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Tag: Human Sexuality

“Don’t Dress Like a Whore if You Don’t Want to Get Sexually Assaulted” Says Lori Alexander

lori and ken alexander

Christian Fundamentalist Lori Alexander, a promoter of religious extremism, complementarianism, and patriarchalism, is known for saying hateful, outlandish things about women (and men) who reject her beliefs. Today, Alexander said that women who dress “immodestly” and later get sexually assaulted or raped are asking for it; that if they don’t want to suffer violence at the hands of men, women should stop wearing “immodest” clothing.

In a post titled, Don’t Advertise What You’re Not Willing to Give, Alexander states:

Recently, I shared an experience I had when I was 15 years old and just turned 16. The summer that I was 15 years old, I went to the beach often with another guy my age. He was tall and handsome. I had a major crush on him.

My mom wouldn’t let me to date until I was 16 years old, so she was the one taking us to the beach. At the beach, I wore a tiny bikini. He saw me in what looked like a bra and underwear all summer long. I didn’t understand about men’s visual nature then. Well, I did kind of know, since I received a lot of attention in my bikini from guys. It’s a power trip to have men ogle us. Don’t let them tell you otherwise in order to put all of the blame on men.

When I turned 16, he picked me up in his parent’s big old station wagon. He drove me to the drive-in theatre. Once the movie began, he climbed on top of me, began kissing me, and trying to take my clothes off. I demanded he take me home then, and he did. We never spoke again after than even though we had a class together.

I was always told that guys just want one thing. I thought the same of him, BUT I was advertising to him my body all summer long in immodest clothing. I was advertising something I had no intention of giving to him, but he didn’t know that. Guys are turned on when they see scantily clad women. This is why whores dress the way they do. They are advertising something they want to give for money.

A few weeks ago was the first time I had realized what I had done to him. I did this with my other two boyfriends in high school too. I wore bikinis and short, tight clothing around them. Of course, this is going to make it hard on them to not have sex with me. I was absolutely responsible for dressing the way that I did. This is why God commands young women to be discreet and shamefaced. God knows how men’s minds work. He created them! For all of these female Bible teachers/preachers to say otherwise is a lie. They act like women can dress any way the [sic] want. If guys come on to them, it’s all the guys’ fault. Don’t advertise what you’re not willing to give!

….

If you’re dressing sexually and guys are coming on to you, you are getting what you are advertising. Women at the beaches these days wear bathing suits that entice men. Most of their butts and breasts are showing. The bathing suits leave nothing to the imagination. It’s hard on men, women, when you dress like this. They were created to enjoy the female body! Stop denying this. Accept it, and do something about it!

Dress modestly as God commands. He wants us to dress modestly and shamefaced for a reason. Shamefaced means not wanting to draw attention to ourselves. Immodest clothing draws attention to ourselves. It’s for our protection and makes it easier for the men around us to dress modestly. Stop advertising what you don’t want to give. All of God’s commands to us are for our good.

Where oh where do I begin?

Alexander believes that men are inherently weak sexually; that if women don’t dress modestly, men (even those who have the Holy Spirit living inside of them like her husband Ken) won’t be able to control their sexual urges and might throw them down on a church pew and sexually assault them. Men are horn dogs who are sexually stimulated by what they see. Thus, according to Alexander, if women show too much cleavage or leg or dress in formfitting clothing, men won’t be able to control themselves sexually. In other words, women are surrounded by men who want to fuck them against their will.

Alexander, a Bible literalist, believes women are sexual gatekeepers. Since men can’t help themselves when it comes to their sexual desires, it’s up to women to keep big, bad wolves from blowing their houses down. They do this by dressing modestly, by following the teaching and commands of the Bible.

Alexander’s bikini story suggests that she thinks if a man sees a woman dressed “immodestly” one day, and then days later tries to fuck her or sexually assault her, it’s the woman’s fault. IT’S ALWAYS THE WOMAN’S FAULT! Astoundingly, Alexander calls her teen self a WHORE.

