Watch Where You’re Bathing

David and Bathsheba031It’s not a popular position today to say that how a woman dresses has anything whatsoever to do with how a man might act, but let’s face it—women bear responsibility for suggestive behavior.

For example, an eighteen-year-old Notre Dame football player just recently grabbed public attention by posting pictures of his date with a hot porn star—a forty-two-year-old porn star. She’s old enough to be his mother, and a few months earlier, she’d be guilty of statutory rape. (Yes, reportedly some of the pictures were of the two of them having sex.)

Of course most of the attention is on the young man. Some think he scored big or that he’s looking for a role in the porn industry himself. Others wonder what his Catholic university might have to say about his actions.

But I can’t help but think, would he have taken pictures of himself and his date having sex if he hadn’t been drawn into porn by the women he watched?

Women have been seducing men since the fall, and men have been guilty of sexual sin for just as long, but only today, it would seem, we acquit women of all culpability.

Perhaps the most famous seduction story in the Bible is King David’s adultery with Bathsheba, though we generally think of Bathsheba as an innocent party. She was anything but innocent.

Yes, David had plenty of guilt in the matter. He did all the wrong things a man could do, it would seem. He stayed at home instead of going with his troops to battle, as he had been doing. It was the equivalent of staying home from work to watch porn.

He was lounging on his bed and only arose in the evening to take a walk. He saw Bathsheba—not a quick glance, because he made an assessment of her beauty—and inquired after her. When he found out she was married, he pursued her anyway.

But what about Bathsheba? She “just happened” to take a bath in full view of the king’s residence. Did she not realize how close she was to the palace? Or that someone walking on the roof (the equivalent of a porch) could see her as she bathed? I doubt if she was so oblivious.

In truth, we don’t know for sure because the story is told from David’s perspective. For example, when David had Bathsheba’s husband Uriah killed, how did she feel about their affair then? We only know that she mourned Uriah, but I suspect she carried a lot of guilt with her to that funeral and even to her subsequent wedding with David.

We know David grieved the death of their child, conceived in adultery, but we don’t know how Bathsheba reacted. We know God confronted David, through the prophet Nathan, because of his sin, and David repented. Did Bathsheba have that same encounter with God and the opportunity to confess her sin? We simply don’t know. Scripture doesn’t tell us because the story is focused on David.

Because the Bible doesn’t explicitly point out Bathsheba’s responsibility or perhaps her open seduction of the king, I think a lot of people bypass her part in the sin. He was the king, after all, and she had to go to him when he sent for her. Really?

If she had wanted to remain faithful to her husband, she could have refused to do David’s bidden the same way Uriah did when David tried to cover up Bathsheba’s pregnancy by sending Uriah home. He wouldn’t go, choosing instead to sleep with the king’s servants. His sense of duty wouldn’t allow him to be with his wife while the rest of the army was out in the field of battle. Too bad David didn’t have that same sense of duty.

Too bad Bathsheba didn’t either. When David sent for her, “she came to him.” Would he have sent if she hadn’t been bathing where he could watch her? Clearly not or the affair would have happened sooner.

I want to be clear on one thing: I am not saying women who are raped are at fault. That kind of blanket statement is foolish.

I am saying that women dress to be attractive and that can mean, draw the attention of men to their sexiness. In other words, how some women dress is with intent to make themselves sexually appealing. How is that any different from what Bathsheba did?

If tight or short or low cut get men to turn their heads, is dressing that way really innocent, innocuous conduct? How can we continue to think women bear no blame for setting men up to fail when it comes to their lustful thoughts?

Of course David bore his guilt for his affair with Bathsheba, and so must every man who has lust in their hearts, whether they act on it or not. But because David sinned doesn’t mean Bathsheba was without sin. I suspect many of us women bear guilt of like kind to Bathsheba’s. If only we could value purity above the world’s requirement that women “be attractive”–i.e., head-turningly sexy.

