How the Church Needs to Redefine Male and Female Relationships

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We don't need more fences. We don't need a stronger negative push against sinful sexual relationships.  We need to foster a different mindset altogether.
We don't need more fences. We don't need a stronger negative push against sinful sexual relationships. We need to foster a different mindset altogether. (iStockPhoto)

Our culture in Christ should be that of FAMILY.

Watching the Duggar family struggle through their scandals the last few months helped solidify this in my mind. No family had better fences against a sex-crazed culture. But the fences didn't work. Instead, sexual attraction entered the very family relationships that should have been the most immune to them.

When young men are taught to guard themselves from all women, that the primary sin issue to be wary of with the opposite sex is sex itself, don't be surprised when that teaching infiltrates relationships between brothers and sisters. Josh Duggar should have learned a different kind of relationship with his sisters, a healthy one in which sexual temptation was anathema. Then from practicing healthy family relationships with the opposite sex, he would have a foundation for treating other women as sisters. Instead, the opposite happened. Hyper focus on sexual temptation resulted in temptation entering a relationship in which it should have never been named.

Rather than pushing back on the sexual axis, how can the church plow a counterculture on gender? How do we frame the conversations between men and women on a different axis altogether from our sex-crazed secular culture? I don't fully know, and I'm willing to admit that.

I do know that I have practiced this mentality without knowing I was doing so. In particular, I have known my fair share of handsome pastors and elders with engaging personalities. I highlight the role of pastor and elder because that's been a personality type with which my heart naturally resonated.  

In my twenties and thirties, I felt some temptation at times to lust. Women don't tend toward physical lust nearly as much as emotional and spiritual lust. When those feelings started to crowd my mind in relationship with someone, I disciplined myself.

"That's inappropriate," I would tell myself. "He's my brother!" There is only ever to be ONE relationship with the opposite sex in which we have anything other than that mentality. Lust should feel dissonant in any other relationship.  But we need to be discipled in that mentality.

Perhaps the first step to establishing this better axis for male/female relationships in the body of Christ is simply awareness. In fact, I think meditating on this axis and teaching on this axis may be the primary thing the church needs to do to reclaim it in the body of Christ. I already see growth among mature believers on this topic and have several arenas in which I see healthy male/female brother/sister relationships in the Body of Christ.

I enjoy talking with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I am willing even to disagree with them. But I also love them and seek their benefit in our conversations. I hope to contribute to health in their marriages, joy with their children, or hope for their future relationships if they aren't married now.

Because that's how the family of God works.

Adapted from Wendy Alsup's blog, theologyforwomen.org. Wendy has authored three books, including The Gospel-Centered Woman. She is also a wife, mom and college math teacher who loves ministering to women.

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