Last Saturday, my wife and I went grocery shopping in Toledo. We do this every two weeks, though rapidly increasing local COVID-19 infections will likely soon put an end to in-person shopping for us. Polly wore a top that showed a bit of cleavage. Coming from a religious world where Alexander’s beliefs were preached and practiced, Polly wearing such a top is a big deal — much like her wearing pants for the first time in 2004, at the age of 46 (ponder THAT for a moment). Why did Polly wear this top? Was she advertising to men that she wanted to have sex with them? Or did she wear this top because it was comfortable and she liked its colors? Or maybe she just wanted to look nice (for herself or her husband). Alexander believes my wife is a whore; that she was saying by showing cleavage she was available for sex (or advertising something she wasn’t willing to give). Of course, she was doing no such thing. ******************

I find it interesting that not only does Alexander blame women for men not being able to control their sexual thoughts, urges, and desires, she also blames God. Alexander wrote:

This is why God commands young women to be discreet and shamefaced [bashful, modest,respectful]. God knows how men’s minds work.

According to Alexnder, God knows “how men’s minds work.” Why? He created them that way. God created men to be the horn dogs they are. Why, then, is God not responsible for how men behave sexually? Is not the all-powerful Creator culpable for the behavior of the created? He could have created men to only want, need, and desire sex with their spouses, only in the missionary position, and only for procreation. Instead, he created men (and women) to want, need, and desire sex, not only in monogamous married relationships, but also when they are unmarried. God could have created men differently, but he didn’t. So, Alexander is right about one thing, God IS responsible for human sexual behavior.

Of course, there is no God, so we must look elsewhere to understand human sexuality, say BIOLOGY. We “are who we are” biologically, as any high school biology textbook will tell you. Further, according to modern social constructs, each of us is accountable for our sexual behavior. Just because a man sees an attractive woman in a bikini doesn’t mean the next time he sees her has the right to assault her sexually. It’s one thing to engage in a conversation with someone that might lead to consensual sex. ‘Tis human nature, right? It’s another thing, however, to try to take sexual advantage of someone, as Alexander says happened to her decades ago. It’s never right to force people to engage in sexual behavior against their will.

Alexander not only has a warped view of human sexuality in general, but also her own sexuality. She blames herself for what three boyfriends tried to do to her fifty years ago. Instead of calling these boys into account for their behavior, she blames herself for them attempting to assault her sexually. As someone who came of age in the 1970s, I understand Alexander’s view of her early sexual experiences. Such behavior was common. It’s 2021. Alexander has an opportunity to teach young Evangelical men and women about consent. Instead, she continues to promote warped justifications for men making unwanted sexual advances towards women or sexually assaulting them.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Hey Girlfriend, When You Feel Tempted to Hug Your Boyfriend . . .

christian side hug

Repost from 2015-2016. Edited, updated, and corrected.

Hey girlfriend, when you feel tempted to hug your boyfriend, hug your dad, brother, sister, or an old lady in the church instead. Nothing quenches sexual desire like hugging a male family member or ancient Sister Bertha, right?

Paula Hendricks, a writer for the Lies Young Women Believe website, had this to say to young women who doubted an invisible Jesus could meet their sexual longings and desires:

 Apparently I’m not the only one who has wondered how God can satisfy when all I want is a pair of strong arms to hold me close. Here’s what Rebecca wrote me:

“The biggest thing I think my crush can give me that God can’t is his strong arms wrapped around me. Although my crush has yet to hold me in his arms, his physical closeness sends shivers throughout my body. I know that God is always there for me . . . but sometimes my feelings get the better of me, and all I want to do is be wrapped up in my crush’s arms and attention.”

Grace added:

“I think what always gets me is that God isn’t physically there like a guy is. He can’t wrap his arms around me. Sometimes I just want that.”

And finally, Isabella said:

“I have often thought, I wish God could come down here and give me a big bear hug. Then I would really be in love with Him.”

But here’s the thing . . . He has come down! And while He was here, He picked up kids and cradled them in His arms. (You have to admit, that shows a tender heart—few guys walk around doing the same thing!)

