Women in Ministry: “weaker vessel”?

Women in Ministry: “weaker vessel”? November 27, 2006

Sarah Sumner’s chp 11 in Men and Women in Ministry discusses what 1 Peter 3:7 means when it says that women are the “weaker vessel.” Sarah begins with a lesson in how to do word studies, but first our questions.
My questions today: How might we “empower” women in order that they may not be seen as the “weaker” vessel in a redemptive sense? How can we do this “in church,” in society, at home, etc.? (If the primary senses of “weaker vessel” are either “physically weaker” or “sexually vulnerable”, then how might we empower women to minimize that weakness or empower it or protect it?)

Sumner looks up “weak” in a Webster’s Dictionary, sees that it means “inferiority of physical, mental, or moral strength.” Then she concludes that, if we use English dictionaries, we could conclude that being the “weaker” vessel means “inferior” to men. But, she immediately observes that we don’t do word studies by examining what English words mean, but have to examine the language and word of the original — so that means examining what asthenes means.
She observes that 1 Cor 1:25 (“the weakness of God is stronger than men”) shows that God is “weak” (relatively speaking); 2 Cor 13:4 uses the same term of Christ (“crucified because of weakness”) — therefore, she concludes (my terms), women are in good company. Overall, she concludes that “weaker” cannot mean “inferior.”
She argues that the word is best translated “more vulnerable.” In fact, she makes a big point at this point: men are not said to be “strong” vs. women being “weak” but the text implies that men are “weak” and women “weaker.”
In the next chp Sumner argues that “vulnerable” is particularly sexual in orientation — women are more vulnerable physically than men. It is about the design of the body.
Here’s a correction she insists on:
Lie: Women are vulnerable; men are invulnerable.
Truth: Men are vulnerable; women are physically more vulnerable than men (p. 135).
Here are some important other NT references to “weaker”: physical weakness (Mar 6:56; 2 Cor 12:7-10); humans are by nature weak (Heb 5:2); some parts of the body are weaker than others (1 Cor 12:22); spiritual weakness and neediness (Rom 5:6); weakness of the flesh (Rom 8:26); economic weakness (1 Cor 1:27).
It was conventional to speak of women as the weaker gender in the ancient world (see JH Elliott’s new commentary on 1 Peter, 576-577, if you have it, for references).
The vulnerability of women in the ancient world, and still in many ways in our world, required on the part of Christian men to be mindful and sensitive of their wives (or of women in general). That is Peter’s point. If they aren’t, Peter says, they will be spiritually stunted — their prayers will not catch the ear of God.

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • My husband leads a community group for our church that somehow ended up being populated primarily by single women under age 25. He’s developed a good rapport with them and every week he comes home and tells me their stories. As he’s listened to them week after week, he has begun to see the world through their eyes in some ways. He is growing in compassion on the issues that they face. It’s been very tender for me to watch.
    I think the best way for a man to help protect women’s vulnerability is to start by listening to their hearts. Hear their stories. See the world through their eyes. Stand with them when it matters. Form bonds with them. Relate to them. Share a godly kind of innocent intimacy with them. In all of this you may begin to understand the unique vulnerabilities women have – and begin to have compassion on them (and the compassion will most likely be returned for your vulnerabilities.)
    And, maybe most of all, don‘t turn them into sex objects that are either there for your amusement – or are to be avoided at all costs because of the danger they represent.

  • Scot,
    Thanks so much for this. Very helpful. I find it the best view and explanation, I think I’ve come across yet. I see this in no way minimizing what a woman can do in the kingdom of God. Anything she is gifted (and with that gift comes calling) to do.

  • Tim Gombis

    Andrew Perriman, in his book ‘Speaking of Women’ (sadly, I think it was only published in the UK), has a great discussion of the notion of ‘headship’ of husbands. He gets beyond the ‘authority over’ vs. ‘source’ debate and argues that the language has to do with husbands being the public face or representative to the outside world of the family or household in the ancient world.
    It seems that this, together with how vulnerable women would have been in the ancient world, provides rich material for reflection on how we as husbands can use our relative public strength in church or society to open up opportunities for our wives or for other single women to serve, minister, lead, or otherwise express their giftedness.
    It’s a bit crass, but I wonder if male ‘headship’ language might function in the same way that offensive linemen open up holes for running backs to run through. Running backs, in this sense, are the ‘weaker’ vessels, so they don’t do the work of linemen, but depend on them in order to really shine.

  • Tim Gombis

    How does this look practically? We as men and husbands can discern where our social strengths lie and use that social strength to clear out space for our wives or other women to use their gifts and to shine in their leadership.
    Another way is to be enthusiastic followers when women in our churches or in social circles are effective leaders.
    Also, since social conditions have changed dramatically from the ancient world, we can see to it that the ‘public face’ of our families consists of husband and wife, not just husband.

  • I heard somone(I don’t remember who) teaching on this topic on the radio a few years ago, and they made a vital point. The “weaker vessel” phrase was a direct referenece to a particular type of pottery which was very delicate and, because it was so delicate, it was considered much more valuable than normal pottery. Therefore, because of its value, it was viewed, treated and handled differently.
    Could it be that God has built into the Husband – Wife relationship an empowerment that many are missing because of cultural perversions, even within the Body of Christ? Could it be that the heirarchy that many are responding to is nothing more than a worldly perversion of heirarchy rather than what God meant for a Husband – Wife? Could it be that women, in their quest to be considered equal to men are, in fact, forfeiting the very special place and treatment they are to have alongside their huband, all for a very worldly perception of man and woman? Could it be that God is unable to bless this worldly model of relationship, therefore the emptiness and frustration many experience. Could it be that, as Solomom said, there is nothing new under the sun?

  • My husband and I spent this last Thanksgiving with his family which is always a struggle due to tension over our life decisions. During the course of a conversation with his younger brother specifically about some choices we have made regarding our future, he brought up the fact that it is hard to relate to us both or have conversations with us (this comment was appreciated as we both struggle with being extreme introverts.) Not a few moments later though he mentioned that a lot of the problem was that I am a “chatty little girl” and so the family can’t take anything I say as being serious. I reminded him that I happen to be older than both him and his brother but somehow I ended up being little in their minds and that I actually am much quieter than most people in the family. He was able to acknowledge both of these things as fact but still felt that that is how I am viewed. For a little more insight, the family is made up of boys and I am the first daughter-in-law. I finally realized that nobody has anything against me, necesarily, but against my gender. Everything I do or say will be taken with a grain of salt because I’m female in that family and will be more quickly dismissed because I am a “chatty little girl”. I guess I don’t know how to respond to this. Is there anything I can do to help correct this image? It doesn’t bother me too much, but it does hurt.

  • I like the reinterpretations of these terms and ideas. The one issue I have, though, is that while I love the thought that men will be more attuned to the specific issues that women face (like the one Jamie mentions above), I still think that women must carve out space for themselves, not rely on men to do it for them. Men can help by not being obstacles, by listening and hearing women’s concerns, taking them seriously, and by willfully putting themselves in the position of being led by or taught by women. But it is not their job to make space for women, as much as it is to not manage women’s experience.
    If the idea is that because woman is more vulnerable, men must protect or help her find her place, you really haven’t changed anything. Rather, it’s by men absenting themselves of the role of managing/leading/protecting and guiding women that women become all that they ought to be.
    In other words, I do like the idea of thinking about what empowers women. Men who have positions of power in church leadership, in business, etc. can be those who affirm the value of women and thereby empower them. Women, too, need to step up and speak.
    I can’t tell you how often I’m in a group of women where they all talk eagerly and easily. Add one man, and many clam up almost instantly. Bring spouses along and very rarely will a woman speak her own mind if it differs with her husband’s. Women have to risk displeasure of men in order to find the space to grow.

  • Julie,
    I like the thinking behind what you’re saying – that women dont necessarily need men to do anything for them except to stop being obstacles. And in a sense, I agree with you.
    But at the same time, I still think that women are really helped by the men who not only agree with them about equality, but take the extra step and stand with them on issues, even when it means they will receive the same poor treatment that women receive.
    This is a bit of a generalization, but it seems like men hear the message about equality differently from other men than they hear it from women. I think men can help by being advocates for women to other men.

  • I agree with you totally Jennifer.
    I still think that women are really helped by the men who not only agree with them about equality, but take the extra step and stand with them on issues, even when it means they will receive the same poor treatment that women receive.
    The key here is that they are willing to take the same treatment.
    When I studied black theology in grad school, one of the refrains I learned in reading the writings of black theologians is that whites help most by divesting themselves of the power to help. They listen and believe blacks, they don’t override or attempt to “fix” blacks, they welcome black theologians to the table of biblical interpretation as valued and valid voices, not as those who are trying to “catch up” to white voices.
    In the same way, I see men stepping aside from being the controlling voice in the conversation – really hearing, allowing for what appears to be nonsense or misreadings of the Bible (or whatever else they are tempted to do when it becomes clear they aren’t in control).
    Listening is a must first step and then standing with is the next one. I agree.

