Why Would a Christian Leave Her Stranded? May 24, 2009

Why Would a Christian Leave Her Stranded?

Let’s say you’re married and male. I understand it might look a bit suspicious if you’re hanging out with single women… but hopefully, there’s some trust built into your relationship and you’re not cheating on your wife.

Laura has a story dealing with that situation that I find appalling.

The setup is that she worked at a Christian summer camp several years back — Joel was one of her co-workers and Corey was her boss. It was late, very dark, and a long walk back to the cabins. As it turned out, Corey the Christian Boss had a car, but it could only hold one other passenger…

How did he handle the situation?

Let’s just say it involves the line, “… it would be inappropriate for me to take you back since I am married and you are a female, so I am going to have to take Joel instead.”

You can read the full story here.

I don’t get this. Superficially, I understand it may look compromising… but to whom? Surely not the husband, who is actually doing someone a favor. Not to the wife, who (if she found out) would get an explanation and hopefully trusts her husband to be honest about these things. Not to their god, who would presumably know everybody’s intentions.

Not that there’s any underlying sexual tension in this story, but seriously, whatever happened to self-control? Are Christians like the ones in this story incapable of this?

Laura has come to a conclusion about all this:

I don’t think that would ever happen in a non-religious crowd. It hasn’t so far. Heck, I don’t think that would even happen in a moderately religious crowd. The extent some people go to enforce their own legalistic, Pharisaical rules is completely ridiculous — and dangerous…

It’s strange because one of the attractions of Christian fundamentalism is supposed to be the way men are thoughtful toward women because they don’t have to be tied down by the feminist movement. It’s so strange how the opposite seems to be true: the nonreligious men I have met seem to simply use common sense. Women are capable, but you don’t strand them in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night, either.

(via The Redheaded Skeptic)

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  • Ricardo Colmenares

    Reminds me of the opening scene of “Gangs of New York”, in which Bill the Butcher invokes god’s help in overcoming the rival Irish gang, while “Priest” Vallon, leader of the latter, replies “prepare to receive the true lord!”

    Man created god. The god concept exists to fit our whims, issues, and insecurities. Even the most fanatical, devout followers will only follow the word of their holy book of choice as far as it agrees with their personal mores.

    The Christian right that rejects gay marriage while cheating on their spouses with members of either sex, the warmongers who want to jump-start their scriptures’ version of Ragnarok, the suicide bomber who sees no problem with taking out children in order to defend his god’s “honor”: They are the ultimate “moral relativists”, picking and choosing the writs they will follow in order to satisfy their worldview.

    Laura’s boss and co-worker are simply a couple more examples of the hypocrisy of religion. According to the Bible, Jesus saved an adulterous woman from being stoned to death, and repudiated her would-be executioners. But clearly what he meant was that ditching teenage girls in the woods at night is what a true Christian should do. Totally.

  • I read the whole article at the link. Here’s my take: The author ends up with the conclusion that one person should have ridden (rode? sorry if my grammar is off)the vehicle and the other two should have walked back for safety. This is the safest option for all and leaves no one stranded regardless of their gender. I tend toward gender egalitarianism, so to me it’s irrelevant which one rode and which two walked. However, the author’s point of how men are called to be chivalrous misses an important point: the Bible verses in question generally call for chivalry from husbands for their wives, not other women. After all, biblically, women are inferior to men, thus men are justified in treating them with disdain (Jesus and Paul sure did), however the injunction for “good” behavior only applies toward a wife, so such behavior from a fundie should be expected.
    For atheists, of course, sexual equality would call for decent treatment of all regardless of their sex or gender. GO ATHEISTS!!!

  • Richard Wade

    It doesn’t seem to have much to do with the boss being a Christian; he’s just a self-centered jerk by any brand. He was only interested in protecting his own reputation, and it looks like his reputation with his wife may have already been strained. Some men in the Middle East might think the boss did the right thing. My contempt for that mentality is beyond expression.

    If I was in the boss’s position I would take Laura home first and then return for Joel. If I was really worried about my reputation, I’d first call both my wife and whoever was responsible for Laura to let everyone know that I was driving her home.

    If I was in Joel’s position and the idiot boss refused to take Laura home but offered to take me instead, I would politely refuse and stay with Laura, to somehow make sure she got home safely, even if we had to walk.