I know He’s not physically here now…But one day soon, we will see Him. We will be with Him.

When Christ comes again to “marry” the Church, His Bride, He will likely hold us too…

…Now that is something to look forward to! Jesus Christ is not an idea; He is a Person. A Divine Person with arms and legs and beautiful probing eyes. He loves you. Enough to spread His arms wide in order to bleed so you might be healed. And if you have put your trust in His death and resurrection on your behalf, you will soon see and know Him fully.

So in the meantime, as you wait for Him, by all means, hug! No, not your crush. Hug your dad. Hug your mom. Hug your brothers and sisters. Hug your friends. Hug those old ladies at church…

I wonder if Hendricks has heard about the Christian side hug, a type of hug sexually aware, virgin Evangelical young people can give one another without causing sexual stirring or lust?

Video Link

Rational Wiki describes the Christian side hug this way:

The Christian side hug is a means by which young Christians can show affection for each other without engaging in possibly tempting and impure front-to-front contact.

Instead of hugging face-to-face, the huggers stand side-by-side, and can be facing either the same way or in opposite directions. Unlike frontal hugging, side hugs minimize the risk of an eternal damnation which could result from possible incidental contact with a boob or penis of somebody to whom one is not married.

For extra affection, the side hug may be accompanied by a few non-contact blessing pats. If even the side hug is too intense, you can work up to it coyly with this elaborate sequence of gestures. There’s even a Christian side hug rap, which attracted the attention of The Young Turks. The degree of parody and satire intended in the rap version is unknown, but that doesn’t make it any better.

Several years ago, I wrote about the Six Inch Rule, a regulation used at Midwestern Baptist College — the college Polly and I attended in the 1970s — to keep young adults from touching one another. It proved to be a dismal failure. I don’t know of one couple who lived in the Midwestern Baptist College dorm when Polly and I did who didn’t violate the spirit and the letter of the six-inch rule. Something tells me — oh like common sense — that teenagers and young adults are still failing at keeping the touching prohibitions of Evangelical moralizers such as Paula Hendricks. Why, you ask? Simple. We are sexual beings and we desire physical, intimate contact with others. All the sweet, sexy Jesus in the world won’t quench human sexual desire. When it comes to choosing between sexual intimacy and Jesus, my money is on sexual intimacy.

jesus hug

What makes writers like Paula Hendricks so harmful is that they encourage teen girls and young women to act against their nature. They encourage them to repress their sexual desires. Sadly, when these girls later marry, they often bring a warped view of physical intimacy and sex into the marriage (and men can do the same).  Marriage is tough enough without starting life with sexual dysfunction. Instead of teaching teenagers and young adults to repress their sexual desires, they should be encouraged to responsibly act on their desires, starting with a hug or a kiss. If there is more to the relationship, then they can determine where to go from there. There are three bases between the batter’s box and home. Hendricks wants unmarried teens and adults to stand in the batter’s box, never moving or swinging when the pitch comes their way. No running to first, rounding second, sprinting around third, and sliding into home. Not a very fun or interesting game, yes?

Contrary to Paula Hendricks’ horrible advice, hugging is not a gateway to sexual intercourse. Teenagers and young adults can sexually experiment without having intercourse. And if they decide to slide into home base, the best advice to give them is on how to be sexually responsible and use birth control. Of course, this advice must be given to them BEFORE they are rounding third and heading for home. In fact, before they even get to first base, wouldn’t it be better to prepare single teenagers and young adults for their sexual future?

Hendricks now sports the last name Marsteller. She’s married, and I suspect is regularly playing baseball with her husband. I wonder if she touched her husband before they married?

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Dear Unmarried Woman: Are You an Appetizer or a Dessert?

bethany jett
Bethany Jett

Repost from 2015-2016. Edited, updated, and corrected.

Just when I think I’ve heard all there is to hear from Evangelicals about sex, purity, and the like, someone will write or say something that I have not heard before. In other words, not all the nuts have fallen from the tree.

