience, are too concerned with being “male” rather than shooting for Christ-likeness. The post on feeling our faith highlighted this to an extent. I sometimes teach on learning how to operate with prophetic gifts. One of the things I always cover is that God’s messages and leadings are not always verbal, and even the verbal ones are often with emotional content as well. God is not without feeling and his prophets aren’t stenographers. Sometimes the emotion of God is the message. Sometimes an embrace–with feeling–is the way God wants to be embodied. Often the prophetic requires a whole human being, working together: heart, soul, mind & strength. Look at Jesus or any of the prophets–this is not only woman’s work (or only man’s).
We seem to be okay with men feeling something in the isolation and elevation of the pulpit, but only women get to feel up close. What a shame. What a loss of ministry and effectiveness! What a selective Christology!



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T

posted March 17, 2010 at 10:33 am


Phil,
I don’t think the quote was there to finally prove some kind of case specifically against Tertullian or the Church Fathers. The quote operated to highlight an attitude and set of beliefs that is common today, that has roots way back, even if only in selective readings of Tertullian and even the biblical writers.
The bottom line, as the story in the post and the comments make clear, is that the attitude expressed in that quote does describe the beliefs of many in the Church today, namely that women’s sexuality and history with Satan in the garden overrides whatever other qualities or histories they may possess.



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RJS

posted March 17, 2010 at 10:57 am


JHM,
There are many women’s bible study groups – and many more opportunities for fellowship opportunities for women than men I think. But the material tends to be rather shallow – and the concerns, while meeting the needs of many, seldom hit me where I am. As a thinker who has spent a lifetime training to be a better professional thinker … it is unsatisfactory.
While one on one may not be a good idea, and when it does happen perhaps should be in a public location (coffee shop, restaurant, …) – much good could come from intentional mixed gender small group mentoring (2 to 4 + mentor – not couple based).



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RJS

posted March 17, 2010 at 11:02 am


AprilK #12
That is a good way of putting it.
All of the real concerns about sexual impropriety aside (and they are founded concerns and must be dealt with realistically) – the current way of dealing with the problem leaves a deep deep hole and hurts the church.



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Fisher

posted March 17, 2010 at 12:07 pm


If the women wore Burkas would that be a solution? Or, more interestingly, we could consciously recruit lesbians and eliminate the whole male-female sexual attraction thing entirely. But then you’d have to worry about female-female. You can’t win! There’s gotta be a way to wall off the temptresses from us weak males who can’t stop thinking about sex.
Seriously, I really doubt the amount of sexual encounters inside a church exceeds the amount in any work or social setting. The church has a preoccupation with sex, sex, sex and women suffer because of it.



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Bob Longman

posted March 17, 2010 at 12:43 pm


Fisher, the church is not any part of the sex-obsessed thing it used to be — not even remotely close. It used to always be obsessively negative — technically, unless it was in marriage, but since we didn’t talk about that for privacy’s sake, all we heard was negative. That’s changed quite a bit – we still speak of gender, but much less sex.
As for woman as the Temptress — TV, books, and movies obsess over that (have for a long time), most often done by folks who have no actual church involvement. There’s some equal-opportunity tempting going on involving men, too. But the more important problem with that is not the gender of the Tempter, but the fact that we are so insistent on portraying people *as* Tempters in the first place. We in modern society have repeated this tale so often we’ve become accustomed to it, with a large proportion of people who come to believe in such a way that they’re sorta okay with it, or at least think it’s inevitable and natural to do it. At some point, it becomes a ‘why not?’.
It wreaks havoc on our relationships, especially when we’re trying to build one or rebuild one.
Gender equality solves some problems, but others remain, and those are every bit as basic and important, and it’s long past time those things are squarely but not obsessively addressed for what they are.



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Scott Watson

posted March 17, 2010 at 1:05 pm


What sorely needs to happen is that men need to take responsibility of their own weaknesses and fears, coming to terms with their own sexuality head on so that they won’t project their sexual angst and fears onto women. We need a lot more men in spiritual direction.



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Peggy

posted March 17, 2010 at 1:36 pm


One of the most challenging things during my time in pastoral ministry was watching the senior pastor mentor the male pastors over lunch or on the way to meetings … times when you can talk about what God’s doing in your life and how that is working its way into ministry. It was so bad that a woman pastor couldn’t take a male to the airport and drop him at the curb … what is someone saw them? Sigh….
I totally understand the need to avoid the appearance of wrong doing, but it still felt terrible….
What I also found interesting is that these young male pastors thought that I got more “face time” with the senior pastor than they did. Blew me away when I learned that. I had to make appointments in his office when I wanted to discuss ministry stuff, and I only took up his time if I had to. When we did talk, it was very good and I was grateful for it. I only wish I would have thought to do it more often.
Oh well … that life is behind me, and I am grateful that God is moving me in a different direction.