Instead Christian young women swallow what society says: men want sex so women should show their sexiness. And we wonder why divorce rates are high in the church and young people are sleeping around. We might be preaching purity and abstinence, but we aren’t teaching young people, or married couples, for that matter, what steps to take to avoid sexual immorality.

One thing that will help for sure is if young women pay attention to where they are bathing.

Gender Matters

Recently Mike Duran brought up the issue of guys reading books with female protagonists. His conclusion, essentially was, guys don’t read girlish books because they are guys.

Makes sense. Interestingly, the majority of the guys who commented–maybe all of them–said they were fine with female protagonists. It is romance they aren’t interested in. I suspect they were using “romance” as a code word, though, for “stuff women like.”

A Charmed Life coverI have a sneaking suspicion that those guys would also not be a bit interested in reading Shelley Adina’s The Fruit Of My Lipstick or Who Made You A Princess, Be Strong And Curvaceous, or The Chic Shall Inherit The Earth. Or how about Jenny B. Jones’s The Charmed Life, even though one reader says it contains “mystery, comedy, romance, action, and drama”?

Of course, not all girls will want to read those books either, but my guess is, you’d be hard pressed to find ten guys willing to pick up one in a book store, let alone buy it and read it.

On the other hand, it’s not a stretch to imagine girls reading the latest sci fi or horror or thriller or suspense. What genre don’t women read? Men, it would seem, as a class of people, draw a line when it comes to their reading and say, Nope, I don’t want to go there and so I won’t. Women, on the other hand, seem, as a group, less inclined to lines.


Because gender matters. Men and women are wired differently.

HeteroSym2Our anatomy differences, we’re all too aware of, but we also have a different chemical make up (which is why some vitamin companies sell a multiple vitamin for Her and a different compound for Him), differences in our use of language, and differences in our brain structure which ought not to be minimized. That women more easily access both hemispheres of our brain allows us to be interested in a wider variety of things–stuff guys are typically interested in because of their left brain dominance as well as the emotive stuff, the heartwarming Hallmark Hall of Fame type stories typically thought to interest women.

Granted, I’m speaking in generalities. Of course there are guys who also have a wide assortment of interests and girls who don’t want anything to do with trucks or tanks or spaceships or footballs. But the fact remains, the generalities fit most guys and most girls

What’s my point? The fact that girls have a wider variety of fiction they read and enjoy than do guys is another indication that gender matters.

People who want to say that guys don’t like girlish books because society has programed them that way have no answer as to why girls read widely, venturing into “manly” genres with no qualms. We women are in the same society and ought to have been programmed as the guys have been.

But the truth is, women and men are different. I know that’s a radical thing to say in this day and age. But it’s true. Gender matters. It really does make men and women behave differently, think differently, and apparently, read differently.

Published in: on March 7, 2013 at 6:43 pm  Comments (10)  
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Feminism In The Church – What Men Have To Say

To a great extent men are silent on the subjects of feminism in the church and women pastors — unless they favor these things. I suspect there are two principle factors involved in this silence.

First, fewer and fewer pastors are expository preachers. They aren’t working their way verse by verse through a passage of Scripture, thus having nowhere to hide when they come to difficult subjects. Or topics that will empty their pews and reduce their weekly offerings.

Instead many pastors pick and choose the topics they wish to bring before their congregation, meaning they can focus on the subjects that won’t bring angry emails clogging their in-boxes.

Which brings up the second factor — our society all too often makes men look stupid and selfish and power-hungry. For a man to stand up and say that a woman should not be a pastor puts him in the line of fire for accusations of being stupid and selfish and power-hungry.

It’s a risky thing. People might get angry and stop giving or even leave the church.

I for one, want to see more men stand up and say what the Bible says. After all, they aren’t giving their opinion on the matter. They are standing by God’s word, teaching the generations to come.

Scripture is given us for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. I’d like to see men stand for the doctrine that contradicts feminism. I’d like to see them correct those who are deconstructing Paul’s words (as if Paul, not God, is teaching in the passages of Scripture about women and our role in church services).