In 2015, Bethany Jett, a then thirty-something married Evangelical woman who writes on girly topics from a godly perspective, wrote a blog article about two reasons why a woman should save herself for marriage. Here’s what Jett had to say:

I remembered why I decided to wait to have sex as I listened to a podcast from Andy Stanley this morning on my way home from dropping off children at school.

“I’m not the appetizer, I’m the dessert.”

If we start off loaning our bodies, who is going to wait around for the main meal?

We ordered Olive Garden to-go last night and I had one of my favorite cheat meals—chicken alfredo and breadsticks with alfredo dipping sauce and an extra tub of alfredo sauce to heat up the leftovers the next day. Mmmmm … I was full and stuffed and happy. Deliriously-food-coma happy.

But I wasn’t completely satisfied. All the savory goodness was amazing, but I needed something sweet to finish it off. A bit of dark chocolate would have taken the cake … but there was NONE.

Justin ate it.

My marriage is like that. Dating Justin was the appetizer … good for a short amount of time, but I was excited to have the main meal with him. I wanted an entire lifetime. We’ve been married for almost 11 years, together for 13, and that man still gives me butterflies. He makes me strive to a better person and he is my teammate, partner, best friend and so much more.

But God knew that wasn’t enough.

So He throws a little dessert into the mix.

The dessert is exceptional.

It completes the meal…

…I’ve always believed that God means what He says. He said to wait, so I did. I always figured that if sex was as great as the students in my high school and my college roommate thought it was, that it would be even better if I waited. That God had a blessing in store if you did things His way.

There are many reasons to wait until you’re married to have sex, but here’s two at the top of the list:

1. God said to wait.

2. You’re worth waiting for…

Jett has been married for sixteen years. She is an advocate of purity rings, having worn one until her wedding night.  In 2013, Jett wrote a book titled, The Cinderella Rule: A Young Woman’s Guide to Happily Ever After.

While Jett tries to dress up her blog post with a bit of wispy, feel-good self-esteem, there really is only one reason a woman should wait until marriage to have sex: God said to wait. That’s the bottom line for Evangelicals: God said don’t do it, so don’t.

In 2015, I shared with readers Melanie Pritchard’s puritanical view of spaghetti straps. Jett has a similar view. Here’s what she had to say in The Cinderella Rule about spaghetti straps and a few other things:

Apparently, shoulders are sexy. I know that sounds crazy, but guys are wired differently than we are. That’s how God created them, and Justin (her husband) didn’t want to be tempted physically. He wanted to do things right.

Bottom line: it’s not our place to put impure thoughts into guys’ heads. We don’t understand that the male mind replays images days after seeing a girl in a short skirt or catching a glimpse down a plunging neckline.

A guy friend told me that he was minding his own business at a gas station, pumping gas, when he saw a girl at the opposite station. She wore an extremely short skirt, and he couldn’t get the image of her legs and the idea of what was under her skirt out of his head. He thought about it for a couple of days. “Those images don’t just leave your mind,” he said. “I wasn’t even trying to look at the girl either–“I was merely glancing around. “He ended up masturbating to remove the building tension.

While guys are responsible for their thoughts, we can’t allow Satan to use us as a tool to lead guys down a path toward lust, pornography, and sexually impure behaviors. Even wearing spaghetti straps during a church service can throw guys off. Another guy confessed that one Sunday, he had trouble concentrating on communion and the sermon that followed because the girl next to him had bare shoulders. He was wracked with guilt for not being able to concentrate, unable to push his thoughts away since she was right next to him.

Ladies, we may never fully comprehend how guys think, but if they’re telling us they can’t concentrate, let’s help them out. Grab a cardigan for church or work, or anywhere, and let’s keep our skirts and shorts an appropriate length…

…a godly guy wants to date a girl who shares his values.  If you want to be pursued properly, you must dress appropriately–just enough skin to be cute,  but not enough to reveal the goods. Dressing modestly helps keep his mind from going into fantasy overdrive.

