Smokin’ Hot Conversations: Amy Thedinga on the Seduction Myth

All summer long, I’ll be running a series of guest posts here on the blog called “Smokin’ Hot Conversations.” These will be posts about gender, relationships, power, and the church, meant to move us to deeper reflection and conversation about the often distracting or harmful messages in Christian culture. Amy Thedinga joins us this week with a powerful post about the seduction myth perpetuated by many pastors. She’s a third generation pastor’s kid who has a story to tell, and she co-leads a house church in Highlands Ranch, CO. She’s also a wife, mom, and blogger. Learn more about her here.

And if you’d like to contribute to this series, drop me a line.

Abandoning the seduction myth to water the seeds of greatness.

Amy Thedinga

A while back my husband and I attended a marriage seminar. Toward the end, they had a panel of experts (made up of pastors) who fielded questions from the audience. Inevitably, the question of dealing with lust came up. The pastor who answered gave his advice that when an attractive woman speaks to him he stares at the ground or turns and walks away (especially if she’s single).

In an instant, a hundred attempted conversations with male authority figures played across the movie screen of my memory. I say attempted because they neither engaged nor conversed, but rather stared at the ground and squirmed until their first feasible opportunity to escape. And I felt the phantom pain of a hundred arrows in wounds I thought were healed.

I get the logic. With so many high profile moral failures, leaders should guard their purity at all costs right? But at what price? What about the woman? What does his refusal to look her in the eye – to connect with her – to engage – do to her perception of herself? And what does a faulty self-perception do to her ability to walk in her power? In her design? In her calling?

In what sort of a church culture is it acceptable for a male leader to dismiss a woman out of hand and actually advise members of the congregation to do the same – in the name of guarding their purity?

A culture in which the man has an important ministry and a woman’s dignity, her very self worth is an acceptable sacrifice on the altar of his moral high ground.

Growing up in the church, I received this message a thousand different ways. Messages of purity were delivered to mixed gendered audiences but aimed at women. The pastor who refuses eye contact sends a clear message. A version of which church culture has screamed at her since birth: “You are seductive. You are a sexual vortex that I may get sucked in to. The slippery slope of my lust is your problem. And my ministry is too valuable to allow the likes of you to trip me up.”

This is the seduction myth.

See, chances are this woman is not out to seduce her pastor and run his ministry off the rails. Chances are very good that she just wants to be seen. She just wants a seat at the table. She wants someone to see the image of Christ and water the seed of greatness God has placed inside her.

Jesus did this very thing for the woman at the well. Here is a woman with a past. And not only that, she was a Samaritan. Living in a culture where she was scorned for her gender and her race – things she could do nothing about – she added insult to injury by choosing a lifestyle of ill repute. It was downright scandalous for Jesus to have a conversation with any woman, let alone this woman. Yet, he didn’t look at the ground and walk away. No, he went out of his way to approach her, look her in the eye and engage her in dialogue. I suspect he even went to the well specifically to seek her out. I believe he knew the possibility she held to change the course of a village and maybe an entire people group. He looked past her gender and what people would think or say about him to see her potential and call it out of her. Jesus’ ministry was the most important there ever was. But he understood his mission. To heal the broken hearted and set the captive free.

He, unlike so many of our leaders today, wasn’t postured in self-defense, desperately guarding his ministry to the hurt of the very ones he was called to reach.

How would the church landscape change if male authority figures followed Jesus’ lead here? What if they took their sin and temptation to God and dealt with it privately instead of making it every attractive female’s problem. What if they allowed themselves to appreciate a woman’s God-given beauty without reducing her to a sexual object? What if they put their reputation aside and stooped to affirm and empower her. Well, she just might rise up and change the world. Scripture tells us the woman left her encounter with Jesus at the well boldly declaring that Christ was the Messiah.

Or in other words: preaching the gospel.  

And many believed because of her testimony.

Print Friendly

About Zach Hoag

Zach J. Hoag is a writer and missional minister from notoriously non-religious New England. His book, Nothing but the Blood: The Gospel According to Dexter was released in 2012. Twitter & Facebook.

  • geoffholsclaw

    Amy, Thanks for this great post. You are really naming what unfortunately happens all too often.  Too many women are held back because of male stupidity.

    • http://www.AmyThedinga.com/ Amy Thedinga

      geoffholsclaw Well said Geoff.  Succinct and to the point.  ;)

  • uponacloud

    I must not be attractive, or I was gladly kept outside of this environment. It’s retrograded and awful, and I agree wholeheartedly about the way a woman feels. I would feel like that, I’m grateful I just do it empathically because ministers at my church are happy to deal with me, and former Archbishops of Canterbury too. Sometimes fearing something is the best way to make it happen and I think this case is exactly like that.

    • http://www.AmyThedinga.com/ Amy Thedinga

      uponacloud I hesitated to put the “attractive” distinction in this post because it is so subjective.  I think that (in my experiences) men fear women who are 1. single and 2. generally regarded as attractive – or God forbid sexy – because of what onlookers might think of their interactions with her.  Me thinks they may be projecting.  Fearful that what is inside their heart may be visible to all.  I love to hear that there are church cultures which are different than what I describe here.  I happily find myself in one of those cultures today as well.

      • uponacloud

        I feel too that it’s pretty much an issue with projecting fears the way you say, and I’m not sure I would trust as a minister someone who hasn’t dealt with his ghosts in a healthy way to be honest.

  • Amy M

    Great post & a common cultural issue you’ve named for sure. When I was a kid, we had a youth pastor who would give the boys a regular hug, and then hug the girls w/distance, so he wouldn’t touch his chest to ours. We were kids, that sent a big message we couldn’t have any chance of understanding at the time – other than what you said, “You are seductive. You are a sexual vortex that I may get sucked in to.” Ouch when you’re 15 (& you still see “older” mean as fathers, brothers and uncles). I think this is, again, a repercussion of shame outsourced – and oh how it causes real people real hurt, as it always does.  
    (Zach! Can’t wait for the rest of these posts.)

    • http://www.AmyThedinga.com/ Amy Thedinga

      @Amy M Ahhh the side hug.  I know it well.  I think you hit on an important component to the conversation.  The women see the males as fathers and brothers.  If the men saw the women as sisters much of the controversy would disappear.

  • Terri

    Viewing all women as a “sexual vortex” is a common theme in pornography, not the Bible. great post! love the insight from the Samaritan woman.

    • http://www.AmyThedinga.com/ Amy Thedinga

      @Terri POWERFUL observation.

  • StacyVoss

    Amy, this is an amazing post! I so get that people need to set certain boundaries to prevent a moral failure, but I LOVE your perspective! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • qdmom

    Thanks for putting into clear and consise words an issue that I’ve seen but have never been able to define.  I just read about the Samaritan woman last night and that was running through my head the entire time and then you wrote about her!

    • http://www.AmyThedinga.com/ Amy Thedinga

      qdmom It can be so subtle.  That’s why a woman is quick to internalize the treatment.  It makes her feel “wrong” somehow, so the problem must be with her – not the man of God.

  • http://www.somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | smitten word

    exactly! i was meditating this week on the three stories in the four gospels of a woman anointing jesus with perfume. the stories/setting/details are different, but in every case, he receives this very physical offering as a gift and never objectifies or recoils [GET BEHIND ME, BOOBS/SEXY HAIR/SATAN!] but esteems and honors them as human beings and sisters bearing the image of God.
    “at what price?” is a a fabulous question. loving this series.

