The Double Standard
Our sexuality is a very complex issue. Where does one discern between desperate human need for love and contact, and deliberate human predation?
We have guidelines to narrow our path of acceptable conduct. Some would say the Bible should guide our conduct, but even a casual reading of the Bible leads us to men who have had contact with two or more women concurrently and managed to maintain a relationship with God. The Bible records the havoc that resulted at the social level between the wives and children of these men, but no direct instruction that the havoc was a direct result of any sort of sexual misconduct that would result in the loss of salvation. Frankly, much to my disappointment, I find very little in the Bible supporting monogamy for anyone other than one aspiring the duties of bishop (minister).
Personally, I have come to the conclusion that the reason we have such strict guidelines for sexual conduct is for the sanctity and preservation the family unit. It is no secret that it is easier to prove who your mother is than your father. And yet, women are usually held to much higher standards of conduct than men. Men, not always, but often, have a much harder time loving and providing for stepchildren than their own biological children. A child from a well adjusted biologically intact family has a much higher chance for happiness and personal success than do children that are products of other types of familial arrangements.
Many years ago, my closest friend was dating a man attending (name withheld) congregation. She became pregnant, and was promptly thrown out of church for sexual misconduct. At nearly the exact same time, the son of our local deacon also impregnated a young woman outside the church. He, however, was not told he was not welcome, and did not miss a single Sabbath. As soon as his little boy was born, he started to bring his baby to church, where everybody ooed and awed how cute this little guy was. My girlfriend, in the meantime, was constantly calling our ever-so-strict minister literally begging to be allowed to return to services. Our minister felt that she was simply desperately lonely and not sincerely repentant. She would have to somehow prove to his satisfaction her repentance. When her daughter was something like a year old, she was finally allowed to return to services, and fellowship again, lucky girl. She was still desperately lonely, as many of the brethren were reluctant to fellowship with a woman who our minister seemed to be so annoyed by.
After a good long while, she began to date a fellow from a congregation in a town a good drive away. Against my extremely vocal protests, she let him spend the night. "I can handle it," she laughingly protested. I told her that I thought that nobody could handle it, because we were not programmed by God to handle that sort of stimulation without responding to it in a natural way. It's not natural to hold and kiss a member of the opposite sex more than 1 and 3/4 seconds, or certainly more than 2 seconds without needing to have sex with that individual. Everybody knows that! "I can handle it! I've already learned my lesson, silly girl!"
Well, to make a long story short. She became pregnant that night. She was so sad. After she became pregnant, she learned things about him that told her that he wasn't really the kind of fellow to try to settle down with. But because she was so afraid of being disfellowshipped again, she agreed to marry him for the sake of the baby.
In the meantime, our deacon's son, impregnated the SAME girl again! Again, the IDENTICAL scenario! And unlike my friend, not one word was spoken from the pulpit about sexual misconduct. And this time, my girlfriend was not disfellowshipped because our minister felt that getting married demonstrated to his satisfaction her repentance.
She got married, and was miserable. He was a terrible father to her first little girl. He allowed his son by a previous marriage to fondle the older child in obviously inappropriate places until he was caught by my friend. The stepfather felt that just feeling under the panties was, "no big deal." Then, as the girls grew, his bias towards his biological daughter was so obvious it hurt. He would take his daughter to a toy store and buy her gads of expensive toys, and bring back some cheap piece of chintzy Korean junk that cost less than two bucks for her older sister to prove that he loved them equally. (I am not EVEN scratching the surface here, by the way.) When she finally went to the ministry for guidance he was like, "what to you want me to do about it? You married him." Very little intervention was afforded this tragic woman.
Back at the ranch, the deacon's son decided that the mother of his children was not the kind of person he wanted for a wife. He had met a lovely tall blond at the Feast of Tabernacles back East with a drop dead figure in a black leather mini. He had finally found his soul mate and proposed marriage. And marry they did, complete with her daughter from a previous marriage and his two younguns in tow. It was a lovely church affair, and everyone wished them all the best.
Both of these fine WGC marriages ended in divorce; both women desperately wanting more from their men. My friend desperately wanted love and respect, and the long-legged leather skirted mini desperately wanted the best house in our congregation.
