Monday, July 25, 2005

Double standard

Lest I be accused of "male bashing", here is a post that might either put me back in the good graces of some of the men or put me on the outs with some of the women.

I have noticed a double standard among some Christian men and women, and it doesn't amuse me. Years ago, a number of the most conservative women I knew would go on and on about Mel Gibson, about how they watched all his movies, about how wonderful it was that he was not only such a fine and handsome actor but a devoted husband and father of many, how wonderful he looked in a kilt, even about how they had "crushes" on him. These gushings, of course, led me to wonder how these women would have reacted if their husbands had similar "crushes" on actresses. ("I just loved her in that movie where I got to look at her gorgeous legs the whole time!")

But men, you see, are visual. Women aren't. This silly dogma gives some women the misguided notion that they don't "lust" or that their lust is harmless and amusing. With them, it's a crush. ("Isn't he cute?" "Check out that eye candy!" "What a gorgeous hunk of man!") With their husbands, it's lust. ("Can you believe he rents movies he doesn't even like, just so he can ogle Julia Roberts?")

That is bad enough. But it gets worse. I have had grown women, married women, tell me that they have crushes on one of my under-age, teenage sons. They thought this was funny and amusing. I didn't. In fact, I simply did not know what to say.

Perhaps men come up to my husband and joke with him about having crushes on my under-age daughter. I certainly hope not, because I might be driven to deal with these men. Just like, the next time some woman confesses a crush on one of my sons, I will not remain silent.


  1. Okay, that would totally freak me out if someone confided to me that she had a "crush" on my son. I think I'd have a few choice words for her.

  2. Excellent posts. I remember apologizing to my husband, back when we were still dating, for something I had done that I was afraid might have occasioned (or might yet occasion) him to fall into sin. I was thinking of the many things I had heard and been told about how sensitive and vulnerable men were to sexual temptation, and I felt that perhaps I had not been sufficiently modest to protect him from his own baser impulses, as it were. (It probably didn't help that I had just read Joshua Harris's I Kissed Dating Goodbye either.) To my husband's credit (I now think), he was actually offended that I would be so paranoid about his self-control and his ability to answer to God for his own conscience. He didn't feel that I had done anything inappropriate, and he was actually somewhat disappointed that I would hold such a low opinion of his ability to draw the line.

    I think we are responsible as women to avoid knowingly tempting the men around us or to dress in obviously immodest ways, but as you say, we can't anticipate all the ways in which a weak-minded man might find us alluring (I hear some guys are into feet -- maybe we should all wear moon boots?), and we also shouldn't fall into the trap of expecting the men around us to be weak-minded.

  3. That is weird, that women tell you they have a crush on your son. This culture is pulling a lot of people down with it.

  4. If somebody told me she had a crush on my son, I would say, "What son?" But if I *had* a son, and a grown woman said she had a crush on him, I would tell her to grow up.

    I enjoyed this series of posts and linked to it from my blog.

  5. "Grow up" is a great answer. Perhaps that is what we should be saying to lustful men, women and the culture at large. "GROW UP!"

  6. I just found and read your recent set of posts, thanks to Jeri's link here.

    I think I kind of understand what you're a little annoyed with (the way people make excuses for their desires), but I'm not sure I've heard anything tangible about what they might actually do about it. In other words, you can tell someone who's addicted to heroin, "Hey, DON'T DO THAT"... but your advice probably won't help them very much.

    I'd encourage you to consider the possibility that sin has a lot in common with addiction, and if that's the case, we should be cautious about glibly prescribing solutions. Not saying you're doing that, just that the tone of your posts seems to be leaning towards a harangue more than helpful insight into the problem.

    Make no mistake - there really is a problem. Ask someone who is addicted to masturbation why it is so difficult to stop. Ask someone who really does struggle with lust of the flesh why its so difficult to overcome. Now ask yourself how people trapped in the slavery of their lusts are going to feel when they read what you've written. Helped? Or just more helpless?

    I hope I'm not coming across as critical here; I'd just like to see more people actually addressing the issue constructively. We've been talking about this a bit over on See Life Differently recently:
    Dealing with Lust
    Dealing w/ Lust - The Rest of the Story

    I'd be very interested in getting your take on those discussions. Also, I'd highly recommend picking up a copy of Lauren Winner's Real Sex - I think it does a nice job of diagnosing the problems while actually offering a lot of suggestions about finding solutions in teh context of community.

    Thanks for the posts!

  7. Definitely, the only way to deal with lust is to learn to genuinely love---that requires coming to know what Christ has done for each of us. The path to love runs through the path of knowledge: knowing our own unworthiness, knowing what Christ has graciously given to His people, and then through His eyes seeing each other as benefactors of Christ, and humbly being grateful on behalf of each other. We can give genuine love and care to each other because we are gifts given to each other by the Father.

    No wonder Paul calls Christian women "sisters," for the closeness between Christians is a closeness based on having been adopted together by a gracious Father, educated by Him so that we are no longer wild, lawless, and raging people, and given the dignity of knowing our eternal station with God, which has been bestowed on us in Christ. We can know that in Christ we are called to bless each other and to witness to each other of what we have in Christ, glorifying Him together and treasuring His work in each other.

    All the rigamarole about dress codes is really a "band-aid" solution for lust. After all, look at Hyles-Anderson college (if you're a Fundamentalist). No "Fundamentalist" school is as strict as they, and no Fundamentalisrt school has such a history of such rampant and perverted fornication from the lowest to highest levels of the school and the church. Clearly, they have missed the solution (assuming anybody there actually wanted a real solution). Legalsim does not deliver from sin. Only Christ delivers us from sin.

    Lust at its root is the objectification of another person, the viewing of another person as existing for one's own gratification. So the solution is to come to the understanding that every person is created by God for His exclusive purposes and His glory, not our own. Making that knowledge a part of ourselves requires deep comprehension of God's entitlement to such a claim, deep respect for that claim of His on others, and humble agreement to that claim on us.

    To put it more simply, lust is gross selfishness driving itself through reproductive organs and hormones and bringing the body and mind into subjection to that driving selfishness. So when we feel lust, we must repent of that selfishness that makes slaves of us and we must go back to Christ and re-learn all that is really true about why God has made others (and us), and the value He has placed on each person.

  8. Interesting posts, Rebecca. I have some measure of sympathy with your frustration with the "touching" analogy - though in response I would suggest that it makes a valid point if not taken to extremes. There is no shortage of low necklines, high hemlines, bare backs and midriffs in society's dress today. As a general rule of thumb, I tell my daughters that these areas need to be covered. If the analogy heightens their awareness, then so much the better.

    I appreciate the way that the women (and daughters) dress at the church we attend. Emphasis is placed on dressing attractively, but not dressing to attract. This results in styles that are modest but not extreme.

    In society in general though - at the workplace, in places of recreation, on TV, I can clearly state that for me, the challenge to maintain a pure thought life is the most difficult spiritual battlblogID=7123966

  9. (continued...)

    In society in general though - at the workplace, in places of recreation, on TV, I can clearly state that for me, the challenge to maintain a pure thought life is the most difficult spiritual battle I face. And this is not on account of indulgence, as this has been a constant struggle since, well, puberty. And I don't think my experience is all that unusual.

    If you are trying to understand this phenomenon - I don't know if you ever will. Not only are men and women wired differently, there isn't even anything analogous to this that women can relate to. But kudos’ for trying anyway...