4 Sexual Injustices for Women in the Church

My husband recently asked me to write down some examples of injustices woman face in relation to sexuality in preparation for a sermon he was going to give on John 8.  The chapter is titled The Woman Caught in Adultery.

The woman in this story was found to be having an affair.  As the law at that time dictated, she was to be brought to temple and stoned by the people.  Jesus happened to be in the crowd and the religious leaders saw this as an opportune time to trap him into saying something they could use against him later, but Jesus turned them all on their heels when he said the famous verse  “Let ye who is without sin cast the first stone.” 

My husband, for the first time in his life, noticed that the man she had an affair with, also making him an adulterer, was not present to be punished for his crime.  As a woman, this is an injustice that I notice every single time I read this story.  It’s something that I understand and know to be true in regards to injustices woman faced then and continue to face now regarding their sexuality.  

As I was taking the kids to school this morning, I was trying to compile all the injustices in my head so I could send my husband some examples.  I was thinking about all of the messages I heard when I was younger and still continue to hear to this day not only from the church but from my friend’s moms, friends, and the culture in general.  I found my stomach getting very tense and started getting really irritable with everyone in the car.  It’s crazy how those messages affected me then and still affect me now.  

I can remember in my youth that virginity was very important to me.   It wasn’t necessarily important to me because I valued myself as it should have been. It was important to me because if I ever wanted to land a suitable mate I must remain pure for that person.  Plus girls who had sex, even once, were called whores, hoes, sluts etc. I’m not sure what the boy name equivalent to that is, oh yes, that’s right, I don’t know one because there isn’t one, which leads to the first injustice …  

Girls who have sex are demonized.  Boys who have sex are glorified.  

Boys are called “studs” and are taught to be proud of their conquests, meanwhile girls are taught they are damaged goods after one sexual encounter.  I heard from countless friend’s moms that boys like to have fun with the promiscuous girls, but like to settle down with virgins.  How messed up is that?  Not only am I supposed to remain a virgin, but I am supposed to be totally cool with my husband not being one.  

Girls bear the responsibility for whether or not sex occurs.  

We are taught we must be modest in all appearances because it is our responsibility not to tempt the boys.  We are in essence teaching our girls that men are wild beasts that can’t control their sexual desires and shouldn’t be required to, therefore we must cover ourselves, not flirt, and repress any sexuality because it is solely our responsibility to keep the boys from looking.  Meanwhile boys get to stroll around shirtless when they are hot because woman should have self-control over their sexual desires. I heard countless times that the girl was ultimately responsible in a relationship for saying no to sex before marriage because it is physically impossible for a boy to resist that urge.

Boys will be boys.  

Meaning, it is totally socially acceptable for boys to talk about woman, what they look like, what they have done with them, and how they grabbed a person’s genitalia.  It’s just what guys do, how can you expect anything different.  There is no accountability from men in respecting a woman through their long inappropriate up and down stares at us, when they say things like “you’d look great in a Hooters outfit” to us, or in what they say to each other about us in the locker room.  

Once you are a married woman, it is your sole responsibility to keep your husband “satisfied”.  

If you aren’t capable of doing this, then don’t let it surprise you when they look at pornography or have affairs, because men have needs and if you aren’t going to meet them, well, that is just the consequence of how you lack as a wife.  

I could go on and on and on, but again, I’m feeling my blood pressure rise and not feeling well just thinking about it. I will end with this.  The thing that infuriates me the most about the injustice in all of this is that culture has robbed woman of something that is supposed to be a gift from God.  My guess is you will be hard pressed to find a woman who doesn’t associate sex with guilt and shame.  We have been taught that sex and sexual desires are unnatural and something to be avoided and the pleasure in it is reserved for men.  When we finally get married and are allowed to do it, we are taught that we have to do it in order to protect our marriage.  

This message is a recipe for disaster. Repress, repress, repress, (SHAME). Meet someone else’s needs in order to not lose them (GUILT).

None of this is what God intended when he gave us the gift of sexuality.  The gift was to be a physical, mutually satisfying expression of love between a husband and wife,  yet once again, we humans went and messed it up.  

Written by Karen Culbertson

Wife, mom and licensed mental health counselor.

2 comments

  1. As you said yourself, our culture has put this double standard into play. Jesus did not. No, the the man who committed adultry with the woman in the Bible passage was not present but that was the culture of those times. Jesus didn’t condone his behavior any more than hers. So my point is that it’s not the church that is doing this to women, it’s our culture. The commandments say you shall not commit adultry. It doesn’t say only women can’t commit adultry.

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