You’re not pretty enough. I’ve heard that voice in my head ever since I was a little girl. It didn’t matter if I got straight A’s, if my poem won a contest in school, if I succeeded in a spelling bee. As I grew older, the voice became more shrill when I realized that, according to culture, beauty was destined to define my relationships, as well as my inherent worth.
Clearly, justice matters to God and was important to many biblical authors. The gospel indicates that justice-doing is meant to be a central tenet of Christian theology and practice. Oft-quoted Galatians 3:28 and other like Bible verses make clear that the gospel undermines hierarchy. It follows that to “do justly,” Christians must dismantle hierarchies of any kind.
Having questioned the formulaic approach of so many other relationship “experts,” what’s left for us to do? Perhaps a return to the universal principles found in Scripture and the conduct modeled by Jesus is in order.
Does God prefer “debt-free virgins without tattoos”? A recent viral article claims that men do, and that women should avoid college, independence, career, and the world—lest they fall into debt and sexual failure and be unattractive to Christian men.
Dating is difficult in today’s culture. As I have counseled single women and men through the years, I often heard pleas for help to find a Christian person to date. And let’s be honest. There are many different kinds of Christians. How does one get help to find a similar kind of Christian? One who values mutual submission and servant leadership in marriage?
It can be disorienting to grow up with such strong messages about men, women, and “biblical” roles. At times it feels like an inescapable pressure. Because very little is overt, the pressure feels phantom.