It’s tough. I’m not disputing that it must also be tough to be a Christian male, but here’s one Christian female’s view.
On one hand, I wish to try to honour God in all areas of my life, and doing so I look to His word. When guys constantly bandy about labels such as “feminist”, and make “jokes” about how women should be in the kitchen, however, things are not made easier, especially when society gives girls from youth such utterly confusing mixed messages about on one hand how we should like dolls and playing in toy kitchens, but on the other hand should aspire to high-power jobs, and maybe be the breadwinners while our husbands (or in society’s view, partners/”significant others”) stay at home looking after the children.
I don’t think the paucity of strong [young] Christian guys which your average Church of Scotland girl is likely to have come across in her upbringing helps (not a comment necessarily on quality, just on quantity – guess same goes for girls!), and nor does, I think, the stance of churches in general that I’ve experienced (not saying in any way that this is the view of all ministers, just ones that I’ve heard) when encountering passages such as 1 Corinthians 11, 1 Corinthians 14:33-35, 1 Timothy 2:8-15, Titus 2, and 1 Peter 3:1-7 – so often passages such as those pertaining to a wife submitting to her husband, not speaking in church, and wearing head coverings are completely skimmed over with a “that was really only in a context where women were the weaker vessel and not educated and doesn’t apply today”, or even a “hurhurhur, I’m going to be spoken to by certain members of the congregation if I go on about this!”. As a result, one could easily think that such passages completely don’t apply to Christians today.
Conversely, in the past year or so such verses have been discussed – by those around me, at any rate – much more seriously, yet more rarely brought up are other passages which denote more well-rounded women than *just* being a wife and mother, such as the words of King Lemuel’s mother in Proverbs 31, which describes (to paraphrase the ESV study bible’s footnote) a married woman, devoted to the well-being of her family, who has an outside business, and teaches others wisdom and kindness – and even in the Titus 2 passage, the older women are charged with teaching the younger.
From a combination of these factors, and from having a trainee woman minister when I was younger, women in ministry wasn’t even something I’d considered as potentially problematic until about 18 months ago, nor had I thought about gender roles including submissiveness to one’s husband and being the primary caregiver for one’s children. Since then, the proliferation of jokes and opinionated people has led me to evaluate (rather than re-evaluate) my views, and I’m still working out what a Godly way of living would be. I enjoy challenging guys’ views in such areas, though am often trying to do so from a devil’s advocate perspective rather than actually putting forward what I think, which may be a formless opinion in any case. An additional point to note: obviously it’s never ever ever something you want to have to anticipate, but what about cases where a husband leaves his wife? If she’s been not working in order to devote herself to the household and children, that would just compound the awfulness of the entire situation.
When I posted a similar but ultimately less-directed post before, Anna P had this to say, which I thought highly interesting:
Basically really like this post Sarah – and have tonnes to say on the subject! I have also got the title of “feminist” too, and I don’t really know why…well, I guess I do, basically I protest against those “you should go back to the kitchen” jokes. (I saw a postcard that once said “People call me a feminist whenever I differentiate myself from anything other than a doormant.”- sometimes feels true!)
I think most people do not mean any harm by it, but how is it building up and encouraging their spiritual sisters? It’s saying that all God has called us to do as women is to make them sandwiches…how demoralising. It completely undermines a woman’s role in God’s eyes..which is to serve, and to support, and to submit, but it is also to have her own mind and her own uniqueness and her own role.
As soon I as question anything that is the norm…ie, taking my husband’s name when I get married (which is something I have to think about now!) I get shot down by guys and called a feminist. I’m not saying I don’t want to take his name, just that I would like to know why I should take it, whether it is biblical, and I think I’m still allowed to be a little bit sad that I am losing that part of my identity.
I’m willing to change my name and submit to David, because he’s going to be my husband, but does that mean I need to submit to every other man who comes my way? And the banter is all fine and well, except when it leaves people feeling like they are less than what they really are in God’s eyes. Guys should be seeking to build their sisters up to realise the full potential of what God wants to do through their woman-ness..not making them feel belittled. And girls should be doing the same for the bro’s.
Sorry if that was a rant. I suspect it was and I also suspect that I will be called a ‘feminist’ even more for this post. But for the record: I really like making sandwiches.
As for me, at the end of the day, I do hope to get married if that’s what God has planned for me (and be content with singleness in the meantime!). I do, actually, love cooking and baking and seeing people liking what I’ve made; and knitting; and enjoyed helping to lead the pre-schooler’s Sunday school at my church. I’m also intelligent, and don’t want to have put myself through the shedload of work that is a law degree for no ultimate purpose. I’ll be continuing to try to discern how I should behave, and will look to the Bible and to older Christians for advice. In the meantime, though, it would help if guys wouldn’t just throw about labels such as “feminist” all the time, or constantly harp on about how girls should be cleaning and in the kitchen.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.