His offenses included suggestive comments and “physical coercion.” While the precise number of those abused is not known, it could exceed 100.
Yoder’s method of operation was to invite women to assist in the exploration of a new Christian ethic of sex. With the sexual revolution and surging feminism of the 1960s and ’70s serving as a backdrop, Yoder started writing about sex and intimacy, particularly as it related to single people. Citing Jesus’ interactions with women, Yoder, who was married, said that “freedom of bodily affection and intimacy is not necessarily correlated with the satisfaction of genital drives.” Thus people not married to each other could engage in sexual relations as an expression of Christian intimacy without it being considered erotic or an act of adultery.
Many women refused Yoder’s invitations, and he claimed he always respected their decision. Others initially appreciated an esteemed professor’s “personal attentiveness,” “friendship,” and appeals to their intellect, according to Goossen.
Miller later convened seminary groups to engage Yoder, first to discuss the theoretical aspects of his position and then to discipline him. Furthermore, Yoder believed that his work was so advanced that it was necessary to hide it from “those who could not help but misunderstand this liberty,” Goossen wrote, quoting Yoder. The secrecy also included the destruction of some documents by Miller and others at church offices, largely at Yoder’s request.
“I was wrong,” Hauerwas said. “I just hadn’t realized the extent of John’s behavior.”
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