    I won’t leave a female stranded, period. When we leave work together at night, I make sure they are in their car and driving away before I leave in my car. One night a female co-worker’s ride was late, and she was planning to sit outside the locked building until her ride arrived. I phoned my wife to tell her of the situation so she wouldn’t worry that I’d been in a traffic accident, and I waited with my co-worker until her ride arrived. This is not about thinking that all females are helpless. I would have done that even if she could clearly kick an attacker’s ass.

    This is not hard to figure out, guys. Your strength is for protecting others. Use it.

  • magdalune

    Reminds me of the story of two Buddhist monks who come across a women needing to get across the stream. One monk passes by because touching a woman is forbidden. The other monk holds the woman on his back and crosses the stream. The monk that passed by got mad, but the helpful monk chastises him by saying that he had peace since helping the woman across the stream, but the monk who had passed had been angry ever since they crossed the stream, so who was the worse of the two?

    It also brings to mind a story that these men should have heard and been completely familiar with – the story of the good Samaritan. Better to appear evil while doing good than be an ass under the guise of piety.

  • beckster

    An atheist friend of mine once pointed out to me that all the atheists we know seem to have better marriages than the christians. I would be furious at my husband if he stranded someone (anyone!) alone in the dark in the woods because of some paranoid and selfish fantasy that it would ruin our marriage. Really all that man cared about was what other people would think of him. Luckily I am married to an atheist so I don’t have to worry about such nonsense.

  • DeafAtheist

    I agree whole-heartedly with what Richard Wade said and I like the quote from magdalune…

    Better to appear evil while doing good than be an ass under the guise of piety.

  • I think I would have found a way to take them both back at the same time. Perhaps unload some stuff from the vehicle, take them both back, then go back and get the stuff. People are more important than stuff.

  • That’s fundamentalism for you. Very explicit gender roles, defined rules as to how the two are supposed to interact and stiff penalties if people step out of their roles or break the rules. God made them male and female, blah blah blah. Their anti-feminist bent and virulent hatred of LGBT people stem from this.

    Such control freaks, and so obsessed with appearances. I can’t imagine living such a live.

  • Vincent

    First off, he didn’t have a car, he had a 4-wheeler. Basically think of a motorcycle only more stable because it has 4 wheels instead of 2. So the passenger would have to ride astride, presumably holding onto the driver with arms around his chest.

    Quite possibly the boss had already been accused of cheating by his wife, with his staff, and so he really was scared of what she would think if she was another woman with her arms around him.

    Of course, the right thing to do would have been to drive the 4-wheeler very slowly in front of the 2 walkers. She said it was dark, in the woods and with no flashlights. The headlight of the vehicle could have provided safety for all, and if (god forbid) someone did stumble in the dark and get seriously hurt, the vehicle could be sent quickly off for help.

    It’s just a situation where someone’s messed up views of sexuality have inhibited his rational thinking.

  • Tom

    It wouldn’t happen in a non-religious crowd because if it did the woman would sue the guy for discriminating against her on the basis of gender, and he would be fired from his job.

  • mikespeir

    This guy didn’t trust himself, which might suggest a thing or two about how much good his religion had done him in the area of morals.

  • Sarah

    It’s funny how the Christians seem to be the most paranoid about “falling into sin.” I mean, if Jesus has really changed them and helped them to overcome their sinful ways (according to them), why are they soooo over-sensitive about appearing sinful? I worked at a church and as a single female, I was not allowed to ride alone in a vehicle with a married man–no matter what the situation (I can think of a specific incident when one of the pastors who lived down the block couldn’t give me a ride to work when we had a bad snow storm and my vehicle couldn’t handle it). It was also highly frowned upon for me to ride alone with a single man. Oh, and men and women could not share offices…which presented a lot of logistical challenges.

    Try surviving in that sort of environment without becoming completely neurotic. It taught me not to trust myself; that given any opportunity to sin, I’d surely take it because I was so depraved.

    Total bunk!

  • schism

    …whatever happened to self-control? Are Christians like the ones in this story incapable of this?

    Well, I was always taught that men and women (but mostly men) were indeed incapable of restraining themselves around each other, usually justified by original sin combined with the “men are uncontrollable lust machines” trope.