    • ChristopherMacDonald

      suzannah | smitten word As I comment elsewhere in this thread, Jesus actually (in Luke’s account) turns his back on Simon and looks at the woman directly while he basically humiliated Simon in front of his guests and commends the woman’s great love. I have always felt that WE are the woman in that story, tears on Jesus’ feet, the religious at His backside grumbling… but yeah in the actual story she lets down her hair and drenches his feet with the sexy perfume and Jesus looks her right in the eyes able to receive love and give it.

    • uponacloud

      suzannah | smitten word If you have an occasion, money to spend if you can’t find it in a library etc you may find nice to read the Mary Magdalene chapter in Power and Passion by Revd Sam Wells. It’s actually a book worth reading in its entirety. I promise he’s not paying me for promotion, we haven’t even actually been introduced yet.

  • chrislinzey

    As a pastor I’m embarrased that another pastor would counsel leaders to stare at the gorund or to walk away. There are other boundaries one can establish without being dismissive. I wonder if there is a hotness scale: we can interact with Christian women as long as they fall under a certain score on the scale…. (please read the sarcasm in that line).

    • http://www.AmyThedinga.com/ Amy Thedinga

      chrislinzey It wasn’t leaders he was addressing.  It was a marriage conference.  His audience was the congregation.  :( I think you’re on to something with the hotness scale!

      • chrislinzey

        I do see problems though if the hotness scale were to be leaked. Christians can be competitive

        • ChristopherMacDonald

          chrislinzey Hotness scale…haha. I have stumbled into the right chat/thread.

  • MAGuyton

    Only quibble I would make is that John 4 never says the woman was a “woman of ill-repute.” She could have just as easily had five husbands die on her or divorce her because she burned the stew.

    • chrislinzey

      MAGuyton Except that the man she was currently with was not her husband – the clear implication is that she was less-than-righteous. There is also an element of flirting going on in John 4 (not from Jesus, but from a woman who misunderstands him). She’s not a “stand-up” kind of person…

    • ChristopherMacDonald

      MAGuyton Hi Morgan…fancy meeting you here…er actually the Greek word is “stewos” from which we can possibly deduce that she did burn the stew on numerous occasions. But seriously, there is no reason to ascribe “ill-repute” only that Jesus was aware that she was “shacking up” at present and that things had not gone well in the men department. All of which just adds to the refreshing nature of the nonplussed discussion on both sides. I mean you have to love the woman’s reponses too.

  • yhwhtheologian

    This is getting silly, how can you blame someone if they are doing what they have to do avoid temptation or impure thoughts? There a lot of sensitive women in this world, each person knows there weaknesses and if it takes not directly staring at a women to prevent themselves from doing something their conscience would not allow so be it. Women that complain about this need to look inward at whatever issues they have instead of pointing the finger at men.

    • Terri

      yhwhtheologian I teach my children to look people in the eye when they are having a conversation as a sign of respect both for what the person is saying and for who the person is. I’m having a hard time seeing why expecting that same consideration and respect from an adult male would be silly or show that I am being too sensitive. And we may just have to disagree on this point, but I think a man (or woman) who cannot have a conversation with a member of the opposite sex without these types of common signs of courtesy (eye contact, following the conversation without walking away) is the one in need of some introspection and soul searching.

      • yhwhtheologian

        @Terri If there is a issue with that person then some consideration should be given to them. Also if you are not interacting with the person daily or constantly what’s the big deal?

    • chrislinzey

      yhwhtheologian We’re not talking about staring at women. We’re talking about talking to a woman while making eye contact.

      • yhwhtheologian

        chrislinzey Yeah and is it really the end of the world if someone does not directly look at you especially if the contact with the person is not a regular occurrence?

        • kairanie

          yhwhtheologian It is if that person is supposed to be your pastor/leader and you are trying to have a serious conversation with them.  Also if it happens repeatedly with different people.  One isolated incident, sure, no big deal, you can write the person off as a jerk or socially inept or whatever, but as a pattern it’s very demeaning.

    • http://www.somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | smitten word

      yhwhtheologian amy describes a pastor who advocates staring awkwardly at the ground or walking away rudely mid-conversation from any woman he finds attractive. what is happening there is something that goes way beyond avoiding temptation.
      pornography and much popular media objectifies women, and these sorts of “christian” teachings do the same thing, treating women as body parts and things rather than human beings worthy of honor and respect. our bodies and sexuality are integral to who we are, and they are good; we cannot let fear or sin dictate this conversation, especially when Jesus modeled something so much better.

      • yhwhtheologian

        suzannah | smitten wordSee that’s the issue, if someone is engaged in abnormal behavior then that should be a clue that something is going on with that person. But nooooo he wants to be rude damage a woman’s self-esteem or whatever the issue supposed to be.

        • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

          yhwhtheologian Is this sarcasm? Might be better if you communicated your responses in a straightforward fashion. I’m having trouble understanding you here.

        • yhwhtheologian

          zachhoag No it was not and I think my point was clear enough, I think people in general but especially women are just too sensitive today. Every little thing is an insult and so on.

        • uponacloud

          yhwhtheologian zachhoag Maybe, but just maybe eh, there’s a reason why women grow up to be so insecure and “it must be my fault” in front of such things…there’s a lot of things our brains record without us being conscious of it, and if that’s the culture there is no way a girl would grow up into a confident enough woman not to be “too sensitive” like you accuse us to be.

        • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

          yhwhtheologian zachhoag My sense is that you are not willing to take Amy’s (or the commenters’) point seriously. Why won’t you take their point seriously?

        • Amy M

          yhwhtheologian suzannah | smitten word I actually think there’s an important point hidden in here – if someone is engaged in abnormal behavior – it’s a clue there is something going on with them. And I’m glad you used the word “abnormal” to describe the things we’re talking about. 
          I think it is very important to realize that other people’s issue are not reflective of our worth, even though that’s the burden we’re often handed, (all of us in different instances, but women in this example). It’s a good boundary to keep.  
          But, that said, this “abnormal” behavior is being touted as not only normal, but orthodox in dealing with “lust” in certain church cultures, and that’s where it messes things up. If someone has an issue to the point they can’t look at a woman like a normal human being, they need to be the ones that are considerate of those around them, not go about actions that dehumanize further – like not being able to engage another person as a person. 
          I personally don’t find men who act like this offensive anymore, I just see them as fundamentally unsafe. I’m happy to not engage if they have to take those measures to stay “in control”. No thanks.
           Normalizing abnormal behavior, however, that’s offensive to me.

        • MelindaCadwallader

          zachhoag yhwhtheologian This is a clear example of why it is such an “issue” in the church today, even when you bring up the issue, publicly or privately,  it becomes dismissed and ignored because no one wants to consider that it is negative or hurtful. If they did, they might have to take responsibility and accountability for it, and nobody wants that.

        • matt

          MelindaCadwallader Wow, talk about being “insensitive.” There is a lot in this blog that I agree with, however I feel that some of the things that are being said here are equally blind to how a man’s mind works, as the men that are being blind to how a woman’s mind works (by not understanding that they are being disrespectful). If you notice, its mostly women replying to this blog about how “abnormal” and  “not safe” these men are. These men are not necessarily worried that by looking you in the eye it will some how lead to physical sexual sin, but lust – that is sin of the mind.
          I am not advocating the teaching that no man should look any woman in the eye – that is ridiculous. But if it is indeed causing him to lust/sin than obviously he needs to avoid it. You can never understand exactly how a man processes lust, just as men will never fully understand how truly sensitive women are. This is just another way men and women are different, and both parties should work towards lifting one another up – which is what makes this blog great. But don’t go around bashing men for attempting to keep their minds pure.
          The truth is, the Bible makes it very clear that men and women are very different, and have very different roles. I would encourage you (all of us) to do some reading, not in books, but in the Bible to see what it says about our roles toward each other.

