Do women sin?

I know that in the protestant communities (and in the whole American conservative movement, which is heavily influenced by the protestant/evangelical communities) the whole “man up” mantra is promoted a lot to get men to put down the drugs, partying, videogames and sex and become hard working fathers, but honestly I never really hear the female side of the equation, on how women can get some skin in the game, to use our President’s expression.

I still hear the same “man up” mantra in my parish, but also a “woman up” mantra too, promoting chastity, modesty and femininity. But I was wondering if perhaps that is just due to my location. Would you say this small piece applies to your Catholic world?

Do Women sin?

It’s happened to me three times now so I need to ask you about it. All three times were so similar it’s eerie.

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. These four got listed quickly each time. In fact I’ve come to call them the “foul four” sins. Then they run out of gas and just sit there thinking.

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… [long pause]

Really! Each time the women who (along with the men) had quickly offered the “foul four” are at a loss to quickly add “besetting sins” that women seem more inclined toward. And now for the part that got me to write on this subject.

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.” (Several men in the class always visibly roll their eyes.)

To be fair, the women (after considerably time) usually add three other sins: resentment, bitterness, and lack of trust. But even their expanded list appeared to the guys in the class that men struggle with really bad sins while women fight minor sins. This male response was actually summed up the last time I did this. One male student exclaimed, “Gee, if I just struggled with those sins I’d be a saint!” To him “women’s temptations” were misdemeanors while his own besetting sins were obviously capital crimes.

So, it got thinking. Are men more really inclined to sin than women—are they somehow in the grip of original sin more than women? Can this be true? In much of the ancient world women were considered weaker moral creatures with a greater inclination to sin them males—has this been reversed in the modern world?

Or, have we labeled “male sins” crimes while mislabeling the temptations of women as less severe?

Or, are female college students (at least in my college) more unaware of sin than males?

Or what other explanation is there for this repeated phenomenon I’ve seen?

Now, I know that dealing with sin and gender differences is touchy territory—all generalizations have exceptions and are not always true (or they would not be generalizations). But I keep sensing that my students are uncovering something interesting. What is it? What are they discovering about themselves, the church culture or theology?

**What do you think? ** How would you explain this?

We are blessed with an excellent college chaplain who obviously takes a lot of care over his homilies to meet his flock where his flock is. I can’t seem to recall his sermons ever being gender-focused in the way you mention (although a previous pastor seems to have left a long modesty inspirational framed and posted in the ladies’ restroom).

I have a theory about why males are so much more prone to those ‘brutish’ sins on the list today.

They have lost the skill of ‘cherishing’ women. The softness and selflessness that develops in males who regard women as necessarily different to themselves and deserving of cherishing, makes them stronger against their base male animal instincts.

Women reject the attitudes that used to be considered ‘cherishing’. They want to be ‘respected’ by males just like males respect each other. There is such a strong force to reject the biblical teaching regarding the differences between the genders, that women are viewing their natural qualities as ‘a lack of self esteem’.

I think that our differences are meant to create powerful units of the marriage of a man and women… and that in those most powerful units husbands ‘cherish’ their wives and wives ‘respect’ their husband. When we acquiese to that truth, men will no longer be slaves to their base instincts and women will no longer feel that they are lacking in self esteem.

Some point by point analysis:

  1. I think a Catholic has a bit of a leg up thinking about sin. If you just list out the 7 deadlies (lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, pride) that’s basically it. The Evangelicals got about half of them, which isn’t too bad.

  2. Our Evangelical brethren traditionally think primarily in terms of “sin,” whereas Catholics (who need to go to confession) think about “sins”–of necessity, we have to be much more specific. An Evangelical can often say, “I’m a sinner!” and be done. Your Catholic confessor would say, “Be a little more specific, please.”

