It’s an old old story. Boy sees girl, Girl is wearing tight fitting/revealing clothing, Boy cannot help it, he ‘stumbles’ and the cycle of sexual sin winds down it’s merry path.
And in church circles it seems like it has always been this way. Women are (un?)intentional temptresses, goddesses of body and beauty. Men are filled with unconstrained lust and burn with the work of their eyes.
The Eternal Eve as temptress, the Eternal Adam of weakness.
And all this plays out today in our churches and church circles. This constant tension of ‘she wore, he saw, both sinned mentality’.
So to keep all of us from falling off this tightrope of constant sexual succumbing we debate who should wear what, who stumbles, who pushes others to fallenness. We argue free expression vs. accountability.
And the war between the sexes escalates. The rift between men and women caused by the entrance of sin in the world is splayed out for all to see/wear.
How sad. How sad that we in our churches have this consistent battle between the two genders who together form a mighty body of Christ, whose mission together is to go out into all the world and make disciples, offer healing in the name of Jesus.
What better way for Satan to offer division than to make us doubt, fear, and mistrust one another.
I have a daughter. A glorious, brilliant, gorgeous daughter. A daughter who is mighty of spirit and lovely inside and out.
And I have two sons. Glorious, brilliant, handsome sons. Sons who are heroic of spirit and handsome inside and out.
As I parent these children, as I see the tension regarding sexual sin between genders in our churches, I am saddened.
But I am also determined.
I am determined that neither my daughter nor my sons will grow up taking ownership of another person’s sin.
I am determined that how they present themselves physically to others will reflect their idea of how God created them, lovely and precious, rather than conform to the pattern of the world, or through fearful guilt.
I am determined that my sons will view themselves as strong in the Lord, able to resist temptation, even when offered freely.
I am determined that my daughter will not be held hostage by the lie that she is responsible for how others choose to look at her and thus is responsible for their sin in how they treat themselves, other women, or her.
I am determined that my sons will see that the biblical mandate for treating others well is heroic and Godly.
I am determined that my daughter will not be ashamed of her beauty but neither will she let it be her value.
I am determined that my children will look on both genders with respect.
I am determined that my sons and daughter will see men as godly, able to resist temptation, and honourable slaves to Christ as they seek him.
I am determined that my daughter and sons will see the strength and beauty in women, seeing them as vessels filled with the Holy Spirit rather than pretty packaging.
I am determined that my children will be respectful and supportive in others’ journeys to holiness and am hopeful that they will receive the same in return.
Don’t be harsh or impatient with an older man. Talk to him as you would your own father, and to the younger men as your brothers. Reverently honour an older woman as you would your mother, and the younger women as sisters. 1Timothy 5 1-2
God has a vision for his church where we see the fullness of who he created human beings to be. I see this fulness in both genders acknowledging the value in the other. Not demeaning, mistrusting, or diminishing the other. Where we are truthful with the nature of sin, acknowledging our own struggles, and seeking accountability for our actions.
What better place than the Church to find biblical truth and community support when dealing with our hyper-sexualized world. But it cannot be a place where we blame one another, where we push our accountability onto another person. “If only he would stop looking/she would stop wearing” is not a place where we can look inwardly, seeking God in confronting our own sin.
Because we are not passive victims in our own sin. We dishonour ourselves and God when we allow pride, rebellion, and excuses to get in the way of our unity as followers of Christ.
We are a family of faith, as Paul wrote in the book of 1 Timothy. Families are messy and intangibly interlinked with ties that bind. Families are created as support and challenge, for iron to sharpen iron, sparks flying. We need to tighten the ties that bind rather than divide. To support one another, dig deeper so that we can encourage one another to climb higher in our relationship with God. To not mess up the mission with our mess. To love each other through our sin and trust God to show us his glory reflected in one another.
It’s about more than cleavage in Church.