We’re Complicit In Sexually Objectifying Her

Posted by on Thursday, Nov 16, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

At one point or another, every woman must deal with the fact that her body is a problem. Isn’t that what we learn from the #METOO movement? Women face sexual objectification, assault, and rape in alarming numbers. Last year there was an outrage for a brief moment. There was hope that change was in the air. Finally, women’s voices heard and bodies appropriately honored. It wasn’t long-lived. The November 8, 2016 vote minimized us, silenced us, – or so it seemed. And as a woman of faith, the deafening silence by my male leaders left me feeling betrayed and disturbed. It’s been a year since Trump was elected, and once again I have a spark of hope. I contribute the outcry to be directly related to last year’s tape and election. Outraged women were silenced but even still the smoldering stayed. Last year‘s silence made way for this year’s cry of “ENOUGH!” I believe that’s what we’re observing with men like Bill O’Reilly, Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K. and as I write – Roy Moore. But even with the loud outcry of “enough” I’m bothered by the silence or worse yet, support reported by my brothers of faith. I’ve been noodling on why they support men who objectify women. I choose to think the best and forgo the idea that perhaps they don’t think what’s being done to women as a very big deal. You know, the “boys will be boys” attitude. Rather I’m wondering if it’s because they truly believe the church doesn’t contribute to the sexual exploitation of women. They don’t have a dog in this fight because they protect women rather than sexual objectify them.” It’s time to rethink that! We, the Church, also teach that her body equals sex. We hosted a salon on body image and had women write on sticky notes the messages they received about their bodies from their mom, culture and the church. As we read them out loud you could feel the toxicity. What caught my attention, which I’m sure it’s due to the climate right now, was how the church is also complicit in sexualizing the female body. We don’t do it the same way as our culture, but it’s still very real and present. Here’s a sample of the women’s sticky notes.   Take note how every message relates to her body and men. Sex, purity, and marriage. Her body is a problem for her and for him! Just like those men being accused, we too see her body as sex. Whether she’s a temptress or frigid, she’s defined by her body. And although I’ve never had a man of faith sexually assault my body (there are women who...

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Pass On The Botox

Posted by on Monday, Mar 14, 2016 in Blog | 5 comments

I just finished up an eight-week series called Imago Die Women. It’s a bible study designed to take a close look at what God meant when he called women his image bearers. One of the lessons focused on work in the garden. What kind of work did God do and what kind of work did he give for woman and man to do in his likeness? By the way, woman’s work was more than having babies! Work in the garden was meant to reflect who God is – creating, caring and cultivating so that all of God’s creation will flourish. An interesting conversation ensued when I asked, “How can we recognize when work openly violates God’s patterns revealed in Genesis 1& 2?” One woman, who works to get women out of the sex industry, said, “Yes, pimping violates God’s patterns of work in the garden.” Yup, that’s true. Then another woman spoke up, she’s an esthetician, and wonders if her work violates God. She proceeded to say her works includes trying to convince women they aren’t beautiful enough and they need her services to make them “look more beautiful.” The next thing out of her mouth cracked me up. She pointed to the wrinkles between my eyebrows and said, “I noticed you need some work on right there.” I busted out laughing. I love that our studies are raw, open and honest. But the thing is, I like my wrinkles. They say something about my age, my state of life. More importantly they say something about God. About life and decay and death and resurrection. I believe my body communicates God’s story. I don’t want them gone because they speak an important story. Women think I’m crazy when I say things like that. But it’s true. And I wish women would stop letting society define their beauty, their story. Our story in God’s Meta narrative. An acquaintance invited me to a gala hosted at one of the fanciest country clubs in Dallas. Not my kind of thing, but went because I wanted to grow in my friendship with the woman. I’ve never attended something like this so I felt like an outsider observing the women and men in the room. The insecurity and comparison among women was palpable in the room. My heart hurt. Here we where, God’s image bearers, so desperately wanting everyone, anyone, to notice us, think we were beautiful, capable, desirable. We wanted women to envy us and men to lust after us. It was hovering over the event. The group of women at my table took some pictures and one woman immediately stated, she “hated how she looked in iPhone pictures.” The conversation ensued about...

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We Are More Than A Vagina & Womb

