Theological Foundations For Male-Female Relationships -- By: Stanley J. Grenz

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 41:4 (Dec 1998)
Article: Theological Foundations For Male-Female Relationships
Author: Stanley J. Grenz

Theological Foundations
For Male-Female Relationships

Stanley J. Grenz*

* Stanley Grenz is professor of theology and ethics at Carey/Regent College, 5920 Iona Drive, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1J6.

“Dear Dr. Grenz,” the letter began. “Please excuse the notebook paper and my handwriting. I would have used my computer and printer to write to you but due to my demise, financially, I’ve had to sell my printer to put food on the table.… Several weeks ago I was browsing the book shelf of a local Christian book store, when your book Betrayal of Trust [which deals with clergy sexual misconduct1 ] leaped off the shelf into my soul thirsty hands.”

My correspondent then proceeded to pour out a shocking story of abuse and betrayal. She spoke of how one of the ministers of her church and his wife convinced her to divorce her husband and move in with them, how with the blessing of the minister’s wife she began to sleep with the clergyman, but then how the wife soon grew tired of the arrangement and turned on her. Publicly parading their rekindled love for each other, the ministerial couple galvanized the support of the senior pastor and the congregation to hound the unsuspecting woman out of the church. No longer able to carry out her job-related responsibilities in the aftermath of this trauma, she soon found herself dismissed from her employment as well.

The woman has since returned to her former husband and found a new church fellowship that is supporting her on the rocky road toward spiritual healing. Nevertheless the scars linger. “Somedays I do well. Somedays are more of a struggle,” she acknowledged. In fact, the fallout from this experience may never settle. In what for me was the most tragic statement of her letter, the woman stated matter-of-factly, “I don’t trust clergy at all.”

Our first reaction to this tale of woe might be to excuse it as a bizarre situation or to discount it as the ranting of a jilted lover. In fact, however, the woman’s story indicates what can all too readily happen when relationships between women and men go awry. Indeed, we all know from firsthand experience that our relationships are often not what they could or should be. Although not necessarily in as blatant a manner as this woman experienced, in a multitude of overt or covert ways we display through our fundamental femaleness or maleness the uncanny human knack to exploit each other for our own ends. In the words of Paul Jersild and Dale Johnson: “As sexual beings we are capable … of reducing another person to an extension

of ourselves.… It is precisely as sexual...

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