As Christians, with the resources of the Bible and the Gospel at hand, we ought to be more adept at deconstructing issues. Ours is fundamentally a religion of the heart. We do believe that behavior matters. But we also believe that behavior is symptomatic of belief. People don’t commit adultery because of text messaging any more than they fornicate because of text messaging. Can technology provide another pathway to what the heart wants? Sure. But don’t blame the heart on the technology.
Don’t do in private what you wouldn’t do in public. It’s an important message. If we took it to heart, our communities would be better off.
Conversation Doesn’t Equate to Infidelity
It’s not helpful to assume that conversation between a woman and a man leads to sex. Would there be less sex if men and women didn’t talk? Perhaps. But while we’re stoking the fear that conversation leads to fornication, are there other values we should consider? Are we really suggesting that God’s design for creation is two genders that can’t safely talk one-on-one without making babies? Is instruction for men and women to avoid one another consistent with the message of the cross that we are united into one body?
We’ve created a whole new set of problems by teaching our fellow believers to treat every one-on-one interaction with the opposite sex as a potential sexual encounter. This is a distortion of God’s design in creation. It’s a distortion of the Jesus we meet in the Scripture, who has many important conversations with women. And it’s a distortion of the relational ethic we find in Paul, where he seems to believe that every believer, regardless of gender, lives in the mutual blessing and responsibility of the covenant community.
Intimacy and Inappropriateness
Paul, in writing his letter to the Romans, encouraged the church to embrace a group of faithful co-laborers who meant a great deal to him. This list, comprised of men and women, both married and single, were working alongside one another for the sake of the gospel, freely. Paul wraps up the greeting portion of the letter to the church by saying, “Greet one another with a holy kiss.”
If we are going to push back on acceptable forms of communication within our present culture, what are we to make of this kind of intimate greeting encouraged by the apostle? Before we glamorize those believers as being more morally upright than we are today, remember that Paul issued the same encouragement in his letters to the church at Corinth. You know, Corinth, the church that was guilty of overlooking gross immorality in their midst? Yet Paul did not pull back this instruction from them, nor did he give law-laden guidelines of how to properly handle such a greeting between the genders.
Heirs Together in Christ
Paul did give instruction for how to handle inappropriate situations that arose in the church but his solution was never separating the males from the females and telling them to avoid engaging one another. He didn’t encourage them to run away from one another in fear or have their spouses chaperone their interactions. Instead, he reminded them of how much they are loved in Christ and then encouraged them to love and respond to one another out of that love — to walk by the Spirit in faith for the benefit of the community.
Somewhere along the way, the church stopped embracing one another as co-heirs with Christ and began treating the opposite gender, primarily, as a threat. In placing purity in importance above relationships, we have cut ourselves off completely from the other half of the church body, thus forsaking God-honoring relationships with each other that are rooted in love. We have segregated the family of God to our own detriment and have hindered our ability to invest in and learn from one another. We are now obsessed with protecting ourselves from one another emotionally because we are oversexed; assuming intimacy and vulnerability can only lead to sexual immorality.