The most dangerous vice for women

Elusive Wapiti quoting Elspeth quoting Kieth Drury:

In a spiritual formation class we work on how Christians can get victory over sin as a part of their spiritual growth. To start the unit I ask students to list the sins Christians face most today. They list four sins immediately:

Internet Porn
Pride
Lust
Anger

Then they pause…they run out of sins…At the pause I usually ask, “OK, for each sin on our list let’s decide as a class if men or women are more inclined to this sin. In all three classes they have agreed that while women are sometimes tempted in these areas men are more inclined to these four sins.

So I say, “Only women participate now—decide among yourselves what four sins you’d add to the list to that you think women are more inclined toward. Silence. Furrowed brows. Thinking…

The last two times I did this activity the women unanimously agreed on what they considered the chief besetting sin of women:

Lack of self esteem

I’m serious. So were they. The last two times I did this when a women offered “Self esteem” the entire group of women audibly responded, “Yeah—that’s it!”

You see where I’m headed? Lack of self esteem? To the men in the class these co-eds were saying, “While you men struggle with pornography, lust, pride and anger we women struggle with not thinking highly enough of ourselves.

A while back, Sunshine Mary noted a real gem in Christianity Today:  “The Spiritual Sex:  why are women better Christians than men?”  (Degree of spiritual advancement was measured by anonymous self-assessment.)

By almost any measure, women are better Christians than men are. They’re more likely to read Scripture, believe it, practice what it teaches, and tell others about it.  (Studies suggest that women are also more devout Muslims, Hindus, pagans, etc.) And they’re feeling pretty good about it, too: in August, the Barna Group reported that 74 percent of Christian women say they are mature in the faith.

One of the only categories on which men scored more highly was agreement with the following:

I strongly believe God is angered by my sins,

Also according to Barna, women don’t struggle with any of the seven deadly sins:

Churches have long taught the seven deadly sins or modern interpretations of them: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. For women, these traditional sins do not seem to be a problem; they claim instead much more “modern” struggles. In fact, when asked what they struggle with, women most often point to disorganization (50%) and inefficiency (42%).

As for the traditional sins, women are least likely to admit to lust (8%). And, against common stereotypes, women also say they rarely battle jealousy or envy—less than one in eight women (13%) admit to feeling envious often or sometimes. When it comes to other negative behaviors and attitudes, about one third (36%) admit to feeling anger, one quarter say they struggle with selfishness (25%), one in five say they are prone to excessive arguing (19%) and just over one-sixth (16%) say they can be arrogant.

So, in case it isn’t obvious, the vice most likely to ensnare a Christian woman is PRIDE.

One may still wonder if this is something biologically innate or a result of cultural conditioning.

20 Responses

  1. Cultural conditioning gets my vote.

    And thanks for the linkage.

  2. “Inefficiency” is a sin?

  3. It’s fairly well establish in social science that women are markedly more religious than men in essentially every culture, so I don’t think it’s prima facie ridiculous to think that they read the bible more or whatever in the US also. But that’s not to deny the sort of self-esteem nonsense that you’re posting about.

  4. It’s fairly well establish in social science that women are markedly more religious than men in essentially every culture

    Women may be more religiously observant (going to church on Sunday, making cupcakes for the bake sale, volunteering in the Children’s Ministry) but that doesn’t make them less sinful. We’re probably just better at white-washing our sins to make them look less sinful – women are definitely better than men at sussing how their behavior impacts how people think of them.

    “Inefficiency” is a sin?

    It’s like the Christian form of answering that question you always get in a job interview…”What’s your worst quality?” and everyone knows to answer, “I’m a perfectionist.”

  5. Which element is unlike the others: internet porn, pride, lust, anger?
    Carelessness like that (from a spiritual director, no less) still gets me all upset.
    And it may well have been on this blog where I first learned about the Dunning-Kruger effect, a concept which has fascinated and delighted me ever since.

  6. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard a priest say that women are more spiritual than men, I could buy myself a fancy steak dinner. I’d say women are more curious about spirituality and religion than men. If you go to a weekend lecture on Benedictine Lectio Divina, there will probably be more women in the audience. Similarly, if you go to a conference on New Age healing crystals, there will be many more women than men.

  7. I’ll bet women are more interested in natural theology and apologetics.

    Also holy wars.

  8. @Bonald

    Apologetics is male-dominated still.

  9. @infowarrior1: I’m fairly sure Bonald was being sarcastic.

  10. Oops, typo–I meant “men”. As it is, though, the comment must be read as sacrasm to make any sense.

  11. “I’ll bet women are more interested in natural theology and apologetics.”

    Why? Women to me seem less interested in the theoretical and more in the personal.

  12. oh. duh. Also, in my opinion, cheese pairs well with crackers.

  13. Reblogged this on Sunshine Mary and commented:
    Bonald explains,”[T]he vice most likely to ensnare a Christian woman is PRIDE.”

  14. Interesting since the Bible states that it is the foolish woman who tears her house down. There are numerous verses about quarreling and nagging wives in Proverbs. Older women are to teach the younger women. There is no where that states that older men have to teach younger men. I also think that verses concerning wives submit to their husbands is more than husbands loving their wives as Christ loved the church. I just told my husband, Ken, this morning that in the past 10 years, the women have began divorce proceedings against their husbands in every divorce I know of. No, we aren’t so sinless and superior to men.

  15. Thanks for the linkage, my friend. And I still go with “envy”…

  16. Im Daniel im new, gee it’s good to read this. I’ve always been sus on women taking the moral high ground. Just covered better. Sure, there is great women and men, but I just don’t buy the busy church going lady is without sin. And I most definitely know women who are having sex with people they shouldn’t be, in their minds and for real. My daughter has a pride issue, and my wife and I have had a constant battle with her over the years. It rises up in her over a period of say 3 weeks and shows its self. In many forms eg; she lies to us and everyone in order to save face of a “perceived sin” in other words, a mistake. It takes a lot to get her to admit she has indeed, made a mistake.

  17. Maybe it’s deceit, considering the survey answers?

  18. My response in regards to my own life presently would contribute the following to the list:

    Discontentment
    (Lack of) Self Control/self-discipline
    Ungratefulness
    Impatience

    I realize those can fall under broader categories, but specifically those come to mind.

    Lack of self-esteem is laughable. Bloated self-esteem perhaps? I cannot think of a Bible reference to encourage us to “think more highly of ourselves than we ought.” Or to “esteem ourselves above others.” Or to “exalt ourselves under the mighty hand of God.”

    Perhaps the teacher could press on that porn one for awhile. Bet a few panties would get in a wad if it were suggested that a husbands porn usage might be due to lack of love, or stinginess, or selfishness… On the wife’s part!

    Long time reader, first time commenter.

    The great men of God throughout the Bible (Moses, Abraham, Isaac, David, Solomon, Jonah, Peter…) with their sins recorded for all mankind to see, and little ladies big struggle is self-esteem!?!?

    I just threw up in my mouth a little.

  19. Welcome!

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