  3. I think we could actually find a place for “lack of self-esteem” as a joint effort between sloth and envy (and possibly even pride). I know that “self-esteem” sounds very New Agey, but consider how rarely low self-esteem coexists with real virtue in ordinary life. In real life, the person with low esteem is sometimes so so eaten up with self-consciousness that they have no emotional bandwidth left over for thinking about other people and loving them. I posted a link to Captain Awkward yesterday dealing with a similar subject:

  1. “To be fair, the women (after considerably time) usually add three other sins: resentment, bitterness, and lack of trust. But even their expanded list appeared to the guys in the class that men struggle with really bad sins while women fight minor sins. This male response was actually summed up the last time I did this. One male student exclaimed, “Gee, if I just struggled with those sins I’d be a saint!” To him “women’s temptations” were misdemeanors while his own besetting sins were obviously capital crimes.”

Oooh–I think resentment and bitterness cover wrath, envy and pride. Those are biggies in the normal Catholic scheme and a pretty big deal in normal life as barriers to happiness. If you are bitter and resentful, you simply cannot be happy. If the guys had more life experience, they would understand how toxic and un-Christian resentment and bitterness are.

So far, the kids have covered everything except gluttony and greed. I’m sure if they’d been asked more leading questions (Are you moderate with food and drink?), gluttony would have been mentioned, but it’s possible that these particular kids don’t struggle with greed.

Come to think of it, working through a list of virtues (faith, hope, love, prudence, temperance, fortitude and justice) or the corporal and spiritual works of mercy would also be a helpful approach.

Our Evangelical brethren are not, by and large, very systematic thinkers, so no big surprises here.

  1. What my husband would say about this is that sexual sin is really obvious. You can ask yourself, am I sinning through not being more loving toward horrible Aunt Louise? Am I showing enough fortitude during illness? and not really come up with a clear answer. On the other hand, the great thing about sexual sin is that it’s often very, very clear. Why yes, I am committing adultery with my brother-in-law!

I think we can probably fit “lack of trust” as a failure of love and possibly faith.

Here’s a long examination of conscience directed at college students:

Maybe what these responses you receive are really communicating is that there is a cultural tendency to assume that the men want it and the women give in.

There are two types of sin: sins that manifest themselves in isolation, and sins that manifest themselves in relationship.

Men tend toward the former, and women tend toward the latter. When one is leaning into relationship, it takes a VERY hard heart to fully succumb to things like lust and anger, since these things destroy other people, when they occur in relationships.

But in isolation, lust and wrath have free reign. Hence the “checking out” of many men in this culture.

Women’s sins tend to be – and there *definitely *exceptions – relational sins, like envy and resentment. These are toxic, but not overtly destructive. Men’s sins are much more noticeable, but no less damaging. It’s the difference between a gunshot wound and poison: either one will kill you, but you might not know why you died in the second case. Men are subtle as a ton of bricks.

Most people today have too much** self **esteem and too little esteem for God.

That was very insightful.

I think a lot of times men don’t even notice the social stuff that’s going on between women. How many times have we seen stories where a husband doesn’t notice that his mom tears down every woman in sight?

As a rule, there is a gender difference where men tend to take things at face value (even when they shouldn’t) and women analyze and over-analyze social interactions, not infrequently discovering nuances that aren’t there. (“He said he wants to break up with me. What does that mean?” That sounds dumb, but I’ve seen more or less that exact same statement in advice forums–women are often convinced that there has to be more going on than just the surface meaning, even when the surface meaning couldn’t be plainer.) As a fairly low stakes example (but which was traumatic to me at the time), years ago we were expecting a first visit to our household from my new mother-in-law. We were busy, busy young graduate students at the time, and MIL said, “Don’t worry about cleaning! Just pile the heaps up!” I wanted to clean up, of course, but my husband heard that and took it at face value. Then his mom came and (of course) critiqued our dirty bathroom.

So, if I were a guy, I wouldn’t even expect to be able to see women sinning, any more than I can expect to hear bats using echolocation using ultrasound. It’s not on your frequency, although as you get older and have a wife of your own and maybe a bunch of daughters, you’ll start to pick up on things.

About this thread:

Why is it that men ask for advice, then attack the women who give it?
All these guys claim to want to have a woman in their lives …
Women give tips.
Men say “you women are evil”.


Keep to an impossible standard and you won’t ever have to worry about finding a good woman.
Whatever works. :rolleyes:

I think a lot of people really do have harmfully low self-esteem, or at least very little sense of their own dignity and worth. Think of all of the people who post here and elsewhere who are in terrible romantic relationships and just won’t let go, because they think that that’s all that they can get or are worthy of. People (especially women) settle for so little.

