Note from JA: Kathi is still working on her other book series, The Excellent Wife, by Martha Peace, but you know how it is when your interest is perked. That’s what happened, and she just couldn’t let this one go, so I told her, “have at it!” So, here she goes, juggling two book reviews at once! Go, Kathi! ~ja
Not too long ago I learned of some questionable writing in Bill Hybels book, Christians in a Sex Crazed Culture. Now that we are aware of sexual misconduct allegations perpetrated by Bill Hybels, his resignation, and the affect upon Willow Creek, I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at this 1989 book.
I’ll start with excerpts from the first six chapters and follow up with a second post on the last six chapters. I’m wondering if it took him long to write this book because it is a very quick read full of 80’s stereotypes and no supporting research whatsoever. After you read some of the ideas in this book, you may ask yourself, “exactly who is the sex-crazed one?”
Chapter One starts off with Bill talking about a time he went to a couple’s house at midnight to tell their children that they were getting a divorce. Who does this?
About two years after I became pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, a couple from the church called me to their house about midnight one night. They had both gotten involved in adulterous relationships, and they wanted me to sit down in their family room and explain to their two children, a six-year-old and a four-year-old, that their family was going to break up because Mom and Dad had found better partners. Intending to be both calm and professional, I picked up the children and started explaining to them what was going to happen. I continued talking while the surprise on their faces turned to tears, and then I too started crying. I wanted to look at those parents and say, “Look what’s going on. Is your pleasure worth this? What good is sexual pleasure that scars these precious kids for the rest of their lives? is it that good?”Page 20
In Chapter Two, Bill talks about a time when he was a teenager at camp. He wanted to impress the other boys and decided to sneak a movie titled “Emergency Childbirth” from the camp mess hall into their cabin. He tells us that his “partner-in-crime” later became another staff member at Willow Creek. Bill explains how nearly everyone can recall early sexual memories. Yes, he sexualized childbirth.
Toward the end it showed an uncut, unedited view of a real woman giving birth. Half of the guys had their heads under their pillows; the other half were pleading with me to turn it off. But what a memory that was! That episode embedded itself in my mind. I can bring it all back as though it happened yesterday.Page 25
Chapter Two continues with a situation in which Bill’s 3-year-old son commented on a woman’s breasts using a slang word. I wonder how his 3-year-old learned slang terms for breasts.
Our son gave me my first chance to teach sex education when he was three. Our family had stopped at a small, very quiet restaurant for breakfast. Two businessmen sitting at the next table were the only other people in our area of the dining room. The waitress brought our menus, asked if we wanted coffee, stayed just a few seconds, and left. As she was leaving, Todd said, without embarrassment, “Gee, Dad, she has big _____” and used a colloquialism for breasts that I didn’t even know he knew. The two businessmen almost fell out of their chairs. Lynne’s eyes told me it was my turn to handle the sex-ed matter.Page 26
In Chapter Three Bill states that he and Lynne did not lack passion while they were dating. Bill sets the tone for the type of husband he will be during their honeymoon when Lynne accused him of being insensitive because he laughed at her for having a cold sore that went “from her lip to the middle of her neck.”
During a later anniversary celebration Bill and Lynne stayed in a hotel room described as:
Socially, it was positively scandalous; morally, it was absolutely decadent; theologically, it was totally depraved.Page 32
Easy there, Bill. It’s only a hotel room. How bizarre! However, now I would like to repaint my bedroom the color that represents “totally depraved.”
Chapter Four is all about what causes affairs. Here is where the lack of research is evident.
Adultery is happening in record numbers. Statistics vary, but most experts now say that two thirds of all married men and half of all married women will commit adultery some time during their marriages. Women who enter the work force are more likely to have an affair than those who stay home. So many predict that it’s just a matter of time before both men and women will be at about the same level of unfaithfulness.Page 44
In Chapter Five Bill tells us that Satan is the one who convinces people to have affairs. It’s so easy to blame the devil than to accept accountability for your actions.
The evil one leads slowly, subtly, and with uncanny ability to maneuver down the path of infidelity. He has to; he has a tough job. He has to convince people who pledged faithfulness to their spouses that it is better to follow him down the path of unfaithfulness than to stay true to their vows. He has to convince them that there is more excitement in the bedroom of another person than in keeping promises of unending love and commitment.page 57
Bill’s idea of affair proofing your spouse is to ensure that the grass isn’t greener on the other side. I want to know what leads Bill to think that Lynne might be deceived and be unfaithful.
I don’t recommend hiring a private detective to tail suspicious spouses, and I know of no modern-day chastity belts. The only way I know to affair-proof my spouse is to keep my lawn so green that all others look brown. But I see many where the opposite is true. Some laws are so barren they make a patch of asphalt look healthy.pages 61-62
We should have no fairy-tale illusions about out spouses. The evil one will tempt and seek to deceive every one of them. He is no respecter of persons. When he tries to interest my wife in other men, I want Lynne to say to herself, “This man may be better looking than Bill, and he is certainly richer, but will he be as concerned about my well-being as Bill has been? Will he challenge me and lead me spiritually like Bill has? Will he seek to build my self-image? Will he cheer me on and encourage me to expand by abilities? Will he push me to reach my potential? Will he be as good a father to our kids? Will he be as tender and as affectionate and as pleasing sexually?”
Bill set guidelines similar to the Billy Graham rule to avoid affairs. We know this didn’t work out so well for him.
First, I avoid having lunches alone in restaurants with a woman other than my wife, and I avoid riding alone in a car with another woman. Also, I avoid meeting alone with women in my office without one of my two assistants directly outside my glass-paneled office door. Finally, I avoid traveling without a companion (Lynne, the kids, or a male staff or board member) so that there cannot even be an accusation made pertaining to inappropriate behavior. I’m committed to being alert to any new danger areas and as I sniff them out, I will add appropriate measures to my list.pages 63-64
We’ll end here with one of the more ironic excerpts in the book. Call it a self-fulfilling prophecy if you will. Remember, this book was written in 1989. I wonder if Bill recalls these words after walking away from a ministry without accepting any accountability.
If we do not set up guidelines to establish accountability, we are inviting trouble. Recently, a pastor of a major church was exposed in having multiple adulterous relationships. When I asked him how this could have happened, he replied that he had created an environment where he had to answer to no one. And now, after dragging Christ’s name through the mud and shattering a once vital ministry, he now realizes that he does have to answer to Someone. He understands, all too late, that God is not mocked.Page 64