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dopderbeck

posted March 17, 2010 at 1:52 pm


Maybe I’m being tone deaf, but I don’t think anyone here is taking seriously enough the problem of sexual impropriety in church leadership. In my anecdotal experience, this is one of the top two or three problems in the Church in North America today. I include here men who become hooked on porn as well as people getting involved in extramarital affairs, both hetero- and homosexual.
The adulteress in various of the Proverbs is not merely metaphorical. It is also practical instruction that is realistic about human sexuality:
“to keep you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adulteress. Do not desire her beauty in your heart, nor let her capture you with her eyelids. For on account of a harlot one is reduced to a loaf of bread, and an adulteress hunts for the precious life. Can a man take fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned?” Prov. 6:24-27
The women who stand half-naked on our city’s billboards, on our TV sets, on our computers, are neither empowered nor liberated.
Whatever else we need to say about women in ministry, it’s naive to brush off the reality of temptation that can run both ways when people work closely together.



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RJS

posted March 17, 2010 at 2:07 pm


dopderbeck,
No – I don’t think that we are failing to take seriously the fact that we live in a broken world with broken people.
But we also have to realize that the “play it safe” approach – to the extent that Billy Graham reportedly wouldn’t even take an elevator with a woman alone (other than his wife) – has consequences … sometimes serious personal consequences.
It is not a good or a virtue to be admired. It is a realistically grounded, and perhaps necessary, lesser evil.



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Dave

posted March 17, 2010 at 2:10 pm


My experience is that women are just as sexual as men in about every way. That’s one of the great secrets of “cominng of age” for a boy. The day they realize that the girls want to be with boys as much as the boys want to be with girls it changes the whole dynamic. Or maybe some of you have not realized that yet.
So the thought that women are temptresses seems foriegn to me. They are partners in crime……It sounds like someone who has not reached formal operations yet…..wait we sort of had that conversation awhile ago.
Dave



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John W Frye

posted March 17, 2010 at 2:14 pm


David (#28),
You could have written this: “Maybe I’m being tone deaf, but I don’t think anyone here is taking seriously enough the power of the Holy Spirit to create a sexually noble environment when Christian women and men work together in church leadership.” The light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overpower it. True? Am I being naive because I really believe that greater in the One in us than the one in the world?



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Karl

posted March 17, 2010 at 3:03 pm


I?m still waiting for someone to quote the famous scene from ?When Harry Met Sally.?
But seriously, I think both RJS and dopderbeck make important points. There is a real and tragic human cost to the ?play it safe? approach. Many women are hurt, left feeling on the margins or like there is something inherently wrong or dangerous about them. That shouldn?t be.
At the same time, when men and women work closely together in ANY work environment and share joys, meet challenges, celebrate successes etc. together on an ongoing basis, the potential exists to develop a closeness that can easily become a physical or emotional affair. I think that while John Frye states the truth that the Holy Spirit can create a wonderful, safe, redemptive environment for men and women to work together in ministry that is free from those tensions, we are also quite na?ve if we don?t also realize that adding the overt, shared spiritual dimension of co-ministry to the relational dynamics that are already inherent in any work environment, can also really up the ante as far as creating a potentially combustible situation. IMO that is a fact that can?t be ignored. It doesn?t mean ?play it safe? and “build a fence around women” is the right answer. But neither is it right to just ignore the facts or give them a passing nod.
How can we avoid the injury caused to women by the old-fashioned play it safe approach, while still taking into account in meaningful ways the fact that for most heterosexuals ? at least most heterosexual men that I know – there IS a difference in the dynamic that exists when working closely over time with a member of the opposite sex whom one finds attractive, as opposed to working closely with a member of the same sex to whom one has no possibility of sexual attraction? It can be dealt with appropriately, but it seems to me like the danger is increased if we ignore or downplay the reality of the situation just because we wish it wasn’t so.



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Barb

posted March 17, 2010 at 3:09 pm


AprilK@12 I like your analogy of climbing Mt. Everest w/o oxygen.–but as a 60 year women, who worked in a “man’s world” for 30 years–I found that someone has to climb the mountain first–by the time i retired most of the younger men saw no problem working with women. THEN I moved over to the church and I’ve had to start all over–it’s as if these “same” men wanted one place left to them.
John@31–are you naive? absolutely NOT. I love your statements and I wish we did all take seriously the power of the Holy Spirit to “create a sexually noble environment” It’s no more impossible than any of the other ways that the Church is called to exhibit the Reign of God in the world.



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Nitika

posted March 17, 2010 at 3:23 pm


@Dopderbeck #28
I take it very seriously. Of all the cases I know, and even extending to women outside the church who are very active in the seduction industry it still doesn’t fit the “an adulteress hunts for the precious life” scenario. These women are broken, they’re not hunters. I stand by the idea that the adulteress of proverbs is a personification of folly.
Women read proverbs 6-7 and they think the point is that they should learn not to be poisonous. It’s bad exegesis. It might seem like it doesn’t hurt anything to interpret it that way, since obviously we ought not to stand around on the corner seeking someone to devour, but women never get to hear the message as if they were the audience. Women too should be careful to avoid being seduced by folly.