After all, our young men and our daughters take their cues from the godly men in their lives.

Perhaps men who are not pastors or elders are best equipped to teach on this subject. That way no one can accuse them of wanting to protect their own personal role. They, like women should, have accepted the fact that God has a different role for them to play. Not lesser. Not one of no importance. Just different.

As it is, the people who seem to stand against feminism in the church are mostly stay-at-home moms — who don’t have the largest platform from which to be heard.

Mind you, I don’t think we need to join the cultural wars and make this a plank in a political program — no abortion, no gay marriage, and no women pastors. No, no, no. That is not want I’m suggesting.

As I see it, the only thing we need to do is advocate for God’s word, not against anything. We need to put our time and energies into understanding what the Bible says, and not what someone using a kind of retooled higher criticism manipulates it into saying.

I read, for example, one article that refers to Paul’s admonition to women in 1 Corinthians 14 as “the classic bondage scripture.” Somehow, when I start an article that talks about a portion of the Bible that way, I lose confidence that the author reveres God’s Word or believes that even the hard things are true, whether he understands them or not.

I’m also not inclined to give much credence to an argument that ignores other passages of clear teaching such as 1 Timothy 2:11-14. The Bible is the best interpreter of the Bible, and the various passages of Scripture we’ve looked at in the previous posts on this subject ( “Feminism In The Church”, “Feminism In The Church, Continued”, “Women As Leaders Of The Church?”) are remarkably backed up by the Old Testament when God established the system of worship for the Israelites, choosing only men to be priests.

Interestingly Aaron and Miriam at one point challenged Moses’s authority as the leader of God’s people:

And they said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?”

God made it clear that Moses was His choice to lead His people by striking Miriam with leprosy. Not Aaron and Miriam. Just Miriam. (See Numbers 12).

It’s my belief that women wanting men’s roles is actually a consequence of the Fall, but that’s a matter for another day. For now, I want to go on record as saying I’ll happily stand beside any man who teaches even the unpopular parts of God’s Word. That’s what I long to see more of in the Church.

Published in: on October 3, 2011 at 7:02 pm  Comments (5)  
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Feminism In The Church, Continued

In some ways, the previous post on this subject was more about the influence of culture on the church than it was about feminism in particular. After reading the comments to that article, I thought perhaps I should address feminism more specifically.

First, my closing paragraph to the previous post may have come across too harshly. I know more than one woman working as a pastor, and I wouldn’t say any of them is covetous of the role of men. In each instance I believe they feel they are doing God’s work, and the pastorate gives them the best opportunity to accomplish this.

Rather, I was referring to the attitude of a nebulous collection of women who believe as the culture at large does — that to be equal with men, women must do all things that men do (with the exceptions of fathering a child and bathrooming in a standing position).

These women who are true feminists have brought their beliefs into their particular church denominations, resulting inevitably in a movement in their direction. Hence, scholars have reexamined the verses that have long been understood to exclude women from the pastorate. Consequently, without adopting the whole feminist package, some women believe that the new interpretation does indeed make way for them to take this leadership role.

In addition, I’ve heard of women on the mission field who, because of the lack of any man knowledgeable in Scripture, have assumed the pastoral role until such time as a qualified man is available. Were those women sinning by stepping into the gap? Should a fledgling church be without teaching because no man is available when a women is?

Those are hard questions, and I might answer them differently today than I would have some years ago.

What comes to mind is fugitive David standing before the High Priest, lying about his need for food, and subsequently receiving the portion meant exclusively for the priests. Sin? Jesus used this very story to justify His disciples plucking grain on the Sabbath when they were hungry.

If it had been anybody else besides Jesus! But no, He who was with the Father when He struck down Uzzah for touching the ark as it nearly tipped over, who said He came to fulfill the Law, seemed to give David a pass for eating the bread of the presence and giving it to those who were with him:

Mark 2:25-26 – And He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions became hungry; how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he also gave it to those who were with him?” (emphases mine)

The operative principle seems to be need over law. After all, that’s why the Jews were allowed, even expected, to pull an animal out of a pit on the Sabbath if it had fallen in. Need.

