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.
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.
Yep...you 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.