We’ve all heard them. Stupid jokes and thoughtless comments. Sexist sayings and caricatures. From the pulpit, at the altar, in school, from boyfriends, girlfriends, teachers, parents, and friends. People pass off myths as facts and case-by-case examples as universal truth. Women are like this and men are like that. Women are obnoxious. Men are arrogant. Women are needy and men are emotionally unavailable. These statements are infused with cultural and gendered assumptions. They have no basis in the gospel and what’s more—they are rooted heavily in socialization. And yet, despite Christians’ pledge to reject unhealthy and sinful cultural messages, these painful and divisive gender jokes and ideologies have infiltrated the church. And it’s not no big deal, people. It’s a really big deal. Here’s why.
History is, quite obviously, a story. And like any story, it at times prioritizes the experiences of certain characters over others. If we try to do too much with one story, we obstruct our own efforts. Thus, good historians are wise and fair synthesizers of data, but they accept that no one story can include everyone and everything.
Last night, Sarah Bessey (we’re fans!) began a conversation about the strange, sexist, abusive, and toxic things Christian women are told on a regular basis. We’ve collected some of the most powerful tweets so far in a list--follow the ongoing conversation happening on twitter under #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear.
There is a cost to benching half the church. There is a cost to consuming porn. There is a cost to marginalizing women. There is a cost to the betraying silence of the church. And ultimately, the cost is women’s lives.
Many, particularly women, have felt that the patriarchal overtones of Scripture exclude them from participating in God’s divine work: only men are to be the leaders, preachers, and teachers. They find the masculinity of Jesus limiting instead of liberating because they cannot relate to His male identity.
There is no love in patriarchy. There is no respect. There is only perpetual immaturity, dependency, and frustration for the man who is subjected to the most sophisticated manipulation as his wife gives over control and authority to him.
Christianity began when an angel showed up at a young, unwed girl’s house, announcing that she’d been honored with the privilege of carrying a baby boy—a boy who would become the hope of the nations. God chose a young, unwed mother to be mother of the One who would usher in an upside down kingdom, a kingdom where God esteems people quite differently than humanity ever has before.
A reading of the New Testament and Jesus of Nazareth in its own context points us away from all flawed forms of earthly power and authority—those based on maleness, ethnicity, on who has the larger army, who has the most wealth, etc.