“Stop it, George”, cried Mary, as she felt her date’s hands beginning to grope her body in places she had not consented to be touched.. “Now, Mary, you know you want it,” said George in a soothing tone, “Besides, you’ve been egging me on and now you want to stop?!”
Sexual harassment is the topic of the hour. By “sexual harassment”, I mean mistreating women sexually, including anything from a leer, to a comment, to a grope, to rape. The #Metoo movement has moved into full swing and is actually spreading around the globe. It’s about time. This is an age-old problem. Go to the first book in the Bible and read the story of Dinah if you want proof. Even Thomas Jefferson had a slave mistress. Men are stronger, they’re more dominant, they’re more sexually driven and often, especially in the past, women had little protection or rights (sexual harassment was terrible in ancient Rome – rape was acceptable in many cases).
Harvey Weinstein, the lecherous movie producer, was the last straw that made this ongoing problem far more public. Suddenly women were emboldened to come forward who’d been intimidated before. Of course, the issue has been distorted and misused by some. Fair enough. Call them out. Sometimes misunderstanding is involved or mistakes. But overall, it’s still a significant problem and I, among most of you, want to see it stopped. More importantly, so does God. It’s a travesty of the beautiful gift of sex which He invented, not us, and which He wants us to freely enjoy in marriage. Read the Song of Songs in Scripture; X-rated and unembarrassed in its descriptions about sexual play among a married man and woman. Let me set this up with a few comments.
· This isn’t a Democrat/Republican, liberal/conservative sort of issue
It’s a human issue which goes back to the book of Genesis and has persisted throughout human history on all sides of the fence. Yes, each side is using #Metoo to their political advantage, but that doesn’t erase the problem. It’s still always been there.
· Most women are much more aware of the problem than men
I’ve never been sexually harassed, but many women have, even if it’s only a leering glance sent their way as they walk by. Men, your wife is much more sensitive to the sexual dynamics than you are. They feel a sense of vulnerability that we men will probably never understand. So it’s easy for us men to pooh-pooh the problem as oversensitivity.
· Men and women often have different boundaries regarding what they consider sexual harassment
I remember, many years ago, hugging a couple of young women at church, both former youth group members, whom I hadn’t seen for a long time, and feeling them both squirm. I was a bit embarrassed and puzzled, since my intentions had been honorable, inspired by affection. They were old friends. But it felt different to them. Too intrusive, I guess. Who knew? If I had realized this, I would not have hugged them.
· Some sexual harassment is considered normal in our society
As one woman noted, for years we’ve treated certain acts as a “boys will be boys” thing, acting as though it’s normal and hard for them to help, men being men, especially the milder acts such as comments and looks. Those poor boys loaded with all that testosterone!
MQ: HOW CAN I BEHAVE IN A SEXUALLY HOLY WAY TOWARD WOMEN?
1. I can behave in a sexually holy way toward women by guarding my mind
2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to “take captive every thought by making it obedient to Christ.” Holy sexual responses begin in our minds. When we guard our thoughts and give them to Christ, we’re much less likely to lust or to move beyond lust to various forms of sexual assault. You can enjoy a woman’s beauty without lusting after her if you guard your mind.
2. I can behave in a sexually holy way toward women by setting firm personal boundaries
Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 5:2 to treat:
1 Timothy 5:2 older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity
3. I can behave in a sexually holy way toward women by respecting them
This is part of caring. They have worth. They have dignity. They’re made in God’s image. They’re someone else’s daughter, perhaps someone else’s girlfriend or wife – not simply objects to be used for our pleasure.
4. I can behave in a sexually holy way toward women by filtering my words and actions with their comfort in mind
Your intentions may be honorable, but each woman is different. What’s no big deal to one woman might clearly bother another. Err on the side of caution. Their body language usually gives us clues. And women, please speak up if any of our actions are uncomfortable to you, don’t just go along and try to be “nice”. We men can be clueless.
5. I can behave in a sexually holy way by limiting my sexually-oriented interaction with the woman
Too much romantic physical interaction with a woman who’s not my wife, stokes the desire for even more and makes it tougher to stop. Better to set safe limits, especially since, as men, since we get so quickly aroused.
6. I can behave in a sexually holy way by showing repentance when I do fail
If you do go too far, don’t make excuses or rationalize. Apologize to the one wronged and repent of your action before God. Then don’t do it again.
7. I can behave in a sexually holy way by taking a stand against it
It’s not okay. If you see a sister being harassed, speak against it. Protect her if she will let you. If the crowd is getting lewd, make it clear, at least by silence, that you’re not going along with the crowd. Don’t be afraid to testify in court if it’s a criminal case.
8. I can behave in a sexually holy way, by not blaming the victim
It’s true that some women dress and act provocatively. Ladies, that doesn’t help us guys. Be modest. But it’s never an acceptable excuse for a man forcing himself upon a woman.
9. I can behave in a sexually appropriate way by setting the standard where I have control over others
If you’re a manager, or a leader of some sort, don’t allow sexual harassment to go on when you’re aware of it. Say, “that behavior isn’t done in our office!” and enforce it. If a woman brings you a complaint, listen carefully and take it seriously.
10. I can behave in a sexually appropriate manner by limiting lust-building input
Even conservative Christians often watch too much trashy sexual content. It primes us for sexual sin of all sorts. Fill your mind with the Word and with good content and the temptation will recede.
11. I can behave in a sexually appropriate way by being Spirit-filled
I’ve implied this already. Jesus calls us to be holy and pure and the Spirit, if He’s in control, will make this easier. He’s disgusted by sexual assault of every sort. He loves women and wants them treated with honor and love and respect. As we walk with Him we will gain the same attitude.