  • Tim Gombis

    I hear you, Julie (#7), but I fear that this runs the risk of the exaltation of the individual that undergirds much feminist ideology. That is, I blaze my own trail, despite what it costs the community, and I don’t need others to help me along the way. You probably wouldn’t say this, but I don’t think that the solution to the problem of male dominance and the systemic robbing the church (and communities) of the gifts of women is for men to get out of the way or for women to blaze their own trails, etc.
    The reason I say this is that I feel that I need the patronage and care of older men (and women!) myself! We function well in community, and this is the way of thinking that we want to pass on to our sons and daughters. That is, if we’re really thinking in terms of the priority of the inter-dependent community (valuing both community and the individual) and determing our value in terms of our glorious position among the always-being-renewed people of God, then we are image bearers and needs-bearers.
    Thus, women need men; men need women; men need men; women need women. We all need each other and none can let another/others set off on their own to create their own destinies.
    I’m not happy with women being “held back”–far from it! I just think that we do no favors for anyone when we try to create equal access to the idolatrous pursuit of becoming “self-made people” (instead of just “self-made men”).
    The path toward a solution seems to lie in thinking creatively about nurturing death-and-resurrection-shaped communities where we’re all dying to ourselves and our idolatries in the hope of resurrection, being sensitive to ways that certain people have typically been mistreated, exploited, or oppressed, and forging life-giving paths of redemption.

  • Excellent post, Scot. I couldn’t help but think of the way many indigenous and eastern cultures understand the role of elders (in the non-ecclesial sense of the word). For example, in many First Nations/Native American cultures, as the person becomes more “weak” through age, they are also often seen as increasing in authority. It falls to the younger, stronger tribe members to lend their strength to the wisdom and authority of the elder. This does not diminish the elder- in fact, it demonstrates remarkable power.
    In the same way, in their “weakness” is often found womens’ strength. As I consider my family and the church of my youth, even in their moderately patriarchal evangelicalism, the men used their strength to allow women the freedom and safety to practice their wisdom and authority.

  • Tim (#10),
    I think you are right on when you say, “Thus, women need men; men need women; men need men; women need women. We all need each other”. That is where we should be. But I hear the reality of Julie saying that we are not there yet. In a lot of places – a whole lot of places – the only member of the opposite sex someone is allowed to need is their spouse or blood relative. And we end up with so much separation between the genders, even friendship between men and women who aren’t married to each other is suspicious.

  • Tim Gombis

    I totally agree, Julie (#9). I loathe the idea of leadership as “control,” and I heartily agree that I begin to embody a cruciform identity when I begin by listening, resist urges (as a white male!) to “fix” anybody (my wife, kids, friends, the poor in our neighborhood), and then (perhaps most importantly) see to it that leadership and responsibility in family/church/community is shared, especially seeing to it that the formerly marginalized have an equal voice and share of responsibility at church/in community.
    All I’d add to that is that if I have any social capital as a white male, I’ll use that to oppose injustice against women in our church community, or the poor in our community when I see it. If I do that, I don’t think that I’m being controlling or manipulating, I’m just embodying cruciform existence on behalf of the marginalized or the poor.

  • So why are women weak and vulnerable? Granted men can be physically stronger than women, but these days now that women are allowed to exercise, play sports, eat healthy, and wear clothing that allows freedom of movement and doesn’t deform their bodies many women I know are as strong or stronger than their husbands. I personally don’t fit that, but having a physical handicap might have more to do with that than being female…
    But I think the real question here is why are women vulnerable? What do they have to fear? It’s obvious that what we as women have to fear are the whims and desires of men. Men can abuse us and rape us and so we are taught to fear/suspect even the men we should trust. Would we be considered vulnerable if we had nothing to fear from men? Does this all once again come back to the fall? Would women be “inferior” or “weaker” if not for sin and evil in men? As in this is not the way its suppossed to be, but its the way things have become.
    Since this past Sat. was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, I have to wonder what steps need to happen to end the fear and the abuse. Should we continue to talk about women as weaker or vulnerable if that creates for some men an image of easy prey? How can women be strong and overcome our fears? How can men change and treat women as equals and not as bodies to be used?

  • Tim Gombis

    I agree, Jennifer (#12), and this is a disgrace. I’m just saying that sometimes these perverted situations and their attendant patterns of exploitation provoke in others responses that end up being self-destructive in the long run. We need communal repentance and transformed habits of community life, not individuals (male or female) departing communities–that’s not a solution, but another manifestation of the problem.
    I know it’s easy for me to say that as a white man, and I recognize that there are times when community crises demand an exodus–e.g., Scot’s other post this morning.

  • Tim Gombis

    One of the biggest factors that drives mistreatment of women by men, it seems to me, is fear on the part of men. Many are threatened by female creativity and ways of thinking/behaving that are foreign or hard to grasp. Instead of seeing this as a gift to any community (and all communities), some view it as a threat, associating female giftedness and creativity with sexual power, which men don’t immediately understand, are overwhelmed and threatened by, can’t grasp, control, and explain.
    The response by some is to dominate and control, which, as has been chronicled, is a cosmic tragedy and travesty.
    So, Julie (#14), I don’t think that the rhetoric is the problem, though I do agree that in the modern West, the situation has changed to such an extent that the rhetoric (“weaker vessel”) no longer rings as true as in the ancient world. But go to Darfur…
    But to the extent that women are at all vulnerable to mistreatment (physical or emotional or vocational) by men, and to the extent that this constitutes a “weakness,” to that same extent the church is responsible to (1) act in defense of women and to (2) positively celebrate all that it means to be human, including all that it is to be female and male, despite the extent to which this threatens some.

  • Mary

    I think one thing it’s important to remember is that the husband-wife relationship is just that: a relationship between husband and wife. Not all men are husbands and not all women are wives. It cannot be the basis for relationship between men and women in the community of faith, which is, biblically, to be a relationship of brothers and sisters, all connected to their Head, Jesus Christ, whose body, collectively, they are.
    And I’d also like to observe that equality isn’t simply some “quest” that women are on. Equality of human beings is scriptural fact. Perhaps if it seems women are striving for it, it’s because there are people who activly deny the equality with which God created us, instead giving preferential status to the men and ignoring or actively silencing the women. People committed to justice tend to notice such things, and they often speak out against it.
    I give thanks every day that the God-given equality of men and women is a given in my own community of faith. ISTM that within the body of Christ, we all have a unique combination of weaknesses and strengths. Those that are stronger physically should assist the weaker. Those who are stronger mentally should assist the weaker. Those who are stronger physically should assist the weaker. And so forth. Any time we find ourselves the stronger member, we’re observing the “weaker vessel” principle, which also (obviously) applies in marriage, in which the man is most often going to the be the physically stronger partner. I simply think it’s a serious mistake to assume that all women are weaker than all men in all ways, which I’m afraid is the historic attitude of the church toward women. Again, I’m grateful to God that this isn’t the case with my congregation.

  • Weaker only means inferior in an epistemology where strength equals superior. This is clearly not scriptural.

  • #17 – I agree, but often what is scriptural doesn’t matter as much as cultural perceptions.

  • It took 1800 years for Christians to start realising that slavery was wrong and only in the 20th C did we reluctantly allow women to start vote as equals – 2000 years of bigotry and male pride – all supported by proper exegesis and a ridiculous amount of disconnect with Jesus’s gospel.
    We should have been leading the way on all fronts, including equality and human rights, or at the very least, within our own circles of faith we should have been models for the world to wonder at. Salt and light. Let not our cultures any longer be allowed to overide the Gospel!

  • I think a key to trying to answer the question is to learn to accept each other, fully, for who we are- with the gifts we each have. And this needs to start in our homes, and be lived out, “across the board”. If we really believe in this, then it must start where we are- at home and in our circles. And it must get beyond whether one is female or male. That should come to be not any determining factor.
    I know for myself, that in my relationship with my wife I need her in many ways. And she needs me in other ways. But it should be evident to ourselves and others that we are partners together. One not lording it over the other. And each doing what we do well. The goal.

  • Julie Clawson said:
    I agree, but often what is scriptural doesn’t matter as much as cultural perceptions.
    I don’t want to take your words more seriously than you mean them, but I think if taken literally, this is one of the problems of the church. Culture is externalization of religion, the reason that cultural perceptions are incorrect is because Scriptural perceptions are incorrect. It does not start with culture, it ends there.
    Sam Carr said:
    It took 1800 years for Christians to start realising that slavery was wrong and only in the 20th C did we reluctantly allow women to start vote as equals – 2000 years of bigotry and male pride – all supported by proper exegesis and a ridiculous amount of disconnect with Jesus’s gospel.
    Proper exegesis will not result in a disconnect with Jesus’s gospel. Realization does not come apart from proper exegesis.

  • Our goal should not be position, but relationship. As Tim (#10) said, “Thus, women need men; men need women; men need men; women need women. We all need each other”.
    Jesus himself said the same thing: “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many,” (Mark 10:42-45).
    So long as we approach this or any other human rights issue with a desire to validate the authority, position, capacity or ability of any one group (invariable, over or against others), we will be missing the boat competely. Even in the passage in question in 1 Peter, Peter’s command is give to men reqarding, not their position relative to women, but the manner in which they should treat women. It is a relational command.
    The very idea that anyone of us does not need another is counter to the message of Christ. No, we need one another a great deal. All of us. Said another way, (and echoing Sarah Sumner), we are all weak. When we read about Jesus’s disciples squabbling over who is the greatest among them, we see clearly the pointlessness of such discussions. (These guys were all stiff-necked and clueless. How ironic that, of all the things they could be discussing, they chose to discuss their own strength!)
    Is it possible for us to reach a point at which we can all embrace the reality of our weaknesses and admit (even proclaim) our need for God and for one another? What might the community of believers look like if we achieved this?

