Monday, August 5, 2013

Hiking out of the Dark Valley.

I realized gender in the church was a bum deal.

When people started asking my if I liked being a girl.  I was in a ministry school, which advocated women in leadership, but everything I did seemed to indicate that I wanted to be a boy.  The questions always came out of the blue.  I wasn't trying to 'be a boy.'  I liked being me.  I also liked talking to men because it happened that the people around me interested in theology and capable of debating with out getting their feelings hurt  were (mostly) men.  I didn't mind watching people play video games in exchange for the lighthearted company I wasn't finding with the women I was around.  I liked that I wasn't competing to be pretty and affirming. I didn't feel like I needed to be anyone in the circle of men I became friends with.

Then there were was the gay question.  Realize this was like asking if I were The Satan in my church, but every once in a while it would happen.
"Weren't you and so-and-so-female like 'a thing'"
Um, no, we were like, friends, 
and she wore dresses and I liked pants.

And then there were men.  Men who made it clear it was my fault that they liked me. My fault that they wanted to be with me when "God said they couldn't."  Perhaps the most nerve-wracking thing I've ever heard/read was a facebook chat a stalker had with my friend about me.  Line by line dissecting my person, explaining thoughts that left me numb and scared.  Simpler, was the man who explained that I should take the passengers seat rather than stuff in the back of the compact car myself and 5 other guys were cramming into "so that it wouldn't be awkward."  How was rubbing elbows awkward? Did the 6' 7" guy need the leg room more than me?

Last the woman who spoke with tears in her eyes at our ministry schools "dating week," who asked why anyone would want to marry or be in a relationship in which men and women traded sex for love and intimacy for respect.  I wasn't the only one who thought the "great mystery of marriage" and becoming one flesh ought not resemble pilgrims trading with native Americans.

That was gender, that was the church.

Then there was the internet. didn't expect that turn.  Spend any amount of time with people who use the meem "the internets" and you realize a lot of things.  There are far more bad words than you imagined.  There are way more techy people in the world than the US government would like.  And, lust.  It was weird meeting people (men) who existed in the gap of the sexual-predatory-monster of what Christians expect of men and the friends and companions these people became in my life.  In a weird way I've witnessed every wretched thing an evangelical ever told me about the mind of a man, and "these people" became my best friends.

When faced with a similar dichotomy many Evangelical women simply shrugged and agreed as if to say, "they're horny, scary, monsters, but we love them, that's our lot in life."  The more I asked questions the weirder the responses. "It isn't too bad." "You'll love him any way."  "It's the way they're wired."

 It was all a little spooky.
Ok, no, it scared the pants off of me.

I mean, I obviously wasn't like everyone else, but I wasn't going to marry a rapist....

This is rape culture.  Or at least the significantly deep cultural beliefs about sexuality that feminists call "rape culture."  This is the culture of allowing men to believe in remarkably violent urges in a way that makes women responsible for being on a constant defensive.  Because, I might get raped in the dark on a side walk, turns to, I can't sit in the back of a full car, to "its your fault that I like you," to "this is what I want to do with you."

This, as Christians, is unacceptable.  It denies the existence of God's kingdom--but more so, it partners with sin to further the bondage it has on women. We can all readily agree on this.  

The question we need to be asking is how then should we live? 

In a world when female sexuality is feed into our cultural water like shark chum---- 
how do we paint a picture of a fuller female person and a balanced male person?
In a church without female sexual ethics---- 
can we surrender the false power of purity and sexual moral superiority to admit that lust is a road both sexes walk down?
In a culture written about men, by men, for men,----
 can we react without becoming apart of the reactionary gender war?

Modesty becomes a none issue when we realize the valley of darkness in which we exists.  We need not repair the fences of modesty and legalism when what we desperately need is to hike out of this place.  To leave the binaries and stigma behind.  To become co-hires we must leave behind the battle lines of old.  To move beyond the purity movement is lay our pride and control down to pick up a cross that we left everything for.  We must hike out of this place and begin a sexual ethic that doesn't look like it did in the valley.


  1. I always have a hard time putting much stock in the possibility of other people changing, especially religious people. They have this funny habit of thinking whatever they believe has been the only belief held by their creed since its inception, which of course is almost never the case.

    Then again, myself being in all of the majority social classes and none of the minority (except maybe being left-handed), the benefit of other people changing may not be as vital to me.

    If christians have forsaken the truth on issue after issue, at what point is forsaking them equivalent to following the truth? I mean... there has to be a point where, in order to follow the truth, you have to break away from cultures perpetrating lies.

    On a final note. How do you get past the bible's passages on women? I mean, line them up and read them. There's rape culture in the bible. It's straight up in there. I'm just interested in how you see those passages.

    1. My response in this post is from the overwhelming number of blog posts about why the ideology around "modesty" "purity" and Christian sexual ethics is crap. I literally could not link you to all of them... Within this conversation is an disparity between what men say as empirical fact of their experience and what women say should be the way the world works. It goes like this:

      Feminist: "I should get to wear what I want"
      Man: "No I'll sin"

      What I'd like to propose is that this is not a mutual exclusive rather progress that needs to be achieved. It's not that male experience isn't true, but that future generations might not have to experience it. Sexual boundaries are remarkably malleable. I'm merely suggesting that instead of creating a world that revolves around things men don't think they can change that the world be a little more "shared."

      That said perhaps the Christians will "refuse" my "help" but being a Christian part of taking on the banner is...omg can't believe I'm saying this--"being the change you want to see." Influencing the small percentage of Christians actively thinking on the internet means changing the opinions of the more influential members of any church.

      As for verses I think we stick a remarkable amount of stock in things that agree with social norms. Part of my frustration is the clack of basic cultural understanding we have of that time because EVERYONE has a bias on this issue. The people with the corner on this market of Greek scholarship keep their women in kitchens and barefooted... I have more to say but I'm still trying to formulate and will probably post it at some point.