Instituting a “don’t be friends” or “don’t be alone with women” policy will not fix the problem of how men and women relate to one another.
That was a statement I made in my last post, but I thought it was worth going a little deeper on that comment.
While “Don’t be alone with a woman” policies will not FIX the problem of infidelity in the church (case in point: pastors fall every year who have that policy), they may still be wise. If you are running a huge church with so much staff, it may be necessary for lots of different reasons. (I still hope if I was broken down on the side of the road you would stop and help me… Especially during the summer :))
And on an individual level, there are certain men and women it would be stupid to be around. For example, a man is a fool to entertain the company of a Proverbs 5 woman. A woman is a fool to entertain the company of a touchy/flirtatious and boyish man. It is wise to think about who and how we relate to one another.
In my last post, I listed how we can stop contributing to this culture of inequality in the gender roles, but I wanted to spend a little more time on the idea of infidelity. How do we really fix that problem that is rampant in our culture?
1) Go to the heart.
Men, maybe you can’t be alone with a sister in Christ without having sexual thoughts. Maybe any good and intellectual conversation sparks romantic feeling or interest. This is indicative of a sick heart. Maybe while you see the sickness in your heart you need to avoid that friendship with a brother or sister in Christ, but don’t settle or assume that is the way it has to be. Ask God to really bring to surface the sinful attitudes you hold about the opposite gender so you really can relate to one another biblically.
Women, be sisters to the men in your life. Married or single, young or old… if our biblical view of gender says that there are differences, then there must be something unique and beautiful we can bring out in each other by complimenting the other. Not just in marriage, but in the broader church community. Act like a biological sister to your brothers at the church and you will reap the benefit of brotherhood.
2) Heal your marriage.
I feel more confident each month that Vermon and I won’t cheat on each other. NOT because I’m prideful and think we are above that kind of sin (we are not), but because what God has graciously given us and continues to build gets richer and deeper every day. To even think about messing that up is like imagining squandering a family fortune on one really big night of partying.
Our best protection against infidelity is NOT avoiding the opposite sex, it is getting as much time quality together as possible.
We talk every night until we can’t keep our eyes open, we share each other’s struggles and burdens, we regularly talk about where we see the other person spiritually. When you are best friends and building on that intimacy constantly then nothing is worth taking the risk of damaging that intimacy.
I can say Vermon has really been the one to create and fight for this in our marriage. He’s taught me how to pursue and press into this. He doesn’t settle for tiredness or conflict keeping us apart. He doesn’t chose watching TV at night or gratifying his own desires to “veg” and “check out” without first making sure we’ve connected.
He has also empowered me to lead in our marriage. Vermon has never set the expectation that because he’s the man he is fully responsible for leading. In his mind he is always responsible for everything (that’s just V’s personality), but practically we have built a marriage where I can look at any area of danger or unhealth and lead us back to the cross and visa versa. I don’t have to sit and wait for him to see the problem and lead us. He trusts me to use my strengths to lead in our marriage and I trust him. He truly treats me as an equal in every part of our life and celebrates the difference in a way that makes us stronger. It’s a dance. Because we are friends we make a great team.
One of the saddest things I see is couples settling for an average (or poor) marriage. Life is too short and temptation too great for our marriages to take a back seat in life. Women need to fight more for Christ centered marriage: even if that means taking the lead and bringing church leaders into dealing with habitual sin in your families life.
I hit this harder in part one, but I will say it again because it is such a big deal: we have to deal with pornography and all the ways we have unhealthy sexual practices. If we aren’t being treated as an equal, there are godly ways we can address this and call our spouse to heal our marriage. A spouse addicted to porn can never see you as a true equal.
It will show through their thoughts, attitudes, and actions toward you and other women. And if you are giving a pass at it so you don’t have to worry about the physical aspect of marriage- then you are playing an active part of that sexual sin that dehumanizes women. We have to take this more seriously and do what it takes to bring healing in our marriage.
We don’t do it in a manipulative way or a controlling way… we do it in a God glorifying way. We do it because we long for marriages that reflect the union of Christ to his bride. We do it because we want a relationship so sweet that we will fight til our death to protect it.
Maybe your marriage isn’t worth that kind of tenacious fighting right now, but it can be… Jesus left the glories of heaven and gave his body to restore our relationship with God. If your broken relationship with God Almighty can be healed, certainly your marriage can be.
3) know a proverbs 5 woman from a proverbs 31 woman
One of the problems with rules that don’t deal with the heart behind why sexual sin keeps happening in the church is that it lumps all women in one general category. Like I said earlier, there are some members of the opposite sex you should not be with. Instead of having no co-ed friendships, lets learn to discern proverbs 5 women from proverbs 31.
Men, stay far from the first list and be a brother to the later…women, ask God to make you into the later and to root out any of the first list that you see your heart drawn to.
-her lips drip with honey & her speech is smoother then oil (her words are flattering, stroke your ego, and just what you want to hear to feel like “the man”)
-she does not ponder the path of life, her ways wander and she does not know it (she lacks wisdom, is not concerned about the most essential things that keep us on the path of life)
-your lack of discipline will draw you near to her and it will destroy your life
-her husband trusts her
-she seeks the good of her husband
-she is a hard worker, she isn’t lazy
-she makes wise financial decisions for family and manages money well
-she cares for the poor and needy
-she doesn’t fear the future because she is prepared
-she speaks wisdom
-the teaching of kindness is on her tongue
-she fears the Lord
Re-read that last list. A woman of this category is a safe woman to have a friendship with. You won’t have to worry about “the appearance of evil” because when you talk with one another you talk as a biological brother talks to a biological sister. A woman of this later category is going to have the ability to discern appropriate ways of relating to one another and won’t ask you to have a conversation in a setting that would look in appropriate. But you can catch up at home group, after church, or in the context of a ministry project you are working on together
Our theology demands that we are on a constant upward progression for relating to one another in the same way we will for all eternity. For us to begin down that path we have to stop having fear drive our decisions and instead allow God to use the opposite gender to sanctify us, grow us, and heal our broken view of sexuality.