Guest ‘Week’ 1: HOW SHOULD CHRISTIAN BLOKES TREAT CHRISTIAN WOMEN?

We kick off this season of guest contributions with these thoughts from Pastor Pete from CCB – they may seem familiar as they’re adapted from a talk he gave at a Lads’ Weekend Away last year. But that makes them no less valuable! Do give your thoughts below… or the big man will be heartbroken!

How should Christian blokes treat Christian women?  We could spend weeks talking about this but here’s a starter for 10!

We should treat women as sisters

1 Timothy 5:1 Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father. Treat younger men like brothers, 2 older women like mothers, younger women like sisters, in all purity.

Treat the women like sisters, in all purity.

Women at church are our sisters.  We are their brothers.  We need to treat them with all purity.  Therefore we must not mess them about, treat them shamefully.  We need to consider how we relate to the women and think how we can do that in all purity.  For the purposes of this blog I’m just talking about relationships between men and women of a similar age.  I think generally with the demographic and narrow age range of this blog (I didn’t say narrow readership!)

Now what does that look like?  I don’t have any biological sisters, but it’s not hard to consider how that relationship should work.  We should protect them, if I had a sister I would hope that I would work hard at protecting her.  Also, there is an aspect of leadership; a brother should take the lead in his relationship with his sister.  But the word purity particularly makes us consider the issue of how we treat them relationally.  Not simply sex, but the purity of our thoughts, the purity of our intentions.  What do we desire most for our sisters?

Surely, we want them to grow in faith?  Surely we want them to love Christ more?  They need us to model devotion to Christ.  They need us to encourage them to love and serve Christ more.  These are not pie in the sky unobtainable desires.  This is what will result if we strive for personal maturity in ourselves and treat the women at church as sisters.

Much of this will be the same whether or not we ourselves are married.  For the health of the church it’s important we think about how this applies to each of.  What does it look like for us to treat the women at church as sisters? 

When in bible study groups, be the first to pray.  Take the lead, it’s our role.  Make sure we prioritise attendance at church, at house group, at KG, and of course at the monthly prayer meeting.  Of course it will be good for us to do these things, but it will also help the women at church grow in their love for Christ, as they see how we are growing in maturity, they can learn from this.

We need to take the lead evangelistically.  This is an area we have not been as good as the women at.  Fabulously, our church (CCB) is not as bad as the national imbalance between men and women.  But we do have more women than men in church.  I went through the directory and we have 14 more women than men listed in there.  There are a number of factors for that, but it seems to me the women have taken the lead evangelistically.  We need to do it.  We need to take the lead and evangelise men.  This helps model the priority of evangelism, but it is also a loving thing for us to do for the women at church. 

The women in church are not stupid, they can count.  Many, most, of them want to get married.  They recognise that if things stay the same, then 14 of them won’t.  Wouldn’t it be a loving thing for us to for our sisters to work hard at evangelising single men, so that our sisters can have someone to marry?

So we need to treat the women in church with purity, they are our sisters.

Now this next bit is specifically aimed at those not married.  However, married guys need to listen too.  Why?  Because they need to encourage the single guys and also to hold them to account for the way they are treating their Christian sisters.

To have any romantic ambiguity with a girl at church is a no-no.  The constant refrain from Christian girls is for us men to “BE CLEAR”.  For a girl to think there might be a romantic possibility with you because of the way you’ve acted towards her and you’ve no intentions with that girl is mean.  It is a long way from purity. 

Now, please don’t get me wrong, please be friends with girls at church.  It’s a normal and good thing to do, they are our sisters, and it’s the most natural thing to want to be friends with them.  But, avoid spending exclusive time with a girl without explaining what is going on.

Men and women think differently, you might say; “we went for a drink she knew it was just as friends.”  Are you sure?  Generally speaking, women psycho-analyse things far more than we do.  They read into things stuff we wouldn’t even imagine could be there.  So be very clear, don’t mess the girls at church around with them speculating whether there is a chance of something more when you’ve no intention of that.  We must take the lead and be clear.

But do make friends with the girls, as an email I got said, “Our girls are brilliant!” 

But what do you do if you are keen on a girl?