Remember, a guys pursuit is with an end goal in mind; and girlfriend, we are taking a pursuit to the altar…

…Honestly,  chasing a guy is exhausting. Most guys will do anything with anyone, and high school and college guys, in particular, are not known for their exclusivity. Raging hormones dictate many a guy’s decisions; and if you pursue him, you won’t ever be sure whether it’s his heart or his hormones that loves you more.

When a man sees a girl he wants, he goes after her…Similar to a lion stalking his prey, a man will overcome any obstacle to get the woman he wants. I’m not talking about creepy stalker behavior. I’m talking about romantic, I can’t get her out of my head intensity. When a worthy guy desires you like that, girl, watch out!

But you’ll be ready.

You’ll know how to look.

How to dress.

How to act..

…when the right man starts the pursuit, let him.

I’m gonna to show you how…

What’s up with spaghetti straps? Am I out of the lust loop here? I’ve seen more than a few spaghetti-strapped women — my wife included — and I don’t think I ever had the thought, oh my, I need to have her right now. If I don’t have sex with her RIGHT now, I am going to have to spank the monkey to release all the built-up sexual tension.

Pritchard wrote about not revealing the “mystery.” Jett, taking a similar approach, writes about a woman not giving away all her “secrets.” What’s with all the code for genitalia and sex? Are Evangelicals so prudish that the correct words for genitalia and sex can’t be used?

modest dress
Little House on the Prairie, Preferred Dress for Fundamentalists

Maybe Pritchard’s and Jett’s problem is that they have spent their life around the weak, pathetic, forbidden-sex-on-the-brain men found in Evangelical and Catholic churches. Perhaps they need to get out more and spend time with real men, men who know how to control their sexual desires and know how to treat a woman appropriately.

Think for a moment about the pathetic, weak boys mentioned in the excerpts from Jett’s book. A man is pumping gas, he sees a woman with a short skirt, and he is so driven with lust that he later has to masturbate. The other man couldn’t focus on communion and the sermon because a woman near him had bare shoulders. Can there be any better examples of weak, sexually immature church boys? Not men, adolescent boys. 

Boys like these have been conditioned to think that they are helpless, that it is not within their power to sexually control themselves. Perhaps every church boy is like the stupid young man in Proverbs 7:

…I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house, In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night: And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart… Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee. I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves…With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him. He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks . . .

What I want to know is this: was the harlot wearing spaghetti straps?

It’s time for church boys to grow into men and own their sexuality. If they can’t keep from lusting, the problem is theirs, and not that of the women who dare to bare a leg, shoulder, or show some cleavage. If they are so sexually charged up that they are reaching in their pants as soon as they see an attractive woman, perhaps they need to spend more time looking at porn and self-pleasuring themselves until they get their “sexual tension” under control.

But Bruce, some women DO dress provocatively. Shouldn’t they be called out on their deliberate attempt to make men lust? First, how do you know that is what they are trying to do? Second, perhaps you need to learn to enjoy God’s creation. Yes, women are attractive, and yes, they can arouse sexual feelings in men. Duh, biology, right? Would you rather women dressed like they just walked off the set of Little House on the Prairie? Learn to control your thoughts and desires. It really is that simple. No God needed.

Sadly, far too many churches are nurseries filled with infantile men who can’t control themselves. I don’t know of any other way to change their behavior than to say to them, STOP IT!

People such as Bethany Jett and Melanie Pritchard are shooting at the wrong target. As often occurs in many Muslim countries, American Christians with puritanical ideas about dress and sexuality put the blame on women who dare to dress in ways that show their femininity and sexuality. Jett wants young women to show just enough skin to catch a man, but then the free show is over until the man puts a ring on her finger. In other words, she wants women to be flashers, showing just enough flesh to get the attention of suitable prospects for marriage.

