Summary of the situation:
- The pastor (and all the gossip-mongers) investigating the facts to find out the truth? No.
- The pastor reprimanding the gossip-mongers? No.
- The pastor (and all the gossip-mongers) skipping straight to the accusations of impropriety? Yes.
- Reprimanding the female but not the male? Yes.
Does anyone see problems here? (So very many problems.)
First of all, gossip is a sin. And it's rampant in (I don't hesitate to say this) every church. Is it addressed or confronted by church leadership? Seriously, have you ever heard of such a thing happening? Does it need to be more seriously addressed? Um, yes. Yes, I think it does. Will it be? Let me be a cynic here and say I doubt it. That's sad because gossip is so anti-Christian and destructive and pervasive. On the whole, I think it's way worse than a bunch of people going out to see a movie or watch cartoons together. So much worse.
Second, if you think one of your brothers or sisters is sinning, there are biblical ways to deal with that. Basic summary: We confront out of love with a desire to restore fellowship. There is a procedure/progression in the Bible for us to follow. Gossip is pretty much the opposite of that loving, biblical process, no matter how much the gossiper claimes to be "concerned" about the people in question. If you're a Christian, and you're concerned about a brother and(/or) sister, you talk to them, no one else, end of story. END OF STORY.
Third, truth should be what matters. Shouldn't it? Or am I way off base here, and appearance (not reality) is what needs to matter in the church? Really?
Fourth, are we so obsessed with sex that we see sexual impropriety in every relationship between people of differing genders? And is it our job to talk that up?
Fifth, I'm hardly a feminist, but come on. If there is any real tangoing going on, it takes two. That's also kind of biblical, but since church leadership and gossip-mongers are ignoring biblical in this situation anyway, I suppose it's one of those in for a penny/pound deals. For shame.
Family discussion when all the women in my family were together. I defended the woman. What's wrong with married men fellowshipping with single women (or single men with married women) so long as it isn't alone and behind closed doors? Aren't single people allowed to fellowship with others of differing genders and marital statuses?
My older, married sister's response: Her husband had a lot of single, female friends before he married her, and she didn't begrudge him time with them after she married him, but eventually, "He realized he needed to put his limited time and focus elsewhere [on her and his son], so he doesn't spend any time with them anymore."
So single people aren't allowed to spend any time with people of the opposite gender? Are married Christian folks so spiritually/emotionally parched/narrow that they can't form relationships with single people? Are all relationships between single and married people improper?
Is that what the kingdom of God is about? I thought we were all supposed to relate to each other as family, as brothers and sisters in Christ. I thought we were structured as a family because we need that kind of interaction between people of different genders/states/ages/etc. Are single people barred from being part of the family? (Is that biblical? Is it healthy?)
"Don't you think that's unfair to the single people?" I asked my sister.
She had the grace to look embarrassed when she answered honestly, "Yes."
I don't NEED that interaction because I'm wired to get along fine without it, but other people do need it. I don't think it's fair that they're excluded from it. I've given up and just stopped making friends with/being friendly to men. It's disappointing that I have to, but there don't seem to be any other options. For a lot of other people, fellow heirs, brothers and sisters in Christ who need this family, there need to be more options. For them, I want there to be more options.
Can you suggest any options?