  • Tim Gombis

    I just had lunch with my wife (no Chicago Bears sightings, though we did run into Dave Chappelle!), and we were talking about this discussion this morning. It’s also been an ongoing “hot” topic at the institution where I teach, so much of this has been on my mind. Sarah and I were reflecting on the shape of “leadership” in our church community, which is a small, weak, missional church-plant in a poor neighborhood in Springfield, Ohio.
    To start to head toward an answer, Adam (#23), I think it might look like a great big loving family. In our family, at least, my wife and I lead and love our family together. So, we’re both complementarian (we bring different gifts to the family) and egalitarian (we both lead and serve our family together). Or, maybe we’re neither, we just love each other, as Scot might say.
    Anyway, our church leadership consists of 8-9 families that have banded together to plant this church, and our leadership meetings consist of all the couples sharing together and praying together and coming up with answers to problems that have arisen. It takes wisdom and insight from both men and women to do the job well and we’re all in it together. As it turns out, 2 of the 3 most vital components of our church ministry are headed up by women, though everyone takes part (we poke some fun at the typical power games played in churches by giving heads of ministries outrageous titles, like “Sultan of the Food Pantry,” or “Supreme Commander of Adopt-a-Block”).
    It just seems that church leadership ought to look like family leadership, rather than a model drawn from corporate America, which subtly smuggles in values from the same place.

  • I agree, Tim (#24). For me, the key difference is relationship.

  • Just a thought – if we do not want to think of women in the terms of weakness and vulnerability, then why do we tolerate the dominant attire you see today? If Jesus warned against lust in his day and think of how women dressed then – he would have a heart attack today. What does the way we encourage and intruct women to dress say about their weakness and vulnerability? And if you do not think we in culture “instruct” women on how to dress you are naive.

  • Kent,
    This is a fair point — I was watching a show on CNN recently that got into male (and culturally- or media-driven) expectations for how women are to look and to dress, and how that has generated eating disorders. How does that connect to vulnerability?
    As a male I rarely have felt any need to dress a certain way — and what I wear probably shows it! But, I’ve had female students bring these issues up, and I’d be interested in comments (especially insightful ones).

  • Kent,
    I agree with you that women should be careful in dress.
    But, at the same time, I want to see women free to express their feminine nature, and that includes the way they dress. Yes, women need to be respectful to the men around them with the way they dress. But, no, I dont want to see women feel like they have to be “one of the guys” just to be treated as equals. This includes the way they dress.

  • The question is how we might empower women so I have a thought. I think one of the basics from scripture is to allow women to learn. I notice that some seminaries restrict candidates to men. The reasoning appears to be that only men can be elders and Pastors therefore since women are not qualified to lead, they cannot participate in learning. It appears that there is a fear that if one allows women to learn, they will take this information and do what the men don’t want them to do with it. But is this scriptural? Nowhere in scripture are we told to stop women from learning. If a woman wants to learn how to do expository preaching, why should we stop her? Paul would say “let her learn”. What about if she wants to learn how to read Greek and Hebrew and exegete the biblical passages for herself? Again Paul would say “let her learn”. When men take away the ability for women to learn, I believe they do so because of fear not because scripture tells them to stop the women from learning.

  • Tim, you rock. I just got home frombeing away all day and I loved both of your post responses to mine. Cruciform is a great word. 🙂 #13.
    Now to read the rest of the posts.

  • Johannah

    Kent and Scot and anyone else with thoughts,
    If the question is: What does the way we encourage and instruct women to dress say about their weakness and vulnerability, then my answer would be that it speaks to their vulnerability sexually and their weakness within society. Within the Christian institution I am a part of, any woman with a place of respected leadership has severely repressed her sexuality. Accordingly, any woman who has comfortable possession of her sexual nature, which yes, Kent, usually is expressed in the way she chooses to dress, is not taken entirely seriously. I do not find these individuals to be immodest in anyway, and yet, their possession of their sexual selves has marginalized them. They cannot embrace that very real side of themselves and be given a place of leadership. Why in our Christian community are we so afraid of a woman who is strong and sexual? Why are we afraid of a woman who is whole? Is not sexuality a part of all human nature and something that can be expressed in completely honest ways which accord with Scripture? I would hope we can allow for that reality.

  • Re Scot’s post in #27, I offer this especially insightful comment about women’s dress:
    ISTM that women have used sexy dress and demeanor as a means to power which takes advantage of the weakness of men. In every culture where women are disadvantged (yes, I said every – but I’m on an insight roll so letmy overstatement go), women seek ways to manipulate, influence what is outside their external control. Sexuality is a chief means of exerting influence on men who hold the power.
    There will be less need for women (even in 20th century America) to use sexuality as their admission ticket to power when they find in themselves and in society at large that they have equal footing in all spheres.
    (I will add, though, that sexuality is the engine that drives the race, so it’s always going to be big! :))

  • Two things: I meant 21st century America (duh) and Johannah! My daughter is named Johannah and has the “h” on the end. We’ve never met another one with the “h” ending. So ::waves:: to say hello!
    My 17 yr. old daughter asked if your comments were right on and when I read them to her, she said you did her name proud.

  • Johannah,
    I am with you on that one! Up until a few years ago, all the women pastors I’d ever met presented an image of repressed sexuality. When I finally met a pastor friend who ministered out of her femininity, I was stunned. She was doing what she was called to do, from who she was called to be, and it was beautiful. One time she told me that she liked to dress “girly” (which I took to mean soft and feminine, not provocative) when she preached, but that was what she would get the most negative comments about. People in the church supported the idea of women in ministry, but had definite opinions on how much that femininity was expressed. It made me sad for her.

  • alice shirey

    You all should see the rigamarole (sp?) I go through with my clothes prior to standing in front of 1500 people to preach. Oy. At least my husband laughs with me about it, but this whole clothing/sexuality/etc. issue is a biggie.
    No real insight at this point, but with a 17 and 15 year old daughter … I think about this issue all the time.

  • Alice, you rock! It took some Googling, but I found your church Web site…and your picture. Your credentials are impressive and your femininity is a breath of fresh air for that long roster of men on staff. Inspiring!

  • Dana Ames

    Ted, Adam, Tim, Johannah, all good words. Thanks. WRT dress, I have spent the past few years observing what is offered on the racks when shopping with my two (now older) teenage daughters. There are no summer tops that do not have spaghetti straps, or jeans with waistlines higher than their low hips. Revealing, provocative clothing is all that is available, especially for younger teens who wear the smaller sizes. (My daughters both wore boys’ surfer shorts for a couple of years, as their own solution to this problem.) This is rank exploitation, as far as I’m concerned- forcing girls to a level of expression of sexuality that they are not ready for, and that most do not want, according to much I’ve read. And exploitation is all about who is vulnerable.
    B. Bush #5, I have heard that interpretation as well. I don’t agree with it for two reasons. 1) The idea of “vulnerability” rather than absence of strength brings at once a more obvious and a more nuanced sense to the other scriptural references Scot gave, and I think that’s noteworthy. 2) I do not want to be put on a pedestal and admired from afar; such a view is more consistent with Victorian Romanticism than the models we have in scripture from first century Christianity. I want to be in face-to-face relationships with people, accepted and loved warts and all, and helped by the Spirit to live in a way that simultaneously gives from my self and gets me out of my self. Living on a shelf might keep me safe- and is guaranteed to make me dusty!

  • alice shirey

    You know … here are a couple thoughts:
    1. I find the overtly sexy clothing targeted to young (and not so young) women mainly disgusting. To me, it is exploitative, and is not in any way about “enhancing femininity” but is more about creating a sexually appealing look for male eyes. I would be so curious to find out who the CEOs are of the major fashion corporations. I would be so interested to discover if there are more women designers and buyers for these lines of clothing, or more men. It is a curious trend. But one that speaks volumes to us as a culture …
    2. On the other hand … I have two attractive, athletic daughters, who work hard at their respective sports. When our eldest went on a family trip to an island recently, she chose to wear a sports bikini. I thought she looked totally buff and I was proud of her. Her more conservative cousins, however, (one of whom was a teenage boy) let her know in no uncertain terms that she was in the wrong for wearing such an ensemble and she felt forced to put on a t-shirt. To be honest, I was as disgusted with that situation as I was with the clothing situation in general.
    The message to her was “You are dangerous. Your strong, athletic female body is dangerous and must be hidden, even from your COUSINS!” I told her to politely refuse to wear the t-shirt and to encourage her cousins to focus more on windsurfing and less on what she was wearing. I know, I know … 🙂 I should have probably handled that differently, but I get so peeved sometimes with all the schizophrenia I see and hear both within the church and within the culture.
    Too long … but I think the church needs to think long and hard on this issue. Just barking at women about how they dress doesn’t get to the half of this issue, I’m afraid.

  • Tim Gombis

    Julie (#30), I’d love to take credit for “cruciform,” but I stole it from Bruce Longenecker’s wonderful book, The Triumph of Abraham’s God, and Michael Gorman’s powerful work, Cruciformity. Check out also Richard Hays’s The Moral Vision of the New Testament, where he draws out a NT vision through the triad of Cross, Community, and New Creation.
    So well stated, Johannah! Women can express their sexuality and femininity without dressing in a ‘revealing’ manner and without attempting to be ‘alluring’.

  • Alice, you hit on a pet peeve of mine. I’m so tired of hearing that women/girls are responsible to dress modestly to prevent boys/men from lusting. I lived in a Muslim country where women were covered and that did nothing to curb male lust (in some ways, I think it intensified it!).
    Female bodies are beautiful and nicely shaped ones look sexy in a variety of clothing styles. Men have to learn how to cope with our culture as much as girls do. It isn’t helpful to blame girls, imho, or to tell them they are the ones responsible for men’s lust.