Every day or so it seems there is a news report of an Evangelical pastor, evangelist, college professor, church leader, or Sunday school teacher getting into trouble because he can’t keep his hands to himself or keep his pants zipped up. (Please see the Black Collar Crime series.) This should not surprise us because many of these “fallen” leaders — Jerry Falwell, Jr. and his wife, for example — were raised in churches that preach the puritanical sexuality found in Jett’s book, blog, and other writing. It’s the whole blind-leading-the-blind thing. Generation after generation of Evangelical boys have been taught that they are impotent when it comes to controlling their sexual thoughts, urges, and desires. After a few generations of this, you end up with churches filled with hapless men who get boners as soon a woman shows more flesh than one of the young women on Little House on the Prairie. Instead of being taught to be accountable for their actions, these men are instead taught to flee from the Jezebels that roam the halls of the church; women who will rob them of their virtue.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Thou Shalt Not Touch: The Six-Inch Rule

the six inch rule midwestern baptist college

Imagine for a moment, that you are sitting in the pew of an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church. You are 16 years old and sitting next to you is your 17-year-old girlfriend. As with any normal teenager, you are sitting as close as possible to your girlfriend and the two of you are holding hands.

The pastor is getting ready to preach and he asks everyone to turn to 1 Corinthians 7:1,2. With a thunderous voice, the pastor says, THE BIBLE SAYS:

Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.  Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. (1 Corinthians 7:1,2)

and THE BIBLE ALSO SAYS:

Abstain from all appearance of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:22)

All of a sudden, the pastor turns your way, looks at you and your girlfriend, and then slowly turns back to his sermon notes. You feel guilty, so you unclasp your hand from your girlfriends and you scoot a few inches away from her — safely avoiding fornicating in the pew.

Welcome to just-another-Sunday-morning service at First On True Faith Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Church in Fundistan, Ohio.

In the real world, teenage boys and girls hold hands, put their arms around each other, and kiss each other. We also know that some of them engage in intimate sexual activity. But at First On True Faith Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Church, any physical contact between unmarried teenagers or unmarried young adults of the opposite sex is strictly prohibited. And

The thinking goes something like this: fornication, the intimate sexual contact between unmarried people, is a SIN. Committing fornication requires physical touching, so the best way to avoid fornication is to keep unmarried teenagers or single young adults from touching each other.

Over the years, I am embarrassed to say, I told countless teenagers that no girl ever got pregnant without holding hands with a boy first. I repeatedly told them that holding hands leads to familiarity, and before you know it, you’ll be having sex. So the answer is this: no touching.

When I was a teenager in the 1970s at Trinity Baptist Church in Findlay, Ohio and First Baptist Church in Bryan, Ohio, my pastors and youth directors preached against boys and girls touching each other. Now, this doesn’t mean we didn’t touch each other, it just meant that we did our touching away from the sight of our pastors, youth directors, deacons, and other church adults.

We turned it into a game. The pastor said we couldn’t touch each other, so while choir practice was going on, we would find out-of-the-way places to neck. It was almost like a challenge: we dare you to catch us.

From the age of 14 until my wedding day, I kissed a few girls, put my arm around them, and held their hands. But that’s where it stopped. Both my wife and I were virgins when we married in 1978. I violated the letter of the no-touch rule, but I certainly kept it until my honeymoon (albeit, had we waited any longer to get married, we likely would have rounded third and slid into home).

Polly and I attended Midwestern Baptist College — an unaccredited IFB institution — in Pontiac Michigan. The college had a strict no-touch rule. The rule was called the six-inch rule (about the width of a hymnbook). Young men and women were expected to keep six inches away from each other at all times. Failure to do so resulted in severe discipline, including expulsion.

Living in a dorm filled with normal, hormone-raging, heterosexual men and women made the six-inch rule a real challenge. Most of us learned how to discreetly break the rule, and when we went out on double dates, we learned to date with couples who were six-inch rule-breakers as we were.

Sandra, a regular reader of this blog, shared in a comment about her time at Hyles Anderson College:

About the gateway issues with card playing . . .I’m not psychologist but I do believe if you restrict normal human behavior in one way, normal human behavior will come out in another. When at Hyles Anderson we were all told to not touch the opposite sex. I mean, no hand holding (which was fine with me and the IFB church I was in before I left for HAC). But no touching through a pen either, like tapping on a shoulder.