Posted by on Saturday, Mar 21, 2015 in Blog | 3 comments

We like wine and cheese and meaningful conversation in our home. So we host “wine and cheese” gatherings on a regular basic. Here is how they work: A blind copy email is sent to a long list of people with a list of dates. People respond to a date they would like to come. No one knows who else is on the list. They show up at the door with a bottle of wine and a wonderful cheese. Each person sits around our table, never with the person they came with, and a meaningful conversation ensues spurred on by questions my husband has worked through for the night. This year our invites include a book to read prior to coming. A few weeks ago eleven of us gathered to drink wine eat cheese and discuss the book, The Underground Girls of Kabul. It takes place in Afghanistan, a place where boys are preferred over girls. In a male preferred society – a baby boy brings celebration and honor – a baby girl brings shame and burden. A woman’s value lies in her ability to marry and provide a son. To put it more bluntly her value is in her vagina (purity) and her womb (male heir). One of the women at our table was a doctor, the one they call in when a newborn baby is blue – not breathing – going to die. Her job is to make them “yelp,” she said. “I’m good at what I do,” she said. “I can’t imagine feeling shame over hearing the yelp of a baby girl.” Girls are often kept inside away from activities that might expose them to men or boys and therefore bring an appearance of impurity. Adolescent girls can’t be around boys. Period. Purity is crucial. After marriage it’s crucial she bare a son. It’s assumed her body decides the gender, if no son is provided she’s shamed. The husband is shamed as well. Without a son he is less likely to find a job or get a promotion and more likely to be harassed by the community. A son is everything. In a way I hurt for the Afghan men. They live in a country where there’s deep poverty and little employment or advancement. How emasculating to not be able to work or provide. Deprivation is everywhere. Honor and dishonor are tenuous. At any moment what little honor there is can be snatched away. In many ways the honor of a man is totally dependent on another – his wife. If she is pure … if she provides a son … I wonder if deprivation leads to domination over what few things one can control. It might...

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My Body Counts

Posted by on Tuesday, May 27, 2014 in Blog | 2 comments

I haven’t written lately. Sometimes I get tired of all the talking. Opinions. Counter opinions. It seems like everyone has something to say about everything. Sometimes it’s overwhelming and I long for quiet. Among us. In myself. While being quiet I’ve been reading Kingdom Ethics by Stassen & Gushee and Incarnate by Micheal Frost. Both have caused me to cry, grieve and reconsider how I’m living. Frost’s book has reminded me, once again, of the importance of my body, your body, the church’s body. I believe the body (mine, your’s and the church’s body) – being flesh – has great value – perhaps more than we are aware. So I’m asking myself a lot of questions about my past ministry life, the church family, and community.  I’ve been (re)considering how to live in light of the fact that Jesus came in flesh – SO THAT we could be known by God and know God. Known ness. I see you happens in the flesh. My previous ministry platform was large and public and whether I liked it or not it created a discarnate ministry. Size does that. It was always disconcerting when dining out a man or woman approached to speak but I had no idea who they were. Now I have a chance to re do the platform, size, shape of my organization. I desperately believe in incarnational ministry, and I desperately want to be present with others. Or at least I think I do. (More on that in another blog)  I want to give my second half of life to improving our view, the church’s view, and therefore the world’s view of women. But how do I stay earthed, communal, relational and embodied with others while  going about this God-given endeavor? That’s the anxt. How does one speak to hundreds and still be present? How does one travel and stay present? How does one sit alone for months to write and still be present? Steve knows I’ve been wrestling with these concepts and thought I might benefit from listening to this Ted talk. After listening I wanted to stand up and scream YES, THIS IS WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT! Lord do not let me disengage from your people. Let me be present. I see you kind of...

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Conversation About Our Bodies

Posted by on Thursday, Apr 10, 2014 in Blog | 1 comment

Last night over 200 women gathered to talk about body image. A third of the women were young girls (middle school, high school and young twenties). Body image is a painful subject for most women. There are two great influencers in our lives when it comes to how we view our bodies. Mother and media. Prior to age ten the significant woman in our life impacts how we see the body – our body. I asked women to text in what their mother (grandmother, sister, aunt etc.) taught them about their body. It may have been a spoken or unspoken message. An unspoken message is like when a mother constantly diets or has plastic surgery or can’t go out without make up. The text rolled. It’s not what’s on the outside but what’s on the inside that counts – (Really!? Then why do we look at our butts in the mirror while trying on a pair of jeans!)- your too fat – watch what you eat – you have love handles – men will only love you if you’re beautiful – thin is in …. You get the point. Toxic right? Have you ever stopped and thought about what messages you received about your body? How have they impacted your body practices (how we use and engage our body)? The second influencer in how we view our body is media (no duh!) Advertisement is a 100 BILLION dollar business. We see over 2000 ads a day. And what are they selling? Image. If you buy this you will be … “cool” “sexy” “successful.” Advertisement sells image. If that’s true, and it is, then what’s it selling to us women? Let me just say 20 years ago the average model wore a size 8, today she wears a size 0! Need I say more. But mom and media aren’t the only ones forming and informing our view of the body. The Church informs us too. I asked the women to share what messages, spoken or unspoken, they learned from the Church about what it means to have a female body. Answers: Women are responsible for sexually purity – theirs and the boys too!  Be thin. You’re husband needs you to be beautiful. You’re not sexual. Be put all together (especially when you go to church). What you wear is very important (especially when attending church). Don’t focus on outward appearances as much as the culture. The body is a Temple (meaning be respectful of it). Think about it. What messages have you learned from the Church? And are they true? That’s really the question we’re after. What does it mean for us to “image” something? Body image. What are we imaging – after...

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