The sounds of jostling and angry murmuring rolled from the back of the crowd gathered at the temple. Pushing their way through the rapt audience, the religious leaders threw a woman, barely clothed and smelling of a telltale pew-y scent at Jesus’ feet as they formed an accusatory circle around her.
“Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery,” they told Him. “Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” (John 8:4-5)
They were itching for an excuse to accuse Him and discredit His teachings. It was a trap, and Jesus knew it. Why? Because if they were sincerely asking His opinion on the Christian response when two people – two – were caught in adultery, then the man would have been thrust into the scorching desert sand, too.
In answer, Jesus challenged the man who was without sin to throw the first stone.
For a moment, nothing happened. Then, one by one, the defiance seeped out of each man’s shoulders, and he turned away, convicted by the depravity that saturated his own upright, religious life.
And from then on, since Jesus seems to have the same set of standards for everybody, Christians vowed to hold each other – male or female – to an equal level of accountability.
Oh, wait. Sorry, I got confused with how the story should have gone.
Recently, a blog post went viral. It’s titled “Men Prefer Debt-Free Virgins (Without Tattoos).” The writer espouses a myriad of unbiblical doctrines, and the fact that she tries to discourage Christian women from going to college or having careers because it distracts them from their sole life purpose of raising a family is an issue that I won’t even tackle. (In this post.)
For now, let’s focus on this: the blatant double standard when it comes to men and women.
Don’t get me wrong; I think that economic responsibility and sexual abstinence are both biblically founded and healthy, practical ideals. But why do we act like these virtues are more important for women than men? Or, maybe more to point, like Christian women need to act as the body armor of God for men?
I wish I could say that the writer of this blog post was just one misguided voice in a sea of reason, but the fact that the post has been shared on social media numerous times with supportive captions disproves that theory.
And I’ve seen it myself. I’ve heard well-meaning women scold girls for wearing tank tops because it “spoils the mystery.” (First of all, does anyone really believe that there is a man in modern America who has never seen a woman’s shoulders? And second – sorry to spoil it, boys – but female shoulders look a lot like a male’s. Are they really that erotic?)
Growing up in church, I learned all the guidelines for dressing modestly: place your hand on your collarbone, and if your neckline is lower than the width of your hand, it’s too low. Shirt sleeves – at minimum – should be as wide as your pointer, middle, and ring finger together. Hold your arms down at your sides; shorts and skirts should be longer than your fingertips. (Does anyone else find it a little ironic that we use other parts of our body to determine how much of our body to show? I’m just saying, it seems like an inconsistent unit of measurement.)
Every summer on the first day of church camp, camp leaders would separate the boys and girls. The boys were told not to fool around with the girls. The girls were told not to dress or act in a way that would entice the boys, enforcing the idea that they are responsible for another person’s purity. If a boy slips up, then it is, at least partly, the woman’s fault for not covering up more.
(It also enforces the idea that the only reason for modesty is to protect boys from temptation, but I don’t have space right now to explain why that’s wrong.)
Here’s the thing: we can’t trust other people to act as our shield of faith. We have to rely on God.
In his book, Gospel, Pastor J.D. Greear uses this example: a guy and girl are alone, sitting on a couch in the girl’s living room. Things start heating up, and the boy feels overwhelmed by his desire. Abruptly, the girl’s Army Ranger father bursts through the door.
Instantly, the boy’s libido crashes.
What happened? His desire didn’t exactly lessen, but his fear of her father (and death) suddenly outweighed his sexual impulse.
It’s the same concept with any sin. The only way to withstand temptation is to be more submissive to God’s authority than our own desires. And that is something no one else can do for us. The world probably isn’t going to change to accommodate us; we need to learn how to live, work, and interact with it without being coaxed away from our Christian walk.
Don’t misunderstand; as believers, we absolutely should strive to help each other stay fixated on Christ and away from temptation. If your friend struggles with alcohol addiction, you wouldn’t be a great friend to constantly suggest hanging out at a bar. But Jesus said, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away” (Matthew 5:29, emphasis added). He did not say, “If your eye causes you to sin, go rebuke that thing you’re looking at, because clearly it’s the problem, not you” (Nowhere in the Bible 10:1).
That would be futile advice. We can’t control the external world. We can’t change other people. We can only govern ourselves, and that means we need to take responsibility for our own actions.
I mean, aren’t we over the whole, “This woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave the fruit of the tree to me” thing? (Genesis 3:12)
Adam was a victim, but not of Eve. Of his own desires.
As a result of their choices, they were thrown out of paradise and condemned to a lifetime of physical, emotional, and spiritual anguish as God’s plan to bring mankind back to Him began to unfold.
Of course, before casting them out of the garden, God told Eve, “Since this guy who just totally threw you under the bus clearly needs some help staying holy and upright, I’m sending you along as his spiritual service animal. Go, and make sure that he sins no more.”
Oh, sorry. I got confused again.
So, why does this issue even matter? To use the old adage, kids are starving in Africa, Christians are being massacred in the Middle East, drug addicts are sleeping on the concrete just outside our church buildings. Why waste time griping that Christians judge women too harshly and go too easy on men?
Well, for one thing, it mattered to Jesus. He spent a large portion of His ministry with some of the most marginalized and despised people in Jewish culture: Samaritans, beggars, tax-collectors, prostitutes, cripples, and women. He didn’t do it on accident, either. He was proving a point: being united in Christ means being equal in Christ. In Galatians 3:28, Paul affirms this idea, writing, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
This whole blaming women thing has been a problem since sin was invented. The bigger question is, why do we still do that? Why are we shoving the woman into the dirt while letting the man stay in bed? Just like when the religious leaders threw the adulterer at Jesus’ feet, it must be a trap, but what are we trying to accomplish? The only possible answer is that we are trying to ambush and disparage each other.
