At one of the churches I once attended, I was asked to be a mentor for young women who were part of the Women’s Ministry. It required being a spiritual compass of sorts for new Christian women, helping them understand the Scriptures and how to live a life acceptable to God. I turned it down, for two reasons.
The basis for the mentoring program was found in Titus 2:3-5, “Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.”
The first reason I said no was that I disagreed with the idea that women should be submissive to their husbands or any man. I had been told more than once that I did not understand the principle of submission.
But, being beaten for months as a teenager, spending seven days in a hospital after I said no to a command, and then suffering four miscarriages as a result, I believed that the idea of giving someone complete control over another human being was both dangerous and life-threatening. In my first marriage, I came within a hairsbreadth of losing my life, and only God hearing and answering my prayer to not let me die is why I am alive today.
Therefore, I just could not tell another woman to give up her God-given thinking abilities and blindly follow someone else, simply because that person was male. I could not say to any woman that if you are being bullied physically, psychologically, or financially, you must simply deal with it and stay. To me, God would hold me accountable for any bloodshed they experienced, and I would blame myself.
The second reason I decided not to mentor was the mayhem in my own life. I was single, lonely, and not living a shameless life. Loneliness is probably the greatest deterrent to living a Christian life for women. The stigmas attached to “sinful” women are not the same for men.
The idea of monitoring other women’s love lives or how much they drank when out with friends or at home, was abhorrent to me. Also, where does gossip end and slander begin, because when women get together, they talk about everybody and everything, often not in a mean way. Was I to instruct young women to forego their friends and only seek to be with companions of whom I approved?
I think that mentoring is one thing when it comes to learning a job or a new craft, such as knitting and crocheting. But, I believe that none of us are perfect enough in our walk with God to be expected to teach anyone how to live holy lives.
Yes, as a minister, I tell people what the Bible says, and I try to walk the talk, as much as is humanly possible. But, I think we need to rethink the concept of mentoring in the church. We should listen more to people who need to talk and discern the Word, leaving judgment to God, and not be spiritual police officers using the Bible as a bazooka to keep people in line, as we define the line.