Among classic literature's great seductresses—Becky Sharp, Lady Chatterley, Anna Karenina, and Madame Bovary—the most irresistible of them all just might be Katie Scarlett O'Hara, the vivacious and impetuous protagonist in Margaret Mitchell's American classic, Gone With the Wind. Scarlett's charm was so compelling that men seldom realized she "was not beautiful," flocking around her regardless of whether or not they already had a partner.

Growing up, I was so smitten with Rhett Butler that I never understood Scarlett's affection for the wimpy Ashley Wilkes, but the recent brouhaha over actress Kristen Stewart's affair with married Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders casts Gone With the Wind's characters in a different light. When Us Weekly splashed photographs of Stewart and Sanders's make-out session on its cover, the bulk of the blame from media fell upon the shoulders of 22-year-old Stewart, not 41-year-old Sanders.

With a single "momentary indiscretion" that left her then-boyfriend Robert Pattinson devastated, the unmarried Stewart surpassed Angelina Jolie as "the most hated woman in Hollywood," but hardly a murmur of accusation was directed toward Sanders, the married-with-children director nearly twice her age.

As trivial as a celebrity love tryst is, I believe the public's reaction to it says something important about our view of both women and men.

Blaming women for sexual transgressions is nothing new. Studies show that both men and women often blame women for rape. Though most perpetrators of sexual crimes against children are men, mothers are often held responsible. Many believe that immodestly dressed women cause Christian men to commit sexual sin.

Fellow Her.meneutics writer Sharon Hodde Miller has written persuasively about how this type of blame-shifting is rooted in negative perceptions about women's identity and women's bodies. But I think our view of men is equally problematic: The blame-shifting reduces men to little more than animals who cannot discern right from wrong or who cannot, in the very least, control their thoughts or behaviors. While we wouldn't explicitly say that Rupert Sanders or Brad Pitt (in his cheating on Jennifer Aniston with Jolie) were blameless in their sexual indiscretions, we imply this when we talk about "the other women" and call Jolie, Stewart, and other women "homewreckers." Didn't these men play an equal part in wrecking their own homes?

I'm not suggesting we expunge women's culpability in sexual transgressions. Even in the case of affairs involving older men and younger adult women, like Stewart, the woman has agency and should thus be held accountable for her actions. I am suggesting, however, that we take a closer look at what these attitudes say about our view of Christian character and the acquisition of virtue. By focusing on the woman, we shift the blame, the epicenter of evil, as it were, outside of the man rather than within his own heart and character. Thus, we focus on external solutions to what are ultimately internal problems.

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In the broader culture, we ensure adolescents have access to contraceptives, offer them alcohol at home, or steer them to the "right" kind of porn. In Christian circles, the conversation centers on modesty and accountability rather than on how to become the type of person for whom sexual indiscretions and perversions are but sickening substitutes for the pleasures of real intimacy. Please don't get me wrong. As 1 Timothy tells us, modesty and accountability are important in the life of the church. I want my daughters to be modest as they reach sexual development. But more than ensuring their necklines and skirt lengths are high and low enough, I want them each to be the type of person who cannot imagine dressing any other way, because their hearts have been shaped toward virtue.

I think we focus on externals because it's easier than changing our character. "If only it were all so simple," wrote Alexander Solzhenitsyn. "If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?" The way of holiness is a notoriously narrow and difficult path because remolding the soul requires that we put to death, over and over again, our natural desires.

Which brings me back to my new admiration for Ashley Wilkes. After the war leaves them destitute, Scarlett approaches Ashley in order to lure him away from his wife and child. "Let's run away … we can go to Mexico … You know you don't love Melanie. There's nothing to keep us here." Unlike many men before him, Ashley resists Scarlett, telling her simply, "Nothing except honor. I love your courage and your stubbornness. So much that I could have forgotten the best wife a man ever had. But Scarlett, I'm not going to forget her." Ashley answers and resists temptation out of the strength of a virtuous character.

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Like most cultures up until the 1960s, Christians believe that the desires and behaviors that seem "natural" to us are something we ought to fight. But we teach this in a contemporary culture that believes, for the most part, that our natural desires—especially sexual desires—are to be celebrated and satiated, lest they be "repressed," which is "unhealthy." That is why our solutions to problems like sexual immorality must not be exclusively external. Along with teaching behavioral modifications like modesty in clothing and fidelity in marriage, Christians need to emphasize the spiritual transformations of whole persons, men and women alike, into the likeness of Christ.