I guess I bring up all this because most people don't even discuss one of the most prevalent forms of sex related abuse: The DOUBLE STANDARD! My friend was our local church congregation's whipping post for years! People with sunshiny smiles, and warm dispositions were somewhat cold and aloof to her. People that did associate often did so condescendingly, and you could feel it! She endured it endlessly because she believed that if you suffer rebuke for something that you actually did that was wrong, was counted as nothing to God. Only if you are innocent, she believed, will God honor your endurance. I could never make her understand that the minute, no, the second, you repent to God, you are INNOCENT of whatever sin, and you should be treated as an innocent person. After her first baby, only the crummiest guys would associate with her. (And frankly, I had to suspect lack of honorable intention, under the circumstances.) With so much rejection her desperation made her the perfect target for a repeat performance. (Once she even had to send away a highly respected husband from her front door. We never told anyone, because she didn't want to humiliate the husband's wife if the tawdry event became common knowledge.) In the spirit of Jesus Christ, our congregation was all heart. People said, it was her CHOICE. She CHOSE to screw up her life. Maybe someday she will "get the picture." Boy, anyone in an emotional environment like that would want to aspire to their greatest potential, wouldn't you agree?
The deacon's son, on the other hand, was highly regarded and (at least on the surface) there were no visible signs of the anguish being suffered by his sister in sin. People seemed extremely supportive and comforting when his wife left him when he could not supply her with the same standard of living as her best friend whose husband had been left 12 million dollars in a family trust.
The double standard is why we get pissed off when someone pulling the paycheck of bishop is found not only to be fleecing the sheep but !@#$%^, I mean, intercourse them as well. Most of the men and women in the church put forth an enormous amount of energy to restrain even their inappropriate thoughts, not to mention their natural humanly urges. People get upset when there is a realization of injustice. One person can accept money to teach a specific code of conduct to others and proceed to actually behave anyway they choose. And another behaves the same way and gets "the Book" thrown at them. It just isn't right.
Maybe some people were troubled by the deacon's son behavior, but maybe nothing was done because of the possibility of personal repercussion. Maybe in our church area, just being the son of a deacon gave someone enough status to be held above public castigation. I think that people are more willing to tolerate the sins of people they consider to be their own. The sins of the so-called lower class, wherever you consider yourself to be on the social scale of things, and the sins of those that are considered above you are far less tolerable. We can be upset about our "superior's" behavior, but if you have a problem with it you had better take it to God, on your knees. When it comes to those in authority over you, remember the chain of command and your place in it. God will correct. You can treat that unwed mother, on the other hand, any way you like.
(Even though I almost NEVER said anything about what I was witnessing at church, one time I could not resist. We were all just sitting around casually at a potluck. Some minister type was behind me saying this and that about girls who would dress like "whores," behave like "whores," blah, blah, blah. I couldn't take it anymore, and turned around, looked quietly into his eyes, and slowly smiled. Busted!!! At that moment HE KNEW that I knew. He knew that I KNEW that he was struggling against his own desire to sin. His desire to grab those "little whores" and do whatever it is that you do with them was no longer just his secret. I did not say one word to him, and turned my head back to the people in my conversation circle. We did not have to hear one more word about "whores" from this guy again. Ever. Thank God! )
I am NOT making this up. I asked my friend when the first time she screwed up (sexually) in the church really was. She said at the campus at Ambassador College. She never would tell me with whom. I have wondered if that is what started a cycle of low self-esteem that lasted for most of the rest of her life.
If the reports of gross misconduct at headquarters are to be believed, all this financial and social havoc has been going on for years and years and years. Someone who didn't approve must have known. And yet, nothing was done. To me, that is yet another proof that we were not in a genuinely Christian organization. The World Wide Church of God is and always has been a legal entity of man, rather than a spiritual one. The only recourse available to us is outlined in the articles of incorporation, which is, of course, no recourse at all. In a genuine Christian organization, among real Christians, there is recourse that works. Resorting to Matthew 18 for the long term benefit of the offender, the offended, and the congregation as a whole will not result in the loss of job or responsibilities among true Christians. And yet decent people had real and legitimate fears of retaliation. And still others said nothing simply because they were on a gravy train that they simply did not want derailed.
In a genuinely Christian organization, men who abuse their trust can and should be removed from roles that give them authority over others. Forgiven? Absolutely! Continued to be paid to guide others in a position of trust? Absolutely, not!
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