Bringing this line of thinking back to women and preaching, it seems to me that need might create a mitigating factor that would allow for a woman to act as a pastor.

But let’s face it — in the US there isn’t often a lack of available men to take on the role of pastor.

I’m not here to judge who is or isn’t serving out of need. I’m more interested in the attitude that we in the church are developing that seems to support the idea that a woman ought to be up front just as surely as a man is.

It is this position of leadership, I think, that is at issue.

In case you missed it, in one of his comments to the previous post, Patrick brought up an interesting point — what’s the difference between teaching in a church building and doing what I do here on this blog from time to time? After all, aren’t a preacher and a blogger who writes about spiritual things both elucidating Scripture?

It’s a great question. If we understand “Church” to be the body of believers, not a building, and women are to be silent in the Church, then it seems we are never to speak of spiritual things. But we know from Scripture, that isn’t so.

There were women who served as prophets, for example. And Mary the mother of Jesus offered one of the great praise psalms of all time. The Proverbs 31 superwoman ( 😉 ) included teaching in her repertoire: “She opens her mouth in wisdom,/ And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”

The point Paul was making in 1 Corinthians 14 when he said women should be silent, seems to me to be uniquely connected with what happens in a church service. After all, most of the chapter deals with how to have an orderly service. Women speaking in that context also is in juxtaposition to submitting to their husbands.

So what’s Paul really saying? It seems to me, his point is that women shouldn’t interrupt the service with their questions or overstep their husband’s authority.

What are we going on about then regarding women and pastors?

Scripture sets out the clear qualifications of a pastor and then of elders. One such requirement was that each must be the husband of one wife (see 1 Tim. 3:2 and 3:12 and Titus 1:6). Not a lot of room there for a woman.

This post is longer than it should be already, so I’ll save for another day why it is important that we look at the bigger picture to understand the importance of this issue.

Published in: on September 29, 2011 at 6:06 pm  Comments (10)  
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Women Protagonists and the Men Who Don’t Want to Read about Them

I realize that I am walking a thin line between understanding the male mind, when it comes to reading preferences, and stereotyping.

Some, of course, think I am stereotyping simply by referring to “the male mind” as if all humans have the same basic structure, with only individual distinctions. Well … no … besides being human we are male and female, as God created us. And then we are individuals.

Consequently I have no problem discussing “the male mind,” with the understanding that individual men will vary on either side of a continuum identified with “maleness.” But keep in mind, what I am saying on this subject is my opinion, based on my observation, not on a scientific study or even a poll eliciting corroborating (or conflicting) views.

Recently a visitor here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction asked some questions after one of my posts on women protagonists, “Women in Fiction, Part 3”:

As a female who reads a great deal, I would agree with that statement [that women can identify with female characters and better understand men by understanding the male character]. I am curious, though. Why wouldn’t the reverse also be true? Why do you think that men can’t learn about us through reading books with female main characters?

I think there are several reasons for the difference I see (and remember, I’m not saying every man will fit in every one of my points—some may not fit in any).

First, contemporary American society has created an atmosphere that can easily cause a man (and especially a boy) to be insecure in his identity as a male.

What is a man? Not so long ago answers to that question might have included “bread winner” or “leader” or “head of the household.” These things are no longer a given, and a man who wishes to claim those roles may be disparaged by society.

Being a man, then, has been reduced to a list of actions, often unattractive (scratching, spitting, ogling, and the like), but sometimes macho (assertion of power and prowess).

What man, searching for his identity in this climate, would then rush out to buy and read books starring women?

My contention is that men who have no problem reading books with female characters are probably quite comfortable with their identity as men.

I believe a second reason fewer men read books with women protagonists than do women with male protagonists, has to do with the differences in our gender make-up.