  • alice shirey

    Julie (#40) I agree. It is just so weird sometimes. This same family also refused to take either of my daughters’ Varsity swim team photos to their home because they showed our girls in swim suits. Now … a. These are the cousins of the boys in the other home… And b. My daughters were wearing racing suits and were posed sitting on a diving board. I must admit when their mother shared with me that she would not take the photos because the girls were in their swim suits, I did take a stand. I told her that she was going to have to teach her boys to handle their sexual thoughts. And that hiding their girl cousins swim team pictures from them was not going to help in that process.
    This issue is a whopper, I tell you.
    Because at the same time we are dealing with above issue, I sent my girls to their High School Halloween Dance where any number of girls were dressed as “Victoria’s Secret Models” and “french maids.” They came home grossed out.
    All I can do is talk my girls, and my son, through all this stuff to help them find a place of sanity amidst insanity from all sides. I don’t really trust the church to help them, to be honest. To me, it is my husband’s and my job.
    Anyway … sorry if this is off the mark, but I do think it has much to do with this issue of power in society, how women are “weaker vessels” today, and is at least one issue we have to try to figure out.

  • Alice, this struck a chord with me last summer when the youth group leaders of my church canceled a boy/girl swim party because they were concerned the young men would have trouble controlling their lusts if they saw their sisters in Christ in swim attire. I stayed out of the e-mail broohaha because people just don’t get me most of the time anyway. But I was having trouble following the logic. Do these parents forbid their boys from going to the public swimming pool becaus they’ll have trouble controlling their lusts? Or is it okay for these boys to lust after girls of the world? If they forbid their boys from going any swimming pool, then I applaud their consistency even if I disagree with their stand–but it they have a double standard, then I just don’t get it.

  • alice shirey

    So, is it true that male sexuality is more difficult to control than female sexuality? Is this one way that men are “weaker vessels” than women? Are women primarily responsible to help men navigate their sexual impulses? I’m asking honest questions … because I think there is quite a bit of inuendo regarding these issues within the church and they tie into this issue of power and weakness, etc.
    I do know that I believe it is my responsibility to dress in a non-distracting way when I preach. So, I consider all kinds of people. I do not put on a fashion show. I try to dress respectfully … for both the older folks in our congregation, and for folks my daughters’ age. I also do admit that I work hard to dress in such a way that I don’t look suggestive or don’t draw attention to certain parts of my body. I just feel this is respectful to all my brothers and sisters in Christ. I really do.
    So, I get my outfit on and say to my husband … “Okay, what do you think about when you look at me in this?” Then, he tells me and we both laugh our heads off and I go out the door with a sense of humor about the whole thing. You must have one or you could lose your mind.

  • Great post. For those who do not like what the market offers by way of clothes, learn to tailor, it’s not that hard (even fun when the men and women collaborate) and when there are no alternatives we may just have to!
    My comment earlier, #20 was not meant to offend. I agree wholeheartedly that real exegesis that allows the Gospel to critique culture would have resulted in someting different at least within the body and we can yearn for that…

  • In response to Alice’s question #43. I’m not sure how one quantifies stuff like that. As a man I can tell you that attraction is easy and this causes problems immediately coz it’s usually for the wrong reasons, pretty girl, nice dress, a certain shape – none of these having to do with who that person is. Is it any different for women?

  • Sam #45,
    Why does attraction have to cause problem immediately?
    I know the typical answer is that when attraction happens between two people the choices are 1)You’re going to end up in a sexual situation eventually or 2) Leave the relationship as soon as possible because you’re going to end up in a sexual situation eventually.
    But shouldn’t there be a more Christian way?
    I think you can see that pretty girl, in the pretty dress, and admit that you think she’s attractive – and still be without sin. If you consciously choose to disrespect her in your thoughts or actions, that is a different story. But why would it be an immediate problem to notice that someone else is an attractive person?

  • The problem is the “pretty” girl. What attracts is not another human being but something ‘purely’ surface. That is what is sinful and it is precisely what the market exploits!

  • Tim Gombis

    I agree, Jennifer, and this seems to be the thrust of Johannah’s post. Why can’t women express their creativity and the depth and complexity of their inner life through their bodily presentation? And it is indeed possible to do this in a truly beautiful way, a way that celebrates female beauty and is wonderfully attractive.
    At the same time, men and women in community have responsibilities toward one another, but, at least in commnities I’m familiar with, we usually place the burden on women to look frumpy and dumpy so as not to excite the lusts of young men. Well, what if some young men are turned on by frumpy and dumpy-looking women!? What then?
    Both men and women have the responsibility (and joy!) to appreciate human beauty wherever it is found, and men must enjoy feminine beauty, appreciate women, and honor them, refusing to objectify women. They can’t just blame their struggles with self-control on women.
    By the by, great article on sex in the latest Atlantic, noting how the allure of sex is smothered through over-analysis and over-exposure, but is excited by concealment and mystery. Might provide fruitful material for reflection on this topic…

  • Sam,
    I’m not following. Why is the girl the problem?
    So, she’s pretty. So, you noticed she’s pretty. Is that sin?
    If *you* take those thoughts further and turn them into sin, then that is where the problem is. But I have a real hard time when you say that *the girl* is the problem.
    Maybe I’m not understanding you though. I’d be glad to listen again.

  • I do not think that anyone has repress what they are or how God has created them. But at the risk of being labeled crude, a thong and push up bra is not attire that engenders strength. My wife agrees.

  • We may be getting off the point of this post. Why would Alice have to be extra careful with her attire especially before she preaches? It’s true for all preachers but more so for women. Our tendency is to respond to externals more than we should – that’s bad. An ugly preacher (male or female) should not therefore have to struggle to get people to listen to the message rather than being distracted by appearance. the problem for someone handsome, charismatic, beautiful may be even worse!
    If pretty, beautiful, handsome, are the main triggers that get us to strike up acquaintances that is a sure sign that we are on the wrong track!

  • Tim Gombis

    I agree, Kent (#50), which is why I don’t think that “revealing” dress is what Johannah is getting at. Just as it isn’t wrong for a man to dress “smartly” and with style (and this doesn’t have to be a sign that he’s gay!), so too, a woman can dress “smartly” (not revealingly), and in such a way that portrays depth and complexity and creativity.
    When she does so, certain signs are sent that often trigger some sort of threat in men who desire control, since such female creativity and strength, wrapped up as they are with their sexuality, are dynamics that men who desire control and power simply cannot control, provoking strategies of domination and oppression. Men with true strength, however, would appreciate such creative power in such women and seek avenues and arenas for their giftedness and creativity–or, as someone put it earlier, they’d simply get out of the way!

  • Tim,
    I am with you.
    I spent my teen years under a lot of objectification. The healing for that comes not through asking men to never notice me (tried that, it doesnt help or work), but in enjoying when they do it with purity. The men who treat me like a feminine woman who is worthy of being respected help to undo the behavior of the objectifying abuse I went through.
    2 Sundays ago I walked into church and a male friend told me I looked like a hot mamma. He said it in a playful voice and I laughed. I knew he didn’t mean it in a way that was making me into a sex object. I looked nice that day and he was just noticing it. That kind of thing helps me know that I can be attractive without being dangerous. When I was going through sexual abuse the message I receive was, “your physical looks are forcing me to do this to you, and any other man would do the same thing.” But its not true. And when my Christian brothers treat me like a pretty feminine woman, it undoes some of that damage. I’m not sure, but I think a lot of women need this kind of affirmation from their Christian brothers – that they can be beautiful without being used.

  • Tim Gombis

    It is only slightly off-point, Sam (#51), since Johannah brought up one of the dynamics that leads to female oppression, or the systemic avoidance of having women in positions of leadership. One of those dynamics, I am coming to see, is the threat that some less-than-competent men perceive in clever, energetic, and extremely gifted women. The same virtues in a man are no problem. In a woman, they’re a major problem. THAT’S a problem!

  • Tim Gombis

    Jennifer (#53),
    So glad you have loving Christian brothers who will treat you with honesty and dignity! That’s a true gift. Perhaps it’s because I grew up with 5 sisters, or because Sarah and I are nuts about each other, but I’m very comfortable with approaching students or female friends and complimenting them on their appearance. I think this can be done skillfully so that messages of brotherhood and friendship are sent, rather than anything out of order.
    This may sound crazy, but it has lots to do with physical posture and honesty, eye contact and tone of voice.

  • Thanks Tim for refocussing! The oppression is two edged. men who oppress (consciously or subconsciously) do not realise the damage that they are doing to themselves and to their relationships.
    The ulture is slowly changing and I would ask what we as ambassodors of Christ are doing to shape the change. Are we happy with what’s happening around us?

  • I have to wonder… why continue to blame women for men’s sin? I figured the dress issue would come up again. There is aways something women (usually the younger ones) are wearing that certain people get uptight about, call disgusting, say causes men to stumble… To me its just another way to suppress women – make them feel guilty for being a woman. If they choose to wear a tank top in the summer heat while all the guys have their shirts off, they are the evil ones for causing the guys to stumble. I just don’t get it.
    I’m tired of being reduced to my body. To be weaker because I have a female body, to be labeled a slut if a dress in a way that hints that I am female, to be vulnerable because men can hurt my body, to be the cause of my husband wandering if I let my body go… I want to be a whole person who is not afraid or ashamed of my body, but is more than just a body as well.

  • Julie Clawson,
    I have to wonder…..Are you blaming men for your lack of wholeness?