        • http://www.somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | smitten word

          @matt it’s not sensitivity that causes a woman to want to be treated like a human being instead of an object, and the bible isn’t clear at all in the way you suggest. please don’t assume that christians who interpret scripture differently than you haven’t read it.

        • matt

          suzannah | smitten word I’m not saying that women should not be treated as human beings, and I never said how to interpret what it says, which is why I suggested reading it (for all of us, even if that means reading it again). 
          It is not sensitivity that causes a woman to want to be treated like a human being, but it is sensitivity that causes her to feel that she is being treated as sub-human. I don’t have meaningful conversation with non-humans, so if we are having conversation, but I’m not looking into a woman’s eyes enough so she perceives her self as “sub-human, ” I would consider her sensitive to things that I am not. Which is the whole point, that men and women are different.

        • http://www.somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | smitten word

          @matt objectification is a real thing with ramifications exponentially greater than hurt feelings. even if you refuse to see that, the least you could do is hear/honor that women receive this behavior as being treated like walking boobs or slutty penis traps–and as a Church, we are called to something *so much better*. we can’t honor the purity of men at the expense of the personhood of women.
          men and women are different…and men and women are the same. we are all created in the image of God–alike, unique, and called in ways that rarely fall along rigid gender lines.

        • matt

          suzannah | smitten word I’m still lost as to how not looking someone in the eyes objectifies them? In the past it has been used as a sign of respect, nobility, or even power – but to objectify? I am truly lost. I feel that I must sink to the level of most men and just do as I’m told to keep women happy and not have to hear their endless complaints – very sad indeed.

        • http://www.AmyThedinga.com/ Amy Thedinga

          @matt suzannah | smitten word Although the conversation has been robust and at times heated, I haven’t seen any complaining whatsoever.  And that certainly wasn’t the intent of my original post – except for in the sense that maybe Rosa Parks was complaining by refusing to give up her seat.  Declining to look someone in the eye is not a sign of respect in our culture so I’m not sure of your point there.  Regarding women as those who need to be placated or patronized to get the complaining to stop reveals the real issue in this debate.  Perhaps you are lost because you are looking at the issue through that lens and not from the equality point of view for which we are arguing.

        • http://www.somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | smitten word

          @matt i have no idea what you’re getting at with your last sentence, but here’s the issue: this advice (to avoid eye contact or flee abruptly because the very sight of a woman will inevitably lead men into sin) is dehumanizing. it is not a sign of respect or nobility, although it does seem to ascribe both a sinister power to women and female bodies as well as a strange powerlessness to men.

      • ChristopherMacDonald

        suzannah | smitten word yhwhtheologian I was very blessed as a young man of about 20 and a new convert a part of the Faith’s whole subverting any previous world-view (which was not well formed) was the anti-objectifying of women. It was over before it had a chance to start, thus stuff like pornography lost a huge gateway. Lest I sound too good, I’d make plenty of mistakes relationally (oh bloody hell) but I think there is a huge clue here. It’s a major mistake to do anti-porno etc. campaigning when we can be truly subversive an be utterly Pro-Woman (Pro-Humanity) in the valuation of all that women are in full honor and respect. In my opinion the issue is so often Men…the Church can lead in this if it wants to stop moralizing and living into fear. In some ways it is…noted that on issues like human trafficking it really is (my friend David Batstone is right on the edge of this at “Not for Sale”).

    • http://www.AmyThedinga.com/ Amy Thedinga

      yhwhtheologian I assure you, it is the farthest thing from silly for women who have had to work hard to overcome a shame based nature because of these sort of (non) interactions with male leaders.  I certainly was not talking about staring directly at women – that would be weird.  I am speaking of honoring her as a human being – made in the image of Christ.  If a man is so overwhelmed with feelings of lust that he is unable to extend common courtesy to his sister in Christ, there is a deeper work that needs to be done.  My position is simply that his issue is between him and God and he should consider his effect on others.  His personal holiness is not more important than her dignity.

      • yhwhtheologian

        Amy Thedinga It is silly in that I think if you (general you) know the reason why someone is behaving in that fashion but get upset anyway. They (the men) are not intentionally doing it just because someone is a attractive woman and want to disrespect them or whatever you see it as. They are doing it to secure their spiritual walk and as you mentioned until they work things out with God. To me if a woman can’t understand that then she has issues with attention.

        • AprilTerry

          yhwhtheologian Amy Thedinga Taking these ideas outside of the church, I work with men everyday and they look me in the eye directly and no one is doing anything sexual.  Why is it that when you put it in the context of the church, it suddenly becomes a “temptation” to speak directly at a woman and look at her in the eye when conversing?

      • ChristopherMacDonald

        Amy Thedingayhwhtheologian” His personal holiness is not more important than her dignity.” Wow. Talk about nailing it. End of comment.

        • yhwhtheologian

          To put it bluntly I did not grow up in a environment were the women was so sensitive. They had bigger concerns in life like how would they raise a child without it’s father being around or whether they could effectively feed their children or how could they get out of a physically abusive relationship and so forth. They did not have the time or leisure to get upset because they were not receiving enough attention from men.

        • chrislinzey

          I think you miss the point. it isn’t about attention. It is about respect

        • yhwhtheologian

          chrislinzey I guess people see expressions of respect differently.

        • ChristopherMacDonald

          yhwhtheologian So the context from which you are evaluating is one of abuse, abandonment and poverty. The word is not sensitive. The word is “crisis”. It is not a matter of “leisure” simply because one id not in a crisis situation of abuse, abandonment or poverty with kids. In each case the implication is that men were either abusive or not fulfilling their obligations. To put it bluntly where is your larger concern regarding them and your respect for these women within a biblical context?

  • GavinJohnston

    One of the major stumbling blocks concerning Christians in these matters of seduction is that much of Christian faith is based on belief and correct theology. There is a power behind belief and good theological prowess, but it does not change the core of a person and it does not lead to direct experience of Christ-like divinity. In the beginnings of my faith, I was very much like this until my faith started breaking down. At that time, I discovered St. Theresa of Avila and I began to seek a more mystical connection with God. I started daily deep contemplative meditation, getting up 3:00am in the morning to seek God. I studied the Christian mystics and also had to learn technique from the Eastern spiritual masters. Suddenly, God started pouring into me during those mediations, sleep, and dreams. Bliss opened up and the mystical connection started exploding. Suddenly, the scriptures took on a new meaning and the esoteric aspects of Christianity became real. I started to discover a Bliss that transcends sexual pleasure, where the sexual is but one part of it, but more like the sexual is a drop in the ocean of deeper Bliss.
    My point is, it is very difficult in our culture today to not think sexual and other bodily satisfaction is the not the highest type of pleasure there is. It really does take a huge shift in your innermost being to find a higher sort of pleasure. Belief and correct theology do not protect us against the seductive nature of material desires, it just tells us we should. We need an incredible understanding of the nature of Jesus and his divinity to understand how we can transform ourselves. Based on the fact in American Christianity that ministers only need correct theology to be in their leadership positions, it is no surprise that we are dealing with a lot of leaders who haven’t had a very deep change in their inner-being.
    We need to be comfortable with the fact that there is a deep pleasure in the Divine. Once we discover that Bliss, we want to protect it and often, like the Christian mystics showed, it does take purity. As we learn to embrace the Bliss, it is easy to confuse it or get side-tracked with sexual desires. When I speak the Word of God passionately, my body lights up and yes, even those parts that seemingly aren’t related to religious sentiments lights up and waves of Bliss move through all parts equally. It is not arousal, it is Bliss. It is a gift from God! There are accounts of highly spiritual people actually ejaculating at the sharing of spiritual truths. We Christians have become very mind and reason based and that can’t stand up against the stronger magnetisms of the world. It takes a complete and total conversion of every fiber of our being to find something deeper. The beautiful women is not a creation of the devil, actually beauty reminds us of the perfection of God and can lead us to deeper expressions of God than any physical possession or sexual desire could bring. How often does our treatment of beauty lead us to different paths?

