What is your view of mentoring between the sexes? Is it appropriate for men to mentor woman and vice versa? Is it appropriate for a man and women to be alone together if one is married?
Nancy, I think there are several aspects to take into consideration on answering your questions.
o This is a word that is being used a lot today. It can mean giving some objective advice once in a while on a professional level all the way to a more of a counseling relationship implying growing in confidence and even intimacy.
o In general, personally I would want to suggest caution. The more confidence a man and a woman develop, regardless of the subject they are dealing with, the greater the possibility of the relationship become more intimate, something to be concerned about if either is married or neither is really interested in the relationship developing this dimension.
o An interesting illustration. In the Book of Acts, Paul had a friendship, perhaps even a mentoring relationship with Priscilla. The name of this woman appears in two forms in Greek: Priscilla, the more informal form, and Prisca, the more formal. Luke refers to her as Priscilla. Paul, who really spent more time with her and her husband, Aquilla, always uses the more formal term, Prisca. Why? My personal theory is that Paul, as a single man, working quite closely with this couple, recognized that there might be a danger in their growing relationship due to the intensity of the mutual ministry. It appears that Paul, aware of potential danger, decided to maintain the more formal communication style. Whether my theory is correct or not, I think the principle is valid.
• Is it appropriate for a man and women to be alone together if one is married? Once again, all depends.
o It depends on the cultural context. Some cultures are very relaxed about men and women being alone; others consider a situation like this to be avoided.
o It depends on the physical context. Being alone for an extended period of time in a closed bedroom, for example, is not a good idea. Being alone together in an office with a window or the door open is another. Most pastors will not counsel a woman in a closed room with no window. This is a helpful procedure, not only to avoid temptation but also for self protection. Individuals have been accused of wrong behavior when they were innocent.
o Individuals who are married to someone else, need to exercise precaution if they find they are spending a lot of time alone with a colleague of the opposite gender. “Spiritual adultery” can occur when an individual finds he or she is developing more confidence with another person than with his or her own spouse, and spiritual adultery can easily lead to physical adultery. But then we are back to some of the comments I made to the first question.
In conclusion, we need to exercise great wisdom and caution. We are all human beings, subject to temptation. The enemy is eager to take advantage of our weaknesses as well as the wagging tongues of gossips.