  • alice shirey

    Julie – thanks for being so honest. I just wrote a post that felt way too honest, so I deleted it. It felt good, though … to just read your honest bit of writing.
    Part of my deleted post was about how our family watched a bit of tv this evening … flipping back and forth between Monday night football and the ridiculous, but addicting game show “Deal or No Deal.” Ironically, both tv events included large numbers of very scantily clad women jiggling around on the screen. How poorly our culture really does treat women. Both tv events, if thought about at any level of depth, completely illustrate how our culture views women … as objects to be enjoyed while men do the “serious work” of either playing football or playing a game show.
    I sometimes wonder how the church stands in opposition to this. When I read some of the stuff last week coming out of Seattle about how wives need to make sure they “stay sexy” for their husbands, I wondered if the church has just been led by the nose by the culture. How on earth are hard-working women, wives and mothers supposed to compete with football cheerleaders and Victoria’s Secret models? We are just set up by culture to feel inadequate. Often, the church doesn’t help the situation.
    That’s as much as I’ll write. This is a hard, hard issue though … and one that really does demand good, hard thought. I pray my girls will grow up to feel strong, confident and beautiful because of who God made them to be. I think they are on the right road.

  • Robin Rhea

    I don’t think it is an issue of blaming women for men’s sin. I do think there is a certain validity in pointing out that there are things that others do/don’t do that make it more difficult for others to pursue holiness. I wish that I did not struggle with lust when it comes to scantily clad women, but I do, and that sin is mine, but it is helpful to me as a sinner when those around me do not make it harder by continuing to dress immodestly around me. My sin, but others can help or hinder me. It makes me think of alcoholism. The alcoholic is responsible for every drink he takes, but if those around him love him they might not drink in front of him.

  • Amy B

    I love the idea of women dressing creatively and doing so with respect to themselves and others. Most, if not all, women I know have this as their goal. I had a friend recently who was on stage and wore a very pretty salmon colored sweater…the neckline was high, the sleeves went down to her wrists, it wasn’t too tight, etc. She was taken to the side later by a man in the congregation who told her the color was to much like skin tone and was causing him to stumble. In this case, I think the issue pointed at the man.
    Something I found interesting in Sumner’s discussion on this topic was this idea of vulnerability/weakness being physical. If what’s being addressed in this section of scripture is a physical issue and men/husbands are being asked to be sensitive to this, how does this effect how we approach this in the church?
    Could it be that, considering Sumner’s analysis of the text, men are held to a higher level of responsibility in the acknowledgement and associated respect in regard to the way God created a woman’s body?

  • disciple 13 » Blog Archive » relationship and position

    […] Today I read a post on Scot McKnight’s blog entitled “Women in Ministry: ‘weaker vessel’?” (Yeah, he’s a brave one.) The post centered around 1 Peter 3:7 in which Peter refers to women as “weaker partner,” (NIV). McKnight wisely chose to echo the wisdom of a female theologian, Sarah Sumner, who deals with the sticky issue of this passage quite well. […]

  • PJ

    I am new to your blog and have been devouring it over the past 3 days while on vacation. Thank you so much for the posts on women and the resulting discussions. This one has especially struck a cord with me and I plan to run out and get the book.
    Amy interesting thought to the end of your post. I would like to see this discussed further.

  • Continuing the issue of dress and lust…
    I have to wonder if we have made purity into something more than it ought to be. Having a sexual thought is not lust. Lust is the sustained desire for that which is not yours. Seeing a hot looking actor or actress, noticing the curves of a woman’s body and feeling a sexual reaction is merely human, not sinful.
    To associate sin or impurity with sexual reactions to attractive bodies is to attempt to control our biology beyond its design. Lust is a sin when it is a sustained, distracting, craving that the person allows to control his or her attention away from appropriate relating to a person.
    Just because your body or mind has a reaction to girls or women in tank tops or short skirts is not sinning.
    In fact, I wish we would be more embracing of our sexuality and the wonder of sexual attraction and reaction. To me, too much of our attention in the evangelical world is focused on attempting to control sexuality rather than getting about the work of Kingdom living. If we simply noticed that someone evoked our sexual response system, thanked God for that healthy reaction and the pleasure it brings when used with the right person, and then got back to work doing good for others, I think we’d all be a lot healthier.

  • There have been a number of wonderful, insightful (hey Julie!) comments about this … and I’m glad we had this discussion. The issues have been pushed onto the table, and I thank Kent for asking about it.
    I’m hearing this:
    1. Men can’t blame women for their thoughts.
    2. Women should be permitted to dress creatively (and Christianly).
    3. Culture is asking of young women a style of dress that exceeds the appropriate, tends to sexualize, and could damage the identity formation of young women and men.
    4. Women in ministry have some special challenges in this issue.
    What I want to know — especially from the creative ones — is how you think any of this relates to a passage like 1 Peter 3:7, esp since in that passage Peter exhorts women to dress modestly. Is it to be dismissed as from a different culture and time? Is it to be creatively transformed for oru day? Is it to be applied rather woodenly? (No jewelry.)

  • By the way, I should have said this sooner: Kris and I were out tonight at a screening of The Nativity Story.

  • Julie,
    Oh my goodness. You express that so well. 🙂
    I think that the kind of attitude you are talking about is a key to men and women interacting togeter in ministry, in friendship, in the workplace. Its a great alternative to the fear-based kind of separation where men and women cant even ride in an elevator together.

  • Scot,
    THis post is AWESOME!
    I was just dealing with someone who was firing the 1 Peter 3 thing at me, as a “proof text” for the inferiority of women. It sure is easy to do…when YOU aren’t the one being called inferior, you know. It’s amazing how easy it is to “accept,” when you have the joy of calling *them* inferior (and thus yourself superior). How difficult it is for we humans to step out of our own skin and into anothers. Truly, that inability IS the legacy of the Fall, when it comes to men and women. 🙁
    Sam on comment #20
    I was commenting to my husband yesterday, as I was reading about how it wasn’t until the 1970’s (or was it the early 1980s) that women were allowed to take out a bank loan without a MALE co-signer… Didn’t matter if the woman was the ceo of a major oil company and the guy was a burger flipper, she couldn’t borrow money unless a guy signed.
    My first response was…
    Where was the Church?
    All my life I’ve been hearing about these evil feminists, you know. I figured they must be pretty evil. (And, yes, some of the more radical ones do sound rather harsh, etc)… But the more I study, the more I realize how marginalized women have been…how difficult it’s been for them to get anyone to listen to them, anyone to take them seriously…
    And my only thought is that it’s too bad the feminists had to be the ones to start yelling about it, because it should have been the Church working for change a long time ago…
    On issues of feminine attire:
    I’m overkilled, personally. Coming out of conservativedom will do that to a person. Modest dress is a word that makes me want to throw up right now. There. I said it.
    This coming from someone who dresses modestly, btw. I’m just so sick of the overwhelming focus on the issue out there in conservative christendom. I know some of you haven’t been where I’ve been, so just ignore me.
    But let me just say: it is true that, in being a woman, you are between a rock and a hard place. You want to look good, right? But you can’t look *too* good, because then you’ll be causing men to lust. So you have to always be working to find that tightrope balance, where you can look nice, but not overly nice. No wonder men of old just confined their women to the house. Sheesh.
    Dressing in non-provocative ways is one of those things that you do because you love others, because you prefer others over yourself. And if body curves will cause a brother to stumble, then it’s Love to wear less revealing clothing.
    I know this is hard for many of us women to comprehend, but in the interest of listening to those who are different from us (which we want men to do for us, right?), we can NOT deny that most men say their brains are WAY different when it comes to visual stuff, particularly of the sexual variety.
    Think about it—why is Porn usually a problem that MEN struggling with lust have [and why is it that women struggling with lust usually get caught, not in porn mags with pictures, but in trashy romance novels with WORDS describing sexual things]?
    Point being, we really are wired differently in some areas, and I think it’s not “anti-women” for us females to dress in a way that respects the differences between men and women.
    The bikini thing Alice brought up (you DO look beautiful, Alice–I had to google you too, after that commenter–lol) is a great great example….I am super okay with that, with a sports bikini on a girl engaging in sports activities… and yet…if I had a teenage son (which I will have a bunch of, in about 8 years), would I be comfortable with them hanging out with her all day long? I probably would have said yes, a while back, but my two best friends both have teenage boys, and both of them have shared with me how their sons have struggled in the area of sexual purity—struggled NOT with porn-type stuff, but with VERY “normal” looking things like the underwear section in a catalog, etc… Teen boys are going through the wildest testosterone portion of their entire manhood…it’s not their fault, it’s just the way it is.
    I guess I’m just saying that I can really see both sides. How to empower women to be strong, and to be free to look feminine…and yet not to do it at the expense of causing men to struggle. ? I just don’t see a way to avoid the tightrope. Unless we go back to the Garden where clothing didn’t matter…which isn’t an option-lol. So in the meantime, what does Love look like in the world we find ourselves in?

  • Cultured » Blog Archive » Women in Ministry: “weaker vessel”?