    • GavinJohnston

      GavinJohnston and let me clarify the “ejaculation at the sharing of spiritual truths”.  Parts of our body all have purposes and functions.  Our mouths and digestive tract incorporate nutrients so that we may live.  The function itself is neutral.  Yet when we overeat, we commit gluttony or abusing a perfectly natural function of our body.  When we become obsessed with sex and lust, we take perfectly natural function and we dirty the vessel so to speak with sexual gluttony, lust, and so forth.  There is intense pleasure in seeking God and in His grace he rewards us.  Us westerners are not used to spirituality having intense physical, emotional, and spiritual pleasure/Bliss associated with it.  The Bliss can be so intense sometimes, that it may open up all the pleasure senses of the body leading to even ejaculation.  When it happens, there is no sexual experience, no fantasy attached, nothing impure, it is just our bodies over-filled with Bliss.  I believe God wants us to feel great.  When you experience Bliss and you discover the close association with pain, fear about everything greatly lessens.  Bonhoeffer seemed to have been in Bliss as he went to be hung!  Some lessons about Jesus on the cross maybe?  The beauty of a women can remind a man of the Beauty of God, but in our tainted and cultural minds, as the associated Bliss wells up, it goes through familiar channels, often sexual and the person can think they are in lust.  But if we learn to shift gears and take that pleasure/Bliss to new places, pure places, non-sexual places, suddenly something else opens up in us.
      Remember, Paul said that celibacy is the best option for people pursuing Christ and marriage was a compromise if you could not abstain from lust.  We cannot abstain from lust we do not have higher expressions of spirituality.  Just following rules never works and that is why the Catholic clergy run into so many problems and it is also why so many protestant clergy are so worldly like everyone else…

      • GavinJohnston

        GavinJohnston Few people will suffer merely for beliefs and rule following.  Read about St. Theresa of Avila and the Angel of the Lord poking her with a red-hot iron in which she went back and forth between agony and ecstasy.  She learned something about the nature of God and hence became incredibly Christ-like.  We live in a time of pleasure-seeking and we have forgotten that pleasure is closely associated with pain.  We see a beautiful women and we are taken to the worldly fantasy of sex and possession.  Yet, how often does a women’s beauty end up causing her pain because others are not able to appropriately respond to it.  I’ve had a few times when I’ve passionately spoken the word of God to beautiful women and I was so focused on the word that I could see they were swooning, their faces were flush, they were sweating.  I’m not saying they were sexually aroused, but the body uses some of the same mechanism to sense pleasure and Bliss.  Many are not used to seeing a man so in love with a passionate God who wants us children to feel Bliss.  Perhaps we will move into a new era where beautiful people will better represent the glory of God and not fall into the worldly traps of sex and lust.  Perhaps we will find the ecstasy and agony that St. Theresa lived in we will come to know a deeper connection to God.  Perhaps we will leave the sloppy aspects of sex behind and find new expressions and deeper fonts of pleasure between believers.  It is possible and it is happening, but we have forgotten our divine heritage.  Do you think Adam and Eve were not experiencing a deeper Bliss than sex before they decided to try something different?

  • http://www.awomanofsubstanceandcharacter.blogspot.com tessbabee

    I agree with you.
    I didn’t have that with my college pastor
    but Christianity is pretty different than when I was in college
    Anyways, I am following Christ and doing it the best way I know how
    Sin conscious is so annoying
    Like a Christian is so weak they will definitely fall.

  • ChristopherMacDonald

    This reminds me of Luke 7 and the woman who anoints Jesus’ feet with
    perfume and lets down her hair. In Middle Eastern culture this was scandal enought. Given a closer look at where Jesus is probably seat (away from Simon who is obviously dissing him) Jesus has turned his back to Simon and would be looking right AT her as he addresses
    Simon with the parable that shows her great love and his utter lack of it. It is a stunning story if you place yourself in it. Just the phrase “and Jesus turned to the woman and said to Simon” is so easy to miss. 
    So, in my mind this is what I think of when I hear of pastors looking at their shoes. Sure…yes…I have compassion for all parties concerned but isn;t it time we grew up a little?
    Mac
    Below… frst of a short short little exegesis on Luke 7 and the woman with the alabaster vial for your enjoyment.

    http://kanjikoi.wordpress.com/2013/01/07/luke-7-the-woman-who-loved-jesus/

    • http://www.AmyThedinga.com/ Amy Thedinga

      ChristopherMacDonald Excellent parallel.  Again, Jesus is our example.  His treatment of women is beautiful.  And scandalous to those with a religious spirit.  Thanks for this.

    • Dan Brennan

      ChristopherMacDonald There is something more striking about Jesus’ strength and model of freedom for something new for men to think about between him and the woman in Luke 7. As I point out in my book, there are significant parallels between what the woman is doing out of love toward Jesus and the adulterous woman men are directed to avoid in Proverbs 7.

      • ChristopherMacDonald

        Dan Brennan ChristopherMacDonald Such as? Perhaps you mean simply that she is using up the perfume that has been bought to cover up the smell of sex with other men (perhaps men currently in that room) on Jesus’ feet …pouring it out as an extravagant and costly expression of love. From my readings, the taking down of her haor was highly suggestive in that culture but I see zero reason to think she was being at all suggestive. Her tears tell the story and Jesus then interprets.

        • Dan Brennan

          ChristopherMacDonald Dan Brennan I don’t think what she did was suggestive. But I seeking Jesus out and finding him (7:15) kisses–non-family kisses were exceedingly rare in that culture–(7:13), and the perfume are parallels not to be dismissed as casual. What I am suggesting is that this story between Jesus and the woman gives is deeper wisdom to evaluate the intentions and context of someone from the opposite sex expressing nonromantic affection and attention.

        • ChristopherMacDonald

          Dan Brennan ChristopherMacDonald Yes. Well said and necessary to our culture which seems to think there is only one context (which is moronic if they took even five minutes to reconsider their won circle of relationships). Um…what’s your book Dan?

        • Dan Brennan

          ChristopherMacDonald Dan Brennan Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions. http://www.amazon.com/Sacred-Unions-Passions-Engaging-Friendship/dp/0982580703/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_t

    • yhwhtheologian

      ChristopherMacDonald The issue was not that she was touching him the complaint was that “she is a sinner” according to the Pharisees. Also remember Jesus said at Matthew 5:29 (WEB): “If your right eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna.”

