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June 26, 2004


Lynn Gazis-Sax

I don't know if men actually struggle more with sexual temptation than women; they do seem, on average, to have temptations that I have a harder time understanding (whether for reasons of culture or nature). I mean, I really can understand being tempted, and succumbing, and having sex with someone other than your wife, but I can't, at a gut level, empathize with that someone being a stripper (rather than, say, an old high school flame reencountered at a reunion). So, yeah, I can understand why Craig would have an easier time talking with another man about it than with a woman.


Exactly, Lynn; in our lives, we need folks who "get it" on a gut level -- and we need folks who can offer both compassion and firm direction.


Thanks for this post -- now I understand better, even if I still don't entirely agree. (I have a longer response on my blog.)

Jonathan Dresner

The Bly in your background is showing, and I'm afraid that I'm not a convert to that, either.

Our generation doesn't have the kind of gender-bias excuses that previous generations had, and the same thing applies to models and friendships and support systems. Beyond childhood, and excluding encounters with divinity (for those of us who factor such things), we are our own masters and makers.

To insist that our role models must come from our own gender, and that sexual tension is too much to overcome, may work for you (though you deny the power of sexual tension in your own ministry work). Yes, there are social norms, and your interactions with Craig might well be easier for him and his wife (should it come to that), but if he can't hear the same messages from a female friend/pastor/etc. as from a male, I feel like that is indicative of a narrowness on his part rather than a virtue on yours.


I can't agree, Jonathan. It would be like a male doctor telling me what it is like to go through labor and delivery -- he can tell me the mechanics but he can't reach the gut-level nitty-gritty stuff I want and need to hear about. Only someone who's actually been through it can do that and that means another woman. And the same goes for men. Would you believe me if I talked about prostate trouble?

There are times when cross-gender relationships, even friendships, are terrific, great and really important, but boys are raised differently than girls. Boys are encouraged to do and be things that even in these enlightened times girls are not. cross-gender relationships are still seen to be open doors to sexual relationships and sexual relationships can complicate things tremendously. Even when that stereotype changes, men are still going to have more in common with men than with women and vice versa. They can be complimentary to each other but not totally similar.

Jonathan Dresner

Mumcat: Pop quiz. How many women went through labor and delivery in the last two centuries with only male doctors? The vast majority (my wife included), actually. I'm not sure what that proves, except that gender and knowledge are funny subjects, particularly when you actually take more than recent history into account.

I am not unaware of sexual tension, or social dynamics. I merely refuse to give them authority/power/status by accepting them as givens, and the corrollary to that is that I refuse to limit my growth by operating within those parameters.

Physiological differences, some of them emotional and cognitive, exist. But I also deny the purity of direct experience as a mediator of knowledge: listening, reading, thinking and empathizing are going to produce more useful generalized (and applicable in more specific circumstances) knowledge than limiting knowledge to direct experience. Otherwise, what are we doing?

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