Hey Ed Stetzer: Opposite Gender Friendships Are Not Sinful
Ed Stetzer’s Advice: “Avoid Any Hint” – More Like: Re enforce UnBiblical Stereotypes About Men, Women, Sex, and Singles
This post first published in 2014
July 2018, Edit:
The following advice Stetzer dishes out clashes horribly with (Link): his advice in a July 2018 article where he tells married readers of Christianity Today to befriend adult singles.
How can married Christians befriend adult singles – of whatever gender – when Stetzer is basically also telling married couples that single adults are problems, are potential threats to their relationships?
It’s a contradiction to tell Christians to practice the “Billy Graham Rule” but then turn around and instruct them to practice inclusion of adult singles.
Many married Christian women are generally loathe to be-friend adult single women, because they are afraid, and they’ve been taught by Christians such as Ed Stetzer and other Christians, that the single woman may prove enticing to their husbands, or the adult single will try to “hit on” their husband.
So same-sex friendships in the church do not work, because single women are viewed by many Christians as being man-stealing harlots.
I have a few observations below this long excerpt by Stetzer:
(Link): Ed Stetzer’s Advice: Avoid Any Hint
Snip the intro:
It might seem silly to you, but let me encourage you not to see it as such. Many of you who read this are young pastors. I know too many pastors who have lost great credibility because of an accusation (let alone an indiscretion).
I am not irresistible. I have a great face for radio. I do not think that anyone will swoon over me. But I do not know the stability, morality and disposition of people that I meet.
When I told my wife, I thought she might slap me. She has been excited about my recent health plans. However, she was the opposite. She felt protected and affirmed. She knew I would not put our family in jeopardy.
I remember Danny Akin once saying that he would not pick up a woman on the side of the road in the rain if her car broke down. He would never be alone with a woman not his wife. It seemed a bit selfish until he told the rest of the story. He would pull over and give her the keys and let her drive to where she needed to be.
Guarding yourself takes work, can be awkward and is often inconvenient. But one problem averted makes it a good stewardship of your life, ministry and family.
At the churches I planted, we always used something like Saddleback’s Ten Commandments:
1. Thou shalt not go to lunch alone with the opposite sex.
2. Thou shalt not have the opposite sex pick you up or drive you places when it is just the two of you.
3. Thou shalt not kiss any attendee of the opposite sex or show affection that could be questioned.
4. Thou shalt not visit the opposite sex alone at home.
5. Thou shalt not counsel the opposite sex alone at the office, and thou shalt not counsel the opposite sex more than once without that person’s mate. Refer them.
6. Thou shalt not discuss detailed sexual problems with the opposite sex in counseling. Refer them.
7. Thou shalt not discuss your marriage problems with an attendee of the opposite sex.
8. Thou shalt be careful in answering e-mails, instant messages, chat rooms, cards or letters from the opposite sex.
9. Thou shalt make your co-worker your protective ally.
10. Thou shalt pray for the integrity of other staff members.
(The first four do not apply to unmarried staff.)
I hope you have a list like this for your own life and ministry.
“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality…” (Ephesians 5:3)
——- end quotes by Ed Stetzer ——-
Here we have Ed Stetzer maintaining the usual conservative Christian misunderstandings and stereotypes, some that prove to be quite harmful to women and to single ones in particular, and maintaining stereotypes about the genders, sex, marriage, singles and all the rest.
Stetzer’s views on this matter are actually anti-biblical. He is advising men to behave in the exact opposite way that Jesus Christ treated women, that Jesus role modeled for men in the Bible.
I cannot find any biblical examples of God telling men in the Bible to avoid women, nor do I see examples of Jesus running away from women or refusing to meet with prostitutes, to avoid being alone with women, – and no, my dear, “fleeing temptation” does not count, for it has been skewed by Christians to mean something it does not: isolate women and treat all women as temptresses.
A citation of Ephesians 5:3 (the “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality” verse) has been carried to absurd lengths by Stetzer in his “thou shalt not list.”
As Jesus said of the mis-interpretations and too-rigid interpretation and application of some Old Testament laws of the religious groups of his day,
You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. (Matthew 23:24)
Jesus had to remind the Pharisees that they followed the letter of the law rather than its spirit, which defeated its purpose and intent on some matters. And that is what guys like Stetzer do with Ephesians 5:3.
