As I mentioned previously, interactions among Christians are significant to the spiritual health of a believer and further our fellowship together is a manifestation of our unity. These interactions are to be guarded and be pleasing to the Lord. We are sometimes so preoccupied in delving into political and social wars especially against the sexual revolution with the expectation to change the direction of the wind that we forget about cleaning our own room first. If we are going to push the sexual purity narrative against the sexual immoral, it needs to first happen within your heart and the walls of your local congregation.
Mr. Suave’s Performance
Years ago, I was a part of a church that should be commended for their desire to exhibit holiness when meeting together as believers. They really emphasized on now drawing attention to themselves and both men and women attempted to suffocate any ungodly attempts to be a little too a la mode. Their comportment was one which showed a desire to please the Lord, and fellowship respectfully with one another. They were reverent in their interactions with each other and showed a love for one another that Paul might have commended in one of his epistles to them. But there was one fellow who stood out, not so much for his apparel but his approach with the ladies. Mr. Suave was a good-looking gent who loved to put both his wisdom and ability to flirt on full display. If he wasn’t flicking his brain at you then he was being a little too nice with the opposite sex all in the name of Christ. One might have wondered if his only reason for attending church was to seek attention from the opposite sex. While most saw through his alter ego, some others were a little naïve, especially some of the younger ladies. The situation created some tension within the congregation especially one night when his wife began to suspect his desire to turn the church into a pick-up joint. That evening, after the sermon, he was strutting his moves like a turkey in heat and things got out of hand. He and a naïve young lady got the type of attention that was more than he bargained for, when his wife confronted them right in front of the whole congregation. This tasteless spectacle caused what equated to an internal bar fight and should speak to all of us about our actions.
In the Family
With that said, relationships are essential to the people of God and are compared to that of a family. We aren’t to segregate based upon sex or age but to intermingle. The Lord Jesus certainly presented this reality to us. This kingdom family unit is essentially made up of mothers, brothers and sisters who do the will of God (Mark 3:31-35). Family members interact with each other on a regular basis and those relations are important to consider. How Christians intermingle with each other should be much like a family interacts but without all the commotion. But this is not always the case and, yes, Christians, like family units have their problems, and some are extremely serious. One of them is the interaction between the sexes within it’s walls. It would be nice to think that our incident with Mr. Suave was unique and once someone poured some cold water on him that it was the end of it. But that’s not the case. While such a situation casts a shadow upon a congregation, the open spectacle of various accusations against churchmen in recent times has become a drumbeat of malaise. The Ecclesiastical “#metoo movement” (#churchtoo) exposed the dealings of some church leaders and ecclesiastical playboys, especially in terms of abuse and serious unwanted sexual advances and in return, I applaud those who fought and are fighting for this. This is not to say that I agree with every case brought before the court of the internet, but in some cases where the siren went off was a win for the church. I know that this also caused some men and women reflect upon those interactions and how to re-examine themselves and their interactions with others.
With All Purity
Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity. (1 Timothy 5:1-2)
While there is much that could be said about this topic and many have written great works on it, I’d like to offer just a small thought from the first epistle of Paul to Timothy. The apostle Paul describes many of these categories of roles and groups from various walks of life. He speaks of on how widows (1 Timothy 5:3-16), elders (1 Timothy 5:17-25), slaves (1 Timothy 6:1-2) and rich (1 Timothy 6:17-19) should comport themselves. Paul extends this to include interactions between the four groups comparing them to a family, mainly older men, older women, younger men, younger women. Timothy is commanded to treat these groups in a similar fashion. In his interactions with these groups, and in return, their interaction with each other. This is in the form of a contrasting approach where Timothy was told “not to rebuke”, but in return, “encourage”! When the young sister is mentioned, Paul tells Timothy to exhort her in all purity. This is meant to communicate the approach to their interaction. The term purity (agneia) signifies sexual chastity and hence the exhortation is to approach her with care in how he was to conduct himself with her. But note the young sisters are not to be simply treated with purity, but ALL purity. This is all encompassing, and these interactions requires that she should be treated as a sister in Christ not as a potential love affair.
Keeping in mind the example of Mr. Suave, one of the questions that has surfaced time and time again in my own mind was where were the men of the congregation to deal with this man? While we are told not to rebuke but to exhort, there was little of either done in this situation. A proper response would have been to pull him aside and have a little heart to heart in hopes to cool him down. If he was unrepentant and decided to continue in his pursuits, to bring 2-3 others to address him and finally to get the church involved. Of course, in this case there weren’t any unwanted sexual interactions between the two parties and if there were, or it became something far worse, contacting the local magistrate would obviously be an obvious appropriate response.
Brothers & Sisters, we need to be mindful that if we are expecting purity outside the walls of our churches and we are prepared to make a stand against the ungodly perversion of sex, then we need to have an appropriate plan when Mr. Suave and even worst begin to hunt our young women in the church. Be vigilant, know what’s going on in your churches, and be prepared to deal with these situations biblically.