Women are emotional. Well, men are too, so let me back up. Women are more comfortable expressing our emotions than men are. In fact, I’d say women don’t feel we know people well unless we know the emotional side of them. We explore emotions because we want to connect with emotions. I suspect some men reading this paragraph are just about ready to gag. 😀

Typically men are less likely to show emotion and may even be uncomfortable around others who readily express feelings. I’ve seen boys mock boys for no other reason than for caring deeply.

And in books with women protagonists? I’d bet they all cry at least once. 😉 In fact, many of us as writers hope to induce our readers to cry (and laugh and feel some fear or worry or … emotion). Do guys pick up a book hoping they’ll cry? I doubt it! (Do male authors even wish to generate emotion the same way women writers do? Now that’s a question I haven’t thought of before).

There may be a host of other peripheral reasons why men and boys, in general, prefer to read books about guys not girls, men not women. I thought I could explore some of those as well, but I forgot how I tend to go on and on. (Perhaps a trait endemic to my role as a woman. 😉 ) Anyway, I think these two may be at the heart of the matter. Let me know what you think.

Published in: on April 30, 2010 at 9:28 am  Comments (5)  
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Women in Fiction, Part 3

So my contention is that men don’t want to read books that feature women. (Unless, of course, there are pictures! 😳 )

Here’s my thinking. Part of the reading experience is identifying with the main character. Men don’t want to identify with a woman. They’d feel less than a man.

Women, on the other hand, like to read books about either gender. We can identify with the female character and we can better understand men by understanding the male character.

Big generalities, I know, but I think there’s something to it. Here’s my theory.

What do we have in the book business? Mostly romance, written mostly by women. And yet in the CBA, most of the acquiring editors are men. I’m guessing a good number of the individuals on the pub boards (the ones making the decisions about what books to publish) are men, too.

The men making the decisions don’t know that women readers will read books with a variety of protagonists. They think women readers are like them, wanting to read about a character like them.

So they acquire books they think will appeal to women, knowing that manly-men won’t touch those books with a pole-vault-sized pole.

The problem is, those books only appeal to some women and to no men. The market is fairly closed, and perhaps even shrinking.

The “man books,” however, seem to do pretty well. Of course, I’m not privy to sales records, so I could be wrong, but I’ve seen Ted Dekker’s name on the best selling list a time or two. 🙂

But not every author is as successful. One of the best authors in the CBA, in my opinion, is one few have read. Why? His books are “man books” and men didn’t find out about them. They’re also “man books” dealing with overly-mined territory.

But here’s what happens. Because those books didn’t meet the publisher’s expectation, the report is, this particular house won’t be publishing any more books for men. They tried, and it didn’t work.

One series.

Guys who like sports might prefer a sports book, but that wasn’t an option. Those who want to read books with car chases and lots of explosions wouldn’t have found a book to their liking. In other words, no one novel fits all men.

And no one novel fits all women. But that’s not something women have to worry about because publishers have expanded their fiction selection for women. Besides romance (and there’s an abundance of that) women can choose from suspense, cozy mysteries, woman’s fiction, historicals, and even fantasy (think Karen Hancock and Sharon Hinck).

How many of those books are gender-crossovers?

Are such books possible? Desirable?

Still more to say about this subject. Another day.

Published in: on April 23, 2010 at 2:54 pm  Comments (5)  
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Women in Fiction

Random thoughts about women in fiction. I’ve said from time to time that my observation leads me to believe men don’t really want to read books with women protagonists. I’ve never had men argue against that position, though a few will say they don’t mind so much.

Women, on the other hand, seem content to read books with a protagonist from either gender. But one thing seems to be surfacing—the woman main character must be strong in some way, not just beautiful.

I realized some time ago that one reason I don’t like typical suspense featuring a female protagonist is because in all likelihood, she will be weak and/or vulnerable at some point in the story, either running for her life or for her chastity. I don’t like stories in which a woman is fearful throughout.

