I don’t normally jump on the latest topic that’s flying around on social media. And I’m not going to jump on Mike Pence. (I mean. I’m a pacifist. Jumping on people is frowned upon.) What I do want to talk about is something I’ve mostly seen people talk around instead of about.

Some people believe that men and women should never be alone together. That might mean they never ride in a car without a third person, or that might mean they can’t even eat dinner together in a public place.

People who have this rule have it for different reasons. I’m not going to talk about all of those reasons. (If someone wants to defend their reasoning, I’d love it if they wrote their own post. Link it in the comments, if you want).

I’m going to talk about the reason I have personal experience with.


Here’s a journal entry I made when I was 16 years old*:

After we were done at the job site [my dad and a few other adults took the youth group on an MDS trip], we went to a Waffle House by our motel. I took a drink of my water and then dumped two Equal packets into it and Nick asked, “Why’d you do that?”

I told him the water was bland, but he said water couldn’t be bland. It can too be bland.

Then we heard a crash and turned around. Joe had spilled his Mr. Pibb all over Angela and Daniel. It was hilarious.

After we got done eating, me, Andrea, and Nick wanted to go watch TV but all the adults were taking forever. So we decided to walk back to the motel. When we were leaving, Candace yelled, loudly, “Y’all need to leave the door open!”

I just stood there, like, “Huh?” I thought maybe I had the only room key or something and she didn’t want to get locked out.

Then she said, “You know, boys and girls. Together.”

WHAT?!?!?!?!

I tried to make a joke of it, so when we were walking back, I told Andrea, “Hey, are you excited for our big orgy? Do you want to share Nick?”

That’s when I realized Nick was literally right behind me, so I real quick said, “Just kidding,” just so we were clear. I need to stop saying everything that pops into my head.

Anyway, it didn’t even matter because Candace sent other kids out after us and they were mad because they didn’t want to sit in the motel room and watch TV, but they had to because of us.


And then I talk about watching Volcano, but that’s another story.

I want to break this down a little.

At first, we were just a group of kids, being kids. There were absolutely zero sexual thoughts going on. My focus was on bland water and Mr. Pibb accidents. When we went to leave, it never even occurred to me that something sexual might possibly happen while I was watching TV. At that point in my life, I’d never even had a first kiss yet. Never held hands. Nothing.

The woman who didn’t want us to be alone is the one who sexualized that situation, which I tried to defuse with a dumb joke (because, let’s be real… that’s always been my way.) It was embarrassing for her to say that, especially in front of everyone else in our group. And, since my father was there with us, it wasn’t that she was “in charge” of me for the trip or anything like that.

I’d only known that boy for a couple of months. One of my friends was walking over with us. Maybe she thought we were playing a trick with that… I’m not sure. We just wanted to watch TV. It’s an innocent activity.

The suspicion that we might get up to something gave us the impression that we were dangerous to one another. The lack of trust was insulting. The idea that my awkward self might tempt him down some dark, sexually deviant road was mortifying.

I wasn’t Kristy in that moment. I wasn’t a sister in Christ, which is how Christian men should see me. I was a female body that could be the object of sinful lust. I was something to be protected from.

About a year later, this woman was teaching our youth group. She was an advocate for courtship, which required a chaperone to accompany any boy/girl pair. She extended that to adults as well, and gave us an example.

The example she presented was a time, a few weeks prior, when she’d been in the church doing something and my dad had walked in. She told us all she felt extremely uncomfortable being alone with him like that, for the whole, maybe 5 minutes he was in there. My dad was the pastor. Of course he’d be walking into the church sometimes.

How do you think you’d feel if a woman told a group of your friends that she was uncomfortable being alone with your father? What does that make your father sound like?

I pressed her a little on it, asking if he’d actually done anything inappropriate. She said he hadn’t. It was just his presence that made her uncomfortable. Why, though? Because her belief was that you couldn’t trust a man and a woman, alone together. Something might happen, even if the risk was extremely low. And, even if nothing sexual happened, it wasn’t appropriate, even for a congregant and a pastor to share the same space for a few minutes.