Your Bible mentions that you, if you are a Christian, are capable of SELF CONTROL. It is not inevitable that if a Christian man and woman meet alone or become emotionally close that it will always end in SEX.
As I said on a previous post, re-read the account of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife, and you will see that Joe’s FIRST reaction was NOT to “flee.” Nope. After the wife hit on Joe, he reasoned with her several times.
It was not until later in the story that he then fled. Christians often assume that the very first time the wife made a pass at him that Joe fled, but that is incorrect. Read it yourself ((Link): Genesis ch 39):
And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.
Yeah, it says, “day after day” the chick hit on him, and he refused her.
It does not say, “Joe refused to be alone with her in the first place,” or, “the first time she made a pass he fled.”
I think that contemporary American Christian views about men not being around women lest they be tempted to pork them mirrors those of the Pharisees, which Jesus contested.
Here are some examples:
An ancient baraita enumerates seven classes of Pharisees, of which five consist of either eccentric fools or hypocrites:
(1) “the shoulder Pharisee,” who wears, as it were, his good actions. ostentatiously upon his shoulder;
(2) “the wait-a-little Pharisee,” who ever says, “Wait a little, until I have performed the good act awaiting me”;
(3), “the bruised Pharisee,” who in order to avoid looking at a woman runs against the wall so as to bruise himself and bleed…
From (Link): Jesus And Women
No rabbi of Jesus’ day that I know about included women among his disciples.
But Luke said that Jesus included women in His circle of followers– even women from questionable backgrounds
…. Jesus then did five things that are astonishing because what He did broke through the cultural mold of that day.
First, He called this woman [the woman bent over in the synagogue in Capernaum] forward from the place of the women (the back of the room) to the place of the men (the front of the room).
He interrupted the teaching of the Word of God–the most sacred time in Jewish life–to minister to a woman.
…. Second, Jesus broke culture by speaking to her [the woman bent over in the synagogue in Capernaum].
The Jewish writer Alfred Eidersheim wrote that there were rabbis who prayed every day: “I thank Thee, God, that I was not born a Gentile, a dog, or a woman.”
Isn’t that a great prayer? (Do you notice the word order?) No wonder everyone was shocked as Jesus spoke to this woman.
Jesus broke culture a third way: He laid hands on her.
Eidersheim explains that in Jesus’ day some Pharisees were called “the black-and-blue Pharisees.”
Why? Because they were so strict in their observance of the Law they would not even look at a woman. If they sensed that a woman was going to cross their path, they would close their eyes tightly and walk straight ahead.
Sometimes they would smack into a wall or fall over an ox cart and receive their bruises. Here, in contrast to the example of the “black-and-blue Pharisees,” Jesus laid His hands on a woman.
Fourth, Jesus affirmed her worth in society. These men in the synagogue were probably thinking, What is she doing in here? What is He doing? He’s touching her. Look at what He’s doing in God’s holy place.
Jesus knew their hearts and said to them, “Don’t you loose your ox or donkey and take it to be watered on the Sabbath?” (Luke 13:15).
They all knew they broke the Sabbath by watering their animals.
Jesus continued, “This woman is worth far more than any animal you have. This woman is not an animal; she is a ‘daughter of Abraham’ ” (Luke 13:16). By saying this, He restored her rightful position.2
This episode is especially important because Jesus willingly risked His life for the sake of a woman. He humiliated His opponents in their own synagogue by ministering sensitivity, kindness, and mercy to a woman. It is for this act of kindness and divine love, and many others like them, that these men sent Him to the Cross.
Of course, if you know anything about Islam, you know that some forms of it require women to wear partial or full head- to- body coverings, otherwise men may look upon them and lust.
Basically, you have some branches of Islam and other world religions teach the same thing about male gaze, female sexuality, etc, that some Christians do, a few similarities include:
-They over-hype that men are visually stimulated (ignoring that women are as well),
-they assume men are rapey rapers who can’t keep their penises in their pants (ie, they assume and teach that men lack sexual self-control),
-they teach and believe that all women are easy tarts and harlots who will bed any man in sight, even fat, balding middle aged evangelical doof wads,
-that women are responsible for men’s sexual behavior by their own or by how they dress (hence puerile Christian modesty teachings or the extreme of Islamic burkas)
By the way, contrary to the sexist crud Christians continue to spew in their marriage sermons and blogs, women are visually oriented, not just men.
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