Disclaimer: First off, I apologize for the crappy writing/grammar in this blog. It was written super late last night and I may have been half asleep while typing most of this. 😉
This week there have been two major trends on social media for the Christian audience. It started with Sarah Bessey tweeting using the “ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear” tag on Twitter and it snowballed from there – giving voice to thousands of Christian women. You can read some of them here. The tag was a place for Christian women to post statements or ideas that churches, Christian parents, Christian men, and bad Scripture interpretation has put on them.
For those of you who know me you would know there is no way I was sitting this one out! While I scrolled through the feed I saw 4 recurring themes/4 messages that seemed to be the most common things women have experienced.
- Christian women have been told (or it has been implied) that they are responsible if their clothing choices cause a man to “stumble”.
My response: Women are not responsible for a man’s choices. A man has the option to look away or leave the room if he is unable to control himself. I am not responsible for your sin. Women in Pakistan are covered from head to toe and are still raped, abused, and treated as whores. As a Christian woman I do my best to dress in a way that would be honoring to God yet I have been told by Christian men that my shirt was too tight around my breasts (which I cannot help!). I have a friend who wore a dress just above her knees and a Christian man told her , “you’re not allowed to get mad if a bunch of men check out your legs”. Men, you are NOT slaves to your sex drives – contrary to what you have been taught, told by the entertainment industry, etc. “Boys will be boys” doesn’t apply to grown men objectifying, clothing shaming, and victimizing women.
Be like Job. “”I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.” Job made a covenant…it wasn’t dependant on how a woman was dressed.
- Christian women have been told they cannot preach, teach, or lead in churches and that if they do it will only be to kids or other women.
My response (well, not MINE):
- Christian women have been raped, abused, assaulted, and taken advantage of by male pastors and leaders. Most of these women were asked to leave the church or they were told (or it was implied) that they must have done something that made the “man of God” fall into sin and therefore it was their fault.
My response: You are only responsible for you. If you willing went into an affair with a married man (regardless of his position) you AND HE are at fault.
However, this is not usually the case in the church. I have met women who were seduced by their pastors taking advantage of their position. I read an article about a 16 year old girl who was assaulted by her youth pastor and she was blamed and told “she must have done something to lead him on”. Natalie Greenfield’s testimony will blow your mind and you can read about it here. Many women sharing their stories of abuse were forced into a sexual relationship or were flat out abused. I saw quite a few tweets where women who had come forward about their abuse were told, “He’s the Pastor and a man of God, he wouldn’t do that” or “He’s a good guy! Why would you want to publically humiliate him like this”.
Often these women are asked to leave the church while the offender is not.
- A woman’s “greatest calling” in life is to be a mother and wife.
This is a tricky one. For many women, this IS the greatest calling. There are women who feel they were created to be a mom and wife and they absolutely love it. Which is awesome and you are amazing! But, what about all the women who don’t get married or have kids? Or, the women who cannot have kids? Or, the women who choose to stay celibate? Or, the women who haven’t found a husband yet? We are not missing out on God’s “greatest call” on our lives by not having a husband or kids. While that is true for some it is not true for all. We have to be careful not to make people who don’t have husbands or kids feel like they are less than. I have seen way too many times women who are single be asked, “when are you getting married” or told “your window for having babies is getting closer to closing”. Women are more than wives and mothers. We are human beings all with unique callings, giftings, talents, etc. If a woman wants to work full time, she should. If she wants to be a stay at home mom, she should. While being a mom or wife may feel like the best and most important thing for some – it doesn’t (and doesn’t need to) for every woman.
The second trend that started was in response to the first and it is, #ThingsChristianWomenShouldHear and I am not positive who started it but it is filled with amazing responses to the first tag. Seeing men standing up, speaking out, and advocating for equality for women in the church, marriage, ministry, society, etc was a breath of fresh air. You can see some of these here. I am grateful for the men who are using their privilege to speak out alongside women.
Seeing thousands of women (and men) drawing attention to these issues, bravely calling out bad behavior/double standards/sexism inside the church, and sharing their stories so publically gave me hope. Seeing thousands of men and women partnering together for equality for women in Christian culture warmed my soul.
Don’t stop speaking out. Don’t stop sharing your stories. They are important. You are important.
We are stronger together.