Not sure.  But how about this for an idea. 

1. Pray!  Ask God to give you wisdom about whether you should go out with this girl. 

2. Ask the advice of others who you trust. 

3. Ask to meet with her and explain your desire to date her. 

Say you wish to go out with her and you do have a view to the future, you’re not asking her to marry you at this point, but you are saying you would like to see if you have a future together.  If you do not have a view of the future, DO NOT GO OUT WITH HER.  Equally it doesn’t mean you should marry her within the next few weeks, you could but it doesn’t mean you have to.

So now imagine she said yes, she would like to see where things go.  2 questions when you are going out and to keep asking.

  1. If relationship ended tomorrow could you say that you both grew as a Christian during the time you were courting?
  2. If relationship ended tomorrow could you say that you honoured her, both physically and emotionally?

If you say yes to both of these and it does end then it’s not been a failure, you’ve both grown as Christians. 

In all areas, whether we are married or single, we need to consider carefully how we are striving to treat the women at church as sisters.

But additionally, and to help us to do that:

We need to encourage each other to be men.

ESV Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

ESV Proverbs 18:24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Look at these proverbs.  We know they are true.  Let’s encourage, challenge, rebuke, and train each other to be the men at church our women need us to be.

24 comments so far

  1. Phil C on

    Thanks Pete – it’s helpful to hear all this again!

    I’m not sure about the clarity thing, though. Relationships are rarely clear-cut, and making someone speak “clearly” can make them say something they don’t necessarily mean, simply because they don’t actually know what they think yet.

  2. Pete Matthew on

    Phil,

    I recognise that relationships are in the grey zone rather than black and white. However, striving for clarity is the key thing. And saying you don’t exactly know yet is fine too. Clearly when you start to ‘date’ someone you don’t fully know if they are the love of your life. But you shoudln’t start dating them unless you think that is a possibility.

    Clairty means to be clear about what your motives are, and what you think then. Your not promising anything for the future.

  3. Pete Matthew on

    Ps, is it wrong for me to think this is the best blog post on this site ever?

    • Phil C on

      Well, it’s certainly better than the next post in this series!

  4. Tom Stanbury on

    Is flirting being unclear and wrong? Of course if it just to massage ones ego then I can see that it is.
    But surely there is nothing wrong with testing the water and putting out a little bait to see if you get any nibbles?

    Sorry all my chat to finding a wife comes back to analogies of fishing.

    Ladies what do you think?

  5. Pete Matthew on

    Tom,

    I guess the question comes down to what is your motive for flirting. If you’re trying to find out if the girl you think has potential is at all interested in you, then ask her out for a drink, don’t flirt. If you think there is no potential with that girl for the future then don’t flirt becasue you’ll be leading her on.

    The girls may want to comment here, but I think it would be difficult to find a circumstance where flirting is justifiable with a women who is actually your Christian sister.

  6. Tom Stanbury on

    Pete- you’re right and take it on board.

  7. Phil C on

    No flirting at all? Isn’t that a bit like saying no jokes about sex? Sometimes it’s appropriate, sometimes it isn’t.

  8. Pete Matthew on

    Phil,

    You are right. It would be appropriate to flirt with your wife. But not anyone else. Flirting is an activity you are doing with another person and in the context of this discussion it is an activity that is far removed from treating the girls at church as your Christian sisters. Think of the motive and desires behind flirting. Surely they are not godly characteristics.

    However, we must not stop being friends with the girls at church. They are our sisters, we need to care for them, protect them and look out for them. But those friendships should not be flirtatious.

  9. Tom Stanbury on

    I think there are different kinds of flirting. For example my blood sisters know I want the best for them. And ways of showing love and affection involve silly games, names and poking fun at character traits or habits. It usually involves laughter and has a playfulness to it. To see what I mean look at a recent comment on my facebook wall.

    Sometimes christian women are not good at embracing this for what it is and are a bit shall we say clenched. If I am going to treat my christian sisters as ‘sisters’ it is going to involve some of the said playfulness.

    I think the flirting that Pete is refering to and is out of order is that which specifically has a romantic/erotic intent. I don’t behave like that with my blood sisters.

