The responses to the recent hashtag #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear show the desperate need for Christian communities to end sexism rooted in bad theology and faulty human traditions. With Mother’s Day around the corner, here are some considerations for pastors preparing messages that honor women.
“At the heart of every woman,” a pastor once commented on Mother’s Day, “is a God-ordained desire for beauty, marriage, homemaking, and motherhood. If you doubt it, check out the covers of women’s magazines at the grocery store.”
I chafed at his generalizations. I couldn’t deny that magazines marketed to women tend to cover beauty, decorating, recipes, and finding the perfect ___ [project, costume, snack, etc.] for kids, among other stereotypical topics that most women I know either relate to or roll their eyes at.
But I wondered if that pastor would have a different perspective if he could become a beetle on a wall at a women’s retreat. Would it surprise him to learn that most of us don’t sit around curling our eyelashes, voting on paint and fabric swatches, or even talking about our husbands and kids? Sure, we care about how we look. We want to make the most of our surroundings and support our husbands and kids. But there’s so much more. We want to thrive in Christ. We want our gifts and energy and time to count in the fullest ways possible. Most of us who love Jesus want to make the greatest difference possible for all eternity.
At the same time, we hear some Christian leaders stereotype and limit us to the domestic realms, fencing us from our fullest potential in Christ. And not enough of us realize that stereotypes and limitations have more to do with human traditions than God’s actual intentions. Many present-day church leaders buy into teachings of church fathers who had limited opinions of women. It’s not that the writing and ministry of these leaders was all wrong or bad. But much of their teaching on why God created women fell short of God’s basic plans for marriage and community. And, sadly, some of their inaccurate teachings have carried on through today, minimizing Christ’s work through women.
Augustine, for example, taught that a woman’s goodness is … Continue Reading