Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Missing it by a mile

I've been pondering this problem of men and women and have become convinced that Mrs. James and her correspondents simply don't "get it". Here is a snippet from an anonymous respondent on her blog:

Why is it that so much odd sex occurs within a religious context where the desired behavior is vigorously condemned (I'm thinking of Ted Haggard and others like him)? I think the problem needs a therapeutic and psychological solution. Perhaps we all need to understand ourselves and our needs and drives better.

There are several things I need to say in response to this.

First, it's most obvious that Anonymous has missed the point when he offers a secular solution to a spiritual problem. A psychological solution isn't going to improve a sin problem. It is sin at the core of this, and our belief that we won't be tempted or that it is someone else's problem to prevent or that I don't need to worry about anyone else's weaknesses - in other words our pride that lets us believe we are immune (or that others should be immune) is what leads us into the sin in the first place. No therapeutic understanding needed here, we're just dealing with plain, old-fashioned sin, period.

Second, here is why I contend Mrs. James and her correspondents don't really understand the problem and would rather paint all men with Tertullian's brush. There's nothing odd about the amount of sex or the oddity of the sex occurring in religious circles. There are two reasons for this - Satan doesn't need to attack the world - and- religious settings are very intimate by nature. They touch us deep in our hearts and our souls, leaving us prepared to make connections of Christian community, of treating each other as family -- but when we are not in community, when it's just a man and a woman working side by side, connections of a different sort are just waiting to be made.

In this we have our three-fold enemy (the world, our own flesh, and the devil) wrapped up in one neat little package. The world system conspires to tell us it is good and right and natural for men and women to work together in rather intimate settings without being worried about sexual temptation (unless you both want to, of course). Our own flesh is naturally inclined to lead us into sin if we don't guard our hearts, our minds and our behaviour. Lastly, it wouldn't surprise me if religious figures are a particular target and there is little that is more likely to make a splash on the evening news than a sex scandal. Ted Haggard's fall tarnished every single Evangelical believer in this country.

So don't pretend it doesn't matter that I'm a girl and you're a boy. It does. It matters a great deal.


alaiyo said...

It's well to remember, too, that the vast majority of Christians probably don't commit adultery or engage in sodomy or abuse children . . . The ones who do tend to get shot into the news instantly because there is the expectation that we should be better than the world at this: but maybe we are! Just because some sin -- and as you say, especially those in very public situtations are going to be strongly tempted -- doesn't mean the vast majority of us do or it's far worse than in the world, or even that's just as bad as in the world . . .

Kevin Jones said...

"our pride that lets us believe we are immune (or that others should be immune) is what leads us into the sin in the first place."

Pride is the right diagnosis. I hadn't thought much about the arrogant belief that others should be immune from temptation.

Old time-proven concepts like custody of the eyes, purity of speech, and avoiding occasions of sin are forgotten nowadays. Youth groups are so desperate for kids' attendance and approval that they don't dispense commonsense advice like not going on overnight trips alone with one's significant other or with another friendly member of the opposite sex.

I know some churchgoing young men who reject pornography but are so dirty in speech (even, or especially, in the presence of women) that you wouldn't know it.

We have absorbed many habits of the thoughtless Free Speech movement that we think we shouldn't care about the effect of risque speech and movies on ourselves and others.