Amen sista.:thumbsup:

Wow good post, that name of yours doesn’t come from nothing!

The important point I think in the post is when he points out how possibly we now think the opposite of what the ancients thought, namely that women nowadays are not weaker moral creatures with a higher inclination to sin, but that it takes a lot to make them sin brazenly like men do with those big four mentioned.

If yes, what caused this, feminism?

No, no, no.

The woman-on-a-pedestal is at least a Victorian thing, so it’s been around for quite a while. Of course, there have been substantial revisions to the woman-on-the-pedestal for modern taste, but she’s been there a long time. I suspect the woman-on-a-pedestal probably has a lot to do with the fact that men (as a rule) have a hard time seeing their mothers as real people with personalities. Mother (unless there’s something terribly wrong with the mother-son relationship) tends to be surrounded with a Madonna-like glow and halo.

I see what you’re driving at, but I don’t think I’ve asked for relationship advice, I just thought this writing was interesting and I wanted to share to get the ladies’ opinions.

Honestly I don’t think the FA’s here have impossible standards, I think they just either don’t want to try (too shy, narcissistic), or have gotten tired of getting rejected.

OK fair enough. But I do get the impression that the men who (often) open woe is me threads are probably are “as much fun as an Opus Dei pool party”.

I was thinking a little more, and the idealization of the woman (and almost idolization) dates back at least to medieval Europe and the cult of courtly love.

Of course the irony there is that on the one hand, the suitor idolized his lady from afar, but on the other hand, he was trying to woo her into an adulterous union. Bit of a contradiction, that.

I am not really sure what you are asking. In which case I feel I will give a very inadequate reply which may have nothing to do with what you are talking about.

In my part of the world the ‘absent father’ is a huge problem. More and more children are being raised by mom alone. The mom is the disciplinarian and the dad gets to spoil them at weekends and walk away the rest of the time. This situation is a recipe for disaster. That said, some couples do stay together for the kids but that is not enough. Kids can spot double standards a mile off and will play parents irrespective of the fact they stay together if they know they can. If parents choose to stay together they need to accept responsibility in that living in the same home is not enough. If they part, the same rule applies. Both parents need to ‘up’ to raise balanced kids because child rearing is a joint responsibility. I have two boys and I openly admit I am the ‘yes’ parent. If I had a girl I would say my husband would spoil her more than me. Men and women may have different parenting styles but they balance each other because of this.

Drugs, partying and video games is a failing of both sexes. No distinction other than our society considers it marginally more acceptable for men. When women mess up society is harder on them.

As to promoting chastity, this applies equally to men and women. Modesty also applies equally to both sexes all be it in different ways. Modesty is often misapplied in that it is interpreted in terms of dress. Modesty may also apply to not boasting, not shoving your riches or success in peoples faces, and not putting others down.

On the point of dress, more focus is put on women. You don’t find as many women getting hyped up about the way men dress by comparison to men. I believe there are several reasons for this. First, women perceive men dressing in a way they think is sexy and will attract the opposite sex differently. Women will either think it is silly and the man is a bit of a ‘medallion man’ dork, think ‘wow’ for a fleeting moment if the man is incredibly good looking and well dressed and then dismiss it, or they will simply not care because they are not interested in the man irrespective of what he wears. This may be to do with the way we are socialized.

Self esteem is an interesting one. It is a proven fact women often dress sexy and want to be skinny more for other women than men. Men don’t really care if a woman does not have a flat stomach, and they are not bothered what size her boobs are if they like them. It’s done more for other women from an, ‘I am more attractive to men than you are’ mind set which if not true. It is a fact most men do not like really skinny women. They prefer a bit of shape and do not like women plastered in make up and who are infatuated with looks and fashion. Celebrities and woman’s magazines promote that, not men, and it is done because society places higher expectations on women that men in this regard. Strong, confident people, male or female, don’t have the same issue as those with low self-esteem.

If you want a good look at women who are either in the sin of lust and covetousness and/or who believe they don’t have agency, have a look at the comments in Matt Walsh’s 50SOG post. [sarcasm]Fun reading, that.[/sarc]

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