  10. Pete Matthew on

    Tom,

    Excellent caveat. And with our friends we should certainly display our love and affection in the way you describe. And girls need to recognise that is what it is. But I personally wouldn’t call that flirting, thats being fun and friendly. Flirting I think always has sexual undertones.

    So keep doing the former and resist doing the latter!!

  11. Miranda on

    “a brother should take the lead in his relationship with his sister”
    Really? Why?
    In the classic, much argued-over verse in Ephesians, Paul tells wives to “submit to their husbands”. But in Eph. 5:21 he tells us all to submit to one another in reverence for the lord.
    I don’t remember ever reading anything about brothers and sisters. If my brother set himself up in some sort of leadership role I’d thump him, as would most sisters I know if their brother took that stance.

    “When in bible study groups, be the first to pray. Take the lead, it’s our role” Again – why? What’s the biblical precedent?

    Sorry I I’m going on a bit, but this kind of blatant sexism dressed up as biblical fact really gets my goat. Why don’t you burn the homosexuals and send those nasty black people ‘back to where the come from’ while you’re at it?

  12. Pete Matthew on

    Miranda,

    Thank you for your gentle thought provoking comments!

    A brother should protect and care for his sister. He should encourage her in her Chrsitian walk. That’s what I meant by lead – a setting example. You’re right nowhere in the bible does it talk of siblings having a hierachical relationship.

    However, the blokes should take a lead in bible studies. A major problem that has developed in the church in this country over the last 50 years is that blokes have failed to take a lead in church. I’m guessing from your comments you don’t beleive in male headship in church, marriage or family. But I believe that is exactly what the bible teaches in the Pastoral Epistles, in Ephesians, in Colossians, in Genesis, in the gospels and elsewhere.

    Your last paragraph is highly offensive. Discussing the biblical model for male/female roles has nothing whatsoever to do with same sex attraction or racism. to accuse someone of that is shocking and abusive.

    I’m happy to continue discussing what you see the bible teaches about men and women, but not if you resort to cheap shots.

  13. Miranda on

    Hi Pete

    I dare say we’ll have to agree to disagree on a lot of things. Apologies if I offended you, and I willingly admit that my last paragraph is shocking and potentially abusive, however I find a lot of what you originally said deeply offensive and also on some levels abusive.

    Your text was, however, phrased much more personably than my reply which was something of a knee jerk reaction.

    Apologies again

    M

  14. Pete Matthew on

    Miranda,

    Apology accepted.

    However, I’d love to understand what you found offensive and why. Also, I’d love to know where you think I’ve misunderstood the biblical teaching on this subject. I don’t pretend ot have all the answers or anywhere near a complete knowledge of the bible. So let’s not stop discussing, hopefully we could both learn something of God’s pattern for men and women by looking at what the bible has to say on the subject.

    I had not intention to deliberatley offend, indeed I talked at some length about the content of this blog with a number of the women in our church and they gave me lots of help in shaping what I’ve said here.

  15. Tom Stanbury on

    Miranda,

    Were you refering to thumping your christian brother or your natural brother?
    I have been hit by my natural sisters but seem to remember their pinches were far more painful.
    I have yet to be hit by a christian sister but reckon many would have liked to.
    On a more serious note I genuinely would be keen to know what was abusive in Pete’s original post. Your initial post came from a place where I think a lot of people in London are at. For example it is not the first time that I have heard those who have a complimentarian view of gender get lumped in with homophobes and racists.
    Please be gentle with my post later in the week, I am more sensitive than Pete!

    Tom

  16. Debbie on

    come on now guys, you must know that Christians have different interpretations of these Bible passages, and have come to different conclusions about their application. It’s an ignorant response to say that an interpretation differing from yours must be a less Biblical one. I just about restrained myself from a comment very like MIranda’s originally as I was involved with another argument somewhere else on this site!
    Can I suggest a book I found very helpful on this, lent to me a while back by a (male!) friend at church, it’s called ‘Slaves, Women and Homosexuals’ but I’m afraid I can’t remember off hand who it’s by.. thought provoking. I do think that’s it’s quite a danger for all of us in our evangelical tradition to asssume we are always right and everyone else is ‘less Biblical’!