What sharing her “caution” did was make my father sound like the kind of creep who would make a woman uncomfortable. (If you knew my dad, you’d know that’s a weird thing to say about him.) What sharing her “caution” did was make me sound like the kind of girl who’d jump a boy the second the motel door closes.

It’s hurtful and shaming.

I can’t speak for every single person out there who’s been touched by the “no boy/girls alone” rule. I can speak for me, though. The idea that this rule isn’t ever used to prevent temptation is just wrong. I’ve got a copy of my very first orgy joke that proves that’s exactly how this rule can be used. This was my introduction to the rule, and when I talk about it, this is where I’m coming from. If that’s not how it’s played out in your life, well, great. But you can’t tell me it hasn’t played out this way in other people’s lives.

*Names have been changed.

5 Comments

  1. David Schaab April 3, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    Unfortunately there are far too many who live by the law and not by grace. If someone chooses that way (Pence won’t eat dinner with another woman; the woman who was uncomfortable around your dad; myself for choosing not to be in “alone” situations if at all possible) – we typically choose that because of the fear of what others might not do or say, not what we might do or say. Because of Pence’s position and because of mine, over the years, I think that is a wise position for us.
    Relative to dating – I guess I’ve seen all sides of this issue (myself, plus 3 of my 5 children married and how their relationships developed.) Again – you can’t live by the law – we have the freedom of grace but not the license of ignoring reality with an anything goes attitude. We learn to take each situation separately. My daughters did well with their choices (one of your respondents was the Bishop who wed one daughter). My son, very interesting, had a strict no-touch relationship until they were engaged. In fact, a good friend chaperoned their first date – my son was 27 and the future daughter-in-law was 23 at the time! That said, we learn to adjust and live and not condemn nor judge these decisions.
    Very well written piece and sage words from one so young. Thank you.

    Reply
  2. GP April 3, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    The thing that comes to mind while reading the story of the woman being uncomfortable around your father, with no reason to be, is that she was probably sexually abused in some way, or at very least has some other past that makes her uncomfortable around men. That discomfort is probably a triggered feeling from a past experience. She may not even be aware that that’s not normal or healthy, that’s just her experience and she doesn’t know anything else.

    I could totally be wrong, but I know women who have been abused and this is how they feel around men, especially alone with them. Unfortunately a kid or teen can’t possibly know that sometimes what people say reflects more about the person saying them than who they’re being said about.

    Reply
  3. Susan April 3, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    Tim and I talked about this situation also. We have made this a rule for ourselves. Not because either of us are afraid of a sexual encounter but more because no one can accuse anyone of inappropriate behavior if a third party is along. In this world of he said she said there is no absolute proof unless a third person is in attendance. I was talked about many times when I worked at Westinghouse. The vendors who came into the lobby would take the receptionist’s to lunch once and a while. Human nature being what it is and dirty minds usually make trouble. They are the ones jealous because it’s not them going to lunch.
    Your youth helper may have been one of those dirty minds who probably already did all those things in her youth or she may have been trying to protect you from a hormonal boys who are usually always thinking of sex. She may have also been a victim at some other time in her past and was afraid for herself with your Dad.
    Lots of people have lots of different ideas.

    Reply
  4. Kenneth Myers April 3, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    I went to a fairly fundamentalist Bible College, as did my sister in law a half dozen years before me. When she attended they had a strict no “couples alone” dating policy; everyone had to have a chaperone, never mind that you might be 20 years old. Anyway, she met a guy there, dated, and married. But the problem is you never see the real person in that kind of situation. So, turns out he was incredibly unfaithful to her, and very abusive; even kicking her in the stomach when she was pregnant, and being part of the reason the child was born mentally handicapped. Legalism never works.

    Reply
    1. Kristy April 3, 2017 at 2:52 pm

      That’s horrific. I never understood the logic behind it, either. I mean, I understand why they think it’s the right thing to do, but it doesn’t actually make sense. By attempting to protect something, it’s easy to crush it.

      Reply

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