Where are the women? We’ve been here the whole time.

By Cindy Koch

I know, I know. Ladies, don’t be too hard on him. The Man has posed an honest question about our society and our faith. He observed that men can look like sexist jerks by believing the word of God; so where is the honor for women today? He tried to stand up and defend our freedom, but we know how very short that answer falls. It’s easy to wonder on the outside, rather than to be the woman who must mold her life in the midst of the muck.

This position is not unique to our well-dressed friend about town. I have had many a contemporary conversation with a fresh mind who would applaud these naïve words. Out with the old, in with the new, women have been oppressed by society, blah, blah, blah. As cliché as this topic can become, it’s really a beginning to a good conversation. A fun conversation about what is True and beautiful and good, all things which The Man very much appreciates.

Most often, young freedom fighters make a dangerous assumption about the counter cultural relationships found in the Bible. They see society’s values at work when women are encouraged to submit, rather than the creative work of God. They see a broken world telling men to rise up and take charge, rather than a solemn responsibility to live like Christ. They observe the struggles between man and woman simply the product of a culture’s restrictive fickle mindset, rather than the result of ignoring God’s words long ago. They can’t comprehend that God would give his gifts in such a shameful way.

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So what is really true? In the beginning, God created woman to help and bear children. She had a beautiful purpose from her first breath. God saw that is was good. This was before sin or anything ugly entered into our world. When death, strife, worry, struggle, and independence entered her life, God saved her from that by his Son. Christ restored her as God’s beloved creation, once again free to serve.

What follows from that simple amazing truth is a bit surprising. Women hear, believe, and confess those words of life and promise. Through Christ, we are placed back into that loving relationship with our Creator – and we happily submit. We begin to appreciate His wisdom while listening. We ache less for control over men. We start to want the things we were created for. We find beauty in the gifts of God, given to his beloved women.

And so, our earthly relationships between a man and woman conveys more than just decorum at the next cocktail party. It is a representation of our life with Christ. As redeemed renewed creations, we believe that woman submits to man and man submits to Christ. If our imperfect fathers can reveal glimmers of our Father in Heaven, marriage reminds us of this mysterious love and headship of Christ. And so, you can understand our concern when one starts accusing the head of improper love and compassion; you are picking a fight with the Head, Himself.

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Like most things that the world misunderstands about the mysteries of faith, we really don’t care what the culture has to say about us. Is my husband a jerk because he attempts to love me like Christ? Is my church a bunch of a**holes because men actively lead and protect their women? The ears of faith really don’t see it like that. St. Paul praised his beautiful Corinthian church for remembering God’s gift of creation among men and women. If only we had such proclaimers to remind us of who we are in this mixed up world.

Oh wait. We do. She is not quite as sexy as a tattooed potty-mouth pastorette. But she has been there the whole time telling you God is providing as she changed your diaper. She softly reminds you God has reconciled His creatures when she rocks your son to sleep. She puts His love into every turkey and cheese sandwich that she made for your lunch. It’s not loud and glorious – but she is right there.

Our beloved Christ killed all these silly questions long ago. He rose up our new confidence to love our men, even when they don’t deserve to be loved. Christ made us free to wash your dinner dishes or serve tequila at a bar for minimum wage. Wherever He calls us to help, we are women, and we are right here.

More than the voices for women, I despair the voices against. These voices are not the dumb jokes or meaningless banter about rights. The voices who hurt us the most lead us to mistrust our Creator’s words. They tempt us to believe Christ’s restoration isn’t quite enough. When the shiny apple of self-importance sparkles in front of our eyes, it is truly impossible to resist. Our life chews on the bitter bites of our mistakes, and we want to share our deadly fruit with anyone who will eat it up. So don’t be the voice that encourages us to hate our men, don’t counsel us to doubt our Creator. Love us more than that.

Composed while listening to the cries of a sleepy baby on my shoulder, in between laundry loads of whites and darks.

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6 thoughts on “Where are the women? We’ve been here the whole time.