      • Dan Brennan

        yhwhtheologian
        ChristopherMacDonald
         Respectufully, I think we miss a holistic response if we merely focus on “she is a sinner,” I agree that’s part of it. But as the larger context shows, Jesus is being accused of being a friend of sinners (7:33). This embodied interchange between Jesus and this woman goes right to the heart of Amy’s post here–and Amy Martin’s post last week. Is it possible for men to engage women–even when there is embodied closeness occurring? 
        ” But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

        • ChristopherMacDonald

          Dan Brennan yhwhtheologian ChristopherMacDonald I have a saying “Context is Everything”. We cannot discount or ignore the fact that we live in the single most overtly (visual) sexualized age that the planet has yet known. No other time has been bombarded such daily with visual messaging. In our time (or at least mine) we have seen what Ellul called the “humiliation of the Word” and the move from spoken/written Word to visual representation (or are in that transition still). That should at least be factored into the dscussion…particularly since the female image is a dominant image. 
          In the midst of that we are called to be subversive. Jesus is so in Luke 7. 
          I agree that this “embodied exchange between Jesus and this woman goes right to the heart of Amy’s post”. I’ll have to go find the other post. New here.

      • ChristopherMacDonald

        yhwhtheologian ChristopherMacDonald and your point is…

    • http://www.carrieotoole.com/ Carrie OToole

      ChristopherMacDonald Years ago I was in my own church and one of the elders read this story. He asked if anyone wanted to stand up and tell Jesus they loved him. I was just learning to hear God’s voice in my life and my heart started racing (I knew He wanted me to stand up). I attended a church that believed women should remain silent in church. My heart continued to pound in my chest. I was torn between following what I believed God was training me to do (hear and be obedient) and what the elders of the church taught. I remained silent. I sat in my seat and sobbed. I went to the pastor after church and told him I felt I had been disobedient to God due to his teaching. He told me the Holy Spirit wouldn’t contradict himself, and since he was the pastor, I was wrong. It amazed me, because the story they were speaking on was about the woman who loved Jesus and the men who chastised her for it.

      • http://www.AmyThedinga.com/ Amy Thedinga

        Carrie OToole ChristopherMacDonald Wow.  I have a myriad of these kinds of stories too Carrie.  It gets really convoluted for me because the pastors in my experience were all my male relatives.

  • http://www.AmyThedinga.com/ Amy Thedinga

    In rereading the article, here is something I wish I had articulated near the bit about the woman’s self-perception:  This sort of treatment makes her feel like there is something wrong with her.  Or maybe more accurately that she is somehow fundamentally wrong.  It fills her with shame and she’s not sure why.  Her head may know different, but these sort of wounds have a way of bypassing our heads and going straight for our hearts.  Men probably aren’t aware of the damage they are doing.

  • AbbyFahmi

    Reading this, I realized that I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone do this to me, or at least, I haven’t noticed it happen. I’m actually shocked that someone would give this kind of advice to people, especially a pastor, because it shows great weakness, and maybe it’s just me, but I feel like someone who’s that weak ought not to be a pastor. I’m not saying people with strong faith can’t fail, because I know they can, but someone who lives with such bondage, following such strict rules for themselves and giving them to others isn’t someone I would trust for theological advice, either.
    I have always struggled with giving people my eye contact. All people, all the time. I’ve always been shy AND introverted, and as such, when I’m talking to people I tend to look all over the place, looking people in the eyes is so intimate for me, not sexual, but it feels like I’m giving them a piece of my soul. So I struggle, but I do it anyway, even though it makes me uncomfortable. 
    I’m trying to think about how male pastors in my own church have interacted with me, and I’m pretty sure they all make eye contact and actually focus on the conversation, in spite of the fact that I am a full-chested woman. Do they notice I’m a woman? I’m sure. But they treat me like a person, not a pair of breasts.

  • MelindaCadwallader

    I cannot even begin to tell you all the realities of the “culture shock” I have experienced within church leadership.  Not only are “gender issues” that play out in the church, actually NON-ISSUES in secular corporate leadership, but to attempt to turn the eye of those involved towards even considering and/or recognizing these “issues”, within the church, even remotely welcomed.  Actually, I take that back, there are not just unwelcome, but they are rejected, spit-upon, ignored and if you dare to raise a voice, especially a female voice,  towards walking in freedom of these enslaving practices, you are ostracized and doors seem to close all around you in the neat and tidy “church”.  Sadly, this is the church today. Even the women in church leadership are aware of it, but refuse to take voice or stand up to it.  What now, my fellow pioneers?  How do we stand against this, encouraging the fresh wind of equality to blow through and refresh ALL the saints? I continue to see a rising up of similar hearts beating towards change, but the church has its fingers in its ears, singing, “lalalalaa..”

    • http://www.AmyThedinga.com/ Amy Thedinga

      MelindaCadwallader I know what you say is true of many church environments, but I am so encouraged to see change budding out like the tell tale signs of spring.  It’s so important to guard our hearts against offense and let the love of Christ govern all of our words and actions.  Unity is the goal.  Confrontation of wrongs should happen, but grace and mercy must triumph.

      • MelindaCadwallader

        Amy Thedinga MelindaCadwallader Unity is the goal – but it must be the heart of all parties. Unity does not just “happen”, it is a labor, and I am continually discouraged by the lack of effort of the “church” towards achieving it.  When a truth is revealed, grace is only found when the truth is even considered.  To say to Jesus, “I hear what you are saying, but Im not a sinner, so you can just go along your way” does not allow us to experience grace, mercy and transformation.  Grace is not a license. There is a whisper happening, I can definitely hear it, but it must be a collective (unity) voice for real change.

    • ChristopherMacDonald

      MelindaCadwallader Melinda…I found it telling recently when I finally clicked (It was late, I was tired and had some morbid curiosity…Jon Stewart wasn’t on) because in the ad famous-pastor-big-face had appeared on too many times for this big conf. What the heck? Whoa.. MEN, MEN, MEN, then men, men, men, then more men, men men scads of them with their pictures and bios with numbers of thousands of successes… SHINY men. I kept scrolling down. Kind of amazing to me because we plaster women everywhere….here they plastered men everywhere….way way down I found a woman blogger pictured with a phone. Good luck sister… Yer gonna have a good time at that conference which is gonna be BEAMED all over the place. I told my girlfriend about it and all the numbers that were being thrown around and she kind of chuckled then told me about the woman who started BSF and the millions of lives that has changed…quietly. Anyway…it’s a mess. Amy is right. There are good signs of change. At our church (Vintage in Santa Cruz) Kristen Jensen preaches as often as Dan Kimball; the bible studies and communitiy groups are all diected by a great woman named Nini who does the impossible weekly. It’s a young church so maybe we just by-pass a lot of the garbage  because it never started. That in no way discounts the “lalalalaa” factor. You speak the truth.

      • MelindaCadwallader

        ChristopherMacDonald Amen.  To build momentum and continue a forward motion you must have a community that draws from each others strengths.  we are all important parts of a body – needed to function together.  Unfortunately, now days you have to interview churches to find one that is healthy and thriving with equality – maybe even asking if women preach from the pulpit? (gasp!) At the Institute where i used to work, we encouraged graduating professionals to not just be the one being interviewed, but to interview the establishment.  Did they posess healthy leadership?  What were their goals and their mission, and were they in line with that students unique interests for their own growth and development?  Not that we are looking for a “perfect” church, but more so a healthy one.

