Every week I deal with obnoxious men on Twitter and Instagram wanting to “start a conversation”. The comments show that these “men” are looking for a pretty face. While I expect the comments from trolls, I’ve been surprised by the number of Christian men who have actively sought me out for a date. Each and everyone mentions my looks. This week, the blog post, “Men Prefer Debt Free Virgins” circulated around the internet. This ridiculous blog post has been rebutted by multiple bloggers. Kelly Ladd Bishop wrote a beautiful piece that you can find here. However, the blog post once again reminded me that Christian women are taught to want a man. Both the men harassing me on social media and the blog post highlight a problem in our society: women’s role in Christian culture is to be married. Christian culture by in large creates a narrative that women’s value comes from being married and having children. And while I am both married and have a kid, I’m offended that our culture wants to reduce me to those labels. I am more. I am a child of God. I am an inheritor of God’s kingdom. I am a teacher. I am a writer. I am a friend. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I have a multitude of different labels, and you cannot reduce me to just one.
A Woman's Calling is to Follow God The danger of treating women as though their sole identity is a wife means that we take away the very purpose that God has given women. God called us to follow him, not into marriage but seeing his kingdom come. When following God is our priority then we follow that calling with a dogged approach, regardless of where it leads us. I attended a liberal, diverse, college when I started following Jesus. It was through my sorority bible study that I learned what it meant to be a follower of Jesus. Throughout my four years at Emory – both in classes and outside – I learned about God and the world. I learned about different religions and in doing so, strengthened my faith in Christ. I studied history, politics, and art and in all of it saw the beauty of God. Some of my professors – a small minority – were hostile to my faith. But through taking classes with them, I learned how to share my faith with others. My senior year, I decided to apply for a position with a campus ministry. My time in college gave me the courage to follow God’s call in my life and the knowledge and resources to see that call come to fruition. Not everyone is called to go to college. We all have different callings, each one beautiful, distinct and equally important in bringing God’s kingdom here. When we focus on finding a husband rather than following Jesus, we miss out on the crazy adventure that God has for us.
Forces us to Defy Scripture When discussing sex, Paul says, “I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do.” I do not believe that getting married is a sin, as that would make me - a married woman - a hypocrite. But we do have to struggle with this verse. What does it mean that Paul thinks the unmarried should stay unmarried? Is this just for the church of Corinth? The interpretation of this passage is a fun exercise that I think we should all engage when we start idolizing marriage. Regardless how you interpret the passage, it is important to notice, Paul writes that “each of you has our own gift.” For some, the gift is marriage, and they can honor the LORD through marriage. But for others, singleness is the gift. Neither gift is more important than the other. But when we highlight one over the other, we are diminishing the gifts that God has given. When marriage is valued over singleness, marriage becomes a shackle that stifles the gifts of God. It’s not just Paul’s words that urge us to see our calling as more. In the gospel of Mark, Jesus says, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” For some, marriage helps them follow that command. My husband supports my speaking engagements, writing career and ministry. Being married to him allows me to share the gospel, just as I encourage him to live out his calling. When marriage is put above the great commission, it is an idol, not an ideal.
The Division between Women The moment, I reduce women to one facet, I’ve created a hierarchy among women. God made women diverse. Some women are called to be homemakers. Other women are called to be police officers. Others are called to be lawmakers. Some women are called to teach children in schools, while others teach in churches. Women are called into law, finance, marketing and a multitude of different occupations. Each woman's diverse calling glorifies the Lord. To value one calling over another, values one woman over another. There isn’t one size fits way to be a woman, because we are all part of the body of Christ. It is the diversity of gifts that help us to bring God’s kingdom here.
I am more than a good date. I am not arm-candy. I am not someone’s little wife. I – and all women – am a child of God. It is my identity as a child of God that is my defining characteristic, not my marital status.