I’m married, have three young adult kids, two dogs and live in white suburbia. I say this because of what I’m about to say next.
At what point are we Christians going to stop speaking only to the “married with kids living in Suburbia crowd?” Why is it when we hear a male preacher or female bible teacher speak the examples they use are always from this frame of reference? Should every illustration about relationships speak ofmy wife, my husband, my kids?
When we do this what are we saying to the rest of the 51% of women in our society? Did you know that for the first time in history more women, 51%, live without a significant male in their lives. That means more singles in our midst. And did you know the divorce rate is about the same inside the church as outside, meaning there’s a whole lot of divorcee’s sitting in our pews.
I was listening to a woman speak this week. Every example she gave included marriage and kids. Every conversation at the small group level was about marriage and kids. Let me give you an example. The speaker referred to Genesis 1 to help women see their value as image bearers. A good thing. But she only quoted the first part of Genesis 1:28, “Be fruitful and multiply.” Now hear me, she wasn’t teaching on what it means to be a woman she was affirming women as image bearers. I got that but it hit me how when we read only sections like this we are reinforcing (and teaching) theology whether we realize it or not. I’ve put the verses below. Read them and stop at “Be fruitful and multiply” then read it again through to the end.
So God created human beings in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”
What did you learn about woman (and man) as image bearer? One is about children. The other is about children and ruling, governing (the world)! What happens when the only story we tell is the first half of the verse? I know it seems picky and I feel bad that I even see it. I wish I could ignore it because I don’t want to be negative towards my fellow brothers and sisters. But more and more I’m beginning to think it counts and someone should say something. Too many woman, like the divorcee I sat with at lunch, feel like they are less, they don’t live up to the ideal. Even though we had just read the “I am complete in Christ” statement this divorcee confided she wasn’t really seen as complete in the church because she’s not married.
Whether we realize it or not, when we only use married with kids illustrations or speak specific parts of verses, we reinforce social norms and declare theology. We are teaching that fundamentally being a woman, womanhood, means being married with kids. Women aren’t fully women until they possess this status. Women are incomplete until this is achieved. I am married with kids. I am complete in Christ not because I am married with kids but because Christ makes me complete.
It’s time we stopped teaching to one type of woman. It’s time we stop teaching there is one ideal type of biblical woman!