        • ChristopherMacDonald

          MelindaCadwallader ChristopherMacDonald Yeah…well and thank God for the Internet because it saves time in the Interview process. Staff philosophies are fairly overt and I am not suggesting that we should allow gender to be the overriding concern….we should not, but be well aware of it. In fact, I think one of the largest mistakes we are making  at the core of our Anthropocentric Gospel (that being the largest mistake) is the hyper focus on gender issues grounded in the political realm which is allowing our entire focus and center to be utterly dragged all over the place with it. A Theocentric Gospel wherein the glory of God is reveal male and female, and where the focus is on Christ is living head would do wonders in detoxifying the current muddy waters. Better still, all these misogynist men would have to see themselves as the Bride of Christ (dressed in white) and learn (haha) to be better wives and well…it just has a sort of ruthless, yet gracious, poetic justice to it all if you think about it (and yes I am sort of kidding about part of it and sort of not about the serious/beautiful side of it). 
          and yeah, more christocentric meanderings at http://spokeblog.wordpress.com (you can tell I’m a writer…who else has time for such lengthy responses?) ~Mac

  • http://www.carrieotoole.com/ Carrie OToole

    Amy, As a woman who grew up in the church, and as a pastor’s kid, I totally understand where you are coming from. I understand the male perspective of doing whatever it takes to remain pure. I understand the female perspective of wanting to be seen and valued. Truth and grace. Sin or woundedness. I see a wounded man who cannot trust himself to look into the eyes of a woman without being tempted. What happened to him, and what needs to be healed so he can see women as fellow humans needing respect and dignity? I see a wounded woman who desires respect and dignity from the men in her fellowship. What happened to her that she seeks this approval from men? And yet, I see Jesus in the middle of them. I’ve been this woman. I still am most days. I’ve been wounded by men who are deeply wounded themselves. I want to feel seen and valued. I feel sad for men who can’t even have a conversation with me without looking at the floor. They are missing out, because I’m an awesome woman. I’m not out to set them up for a fall. I’m not even interested! I also have something to offer…maybe even some healing. If they won’t look me in the eye, they may miss the empathy, the compassion and understanding, the healing that comes from being in the presence of another believer, experiencing God’s love and grace from someone with skin on.

    • http://www.AmyThedinga.com/ Amy Thedinga

      Carrie OToole What a beautiful point of view Carrie.  It’s vital that we remember we are all broken and in need of grace and healing.  The last thing I would ever want to do with this post (or any of my writing) is to point fingers and bring more pain.  I do however feel that these attitudes which marginalize women are an accepted part of some of our church culture and they need to be challenged for the involved parties to change their perspective.

      • MelindaCadwallader

        Amy Thedinga Carrie OToole Carrie, you are precious.  I think after years of letting these moments go and telling ourselves, its their loss…a desire is stirred up to prevent other women from experiencing the same pain from that same wound. No one is more vigilant in fighting for a cause then those who have been directly involved or burned the deepest in the midst of it. To challenge is not defiance, but an act of consideration. What great women speaking today, thank you Amy for starting the conversation.

        • http://www.carrieotoole.com/ Carrie OToole

          MelindaCadwallader Amy Thedinga Carrie OToole Melinda-exactly! God comforts us so we can comfort others. In counseling jargon, we can only take others as far as we have been willing to go.

    • petiteartichoke

      Carrie OToole “I see a wounded woman who desires respect and dignity from the men in her fellowship. What happened to her that she seeks this approval from men?”
      I don’t think this is the right question with which to follow up that statement.  Desiring respect and an equal place at the table is not symptomatic of a misplaced desire for approval from men.

      • http://www.AmyThedinga.com/ Amy Thedinga

        petiteartichoke Carrie OToole I see the distinction here.  Approval and acknowledgement are two different things.  Desiring to be regarded as equal doesn’t necessarily mean desiring approval.

        • http://www.carrieotoole.com/ Carrie OToole

          Amy Thedinga petiteartichoke Carrie OToole I absolutely agree that desiring respect is not the same as misplaced desire for approval from men. Having been through some recovery work, I’m always looking at the difference between desire and expectation. When I start to demand or expect people to respect me, I can get in trouble. I certainly desire this to be the case, but my health depends on me not expecting it. Hope that clarifies.

  • MarciGlass

    Thank you for this. So well said.
    It is so exhausting to be responsible for men’s lust. Thank you for adding this to the discussion.

    I wrote about this here:
    http://marciglass.com/2013/05/08/cry-of-tamar/

    • ChristopherMacDonald

      MarciGlass Good blog all around.

  • teachermama

    If a man is so overcome with lust that he cannot even *speak* to a woman while giving her the basic courtesy and good manners of looking her in the eye, that man should NOT be in ministry.

  • JohnnyChrist

    This is a great example of how religion does harm and not good. Christianity is hateful in so many ways – it hates women and gays and there are plenty of examples in Leviticus alone that demonstrate that. Religion has stuck around long past its expiration date – it’s toxic. It’s 2013 and men are ignoring attractive women out of fear that, what, an imaginary God will be mad at them? I have something called “self control.” If these pastors stopped putting everything in God’s hands and actually invested some effort into practicing self control maybe they wouldn’t need to be flagrant a-holes around these attractive women? Maybe they could, instead, treat them like respectable human beings?

    • MarciGlass

      JohnnyChrist Rather than saying “Christianity” hates women and gays, it seems more accurate to say there are Christians who hate women and gays. There are plenty of Christians who welcome all kinds of people and who seek to faithfully follow God while not being jerks about it. 
      We need to elevate the life giving Christians and not assume the mean ones are the ones speaking for God.

      • JohnnyChrist

        MarciGlass JohnnyChrist No, that’s not more accurate at all. Did you put any thought into your comment at all? Some Christians are good, some are hateful. Christianity, on the other hand, teaches hate and exclusion. For example, Leviticus 20:13 says: “If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.” This is pure hatred towards gays – it’s saying they should be killed, and it doesn’t get much worse than that. Not all Christians subscribe to this hateful, irrational belief, but it is, in fact, a teaching of Christianity, which goes to my point, Christianity is hateful. God isn’t real. Have fun living life in your perfect little bubble.

        • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

          JohnnyChrist MarciGlass Johnny, Marci made a kind and cogent point, and it’s fine if you disagree, just don’t insult her. Thanks.

        • jcarlostzavala

          JohnnyChrist MarciGlass Christianity is not monolithic. There is no christianity. There are only christianities.

        • uponacloud

          JohnnyChrist MarciGlass Do you know that Leviticus is in the Torah right? Do you know that Leviticus is basically the laws of the Jews back then? Do Christians sacrifice animals to God? No, Jesus is the Lamb of God and the only sacrifice that was made for our salvation. 
          Do Christians celebrate the Day of Atonement? No, Catholics have the sacrament of repentance pretty much on a weekly basis because you can’t have communion as a sinner. The Church of England doesn’t have it as a sacrament, I don’t know about other denominations but the only people who celebrate that festival are my Jewish friends.
          Do we circumcise our boys, or we baptise them in water like John the Baptist baptised Jesus? 
          Do we celebrate the Pesach or the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ crucified? Do we eat Kosher? Christians are the new covenant and our laws are the laws of Christ as he came to earth to teach us (as in the Sermon of the Mount and other occasions that are in the Gospel) as predicted in Jeremiah 31.
          Except for the laws of Noah you have laws that are not applying to the Gentiles, and while I’m quite sure I have Jewish blood so maybe I still count under Moses’ ones, most people are not descendant of the Israelites and anyway even in Judaism there are controversies about what “as with a woman” means, since forcing intercourse on a woman was a way to make her your wife, which at the time was basically make her your property. 
          You may argue against Judaism by quoting Leviticus, but not against the New Covenant. If you have an anti-Christian agenda at least get your historical facts right instead of insulting someone based on your wrongful understanding of what you are talking about.