At the same time, in one of the recent CSFF Blog Tours, we featured R. J. Anderson’s Faery Rebel: Spell Hunter. A number of the “manly men” participating noted that they did not expect to like the book because of the cover featuring a truculent faery they found to be too much like Tinkerbell, a connection I hadn’t made at all.

As it turned out, our faery female was a tough and independent young thing who took the name Knife—not your typical girlie-girl. And the manly men loved the story.

There are plenty of girlie-girls if fiction, especially in romance. Some are patient and demure and adoring. Some, like she of Twilight fame, are willing to sacrifice all for the one they obsess over.

I heard a startling figure this last weekend—fully eighty percent of all books (not just Christian books) sold in the US are romances. Accurate or not, I think the perception is telling—we are a culture seeking relational bliss, women with men.

Yes, there are coming of age stories featuring guys. Hatchet comes to mind as does Peace Like a River. And there are some action-adventure stories mostly about guys. Alton Gansky has written at least one such book. So has Ted Dekker.

But for the most part, women show up in fiction, if not in the protagonist’s role, then in a role demanding her own subplot.

So I wonder. Is this why men notoriously don’t read fiction? Do guys really not want to read the romance, just as they do not want to go to movies identified as romantic comedies?

Do they not read because they don’t want to know what Jo and Meg and Beth and Amy were whispering about in their attic? Do they not read because they don’t care how Ann Shirley felt as a little orphan girl arriving in a home that expected a boy.

Do men not read because books are too cerebral and not visceral enough? Or manly enough?

And if women protagonists become tougher, more clever, stronger, and independent, will men want to read about those women more?

Believe it or not, these thoughts have something to do with the Church, too, but I’ll need to make that connection another day in a part two, or maybe a part three.

Published in: on April 19, 2010 at 5:52 pm  Comments (7)  
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Macho Men and Kindness

victorianhomestiffanywindowsarticleI went grocery shopping this morning. And as an aside, I picked up the latest copy of Victorian Homes, which contains an article I wrote about a series of Tiffany stained glass windows: “Bringing to Light Opalescent Light.” That was a fun, challenging article, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

Before I even got into the grocery store—in fact, just moments after I pulled into a parking space, a woman standing beside the van next to me looked mournfully up from her cell phone and said, You wouldn’t by any chance have jumper cables, do you?

Well, yes, I do. I haven’t used them in years, but I kept the instructions, and I even bought a bag for them once that also has a set of instructions, so I was pretty confident I could help her.

My, was she relieved! Except, when we’d hooked it all up and I started my car, her engine still didn’t turn over.

OK, there were things about her battery that were different from the picture, so maybe we didn’t have everything connected right. We pulled the clamps off, checked the pictures, reattached everything, and … no joy.

There was juice getting to her car, but the engine wasn’t turning over. I’m thinking, Not the battery. She’s got something else wrong, and what to do now? She said she didn’t have Triple A, didn’t have money to fix her car, that her grandpa did the work on it but wasn’t available. So what to do?

Just then a middle aged man walked up and asked if we needed any help. Wow! Kindness still lives! This guy saw two women struggling with a car problem and braved the scorn of a society that says guys bailing out women is sexist. Well, here’s one woman who is happy, happy that a guy who knew what he was doing came over. He refastened the clamps, told me what to do when I started my car, told her what to do, and sure enough, her engine turned over and started.

Then it dawned on me. How much has the Macho Man concept come about because the feminist movement robbed men of everyday chances of being heroes? It seems to me, when men knew their roles; knew they were needed and appreciated; knew they would be thanked for offering their help, not slapped down because of it, they didn’t need to prove their manhood in the artificial ways we see today.

In reality, a man who knows how to use jumper cables, seeing two women who are trying to use jumper cables and coming to help, is doing nothing but extending kindness. May more men have the courage to do so as well. May more of us women stand up and applaud when they do!

Published in: on December 9, 2008 at 2:26 pm  Comments (8)  
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