    […] Very informative. Has helped me figure out closer to where I stand on a number of important issues. […]

  • Mary

    I think we make far more than we need to out of the “covering up the sexual bits” aspect of modesty, and far too little out of the virtue of not calling undue attention to oneself that is really at the heart of true modesty. Modesty is not a female-only virtue. A modest person is one who has healthy self-respect and exercises restraint in all that he or she does. (It’s no accident that “modest” and “moderate” share the same root.) So in 1 Peter 3:1ff, really, the fact that wives (remember, the context is one of husbands and wives as they relate to each other) were exhorted to avoid practices such as elaborate hairstyles and jewelry means a few things to me: Don’t flaunt your wealth or social status, don’t spend inordinate amounts of time obsessed with your outward appearance, and don’t call undue attention to yourself. And while we’re at it, consider that since this IS addressed to wives relative to their husbands, doesn’t the context show us that those wives whose husbands aren’t believers can persuade their men to belief through reflecting true biblical submission–even to the point of not parading his wealth self-importantly by her attire? (And like so many passages that resemble the secular household codes of the time, right after Peter addresses the wives, he illustrates for the husbands how THEY must also be submissive through wholehearted love for their wives, likewise not lording over them.)
    The only place I can think of in the Epistles at the moment that deals with how a woman’s attire reflects her actual reputation (as a respectable vs. sexually impure woman) is 1 Cor. 11:1ff, where the issue of veiling is addressed. Really, I don’t believe “modesty means covering the body” is the biblical understanding of modesty. There are various OT passages that discuss the shame of nakedness–for both men and women–but it just isn’t a theme in the NT.
    I don’t believe that flaunting flesh OR wealth OR social position, whether through lack or excess of covering, is in keeping with true biblical modesty. Truthfully, almost all the Christian women I know understand and dress according to a proper covering of the body, though fewer appear to understand that our dress as Christians shouldn’t draw undue attention to ourselves. And that goes for Christian men, too. Current fashion has men reasonably well covered (except for boys’ and young men’s penchant for showing their drawers above their drooping pants), but in churches where people tend to “dress up” especially, you’ll see plenty of men showing off expensive suits and shoes, just as a lot of women do. And even in more “blue collar” kinds of churches, listen to older adults rip apart their younger brothers and sisters for dressing to informally to suit them, even if showing flesh isn’t a problem. I’ve come to believe that the judgmentalism of the “modest” is just as big a problem as the dress of the “immodest,” if not more so.

  • luiza

    I did my undergrad dissertation on modesty and I was looking at Wendy Shalit’s A Return to Modesty. It’s a really interesting read. She is Jewish and is basically advocating Jewish modesty laws but her reading of comtemporary american culture is both scary and fascinating – esp for me since i’m not american!
    Now I live in India where women dress in a way that western culture would call very modest (though admittedly less so in urban areas). Women never reveal their legs when wearing either western or indian clothes (salwar kameez – trousers and dress ensemble – or sari). Clothes are not tight and necklines are not low. But incidences of rape or ‘touching up’ are very high. Getting on a crowded bus is sexually hazardous for women – you can be pinched and touched on so many sides that you won’t know how many men are having a go. Really, women can dress modestly, can cover themselves up, can do so creatively (indian clothes are beautiful) and still have their vulnerability abused. Even traditional muslim indian women in full burqa get raped. There is a massive problem here, and it doesn’t seem much connected with a lack of clothing – at least here. I’m not suggesting there’s no link, but then, it can’t be held accountable for many women’s experiences here in india.

  • I wonder if the men who think that women cause them to sin would apologize for causing a gay man to lust after them…

  • Robin Rhea

    I think that type of apology would be very appropriate. Also, is there anything that men “do” that “causes” women to stumble on a regular basis?

  • LandonSandy, I like that.
    I probably would have said yes, a while back, but my two best friends both have teenage boys, and both of them have shared with me how their sons have struggled in the area of sexual purity—struggled NOT with porn-type stuff, but with VERY “normal” looking things like the underwear section in a catalog, etc…
    I do have teen males. They do see the world through hormones. And I just don’t think it’s a big deal. They need to. They need to have the full onslaught of hormones take over their otherwise rational selves in order to work hard in college, get decent paying jobs and sign up for a lifetime of parenting and husbanding. Hormones make this risky (and if you look at it culturally, absurdly committed) proposition worth taking on!
    So if they feel hormonal surges when with teen girls, fine by me. What I also hope is that through conversations with me and their dad, they will also be forming values about sex and how to treat women. They gotta learn by doing, not avoiding. College girls aren’t going to change their dress for them.
    One of the things I’ve noticed in the conservative homeschooling world (of which I’ve been a part for 15 years) is that teens are hammered over and over again with the message that sex is dangerous, sexual thought is bad or wrong, that purity equals NOT having sexual responses. Courtship is one attempt to control kids, to keep them from sexual exploration and intercourse.
    But it doesn’t necessarily all work out the way we think we can control it. Here are a few examples:
    I have known three teen homeschooled girls pregnant by homeschooled boys whose families believed in courtship.
    I know a marriage where the wife believed that she was without sin because during courtship she never struggled with lust or sexual attraction to her husband. After they were married, she was in for a shock when in fact she was still not attracted. Almost ruined their marriage. Took her five years to find a way to be responsive sexually.
    I know young wives who never achieve orgasm because being sexy and sensual were wrong, dangerous. It’s not like you can flip a switch once you’re married. If men want “song of songs” wives, there has to be a point at which the woman is in touch with what it means to be a sexual being without also being seen as dangerous or sinful. Which means trial and error and taking risks.
    As far as modest attire goes: style trends come and go. Modesty is selecting contemporary clothing which does not communicate sluttiness (allurement). Looking like a street walker in any era is immodest (and what that looks like changes era to era). However, there was a time when showing ankles was immodest and today that standard would be absurd.
    Modesty from wikipedia: Modesty describes a set of culturally determined values that relate to the presentation of the self to others.
    I think we know when someone is both attractive and modest. But it changes every five years. 🙂 Thanks to Fifth avenue.

  • DP

    I don’t have one single activity in the course of a normal week where it would be appropriate or convenient to wear heels, especially the very high heels that are popular now. (The top fashion item made to make women truly vulnerable.) I prefer unadorned plain clothes. I don’t wear jewelry (besides my wedding ring). I do wear make-up, but don’t want to look made-up. I care nothing for fashion or trends. I am careless enough about my dress to inadvertently show more than I mean to show at times. Throughout my life, if a man looked at me and had any reaction, I figure that was his business and I never worried about it.
    So…after reading the comments on this thread, all I can think is: I must not be feminine.
    It appears that being feminine is all about how one looks, and how one dresses either asserts or denies one’s femininity. Asserting or denying femininity appears to be very important.
    How odd that I’ve made it into middle age without realizing any of this.
    Maybe our biggest problem is with the importance we attach to image.

  • Tim Gombis

    DP (#74), and others.
    The point of the above discussion was not to nail down what constitutes femininity or modesty, but merely to point out this very specific and singular problem: When a woman aspires to leadership, or has leadership qualities, there is pressure brought to bear to repress her sexuality, or other expressions that can unfairly be labelled as “flirty,” “sensual,” etc. Johannah (#31) was pointing out that this is very unjust and one of the manifestations of women not being treated with dignity and respect.
    This is NOT to say that women can be reduced to their bodies, or that one’s physical beauty determines one’s worth, but only to say that men (1) ought to not be threatened by expressions of female creativity and energetic leadership, and (2) must not blame their failure to exercise self-control on female habits of dress, since, as Julie pointed out (#40), incidents of male aggression against women may be higher in Muslim cultures where women are completely covered (though this claim may need nuancing).
    Don’t extrapolate from the above discussion that one’s value is determined by one’s appearance, or that we are right to form judgments based on appearance!
    As Julie pointed out (#73), stereotypes break down faster than you spell “complementarianism”!!!

  • alice shirey

    Thank you, Tim (#75) – I would also add, Don’t mistake the level of discourse about this topic to imply that I (and probably others) spend an inordinate amount of time in our regular life thinking about how we look, what we wear and what kind of image we are projecting. I spend about 10 minutes each day getting “ready” to go. My husband takes longer! 😉 This “conversation” is just important … because it hints at much deeper issues about women, men, leadership, sexuality, how we “view” each other, etc.
    I would doubt that any of those who posted yesterday would say that how they dress or look is the most important issue in the world to them.

  • Julie #73 – great post
    This whole conversation is just a weird one to me. I grew up in a conservative community in Texas where I dressed modestly, but was in for a shock when I moved to the Midwest and discovered that my modest Texas clothes were inappropriate in the even more conservative Midwest. At my conservative Christian college every year the forum wall had lengthy postings asking women to care for their brothers in christ by being more modest. What I learned from those discussions that there was not a single way women could dress that some guy somewhere would not find attractive and cause him to stumble. So instead of the guys either embracing healthy sexuality or learning better repression techniques, we women had to scramble to dress according to a very divergent spectrum of what guys wouldn’t find sexually attractive. Its a bit farcical imho.
    I’ve been in church setting where more time was spent discussing what bathing suits were permitted and the required width of tank top straps than was spent in spiritual focus. To me it seems like this overfocus on what is modest for women is just an excuse to focus more on their bodies and imagine what is inappropriate.
    Having recently breastfed my girl for about 18 months, I reached the “get over it” mentality. All my clothes are too tight. I’m not going to hide my biological role as a women, postpone my babies feeding, and be ashamed of my body because it makes some men think lustful thoughts. I don’t dress to tempt, but I’ve stopped being guilty for being a woman or worrying about whether or not ever male in the world thinks my outfit is appropriate.

  • I would like to make a plug for more of friendship and less of dating as being the norm for woman-man relationships. I guess this will be unpopular but it really is both more biblical and better commonsense to think of others of our own age groups as brothers and sisters first.

