Sex, Sex, Sex...

Harry had it right. Men and women can’t just be friends; sex always gets in the way. And if it doesn’t, there’s sure to be some busybody to come along and make sure it does. Why is it that “faith based conservatives” treat their own young people as purely sexual beings? We object to the oversexualization of our popular culture, and yet we succumb to it in dealing with young people. Something there about mixed messages?

I'm thinking in particular of a new rule created at a so-called Christian coffeeshop, which has been imposed on patrons of said shop, that says that people hanging out there can't go out and walk around town, after 7:30, unless the group consists of at least 2 girls and one guy. Apparently you need at least one guy so that the helpless girls don't get mugged, and at least two girls to protect each other from their guy protector??

My problem with this rule has less to do with it per se, it's stupid, so what. I don't even object as strenuously to the fact that someone thinks they can impose such things on independent people over which they have no control. I do however have a major philosophical problem with the flawed reasoning behind it which betrays a deeper problem among the church. Using this particular instance to reason to the general, I will try to counter this argument as generally put forth.

These small bundles of raging hormones can’t even be trusted to go out for a walk on their own around a small town, because the urges of lust will overcome one or the other (or both) of them, and next thing we know, the Seventh Commandment is lying shattered on the sidewalk.

Now this is offensive to me, as it should be to all morally upright guys. For one, such a concept requires the belief that as guys, we view all women as potential sexual conquests. Secondly, it postulates that a good friendship will necessarily lead to physical involvement. Finally, it puts forward the slanderous dual pronged argument that even good kids are either: “guys who are potential rapists, and would assault a woman no matter place or time, even in public,” or “sweet church girls who are yet very likely to be lying manipulative creatures who seek nothing better than to ruin the lives of their guy friends by making a false accusation.” This baseless argument is devoid of reason and should and must be refuted, so that prying, backbiting, slanderous busybodies in the church can no longer hide behind their assumed false front of giving strong Scriptural advice.

Now, there is some merit to a standard if it is formulated such that “couples should not spend time alone in sexually tempting environments,” i.e.: sitting on the guys’ bed in his apartment with no one around. It could also say that a couple who were committed to abstinence who have already had problems with premarital physicality can and should draw further limits on their interactions alone in order to avoid compromising situations. These are wise iterations of the Scriptural command to flee temptation. However, these pernicious people often go much further in the restrictions they place on others.

This false standard is often couched in the “Well, we wouldn’t want someone to accuse someone of something they didn’t do.” Let me respond: First of all, most intelligent guys are better judges of character than to associate with people who are likely to make such damaging false accusations.

Second, considering the social stigma associated with rape and the abysmally low statistics of reported versus non-reported sexual assaults, the false rape allegation is already much less common than TV would have us believe. When they do occur, they most often occur between people who actually have engaged in physical intimacy, whether a jilted lover getting back at an ex, or a girl who has become pregnant who wishes to conceal her consensual sexual activity from her parents. Sexual assault cases are very much based on forensic evidence, and if two people haven’t engaged in sexual activity, the forensic evidence to support such a baseless accusation is simply not there.

Oh, and stop using “what other people will think,” as a cover to force what you think on others. This is the same reasoning used by people who argue against interracial relationships because of how “society will treat you.” Face it, you are the very society that you are warning us against, and if you stopped being so close-minded and hypocritical, the very problems you pretend to caringly confront us about would cease to be problems. Just exactly when did I ask your advice? Handle your own life, let me deal with mine.


Michaela said…
I would agree that there is this assumption in evangelical circles that people need to "pair off" as quickly as possible or they won't be able to resist. That seems unbiblical, since Paul implies that some people, in fact, can resist. It even seems *gasp* that he expects Christians to be able to judge that for themselves.

Comment on wagging heads in Churches: I am a huge gossip-monger. It is probably a sin, but I do it recreationally. People who spiritualize it really need to get a life.
The Brain said…
Damn Straight. Well said. I have started thinking some of the same things about the whole modesty thing in clothing. It's the guy's responsibility what he thinks about, and until he learns to control his mind, no style of clothing on a woman will protect him from his own lusts. Christians do themselves a great disservice by giving guys the "victim" excuse for what is at root their own problem. "If your eye offends you, gouge it out," but don't make someone else the scapegoat for your own reprobation.

Clothing is a type of expression, and people (including women) should wear what they want to say (which is not the subject of this comment). But they should not feel constrained by concern that they are causing someone else to stumble, because if it comes down to it, the guy who doesn't control his thoughts is already going to have problems whether a girl's collarbone is showing or not.

Jesus ran into some of this, himself. It seems He found quite a ministry with Galilean hookers, and hung out with them a lot. You know, I bet when He found them, they were dressed like prostitutes. Oh, my, what would people think? I'll tell you what they thought - the Pharisees had a real problem with it. They enjoyed calling attention to the fact that Jesus the "friend of publicans and sinners." He didn't seem overly concerned with that, though. Once their hearts were changed, the rest was taken care of.

(Tangentially, it will be interesting when the post's URL starts showing up in the PHC filter and Dean Wilson has to figure out why so many upstanding people suddenly need to come to his office :-)
This is also something that’s irked me in the past. It seems this is largely and issue of trust and respect. When we, as Christians, treat each other as uncontrollable animals then this is what we will become. Human tend to raise (or fall) to each others expectations…and thus we should always expect the best. At the same time, we should maintain a healthy awareness of sin’s existence. Anyway, good post.

Derby said…
props especially to the last paragraph. My brother and his non-Christian housemate let girls stay overnight occasionally, in a separate room, which some of our Christian friends consider quite wrong. I don't have a problem with it; I think we should condemn the sin, not the potential or appearance of sin.

However, while I've personally been accused by Christians of doing or looking like I was doing something immoral by being in situations that looked bad, I admit that some such situations look bad to non-Christians as well. It is important to avoid the appearance of evil to avoid criticism by non-Christians and leading weak Christians astray.
Lee Ann said…
The Brain talks about Christian guys using the "victim" excuse. Wow . . . praise God somebody finally said it. I could write all day, but I won't. I'll just thank you, Brain. You're my hero (and my next-door neighbor's, incidentally).
The Author said…
Brain is right. In fact, it's an argument Sarah and Michaela and others used to go over several times at "the house."
Michaela said…
Mmmm...I think Sarah and I encouraged guys not to hold anyone else accountable for their own lust, but there's a flip side.

As Brain said, your clothing says a lot about you, especially to strangers. We are supposed to dress modestly. By modestly I mean appropriately. I used to be really upset that I couldn't wear camisoles in public at PHC. Now I find that the only time I really wear them is around the house or on the hottest days in summer. Likewise, when I wear uncomfortably short or tight clothing, I'm wondering by the end of the day what my motive was--certainly not comfort!

Because of current societal standards, midriffs and short skirts call more attention to one's body than collar bones and ankles. I have experiential evidence of this (although, yes, there is the odd pervert whose catcall button seems to be stuck on play).

It's not just a Christian issue-- there are ways of dressing that will make people label you as a slut or a professional. I can't change the way society labels people, and I'd personally rather be seen as the latter.

The truism behind this discourse is simple: there should be restraints on your behavior, but you should put them there yourself.

I didn't want it to be thought that I spend all my time lecturing about why guys shouldn't lust.
I think the very best quote I've ever heard on feminine modesty did not come from a Christian leader but from Edith Head, lead costume designer for Paramount Studios:

"Your clothes should be tight enough to show that you're a woman and loose enough to show that you're a lady."

Enough said.

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