We are social beings and I do believe we need touch to stay alive. When at HAC, since all of the women were not allowed to touch a man on his hand or to tap his back with a pen, guess what happened? The dean of woman (Miss Belinda) said she noticed a LOT of petting going on between the women. In chapel, women would sit next to women and they’d pet each other’s hair, they’d stroke each other’s leg. And she was right – all of that behavior was happening. But my question is why? Probably due to the human need for basic touch. Since the women were not allowed to hug their own blood brother on campus, nor to hold hands for 5 seconds, nor to tap a man on the back with a pencil. . .is it any wonder that the women found a way to get physical touch in their lives? It is normal to want a hug and to rub someone’s bad when they are hurting. By repressing opposite sex touching, they encouraged same-sex touching and it was very evident.

Ponder for a moment being exposed to this kind of environment. Is it any wonder that people coming out of the IFB church movement often have to deal with emotional, mental, and sexual dysfunction?

When you are constantly told that normal human desire is sinful, you are bound to suffer psychological damage. Being normal heterosexuals, we could only suppress our desires for so long, so we found creative ways to get around the rules and the ever-watchful eyes of those charged with keeping us from fornicating.

As single students at Midwestern, Polly and I artfully evaded the no-touch police all but one time. Here’s what happened the time we got caught.

I was on the college basketball team. (Don’t read too much into that. The team was the equivalent of an intramural club.) One day during practice I slapped at a basketball and severely dislocated a finger. I was rushed to the emergency room and the doctor was able to fix the dislocation. I’m left-handed and the dislocation had occurred on my left hand.

Every male student was required to wear a tie to class. I found it very difficult to tie a tie with one hand, so one day I asked my fiancée to tie my tie for me. In doing so, we broke the six-inch rule. Someone anonymously turned us in for breaking the six-inch rule. We had to appear before the disciplinary committee to answer the charges against us.

We each received 50 demerits for breaking the six-inch rule. We were warned that if we broke the six-inch rule again, we would be expelled from school. Little did they know that we had been breaking it for quite some time.

Most dormitory students lived for the weekend. Students could only date on the weekends. Double dating was required and no student could go farther away than 10 miles from the dormitory.

Most students tried to adhere to the rules for a while. Some, like my Polly and I, kept the six-inch rule religiously until we went home for our first Christmas break. While home on Christmas break, we were allowed to act like normal young adults who were in love. We held hands, kissed, necked, and pretty much acted like any other couple mutually infatuated with one another.

Once the genie was out of the bottle, it was impossible to put her back in. When we returned to Midwestern in January 1977, we realized we could not continue to keep the six-inch rule. So, for the next 18 months, we sought out couples to double date with that had the same view of the six-inch rule as we did. We had to be very careful. Choose the wrong couple to double date with and we could end up getting expelled from school.

Rules such as the six-inch rule put the dormitory students in a position of having to lie and cheat just to be able to act like normal young adults. Many students ended up getting campused (not allowed to leave the campus or date) or were expelled because they broke the six-inch rule.

Fornication was quite common among dormitory students. There was always a lot of gossip about who was doing what, when, and where. During the spring of my sophomore year, many of us rented apartments in the Pontiac area. We were all planning to get married over the summer, and since apartments were hard to come by, we rented them as soon as we found them.

The apartments turned into a big temptation for some couples. They began using the apartments as safe places for sexual activity. I could give you the names of several well-known preachers and their wives who lost their virginity at one of these apartments. Some of these preachers are now known to rail against sexual immorality. It seems they have forgotten about their own immorality many years ago.

Is it any wonder that many of us who were raised in this kind of sexually repressed environment require counseling? Being told over and over that certain basic human needs and desires are sinful leads to overwhelming guilt and despair (and remember masturbation was also a sin).

This is one of the reasons why I think the IFB church movement (and Evangelicalism, in general) is psychologically harmful. 

How about you? Did you spend your teenage years in an IFB church? Did you attend an IFB college?  How did you deal with the no-physical-contact rule? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Bruce Gerencser