I’m a left-leaning Christian from California and I didn’t vote for this current Administration. Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of hoopla over how Vice President Mike Pence will not dine alone with a woman or attend events with alcohol without her. I know very little else about the man besides his politics, but I’ve got to tell you, I’ve got nothing but mad respect for how he guards his marriage.
I didn’t become a Christian until I moved to the South about four years ago. I had grown up in the church but left in college because it had never really “clicked” for me. So when I first began attending church in Louisiana and meeting couples who had similar policies as the Pences, I was confused. At first I thought maybe they just didn’t respect women. And it was insulting. After all, at the time I was a senior manager for a company based in California and led a communications team. I was used to being on equal footing with men and even managing men, and this behavior made me feel subordinate just because I was a woman for the first time in my life.
So, what did I do? Did I just judge them and assume that Christian men or maybe just Christian men from the South, were misogynists? No, what I did was go to people I trusted and asked a lot of questions.
- “Why is it that so-and-so won’t shake my hand?”
- “What is it that when we walk into church, so-and-so always looks at my husband and not me?”
- “Why is it that men around here don’t seem to text women back?”
- “Why can’t an unmarried man and woman who aren’t dating not have a meal together?”
And what I found were couples who cared enough about me and my marriage to take the time to explain to me how they guard theirs. A man not shaking a woman’s hand is a bit extreme, they said, but if you’re with your husband at the time (which I always was when this happened), it’s probably just because he’s shaking his. It’s the same way with someone not making eye contact with you. He sees you and your husband as one, but out of respect for you as a couple, he makes eye contact with your husband so your husband knows he isn’t eyeing (read: lusting) over you.
And with texting, I found out, it isn’t that some men won’t text women, it’s that they don’t like to do it alone. Instead, they’d prefer that they group text, either with their wife or your husband included. Why? So everyone knows there’s nothing secret going on. The same with dining alone with a member of the opposite sex who isn’t your spouse. If there’s nothing to hide, why not invite your spouse, or if you’re wanting to dine with a superior at work for mentoring purposes, why not also invite another colleague of equal footing?
I’ll admit, at first I thought some of these practices were a little silly. But the more I thought about them, the more they made sense to me as being born not out of misogyny and hate, but out of love and respect for marriages. And my husband and I – the California hippies that we are – have even adopted some of these practices ourselves. We do this because affairs can happen overnight – usually when there’s alcohol involved – but most of the time they occur overtime, when an unmarried man and woman spend a significant amount of time alone together, and one begins to long for the other.
That’s not to say that I haven’t had men from church mentor me. They definitely have. It’s just been done in a setting in which either my husband or his wife was also present. And we all know that our conversations have been about mentoring and growing, and not something else, and all of our marriages are stronger because of it.
I know this post will ruffle some feathers, and I’ll just be called “patriarchal.” Which would be really rather funny to those who actually know me. Those who know me best know me as a strong, independent woman. I just don’t ever want to be so strong and independent that it ends up interfering with my marriage, which is why I take precautions to protect the relationship I have with my husband.
I have to say this is sound policy. I used to travel a lot for work and I’ve seen things happen between coworkers who are often together, away from spouses, too many times, especially when drinking was involved. Male colleagues and friends, married or not, are not always safe for women traveling for business alone. And neither are the women!
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