  17. Pete Matthew on

    Hopefully, both Tom and I were clear that neither of us think we have al the answers. And I certainly don’t think I’m always right. But to learn and grow and mature and understand more accurately what the bible is saying we need to engage in a discussion about what the bible is actually saying. What we were hoping for was to engage in a discussion so that we could learn from each other. To do that we’d need to engage with how you interpret the text and then go from there.

  18. Lana O'Connor on

    Greetings brothers and sisters, I was searching for a site discussing how Christian women should be treated by Christian men. And praise God! I did find a good one!

    I can’t explain the comforts and joys of knowing that you are not alone! The other day I learnt a very valuable lesson about male and female companionship. I happened to fall in love with a Christian brother but everytime I told him how I felt he would tell me off and give me loads of bible scriptures out proving I was wrong. He said clearly that we were just friends and no more, but his actions told me otherwise. He’s 31 and I’m 19.

    Our relationship grew and grew. We were calling eachother more and more, even in bed, whilst getting dressed and in the bath and late at night and I thought, I really thought he loved me too. He was so nice, and would always help me in my Christian walk. Infact, it was him who God used to bring me to Him! When I met up with him he would walk down the road with his arms around me and would whisper in my ear. If anyone saw us they would definitely say we were going out, he was all over me! I thought I was going crazy, that this guy is a righteous guy and was wrong! But I couldn’t help it, he was leading me on.

    Many times he spoke to me in that soft voice and I would just naturally respond “I love you” but the telling off I got for it! The thing is, he saw a vision of his wife-to-be (though he didn’t see her face) and said that it wasn’t me, but why did he treat me like this? And he said that he was treating me like a sister; how wrong that was. The truth is, I’m sure he doesn’t realise what he’s been doing yet, but the Devil uses doorways, usually people you know and trust, to get his demons in and operate against the Word of God. What was happening was my spirit was getting destroyed slowly by the injustice! Infact, I don’t even think it’s God’s desire for me to get married. My other heart’s desire is to eunuch and the Bible says our desires become entwined with his and I know, as Dad says, I will be a lot happier single!

  19. Jakeb Brasee on

    Aha! How did I never see this post before? I’m very glad it’s here — I’m *tremendously* glad you talk about 1 Timothy 5:2 with a focus on the family relationship and not just the “purity” part.

    I spent a good while writing a book about 1 Timothy 5:2 and how to be a good brother to Christian sisters…I really wish I had seen this post before I finished it and got it published, because I could have included the excellent advice you gave about evangelism! But this post was only created about 7 days before my book was published, so apparently we both had the same topic on our minds simultaneously, and that’s fantastic!

    This is very exciting. I will link to this from my website, and encourage folks to come and read it! Thanks for giving this topic some attention — here’s praying our brothers and sisters in Christ are able to act more like spiritual siblings. :)

    (my website devoted to this topic is linked from my name, which I hesitate to mention for fear of looking shameless and self-promoting — but if you will believe it, I want to create a web o’ information about this so I don’t have to feel like a website about spiritual siblings alone and drifting in a sea of websites about Christian romanceyness :) )

    Best,
    Jakeb Brasee

  20. [...] a year ago with some words about resisting the desire for self-affirmation. But I WILL link to this guest interview / sermon because it is AMAZING! It was posted about a week before Finishing Last was published, and it talks [...]

  21. Berzee on

    Hmm. Testing a comment to see if my last one failed to get added?

    Thanks for this post. It’s very excellent, and I’m glad to see 1 Timothy 5:2 being discussed for the family aspect and not only the purity aspect. I am very eager that men should be purposefully brotherly toward their sisters-in-Christ. Especially liked the mention of being a brother by evangelizing el’gible bachel’rs — just ‘cuz I never thought of it before. =P

  22. chris on

    What a brilliant article! Thanks so much for writing it :D

  23. Michael Down on

    Hi Pete – great thoughts! I’m a youth pastor in East Vancouver, Canada and I found this helpful prep’ing a talk on this subject with my group – keep up the good work!


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