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RJS

posted March 17, 2010 at 4:09 pm


Barb (#33)
Good points. I too have worked in a male dominated field for many years (decades) and I have good professional friendships with a number of people. I can mentor and be mentored, go out for lunch or coffee and shoot the breeze, strategize, talk shop. It is no big deal.
Perhaps in a church setting it is sometimes harder to separate the professional and personal aspects – but in terms of women in ministry, it shouldn’t be harder. It should be possible to have professional friendships and mentoring relationships.
In my situation church relationships are not professional, and it is harder to separate the personal and the professional or collegial friendships. But this has made it harder than it needed to be perhaps to work through issues that deal with intellectual challenges to faith and the difficult path to find faith with intellectual integrity and a Christian approach to survive or even thrive in the academy.



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T

posted March 17, 2010 at 4:36 pm


dopderbeck,
I admit that I’ve long been one who has advocated/lived many of the kind of protective policies being discussed here, but having heard several of the stories shared here and elsewhere from women hurt by the twin oversexualization of their identity (motivated by lust in the world and by fear in the church), I’m wondering if we might need to continue to be wise in our dealings, but consider other solutions to this problem, or at least a more multifaceted understanding of the problem.
Like you, I’ve witnessed friends and ministers get involved in affairs and porn, etc., and because of those experiences, I tend to view these problems now as much more than mere sexual desire meeting opportunity. There’s always been deeper issues than mere sexual desires at work. Affairs and porn are usually someone’s boneheaded solution to some deeper wounds and/or stresses or longings or other unhealthy relational dynamics (like those we generally make part of a head pastor’s job description). Limiting someone’s access to porn (or actual female interaction), for instance, is a good temporary measure in some situations, but it is inherently limited and isn’t dealing with the driving issues.
RJS and others aren’t talking about refusing to meet with (or even look at) a woman in your church who dresses like a model in a typical ad. I think she and others have mentioned some wise “half-measures” and there are many others we could pursue, whereby men and women can interact in a helpful way. Even if we never want to forget the sex of our sisters in Christ, it seems wrong to make it such a defining issue for any of us. Who knows, it may be that one of the reasons sexual immorality is so persistent in the church is that we act like sex is all there is or can be between men and women, even in the Church.



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kerry

posted March 17, 2010 at 7:10 pm


Every congregation has men whose workplaces contain women of all kinds, including some to whom they are attracted. Daily, weekly and annually, the average man in a congregation has to live in the knowledge of his own frailties and temptations?and if he wants to be faithful to his wife and the call of the Gospel, to develop spiritual practices to address these struggles. Wise men are also open with their wives if a work relationship is becoming too intimate. Good men take responsibility for their own behaviour/s.
Do pastors really expect to live in an altogether different world? If they feel unable to cope with the temptations that everyone else must, what message does that really send to their congregations? I understand that fear lies underneath this, but doesn?t that tell us something?



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AHH

posted March 17, 2010 at 8:01 pm


I owe a debt of gratitude to RJS and others here for opening my eyes to something I had insufficiently appreciated — the relative lack of in-depth learning and mentoring opportunities offered to women in many churches.
I think about my own church which is egalitarian in doctrine. It is better than it might be, but the opportunities for “meat” and for intellectual engagement and for serious mentoring (as opposed to encouragement, which is of course important too) have been greater for men in the congregation. Meanwhile, the women get Beth Moore studies.



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Ted M. Gossard

posted March 17, 2010 at 8:51 pm


I think we in Christ should be able to overcome the wall that separates us from others due to sin. Doesn?t Scripture say the dividing wall has been torn down through Christ?s death? And Paul seems to not limit the new unity to Jew and Gentile alone, but to male and female, and (for that day significant) slave and free.
Maybe to recognize and acknowledge this, then begin to work from there, we will have more success than merely ignoring another person because of their gender, or putting up a list of do?s and don?ts to avoid sin.
Of course we have to guard ourselves and our hearts. We can?t assume that just because barriers are broken down in Christ that we stand. But if there is a new unity in Christ then we need to pursue that and learn to live and grow in that. Otherwise it looks to me like in some way community is violated, or at least we lose something vital in community when we fail to enter into this dynamic surely possible through the Spirit on the basis of Christ?s reconciling work.



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Barb

posted March 17, 2010 at 9:12 pm


this may be only my imagination but during my 30 years working in the world–as women become more “equal” to men and it became common in the workday to interact, meet with, and even socialize at RJS describes it @35–”office affairs” became less common.
I’m very lucky today to have a woman as associate pastor at our church. She is who I go to now when I want to be mentored in an in-depth way on the things that I’m learning. I may not always be so lucky.



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