  • DP

    Thanks for such quick and compassionate responses! In post #27, Scot had asked for comments reqarding expectations regarding how women are to look and dress. In my opinion, conversations like these that I have seen in Christian circles do nothing to alleviate the pressure women feel to measure up to some standard. They just change the standard.
    The comments in the thread seemed to imply that only women who are pressured to repress their sexuality/femininity would dress in a particular way. As a women who chooses a plain appearance, I’m rather amused that anyone might believe I’m repressed. I just wanted to express that there are women who don’t dress according to the current standards of femininity out of personal preference. I wasn’t responding to any comment in particular. Just an observation.
    A topic for another time, perhaps, is a definition of femininity.

  • Sam #78
    I like the idea of focusing more on male-female friendship – at all stages of life. It’s important even after one is married. I think a lot would change in the church (and maybe the world) is men and women could know each other deeply outside of sexual/romantic contexts.

  • Dana Ames

    Sam #78,
    this is exactly how it is with my children and their friends, the vast majority of whom would – surprise – NOT identify as Christian. A small percentage of their acquaintences are sexually active. Most, for various reasons, would much rather be friends, including quite a few *supposedly* hormonally-out-of-control boys. I can’t tell you how much I wish it had been that way when I was their age. Those of you not from northern California and who have teenage children, do you observe this phenomenon where you are?
    DP#74,79, oh yes. I’m with you about dress in general- mine is pretty eclectic, and I have never worn heels. I do like jewelry, though 🙂

  • Dana, my teens hang out in groups whether they are Christian kids or non-Christian. And while there is sexual activity in the local high school, my daughter observes that there is far less going on than most of her homeschooled friends believe.
    Traditional dating is passe. Kids go out and hang out. We’re in Cincinnati. 🙂
    DP: I do wear heels when I dress up, but mostly jeans and turtlenecks in winter. I do enjoy jewelry, and dressy clothes for going out. Makes me feel like I’m changing gears from daily life with five kids.

  • DP

    Dana and Julie: I’m all for everyone dressing as they please. I think there is entirely too much pressure on women about their appearance from both the secular culture and from the Christian culture. I personally don’t think that our appearance is as important as we seem to think it is.
    In regards to I Peter 3:3-4, I remember stopping by an upscale mall in an upscale area populated with upscale teenagers. I was shocked by the appearance of the girls. They all had an eerily similar look: that of a model stepping off the page of a magazine. Similar haircuts with similiar haircoloring, similar salon-perfect nails, and image-making outfits. A person would be hard-pressed to make the effort to look past the external adornments to see the imperishable beauty within these girls. And it made my heart break for the girls that just can’t afford it.

  • Dana Ames

    For any interested, today’s “Fresh Air” on NPR features an interview with the author of “Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the rise of raunch culture”. It’s germane to the discussion of looks, sexuality and femininity. Lots to think about.

  • Tim Gombis

    Dana, DP, Julie,
    This area is ripe for some good reflection, but to this point many (evangelical, at least) attempts to try to “define” femininity (and masculinity, for that matter) have been culture-specific, captive to Victorian or post-Victorian value systems, and subject to the suspicion that some agenda is being smuggled in through the side door. Such attempts leave everyone dissatisfied.
    I wonder if such an attempt might be based in Paul’s language associated with the “body,” especially in 1 Cor, Romans, and Colossians. Interestingly, he condemns both harsh treatment of the body, and the attempt to project a certain image or association with any social group through bodily conduct (anticipating a critique of advertising’s enticement to participate in social groups/cliques through one’s appearance?).

  • this is a tough issue, because we can’t blame a woman for forcing a man to sin (since that is not how it works). it is sad that some men lack self-control to the point where they expect all women to look homely and frumpy. if a man can’t handle his thoughts just because a woman “looks hot,” then placing blame on the woman is totally unacceptable.
    but, being a man, i sometimes wish that some women would be more careful about how they do present themselves. there are some christian women who are a bit careless and straddle the line between what is acceptable and attractive and what is immodest.
    i will be frank, i have lusted after a woman before that was wearing a turtleneck, blue jeans, and boots. she looked incredibly attractive, but there was nothing at all provocative about what she was wearing. this was because i allowed myself to drift into sin. i undressed her with my eyes, so to speak. i would never, in any way, blame this woman for my sin. she was not wearing something inappropriate in the least. she was not doing anything to make my inward battle with sexual sin any harder.
    however, if a woman is wearing something that is too revealling, it makes combatting those sinful urges much, much harder. to use the same metaphor, my eyes have less undressing to do. my mind has to do a lot less work to start thinking those impure thoughts. we should all be guarding one another, doing what we can to keep each other out of sin.
    as well, i can’t stand it when people partition off the genders within the church (such as gender-specific small groups, or couples ministry that separates the men and women at some point for no apparent reasons). this accomplishes nothing, and it does not allow men and women to forge real, honest, gospel relationships with one another. that’s just one of my pet peeves.
    oh and julie, WHO DEY!

  • WHO DEY, indeed, Sean! They had better be ready Thursday. 🙂 I’ll be wearing my Palmer black jersey… do you approve?
    Liked your comments about small groups. I agree. Too much partitioning between the sexes.

  • The one thing that seems to be missing in this discussion is the glaring absence of a woman’s relationship with the Lord. When a woman has been with Jesus and has a beautiful disposition, it is unmistakeable and hard to miss. The inner beauty of the heart cannot be hidden.
    On the other hand, that beauty can be usurped by clothing (or the lack thereof) which draws attention away from that part of the body which projects the true inner beauty, the face, specifically, the eyes.
    On the other hand, a woman who dresses properly in every way can give just as wanton a message as any prostitute by those same eyes.
    Believe me, when a woman has a pure spirit along with proper dress, men have no problem taking notice. They experience no problem relating to such a woman. They are not threatened, for they can receive the message clearly that this woman has reserved the deepest recesses of her heart and body for her husband and her God. All other men just get to experience a little overflow.
    Even men who struggle with lust recognize this. And when they have seen it, they cannot forget it. Their standard has just changed. The question becomes one of being able to reflect that same kind of relationship in their life, for women also recognize and desire such deep qualities which shine forth so readily! Are we up to the challenge of letting Christ conform us to his image?

  • Ben #88
    You said : Believe me, when a woman has a pure spirit along with proper dress, men have no problem taking notice. They experience no problem relating to such a woman. They are not threatened, for they can receive the message clearly that this woman has reserved the deepest recesses of her heart and body for her husband and her God.
    And I just dont even know where to begin.
    Do you know how many Christian women with pure spirits and modest dress get raped? Do you know how many Christian teen girls with pure spirits and modest dress get sexually abused? Do you know how many women with pure spirits and modest dress are looked down on by men because of their gender?
    I *wish* that a pure spirit and modest dress really did cause men to have “no problem relating to such women.” But they don’t. I really appreciated Sean’s post (#86) because he makes it clear, the women he found attractive wasn’t doing anything to make his struggle harder. She was wearing a turtleneck!
    As far as women giving a wanton message with their eyes…sure, that is possible. But its also possible that a lot of men dont read women’s eyes very well.

  • Well put Jennifer. 🙂
    One of my friends (a former missionary kid on my worship team) was kidnapped, raped multiple times by two different men and killed execution style at the Rose Bowl in 1988. She was 23, wore jeans and a t-shirt, and was among the most natural, modest women I knew – with a heart for the Lord. And she was married.
    The problem with Ben’s comment is that it still puts the women in the driver seat as though their actions control reactions in men. Loving God is no protection from crime, disaster or heartache.

  • Jennifer,
    I was referring to men and woman who are allowing to a certain degree, or at least trying to allow God to teach and lead them in life.
    Dealing in extreme examples of those living in open and rebellious sin is easy. The prostitutes and their pimps go together.
    The problem with many Christians, men and women, are that while their words speak Christ, their heart is far from Him. They profess Christ, but while professing Christ, they conduct themselves like prostitutes and pimps, many times unknowingly. They are empowered in their ignorance, because of their “liberties in Christ.” They think that they can do as they please without any consequences for their actions. So they conduct themselves very similar to pimps and prostitutes, all in the name of Jesus, unaware of the law of sowing and reaping.
    Many seem bent on pointing the finger of blame at others while their personal responsibility is ignored. Many seem to explain away, for whatever reason, the safeguards detailed in Scripture, yet scream for justice when things don’t turn out the way they envisioned, never realizing that they are violating the precepts of a Holy God. They are ignoring the safety God has provided to them, all in the name of personal liberty.
    This is true for those on every side of this issue who have violated the design of God for men and women. You can’t ignore such guidelines without experienceing the peril. To do so is sin and no one should be surprise when they uffer fof their actions. The sad part is that those in positions of responsibility, given to us by God, aren’t doing their job either. Our leaders many times encourage such actions, simply becaus we belong to Christ, as if that provides some sort of imunnization against sinful action in this life.
    When will we wake up and realize that we cannot pervert the counsel of God without paying a dear price? Our relationships are destroyed because of a lack of knowledge, a lack of biblical knowledge all because no one understands us and we want to do what we want to do and no one is gonna stop us! And we call this the Christian Life?

  • Benjamin, I agree with you that we each must take responsibility for our own actions. How do you see the Bible guiding you and men wrt women and lust and empowering them? What is your role? It seemed more to me that you were talking about what women can do.

  • Benjamin,
    I’m trying to hear and understand you.
    When you wrote, “I was referring to men and woman who are allowing to a certain degree, or at least trying to allow God to teach and lead them in life.”, are you trying to say that men and women (or teen age young adults) who are trying to follow the Lord will not be caught up in extreme examples? If a woman is truly trying to follow the Lord she will be protected from something like being abused or raped?
    I don’t quite follow your point about pimps and prostitutes? If a man looks at a woman lustfully, does that put her in the prostitute role? Even if she was just wearing jeans and a turtleneck?