    So, to answer the question, no, Christians aren’t incapable of self-control; they’re usually just told they are until they believe it.

  • Kwayera

    Hahaha, wow, this sounds familiar. I was stranded in my city two nights ago with no phone and no money, because the person who was going to take me back to her place (where my bag was) turned around and said to me “I’m going home in a cab alone, F* off.”

    She’s a Christian too, evangelical. I had to beg for charity from REAL Good Samaritans.

  • Richard Wade

    I read Laura’s story a second time and I think it’s really a stretch to attribute Corey’s behavior so strongly to his being a Christian. He was being self-centered about the appearance of his propriety, but he could have been just that way whether he was religious or not.

    I think it’s a mistake to link every jerky thing someone does to their religiosity, just as it is a mistake to attribute jerkiness to someone’s irreligiosity. Some of the comments here sound like they’re just jumping on an opportunity to say “Yeah, them dirty, rotten Christians!” Oh, give it a rest. To say Corey was a jerk because he was a Christian, or to fault his Christianity because it failed to keep him from being a jerk is really reaching. This story belongs on the “Some Guys Can Be Jerks” blog. It’s not about religion or atheism at all.

  • I suppose allowing Laura to sit on Joel’s lap would have been such an affront to Christian sensibilities that it was completely out of the question. Let her walk alone in the dark like the good Lord intended.

  • Back when I was a minister (assoc. pastor) in a small Assemblies of God church, and working a day job, one day a co-worker had car trouble and needed a ride home. I was driving a big 64 Impala 4-door sedan, so no problem. But, as I explained to my co-worker, because I was married at the time, it would be seen as inappropriate if a church member saw me (a minister) with a woman who wasn’t my wife sitting in the front seat. She seemed offended and insulted that I asked her to sit in the back seat. I thought that was a position of honor and respect for a woman who wasn’t my wife, because that’s what I’d been taught.

    (yes, it was totally insane and irrational, but that’s the rigidity of the Assemblies at that time, and I was hard-core.)

  • Vincent

    Good point. I’m really glad my comment didn’t touch on his religion. (well, not directly. I do blame his religion for his distorted view of sexuality)

  • one_lil_monkey

    Richard and Vincent:
    Actually, popular conservative books such as I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Passion for Purity directly encourage this type of behavior on religious grounds. You put your marriage, purity, and integrity above all else. The person you leave stranded may be inconvenienced, but at least your marriage and honor are still intact. This is seriously the attitude of Christian males who buy into this kind of stuff. A man who does this sort of thing may be accused of taking it too far by many other conservatives, but in other situations, he is to be praised for showing “not even a hint” of sexual sin. For them, it truly is about religion, though I agree that it is thoughtless regardless.

  • Pseudonym

    Of course something very like this could happen in a non-religious crowd, just not this specific scenario. Some people can get seriously weird about men working with young children, for example. When’s the last time you saw a male kindergarten teacher?

  • How many times have we heard the argument, “you can only be moral if you believe in god”, with the corollary that without such beliefs we’re all rabid monsters, ready to tear our fellow man to shreds at a whim? This situation is just another example of the same thing, the poor boss is just scared that he might lose touch with god in the wilderness and end up having to rape the lass cause that’s what his base instincts would command of him. At least Joel would stand a chance if the boss lost it and went crazy – cause, y’know, guys are big and strong whereas women are weak little kittens who are only good at looking pretty, ironing clothes and bearing children 🙂

  • Claudia

    According to the Bible, Jesus saved an adulterous woman from being stoned to death, and repudiated her would-be executioners. But clearly what he meant was that ditching teenage girls in the woods at night is what a true Christian should do. Totally.

    A small quibble. Though a great moral tale, it is generally agreed that this story was not in the original Bible, but was a later addition.

    Doesn’t matter too much though, since it’s the equivalent of adding another spell to the Harry Potter novels, it’s just more fiction.

    As for Christians acting nothing like their supposed image of Jesus…well that’s shocking. (note the grinding sarcasm)

  • magdalune..

    The original koan reads something like this at the end…

    The younger monk, unable to contain his horror said. “Why did you touch the woman. You know this is forbidden to us!”

    His older companion relied. “Are you still carrying her? I put her down at the bank of the stream”

    I was once in a similar position. I offered a lift to a christian woman who refused saying that she would not feel right riding with me. I handed her the keys and said that I’d walk….

