Men mentoring women


Men mentoring women
On Jordon‘s blog there has been a lot of heat over the issue of women networking relationally with men. I think it is crucial that we frame this issue correctly.

On one side we have one group that believes that men mentoring women alone is a dangerous activity because it can lead to inappropriate sexual activity.

Alan Creech:
“I have friendships with many women, but I don’t go hang out alone with them in pubs – essentially, I don’t go on dates with them, and they don’t come over to my house when Liz is gone – that’s just widsom, nothing more. People can think that’s old-fashioned and male-centered all they want – whatever. They can also be unaware and end up getting divorced over an affair. I’ll stick with caution.”

On the other side this caution is perceived as a flaw in way men understand women.

Jen Lemen:
“this conversation highlights how few spaces we have in our minds for women. Sexual partner seems to be the largest context for understanding our relationship to women”

I really don’t believe that Jen understands the issues here. This isn’t about men seeing women as sexual objects. This is the very rational concern that bad things can happen when men and women meet alone. This is no unfounded fear. Bad things do happen when men and women meet alone. I’ve heard countless stories from pastors who found themselves in potentially disastrous situations. The church is full of spiritual leaders who lapsed in to sexual sin. It isn’t just men who can’t keep their hormones in check. There are women who are strongly attracted to men with power. Sometimes women will falsely accuse a male pastor of sexual involvement.

It only takes one incident to ruin one’s marriage, career, ministry and hurt the local church. In my home town a woman made outrageous claims about being sexually abused by a local pastor. It went to court, the leader’s picture was posted in the paper. The whole situation was a complete disaster.

There are multiple ways in which people of both genders can be mentored and equipped. All it takes is one extra person to make things safe. Is this not a fair compromise given the incredible risks involved?

  1. #1 by Jordon on January 28, 2004 - 9:40 pm

    The issue isn’t about spending lots of time one on one. It’s about being excluded out of fear of something happened. Jenny Baker and others never talked about one on one but they talked about being excluded from conversations and leadership because men don’t know how to have healthy relationships with women.

  2. #2 by Lisa on January 28, 2004 - 10:54 pm

    Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Some of this stuff is starting to sound like: “I don’t hang out with Chinese people because I find myself thinking racist thoughts”.

    Harsh, but on point. I think Jen _does_ have it correctly framed – we need to, as a community, think about how we view each other. We need to move WAY past the sexual issue.

  3. #3 by Lisa on January 28, 2004 - 11:13 pm

    Hey LT – did you just delete my comment?

  4. #4 by Lisa on January 28, 2004 - 11:13 pm

    Oops – sorry! computer glitch

  5. #5 by LT on January 29, 2004 - 12:12 am

    Lisa:

    I used to counsel and mentor women one on one. I put myself in some very dangerous situations. Some women fall for guys pretty quickly if they caring, sensitive and spiritual. The temptation to move beyond friendship is there, but that borders on exploitation because vulnerable people don’t often think straight.

    It’s easy enough to remedy this. Include one other man or woman in the conversation and the risk is greatly reduced.

    There is no way for men to move beyond their own sexuality. There will always be men who want women. There will always be women who are attracted to powerful men. I can’t see how people can move beyond the “sexual issue”.

  6. #6 by jen lemen on January 29, 2004 - 8:26 am

    oh my lord, this is getting sillier by the minute.

    i have a funny song to sing, that i hope you can find your sense of humor to hear it:

    “you’re so vain, i bet you think this issue is about you, you’re so vain, i bet you think this issue is about you, about you, about you!!!!” (jen singing at the top of her lungs like a crazy person)

    this issue is much bigger than male hormones or the sanctity of human marriage. i hope we can find a way to see it in terms outside our own comfort zones.

    no one is suggesting for a minute that we sign up one million women to get personal private mentoring relationships with one million men, sipping starbucks in a quiet corner, holding our personal lusts at bay. i agree; that would be weird. we are just saying that we need to find more ways to work together and talk to each other and have a comraderie outside the contexts of our potential sexual relationships.

    if the thought of that is terrifying; feel free to opt out. own it as a personal issue; and let the masses who disagree get on with finding a way to another place. we’re grownups here! we can figure this out!

  7. #7 by Betty on January 29, 2004 - 8:31 am

    Amen to Jen!

  8. #8 by jen lemen on January 29, 2004 - 8:32 am

    oh dear.

    i’m instantly riddled with guilt.

    leighton, i don’t even know you which is a shame because you would probably like me (but not in *that* starbucks kind of way).

    i just wish this could be lighter, the whole thing. go ahead, saying something funny back at my expense. i promise to laugh.

    or delete my comments.

    my feelings won’t be hurt.

    i just need need to laugh.

    jen

  9. #9 by robbymac on January 29, 2004 - 8:38 am

    I think Jen’s right.

  10. #10 by linsaymartens on January 29, 2004 - 8:46 am

    I agree with Jen (and Lisa and Jordon) as well.

    As Jenny Baker said …

    “I hope that we’ve got over this fear of one another and that men and women are mature enough and secure enough to make space to really get to know each other well, to listen to dreams, frustrations, ideas and wonderings and together build something that’s more like the kingdom.”

  11. #11 by LT on January 29, 2004 - 10:52 am

    Jen:

    You wrote

    “no one is suggesting for a minute that we sign up one million women to get personal private mentoring relationships with one million men, sipping starbucks in a quiet corner, holding our personal lusts at bay. i agree; that would be weird. we are just saying that we need to find more ways to work together and talk to each other and have a comraderie outside the contexts of our potential sexual relationships.”

    I totally agree with this statement. All I was saying is that there are safe ways to do this and unsafe ways. I believe the commenters on Jordon’s post were are saying something very similar.

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