By Bob Allen
When it comes to sexuality, many women are suffering, the lone female plenary speaker at a Southern Baptist summit on sex said during the final session of the three-day gathering.
“Some women are suffering, and some women are struggling,” Trillia Newbell, consultant on women’s initiatives for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention, told about 200 people at the ERLC’s first-ever national leadership conference. It was held April 21-23 at the SBC Executive Committee building in Nashville, Tenn.
Newbell, lead editor of the women’s channel for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood in Louisville, Ky., said the idea that men and women are both created in the image God but created different “does indeed affect our sexuality.”
“The fall of man wreaked havoc on what was perfect in this world,” Newbell said. “It specifically affected women and our sexuality.”
“We know in Genesis 3 that the punishment for Eve’s disobedience was that women would have pain in childbearing,” she said. “But we know it doesn’t end there. Women are reminded every four to six weeks of the death and destruction of the fall through our menstrual cycle. There is miscarriage and hormonal imbalance and cancers that attack our organs that produce life and give substance.”
“And then we have the unfortunate reality that because of the sin in this world women are objectified,” she continued. “We objectify ourselves in magazines and through supporting sexually explicit images, and we are objectified by men. This is our reality.”
Newbell said pastors cannot ignore statistics about how many women are victimized by sexual assault and human trafficking. “Your pews may be filled with women who have suffered under the hands of another person, and these women may be too embarrassed to say a word,” she said.
But Newbell added that people often underestimate the impact of pornography on women. She cited one study showing that one in three Americans who click on a pornographic website is a woman. “This is not a male-only issue,” she said.
With growing popularity of female erotica such as Fifty Shades of Grey, she said, “there’s no wonder that many women who are picking up these books are also clicking on the screen.”
Newbell said “there is a stereotype and a really, really bad rumor” that women don’t struggle with sexual sin.
“Or so it appears,” she observed. “Most of the books, sermons and articles addressing sexual temptation are geared toward the man. There is no doubt that men need to hear these things, but so do women.”
She reminded pastors that the Old Testament book of Proverbs is filled with warnings about the “adulterous woman.”
“When great men fall, it is not always because of sexual sin, but so often it’s because of adultery,” Newbell said. “I am not saying it is the woman’s fault. No way. It takes two to tango, but what I am saying is that all Scripture is useful and therefore those texts aren’t meant for only men. They are also meant to teach women, and to warn us of the dangers to be that temptress, that adulterous woman.”
“So don’t forget to warn women about the dangers of sexual sin as well as men,” she advised pastors. “We need to hear the same warning.”
Newbell spoke briefly before Kevin Smith, pastor of Watson Memorial Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., closed the conference with an address about marital fidelity. Other topics covered in the wide-ranging discussion included pornography, temptation, homosexuality, teaching kids about sex and pastoral care.