  1. I was hoping you’d respond! For reals! And I appreciate it. Men can look like sexist jerks when they follow the analogies given to us by St. Paul. The church can look sexist to a culture that prizes a sterile conformity and genderless neutrality.
    Your answer to my question of “right here” is spot on. By invoking NBW I stepped in it! I didn’t mean that I want clones of her. She writes and speaks to a national audience- Molly Hemingway does the same, and others have pointed out other examples-
    The fact that my post, asking a few questions, raised such a storm is interesting, and I think that responses such as yours (and others, from women who have taken different paths) are needful.

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  2. The outreach numbers say The Man is asking the wrong question. The women have, indeed, been there all along, the men are missing, are avoiding their vocation:

    The typical U.S. Congregation draws an adult crowd that’s 61% female, 39% male. This gender gap shows up in all age categories.

    On any given Sunday there are 13 million more adult women than men in America’s churches.

    This Sunday almost 25 percent of married, churchgoing women will worship without their husbands.

    Midweek activities often draw 70 to 80 percent female participants (we will see this at Lenten worship, this evening).

    Over 70 percent of the boys who are being raised in church will abandon it during their teens and twenties. Many of these boys will never return.

    More than 90 percent of American men believe in God, and five out of six call themselves Christians. But only one out of six attend church on a given Sunday. The average man accepts the reality of Jesus Christ, but fails to see any value in going to church.

    Churches overseas report gender gaps of up to 9 women for every adult man in attendance.

    Fewer than 10% of U.S. churches are able to establish or maintain a vibrant men’s ministry.

    Religious participation leads men to become more engaged husbands and fathers.

    Teens with religious fathers are more likely to say they enjoy spending time with dad and that they admire him.

    A study from Hartford Seminary found that the presence of involved men was statistically correlated with church growth, health, and harmony. Meanwhile, a lack of male participation is strongly associated with congregational decline.

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    1. Interesting and concerning numbers for sure. It was, however, not the point I was making. BUt a “Where are the Men At?” Asking a different question could be in order

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      1. It would seem to me that women are not necessarily hearing misogyny in church, even confessional churches. Whether that is related to weak preaching on vocation or not, men are missing. that would tell me that men are not being equipped to be the traditional “dinosaurs” you worry they are.

        One thing you said that I found interesting “I should note that I am fortunate to have my wife stay at home with my boys…” It says there are legitimate options to the structure that are dependent on some conditions other than what ought to be and I would be interested to know what those are if a Christian can properly be other than what he ought to be. Double-income households drive prices to favor that as the norm forcing many working families to believe there are no options or do as my wife and I did and just lived poorer (economics is my field and it’s a disgrace how anti-normative many economists are – that they see no morality in consumption or market decisions, only self-interest, with too many believing selfishness to be the only economic morality.) Since the market is not something we serve but something which serves us and is, at bottom, the sum of our choices, more people making the right choice to forgo will, eventually, move prices to encourage ever more people to have a spouse stay at home.

        Leaving open the possibility that the market and the world’s sinful choices can justify abandoning vocation within marriage, that it is a question not of the right but of fortune, seems dicey.

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  3. Damn Cindy! You have a way of writing that makes me tear up. I think you’re the best writer on this blog. Excellent post!

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  4. Cultural and economic forces always place pressure on male-female relationships, and the practical realities of married life in these circumstances tests the strength of religious faith in Christian men and women. But this is not new. It is difficult to apply general rules when vast individual exceptions are evident. Women have always played an active role in church, family and community, while it is true many men have not participated as fully as they ought. The men have been more interested in the role of provider and making a living. However, in the times in which we live, many women are working now, and without their earnings some families would not survive financially. I for one do see more equality in marriage today then I did as a young man. It is discussed more today. Growing up in the 1950’s, women were still leading in many ways, but few men could admit it without feeling less manly. I think we have grown. God’s word calls for mutual love and respect in the marital relationship, while admonishing the man to be mature, be wise, and be a leader.

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