        • MarciGlass

          uponacloud JohnnyChrist MarciGlass I think we can defend the gospel without disparaging Judaism though. Leviticus is a small lens through which to judge any faith tradition.
          Jesus said he didn’t come to replace the Law, but to fulfill it. How he lived his life is the best model for us to follow. And he taught us love, inclusion, and acceptance.

        • uponacloud

          It wasn’t my intention to say anything bad about Judaism. I was trying to show him that there is no sense in making a claim about Christianity based on a Jewish law (which in Biblical times was political and not just a matter of faith tradition) when Christianity separated itself from the Jewish laws or what we would have now is Messianic Judaism. If he wants to jump up against the people who hate gays as a result of Leviticus he should address those people, and I would jump to defend them accordingly. I didn’t like the way he attacked you, so the point of the discussion wasn’t to defend Judaism (which I would do if it was the case), it was because I thought that telling him about the Gospel only without the idea of the new covenant would just give him space to say “You cannot forget what came before”. Ironically, we forgot most laws (as I said already) but the one we are always accused to follow is the one about gays. 
          The verse in Matthew you mention isn’t interpreted in favour of maintaining Jewish law into Christianity in all I studied, but I suppose your background is different since you mentioned it. 
          Hope it’s clearer now :)

        • MarciGlass

          uponacloud Thank you. While I heard you defending me, I also get nervous at the idea the New Testament supersedes the Old Testament. Over the years, that kind of idea has been used to justify horrible treatment of Jews.
          The fact is, Leviticus remains in our Canon. Our church ancestors didn’t remove it. Jesus didn’t tell us to forget about it. He gave us a new way to see it. As uncomfortable as it certainly makes me in places, I can’t just make it go away.
          How can we read scripture as a whole, looking for God’s bigger narrative? Maybe that is how we should approach Leviticus. Rather than saying “it doesn’t matter any more because of Jesus” or “it is the only thing that matters”, could we read it as one voice in the canon of scripture among many other voices?
          Thanks. Appreciating this dialogue.

  • chrislinzey

    Man… not looking at women. I haven’t heard such talk since i left the monastery fifty years ago!

  • matt

    I’m glad to see this brought to light, it is not something I have ever deeply thought about. However, I think your blog begins to get derailed about half way through by claiming that men are avoiding eye contact or long isolated conversation with women due to fear of “what people would think or say about him.” While this is undoubtedly true in some cases, that is so backwards. It is about protecting his own heart from sin. The entire section where you discussed the woman at the well, would be very fitting if the issue was appearance, but its not, its sin.
    Jesus was sinless, so I guess you would need to show a situation in the bible where a disciple righteously sinned (paradox?) to uplift someone.

    • http://www.AmyThedinga.com/ Amy Thedinga

      @matt You are right about me making assumptions about the whys and wherefores of a man dismissing a woman in this way.  But my position in this blog is based on one pastor who advised congregants to walk away from attractive women to avoid falling into lust.  And yes, part of the conversation had to do with what onlookers thought but you couldn’t know that because I didn’t deal with it in my blog.  There is an important distinction that needs to be made in your comment between temptation and sin.  They are not the same.  As for Jesus – he was fully God AND fully human.  He was tempted and sinned not.  To deny his humanity, his susceptibility to temptation, is to diminish the most important aspect of his earthly ministry.  Jesus was an example for us of what a human in perfectly right relationship with the Father can do on earth.  Overcome temptation and (dare I say) perform the miraculous.  My position in this blog is that male leadership (all leadership) should be in right relationship with God so they can deal with their temptation in that context and not make it someone else’s problem.

      • matt

        Amy Thedinga

      • matt

        Amy Thedinga Curious, did you remove my response? Just wondering why so I can avoid what ever rule I broke. Thanks

        • http://www.AmyThedinga.com/ Amy Thedinga

          @matt Amy Thedinga Hi Matt.  I’m not moderating this conversation.  Zach is.  I’m only a participant.  Looks like it might have been a technical snaffoo though because I see your response so it hasn’t been removed, but it’s blank.

        • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

          @matt Amy Thedinga Matt, nothing has been removed, maybe try posting it again?

    • Dan Brennan

      @matt I would suggest Matt that you are getting to the heart of the issue. I would echo Amy’s comments about Jesus’ humanity. In my own experience and conversations with other men, I tend to find that men emphasize the humanity of Jesus when it suits them and then emphasize his deity and sinlessness in areas they intensely struggle with. I don’t know how many times I have heard this objection about Jesus’ deity and sinlessness when it comes to Jesus engaging women. But if Jesus is the Author of our faith–a faith which includes embodied sexuality–perhaps Jesus is leading men to engage women by seeing them through eyes of intentional wholeness rather than body parts. 
      I would also follow up with Amy’s distinction between sin and temptation to sin. There is an enormous difference although in some circles they are conflated–especially so when it comes to the slippery slope of embodied sexuality in those circles. There is a dangerous message among Christian male leaders–sexual temptation cannot be avoided–this is what Amy is calling a myth–the seduction myth.

    • http://www.awomanofsubstanceandcharacter.blogspot.com tessbabee

      @matt Why didn’t Jesus sin? Cos He didn’t have the nature of sin. Now that you have the nature of God, you shouldn’t live sin conscious all day. I certainly don’t see men and start having sinful thoughts because I am righteousness conscious! 
      You can try that.

  • Mikeb1025

    Tremendous blog! No offense intended to any pastors out there, but the expression, “a panel of experts (made up of pastors)” is probably not the best “panel of experts.” The pastors at my church usually have tremendous things to say to me, for which I am extremely thankful. However, they are not the only people in the world who know anything. And, frankly, some “pastors” say some pretty silly things — as Amy has pointed out. (Sarcasm intended — Fred Phelps considers himself a “pastor.”)

  • Bev Murrill

    Awesome blog Amy. I’ve been in ministry for over 30 years and have been married 42 years and even though I”m a strong woman with a clear and effective ministry and a good testimony of living righteously. None of this has prevented me from being smeared with the same kind of treatment as you have described. So many times I’ve gone to speak with peers who happen to be men, looking for the same kind of interaction that any leaders in churches appreciate from each other only to be blanked by them, again and again. 
    Times without number I have received the equivalent of looking at the ground and getting out of there asap from men in ministry, despite the fact that I oversight a network of churches and I preach on those same men’s platforms, but while platform hyperbole is acceptable, any real conversation has been shut down between me and them.
    Getting older has made a difference… I’m no longer the scarlet temptation that I obviously once was. The thing that’s most interesting is that younger leaders are not hung up in the way older guys are (or it may just be that they think I’m their mother) … but nothing has ever assuaged the shadow of shame at being perceived as a threat to every good man and marriage that Amy has so powerfully described. 
    I don’t know why it’s ok for guys to do that to women, for leader to do that to leader. Guys have their issues but women are the cause… how can that be right? 
    I speak to many young women leaders who say the same thing. It’s time it was changed.