Here’s the crux of the problem: until we stop looking for excuses to blame one another, we can never unleash our full potential as the church. We can’t lead the world to Christ when we’re busy accusing half the people on earth of using pink spaghetti straps to drag the other half into sin.
We need to acknowledge that we all fall short of God’s perfect glory. We all struggle with sin and temptation. We all kinda suck.
When two people sin, they are equally at fault. They both need to be at Jesus’ feet, and we shouldn’t be circling them, stones in hand and arms flexed. We should all be at His feet – debt-free, virgin, non-tatted, or not.
Maybe that’s what Jesus was getting at all along.
Throughout the next few weeks, I plan to talk about other issues with “Men Prefer Debt-Free Virgins (Without Tattoos).” Next week will be on idolatry of marriage and family. If you want to stay in the loop, type your email into the “Stick Around” widget on the top right of screen!
“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10, ESV)
5 thoughts on “The Double Standard of “Men Prefer Debt-Free Virgins (Without Tattoos)””
“Because if they were sincerely asking His opinion on the Christian response when two people – two – were caught in adultery, then the man would have been thrust into the scorching desert sand, too.” So you believe Jesus told them not to throw a stone because they should’ve also blamed the man too? It’s a whole different story for me if Jesus is saying it’s the mans fault too. I thought it was about grace, the blame didn’t matter, but I’m a young believer. This could drastically change the way I think of this story.
Also women are beautiful and easily desireable. I don’t believe asking them to dress modestly at camp or church is to blame them for men’s desire. Men are stimulated more visually than women. Why would a Christian woman want to take part in the possibility of tempting another woman’s husband? And men don’t get this talk because men don’t have much to show when it comes to show off and maybe rough housing is just a bigger problem. It would be odd to give girls a rough housing speech, wouldn’t it?
Men get tempted and whether women like it or not, we have good looking bodies that take part in this process.
This article really confused me. If we love people as Christians, why would we want to try to be someone’s body armor against sin? Why wouldn’t we want to help protect them? It may not be my fault my friend is going to hell but Lord knows I will do Everything in my power to try to change that for the better, even if I have to skip into a ‘double standard’ to help them.
Hey girl! Thanks for reaching out! I appreciate the questions.
No, I don’t think that the fact that man wasn’t there was the reason Jesus told them not to throw stones. Jesus was making a point: the religious leaders, who studied the Old Testament inside and out, were no better than the adulterers. And they kept God’s law as perfectly as a human being can! They had never (at least physically) committed sexual sin, and they took pride in publicly following every religious rule. If they were modern women, they would never wear shorts above their knees, none of their dresses would be formfitting, and all their sleeves would be well past their shoulders.
Jesus was proving that we are all equally sinful. And you’re right – it is about grace! It’s about the fact that we all need it, because we are all guilty and equally separated from God, and we can’t fix ourselves. That’s why legalism – like saying girls can’t wear tank tops – just doesn’t work. Because sin is a heart issue, not just a following-the-rules issue.
And I am in no way saying that grace gives Christian women a free pass to dress immodestly or that we as Christians shouldn’t try to keep each other away from temptation. That was what I meant when I said you wouldn’t invite a friend with an alcohol addiction to a bar. If you know someone struggles with a certain temptation or sin, help them steer clear.
What I am saying is that I have never seen an article titled “Women Prefer Debt-Free Virgins (Without Tattoos).” It’s not necessarily because we think it’s ok for guys to be man-whores who won’t pay off their student loans until they’re 50, but it’s because we’ve set different expectations for men and women. We’ve placed women under so much pressure to dress modestly and act with restraint that, to some degree, we have placed the responsibility of the men’s sin on them. Women struggle with lust, too, but men are never taught that they need to dress or behave in a certain way so as not to tempt them – they’re only told not to have sex. And it’s not like men don’t try to seduce women. We just don’t really address it.
As for men being “more visually stimulated,” it’s like I was saying with the guy and girl on a couch. Every single one of us has certain sins that entice us more than others. Again, I’m not saying we should exploit those desires, but there will always be temptation. If you struggle with lust and are not focused on Christ, then your heart is not in the right place, and you will be vulnerable to that sin no matter how the other person looks or dresses. Christ is the only way to overcome temptation. Men are not mindless animals, and they have more control over their impulses than we like to give them credit for. Again, this does not give Christian women the right to act and dress with total carelessness, but we should dress modestly because our own hearts are changed, and we want every aspect of our lives to bring God glory…not just to keep guys out of trouble.
At the end of the day, it’s a matter of the heart, and no matter how well we follow the rules (like the Pharisees) or try to support and encourage each other to do the right thing, no person can change another person’s heart. Only Jesus can.
Obviously, I’m not saying that if two people commit a sexual sin, the woman is innocent. But she’s guilty because of her own sin – not because the man decided to sin. Man or woman, we must take responsibility for our own decisions and actions.
I hope that clears things up, meaning, I hope that you can at least see my perspective, even if you still don’t agree. I’m really glad for the discussion; I may even turn it into a full blog post once I’ve had some time to really think through it. Sorry, this is all kind of off the top of my head, but if you have any more questions or follow-up comments, I’d be happy to hear!
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