  • alice shirey

    Benjamin, I’m curious about the tone of your post(s). You sound kind of angry. Am I right or am I just reading into your words? I’m not quite sure who your anger is directed toward. You seem to be firing away at a “group” of people and I’m just trying to get a handle on who “they” are.

  • Ben
    You’ve got yourself an audience and you are just sounding off. (Sorry, but that’s how I read you here.) Stick the topic, friend.
    Again, imagine yourself over coffee with a few friends, not on a soapbox.

  • I have been questioned on a few issues. I am not trying to wiggle out of the questions, but I must get some sleep. I must get up very early in the morning for work. I will be glad to respond to all questions tomorrow afternoon or evening!

  • Robin Rhea

    Before everyone tears into Benjamin I think we have to admit that we do bear responsibility for the sins of our brothers and sisters. It has been repeated several times in this string of posts that requiring or asking women to dress modestly is like blaming them for the sins of men. I think this is an overstatement, but even if it isn’t, if you claim to use the Bible as a scriptural text you have to deal with this issue of responsibility. Jesus taught that followers of Christ could CAUSE little children to stumble, Paul taught that he had full Christian liberty to eat meat sacrificed to idols, but that his eating meat could CAUSE others to sumble and therefore he refused to eat meat in their presence, and he specifically asks for modesty from women. I do think this is a liberty issue. Paul taught that through using his liberty in the presence of weak Christians he was contributing to their sin. I think women have a certain amount of liberty in this issue and will hopefully limit its use, particularly around weaker Christian men.

  • robin, i agree. we are all responsible for one another. however, i think most of the comments here are aimed at men who don’t want to take any personal responsibility for their sins either (i.e. the men who ‘stumble’ but blame a woman for wearing a salmon colored turtleneck). they don’t want to spread the blame around (saying that we’re all responsible), they want to rid themselves of blame.
    oh, and julie, i do approve of the palmer jersey…as long as you wear a turtleneck under it (just kidding). i’m hoping the bengals can make a playoff push. i was raised a cowboys fan, but living close to cincinnati (maysville, ky) since i was born, i can’t help but root for the home team.

  • Let’s try not to point fingers at one another but carry on a good conversation… and this one is getting close to ending its utility.

  • forestwalker

    “The vulnerability of women in the ancient world, and still in many ways in our world, required on the part of Christian men to be mindful and sensitive of their wives (or of women in general). That is Peter’s point. If they aren’t, Peter says, they will be spiritually stunted — their prayers will not catch the ear of God.”
    Your thought here, Scot, was brought to mind by Garrison Keilor’s reading tonight in The Writer’s Almanac:
    The Rites of Manhood
    by Alden Nowlan
    It’s snowing hard enough that the taxis aren’t running.
    I’m walking home, my night’s work finished,
    long after midnight, with the whole city to myself,
    when across the street I see a very young American sailor
    standing over a girl who’s kneeling on the sidewalk
    and refuses to get up although he’s yelling at her
    to tell him where she lives so he can take her there
    before they both freeze. The pair of them are drunk
    and my guess is he picked her up in a bar
    and later they got separated from his buddies
    and at first it was great fun to play at being
    an old salt at liberty in a port full of women with
    hinges on their heels, but by now he wants only to
    find a solution to the infinitely complex
    problem of what to do about her before he falls into
    the hands of the police or the shore patrol
    —and what keeps this from being squalid is
    what’s happening to him inside:
    if there were other sailors here
    it would be possible for him
    to abandon her where she is and joke about it
    later, but he’s alone and the guilt can’t be
    divided into small forgettable pieces;
    he’s finding out what it means
    to be a man and how different it is
    from the way that only hours ago he imagined it.

  • Tim Gombis

    Just a thought: It seems that when folks are trying to work through a fairly complex issue that involves all the complexities inherent in relationships and all the subtleties and fears in cultures, one of the most unhelpful things to do is simply to speak in platitudes.
    For example, when someone is hurting or has faced tragedy, it can be downright insulting simply to say, “well, you just need to trust the Lord!”
    In the same way, in trying to wrestle with how to move ahead as Jesus-shaped communities and forge hope-filled and life-giving patterns of life together, it isn’t all that helpful simply to say, “if a woman has her walk with God right, all the troubles melt away…”
    That might preach, but life just isn’t like that, and painting with such broad strokes ends up bringing condemnation and frustration instead of transformation, life and joy.
    Like others have said, this may not be what you intended, but it sure reads like it!
    Lastly, Sean and Julie, even though we now live near Cincy (and are strongly convicted about “local” theology!), I’m NOT all that happy that our 7-year old is turning into a Bengals fan!! He actually was cheering for the Patriots against the Bears this past Sunday!! Where did we go wrong!?

  • Robin, I think the reaction of women is based on the fact that the typical pattern in this discussion is that women can fix teh problem for me. It’s one thing to be conscientious of your personal dress. From my reading of this thread, that seems to be the consensus expressed here. It’s another, though, to make women’s dress axiomatic in ending men’s lusts.
    I can be aware, for instance, that my having a glass of wine in front of an ex-alcoholic friend might cause that man or woman to stumble. In that case, I would choose not to drink in order to be supportive of that friend’s struggle. However, should I never drink a glass of wine in front of other human beings in case one of them in the crowd stuggles with alcoholism?
    This is not a “women must dress X way” so that “men won’t lust” issue.
    And let’s flip this around to see how it reads in the reverse:
    Men should be careful about how friendly they are to women as it creates fantasies in a woman’s head that lead her to romanticizing that man into “the perfect male.”
    How friendly? What kind of friendliness? To all women? Who decides?

  • **Should say: women can fix the problem for men.

  • Tim Gombis

    Great point, Julie. So in community we’re basically responsible for our communicative conduct–both for the messages we send AND for those we receive (or think we’re receiving!). And this is an egalitarian responsibility!!

  • Well, I’ve got it to do, so I’ll begin the process of extricating myself from the mess I’ve gotten myself into!
    First of all, none of my statements or comments were written in anger. That may be hard for some to believe (which I understand), but it is the truth. I wasn’t just sounding off nor were my statements issued without purpose. My madness does possess a certain method, as odd as that method may seem to some.
    With that said, I’ll be the first to admit that this topic is one in which I have very definite and strongly held beliefs. They may be perceived in this forum as caustic, insensitive, boorish, chauvinistic, etc., but the deep roots are there. Some of these beliefs have been present with me from my teen years, watching relationships fall apart within the Church, my own family included. Others have been expanded through the years after God introduced me to the person I admire and respect the most in this world, my wife.
    My first comment was not offered as a “pious platitude.” It was also not offered in ignorance of what happens to young women. My purpose was remind us of the same thing that happened when peope encountered Jesus. They ususally didn’t remain the same. Today is no different. When you encounter men and women who know their Lord in a very real and practical way, there’s very little to detract from what is obvious. The very Spirit living through them silently delivers a message to those they come in contact with. I’m not living in some fantasy land, for I’ve experienced those type of people, male and female. In no way, though, does this relegate others to an inferiority simple because they don’t quite have what someone else has. I say it to make the next point.
    Many Christians today, both men and women, are so immersed in American culture that they can’t help but conduct their lifes in the same manner. This is especially true when it comes to relationships between men and women. So while they talk about serving Jesus, they continually fill their minds with images and sounds that disrupt and distress their walk with Christ. Is it any wonder that they act out that which they continually view. Is it any wonder that they experience extreme trouble maintaining pure relationships with another man or woman? If you’re not sure about this, I’ll give you an example. In 2Peter 2:7-8, Lot and his situation is described for us with these words, “And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)
    This is exactly the situation many find themselves in simply because they choose, for whatever reason, to subject themselves to detailed acts of sin, in public and in private. Many have convinced themselves that certain movies and TV programs are OK using the same argument many have used for viewing pornographic magazines in the past, their literary value. They view them to find God, to search for the metaphorical details of good versus evil. Never mind the seduction, sensuality, sex and other activities. God has spoke to them through it. And they will praise Him for it. And just like Lot, many of these same people end up with families and lives in similar conditions, all because they performed similar actions.
    It has been said that making these points after the fact, after somone has suffered a tragedy, is rather insulting. I would agree. That is the exact reason to make these points and teach them, in order to help these young women guard themselves from predators, some of which attend church or group activities with them. There’s no condemnation or frustration from learning something that prevents us from making huge mistakes in life, especially where a sexual predator is involved.
    Please, don’t mistake my comments as implying that just because a tragedy occurs to a woman, that she is automatically at fault.
    That brings us to the next topic…..men. Maybe Scot can begin a post about men and provide a more appropriate setting. I’ll suffice it by saying that men in this country have created their own problems. I’ve seen men refuse to let the Word of God direct them concerning women and they suffer to this day for it. What they think they are preserving for themselves is actually lost because they refuse to treat women as God’s Word says.
    Do I think women are in the driver’s seat regarding relationships. No! Men are! But if you don’t know how to drive, you’re in trouble! If men don’t understand and exercise their responsibilities before God, they will continue to suffer the consequences. And so will the women in their lives.
    Men are actually the ones needing liberation, liberation from their own pride and ignorance! There, that’s enough for now!
    If I haven’t been clear enough for some and their questions, ask again. I’m not afraid to answer.
    BTW, I believe the Romo jerseys are in now. That’s # 9, in case you didn’t know!