I don’t understand how anyone can believe “the Church favors men,” unless they just aren’t paying attention.
I know there are cases of individual women who are abused by individual church leaders. (And I know there will be people who skip right over that line, so I’ll say it a different way: I’m not denying that your sister or best friend was mistreated by HER church.)
But–speaking at the big picture level–this is not a systemic problem.
By and large, women need only to post their story on social media faster than anyone they’ve wronged can explain “the other side.” (Extra points for sad emojis.) And immediately she will be surrounded by an army of Christian defenders shouting for “grace” on her behalf, no matter the details such as whether she actually repents…
Even if her whole confession amounts to “It was a big misunderstanding” or “My biggest fault is caring too much,” people won’t even notice what a horrible apology that is.
Someone will suggest she just couldn’t help herself. (Everything happens for a reason, so her sin was God’s idea.)
Someone else will make a case for why her sin isn’t reeeeeally a sin at all.
Someone else will add helpfully that–even when she sins–God forgives her.
And, generally, everyone will agree that this woman mostly just needs affection and encouragement from friends and family. (Because women only sin when they’re not getting enough love, you know.)
Plus, at least 15 people will mention the adulterous woman that Jesus wouldn’t stone…
This is frustrating enough for someone who wants sisters to experience the growth that comes from accountability. (It’s annoying to keep having to fight civil battles with other Christians who are trying to protect the wayward woman’s right to sin in peace.)
But it’s even worse when you realize the Grace Brigade often fails to extend the same understanding and concern for our sinful brothers.
When a male hurts his family and community through ongoing sin, suddenly words like “consequences” and “responsibility” come back into vogue.
It seems to be common knowledge that women mainly need grace, while men need some version of tough love.
I’ve been aware of this trend for awhile, but I recently uncovered an example by accident, when I posted to Facebook about two different cases of sexual sin.
First, a few weeks ago, the conversation centered on unmarried girls who sleep around and get pregnant (sometimes multiple times). Then, yesterday, we discussed Lysa Terkeurst’s unfaithful husband.
I wasn’t necessarily surprised by the number of people defending Lysa’s choice to file for divorce.
But it’s pretty incredible to compare the arguments for how the Church should “love” a serially-sinful female versus how to “love” a serially-sinful male.
I’ve decided to copy-and-paste a few of the quotes, in hopes we as a Body can start working to correct this double-standard. I really believe it has gone on far enough.
#1. On feeling sorry for the sinner.
Regarding the promiscuous girl:
“I feel so sorry for her.. Further, my heart breaks more for the guilt & shame she probably feels.”
Regarding the promiscuous husband:
“His poor wife has probably been through hell. Telling her it’s not ok to divorce is like saying she deserves to take on the effects of his sins, and that’s simply not Who God is…”
My questions: Why do we only ever see an issue from the female’s perspective, regardless of whether she’s the victim or the victimizer? (Girl sinners deserve grace and girl victims should have to give grace, correct?) Do grandparents deserve to help raise a baby they didn’t create–which is dealing with the effects of their daughters’ sin? (Isn’t it wrong to judge them for kicking out their daughter, since telling them it’s not OK is like saying they deserve to pay for her sins?)
#2. On judgement vs. love.
About the pregnant girl:
“I think in many cases we tend to reach for the gavel as a human condition. But applying God’s love, agape love, is really the most important commandment. I would ask how is the school offering her agape love, reflecting Jesus, and offering forgiveness? That’s supposed to be what the body does.”
About the unfaithful husband:
“We aren’t supposed to carry [the sinner’s] load, or what they are responsible for. To stay in a relationship with him could lead to…enabling of his sin.”
My question: Are parents enabling their promiscuous teen if they don’t kick them out? …or are wives the only ones capable of knowing when it’s time to make someone carry his own load?
#3. On rejecting a sinner.
About the school’s decision to put boundaries on the girl:
“…A punishment isn’t going to ‘correct’ her…or make her repent out of rejection… I question if the school is more concerned about being right than being loving…”
About the wife’s decision to put boundaries on her husband:
“I’m not her and I don’t stand between her and God, like you don’t stand between them and God, to be their judge.”
My question: If it’s okay to offer opinions about whether a school principal is loving a female sinner in a Christlike way, why isn’t it okay to offer opinions about whether a wife is loving a male sinner in a Christlike way?
#4. On the sinner’s responsibility.
About helping the girl:
“I think there could be many other ways to help her deal with this instead of humiliation and rejection. It’s a sin cycle…”
About helping the husband:
“Sometimes the radical loving thing is to let go.”
#5. On the Church’s responsibility.
About saving certain sinners:
“I likely strongly disagree with much [Church discipline]… Just too many friends and family through the years have been turned away, kicked out, or treated unfairly and lost their faith and now are further from living a life of grace than they were before.”
About saving a wayward husband:
“I’d rather not play God in being this addict’s savior. That’s not a spouse’s job. That’s not her problem to save [her husband] from his sins…”
Time after time after time, the Church finds it easier to demand understanding for females caught in a “sin cycle”–while taking a harsher and less-graceful approach with men.
For the record, I believe a teenager who continues sinning over and over again (whether it’s sex, substance abuse, or something else) ought to be given certain ultimatums.
Parents should have the freedom to enforce therapy. Their private school may get involved and take away privileges (like sports and graduation). And the whole process may even reach the point of kicking an unrepentant teen from the house, if they’re completely uncooperative.
These things should be done in love, with the hope of reconciliation, to protect the rest of the family and to avoid enabling the bad behavior.
I don’t have a problem with separating from an escalating, abusive, or enabling spouse situation, either.
However, I don’t think parents should EVER take their kids down to the courthouse to legally “divorce” them.
I’m pretty sure I’m not one who’s being inconsistent here.
When it comes to holding Christians accountable for “sin cycles,” the Church must not protect and justify the promiscuous girl while casting out the promiscuous husband.
We have no trouble recognizing the backward-thinking and overall wrongness of disowning a girl when she’s weakest and most vulnerable. But, for some reason, we struggle to apply that logic to repeatedly-sinful man.
Hello? Where’s my Grace Brigade?
P.S. Random thought: we all know the adulterous woman didn’t get stoned. But now I’m wondering whether her husband divorced her… hmm…