    She got in.

  • It is funny that God made us to be soooo much like what we would have been if we had in fact evolved from a common ancestor of the lustful lascivious primates of today…

    You would think that a lust-hating (obsessed) creator would simply create His subjects a little less pre-disposed to this kind of behavior. But only if you think….

  • mikespeir

    I’m not so sure I agree completely with Richard on this one. Granted, Corey was being selfish. But he acted as he did because his religion had constructed a moral code by which he felt obliged to live. It was his religion that impelled him toward that selfishness.

  • Dave

    In the religious environment I grew up in, sometimes behavior like this would fall under not wanting to offend/confuse the angels — who witness our behavior but do not see into our hearts.


  • Strikes me that this is just the same stupid attitude that Muslims are for ever in the headlines for.

    Women are required to dress ‘modestly’ because of the assumption that all women are inherently liable to cause irresistible sexual urges in men.
    Likewise, all men are completely incapable of suppressing the urge to rape any passing female, and so the genders must be vigorously kept apart.

    According to the ‘devout’, human kind is good for one thing only – fornication – and so we must constantly maintain a vigil to prevent the world wide orgy from taking place.

    Sounds like some people have *really* low opinions of humanity. They need to get over it.

  • Kim

    Unfortunately, people are too apt to judge by appearances. It isn’t enough to BE honest and honorable – you must also be SEEN to be honest and honorable.

    I am married, female and a high school teacher. I like to believe that I have good relationships with my students, and a deep level of trust.

    But I am very careful to never be alone with a student, especially a male one.

    Whatever the truth may be, people will judge by what they PERCEIVE the truth to be. Sad, but true. I understand Corey’s reasoning.

  • Jen

    I had a friend in high school who went to a church that seemed fairly normal. One day she told me she had to walk home from the nighttime youth group because the married-but-young pastor couldn’t drive her home due to his Billy Graham-inspired “can’t even be alone with a woman who is not my wife”. Mind you, she was a sixteen year old, and while we lived in a pretty good neightborhood, its neither pedestrian friendly nor necessarily safe for a young woman to walk home two miles after dark. She was the type who would accept this- I would have pitched a fit. She defended it, but a youth minister should have a system in place other than a shrug for Jesus.

  • absent sway

    I’m a little conflicted here because first of all, Richard Wade has a truly decent attitude about this and I appreciate it and it’s important to bear in mind. On the other hand, this story sounds consistent with the type of attitude toward personal purity and avoiding “even the appearance of evil” that I witnessed in my evangelical days. I can imagine someone being selfish and careless and using a pseudo-religious excuse, but I can even more easily imagine someone doing something that is selfish and careless with the best of intentions for preserving the expected boundaries between the sexes. I’m leaning toward blaming the religious aspect of it because I don’t recall ever witnessing such an approach from an unbeliever.

  • llewelly

    Unfortunately, people are too apt to judge by appearances. It isn’t enough to BE honest and honorable – you must also be SEEN to be honest and honorable.

    I am married, female and a high school teacher. I like to believe that I have good relationships with my students, and a deep level of trust.

    But I am very careful to never be alone with a student, especially a male one.

    That practice has little to do with ‘appearances’. Thirty years ago in America, (and even twenty in many parts of the US) it was perfectly normal for a teacher to spend time alone with a student – usually to punish the student, sometimes to ensure the student got the homework time they needed. It wasn’t typically assumed to be a sexual event, despite the fact that American culture thirty years ago was even more anal retentive about ‘appearances’.
    On the contrary – the practice changed because it was demonstrated, in many studies and many court cases, that the privilege of being alone with student created opportunities for abuse. And so, throughout the 1980s, 1990s, and so on, schools enacted stricter and stricter rules against it.

  • Colin

    It’s amazing how conservative interpretations of religion tend to converge.

    I have a colleague who is an Orthodox Jew. I’m forgetting the specifics of the story, but I believe he needed to take someone to the hospital, but was unwilling to do so because it would leave his wife and her father-in-law (!) home alone together.

    It’s like you’re adding one of those “how do you get the fox, chicken, and seed across the river” puzzles into your life on a constant basis!

  • Siamang

    Eat the chicken. Problem solved!

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