    • http://www.AmyThedinga.com/ Amy Thedinga

      Bev Murrill  Thank you for sharing your story.  As sad as I am for your struggles, I can relate, and there is encouragement to be found in solidarity.  Thank you for loving Jesus and serving him faithfully for so long.  The women who come after strong women leaders like you, owe you a debt of gratitude.  While it is still an uphill climb, I know we have it way easier thanks to the likes of you.  :)

      • Bev Murrill

        Amy Thedinga Bev Murrill  Ahhh… thanks Mate… I appreciate your encouragement… and I’m not finished yet, so that’s great too… I love that we are making history… with herstory.

  • Carmen Valgas

    Amy Thedinga , I really enjoyed reading this post and, as a young and single woman, I totally understand your point of view. However, I am sympathetic towards the men who struggle with lust. Let’s say there is a young man who did not grow up in church or as a Christian and never saw anything wrong with degrading women. Suddenly, after his conversion, he must stop looking at women as objects and change his whole mindset. In this case, if an attractive women speaking with him would make him sin, what would you have him do? What would be the best course of action for this young man? Sure, looking down at the ground may offend the young lady, but sexualizing her in his mind is so much worse. So my question is, what course of action comes next for him?

    • http://www.AmyThedinga.com/ Amy Thedinga

      @Carmen Valgas Amy Thedinga Carmen, I am not insensitive to the position of the young man you mentioned, but this post was speaking of male authority figures, not baby Christians learning to walk in purity.  It is about an overarching tone of subtle misogyny in the church, not one young man who struggles with lust and may offend one young woman.  Hope that makes sense.

    • http://www.awomanofsubstanceandcharacter.blogspot.com tessbabee

      @Carmen Valgas Amy Thedinga Getting help and understanding grace
      I used to have impure thoughts when I just got born again too and they didn’t go away because I looked at the ground
      You need to subject your mind to God’s word until you can look at another man and see them as children of God, and love them with agape.
      I know what it feels like to be objectified so I could never do that to another human being
      Understand agape.

      • http://www.awomanofsubstanceandcharacter.blogspot.com tessbabee

        Amy Thedinga @Carmen Valgas @tessbaby 
        Imagine if Jesus had issues with females and lust, the adulterous woman would have been stoned, mary magdalene would have been stoned too because he would be looking for a way to punish this woman who made him feel sinful; but his mercy prevailed and it wasn’t pretend.Jesus embodied agape so should everyone else especially a minister.I didn’t say get yourself in a compromising position; all I am saying is learn how to treat others with respect because that is what Jesus would do.When I hear some ministers denigrating women prostitute or otherwise, I know that there is no Jesus in them because they seek to punish a woman’s sin instead of dealing with the root which is getting at the sin nature and teaching the gospel to give them an opportunity to find Jesus.That’s my 100 pounds about it.

  • http://tellmewhytheworldisweird.blogspot.com/ perfectnumber628

    Wow, yes, I totally have observed this attitude- like women are dangerous, and a married guy must avoid being alone with a woman. Some people have rules about not driving in a car with a female co-worker, because it’s totally a slippery slope into having an affair, or something. Umm, what about the woman? What about the huge inconvenience you’re causing her by refusing to do things with her? What about the disrespect, treating her like nothing but a dangerous sex object?

  • Pingback: Friday Favorites | Amy Thedinga

  • RyanThomasNeace

    EXCELLENT.  Therapist.  Christian.  I do think there are a lot of dynamics to be a ware of, here, but one of the most damaging policies of the church has been the “guys with guys” “girls with girls” policy.  Well-said.

  • Steve_yup

    Good read. In Jesus’ time daughters were under their father’s house until they were married and then of course they belonged to their husband. Men sat in the front of the synagogues and women in the rear.  It was the responsibility of the husband/father to be “on the front lines” of ministry to their wives and daughters.  Fast-forward two thousand years and this seems ridiculous.  Not only are fathers more and more absent, but women can now sit where ever they want and speak to whoever they wish.  The one thing that has remained unchanged over the years is the temptation of sexual sin.  It is something that must be continually laid at the feet of the cross.  In the same way an alcoholic is prone to drinking and should avoid drinking at all times.  If a part of your body causes you to sin then cut it off.  What if this is a metaphor for our actions, relationships, or potential ministry opportunities?  If it’s acceptance or spiritual guidance that a woman is seeking then what is wrong with a pastor providing such through someone else?  I think our society is obsessed with feelings and being politically correct.We need to move past this.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      @Steve_yup I think the point of this piece is to question the male-driven perspective on temptation/seduction and bring us to a higher level of consciousness on this topic. Which I think is thoroughly biblical as well.

      • Steve_yup

        I understand. The male’s view (I’m simplifying it): women are beautiful and, if allowed, can be reduced to objects of sexual temptation. Immature Christians might try to pass the blame for this to the woman.This is of course no fault of the woman (although as a sister in Christ she should be aware).  The man is responsible.  In the same way he will be held responsible and should take necessary precautions (avoid eye-contact, physical contact, being alone with the opposite sex) to prevent himself and possibly others from stumbling.  The author is right, placing blame on women is wrong, but criticizing men for taking precautions is, in my opinion, destructive.

        • http://www.AmyThedinga.com/ Amy Thedinga

          @Steve_yup To clarify, I wasn’t taking a position against “taking precautions” such as avoiding physical contact or being alone with the opposite sex.  Nor was I saying a male minister is obligated to provide spiritual guidance or counseling with a woman alone.  I was speaking of basic and common social courtesy.  The assumption that some men cannot look a a woman in the eye without falling into lust speaks more to addiction than temptation.  This is exemplified by your reference to alcoholics needing to avoiding drinking.  If a man is in such bondage that he cannot interact respectfully with roughly one half of the population, he certainly does not belong in church leadership until that problem is dealt with.  Wouldn’t you agree?  I think the bigger problem – the one I was trying to expose in my article – is the attitude that dismisses the effect on the woman as unimportant.  Inculcating women with shame (under any circumstances) is unacceptable in God’s kingdom.

        • Mikeb1025

          @Steve_yup I must have read something differently than you did. I don’t think Amy’s article was about criticism of men for taking precautions. Rather it seems to me that she has questioned whether disrespect of another person can be appropriate coming from a person who claims to be a follower of Jesus and, more importantly, who purports to lead others and call them to maturity in Christ.

    • http://www.awomanofsubstanceandcharacter.blogspot.com tessbabee

      @Steve_yup 
      This is the GRACE dispensation
      Go and find out what that means
      Everything will make perfect sense
      If  the GRACE thing goes beyond your head to your heart

    • http://www.awomanofsubstanceandcharacter.blogspot.com tessbabee

      @Steve_yup 
      So would you like to go back to Jesus time?
      Or would you like to live in dominion to sin
      I find that I am more comfortable with guys who are able to ‘see’ me
      and not my body
      It could help you treat women better if you can see them as more
      than just bodies, they humans too with feelings
      and your prejudices distract from the word of grace
      Point blank: Learn how to relate with women like Christ would, the sooner
      you start, the better for you and your walk with God.

  • Pingback: Consecrated Sexual Attraction | Ryan Thomas Neace

  • Pingback: on purity (balls) | A Real Rattlesnake Meets His Maker


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X