Thursday, August 21, 2008

Further Confessions of a Recovering Feminist, Part 2

Everyone has experienced painful relationships in some capacity. Whether you are a college student in the wake of a bad breakup, a single woman facing conflict with another sister in Christ, or a wife in a painful marriage, there is no getting around the fact that life is hard. We live in a sin-cursed world where the ravaging effects of sin scar people on a daily basis. It is an inescapable reality that our experiences shape us either for good or for evil. It is common for women to allow hurtful or frustrating circumstances to drive our worldview.

Here is how it happened for me. Two years ago I went through a situation that was both painful and consuming. As I processed through all of the emotions surrounding this time, I would repeatedly make blanket statements about relationships, and people in general. Thankfully, my parents shepherded me through this with the truth that my experience was not a universal truth about the people in my life.

We are susceptible to this in the wake of every painful relationship—whether guy or girl. When we are confronted with these types of relationships the temptation is to stamp every man like "that guy." The same was true for me. We can probably all agree that we have wrongly judged men on occasion, but do we ever stop to realize that these judgments can be a feminist heart still speaking? Here are two examples of this lived out.

I have been a part of conversations with girl friends that led to "male-bashing" when a beloved guy did not return the affections offered to him. It is so easy to label all men as jerks when our feelings aren't reciprocated, but to do so is to unfairly categorize all the other brothers in Christ and a man created in the image of God.

An egalitarian conference speaker recently spoke to the issue of pain in women's lives. By using Job as an example, she correlated the tragedy that Job suffered with the sufferings of women who are not allowed to preach in pulpits. She says,

I want you to understand that Job's situation is connected to the sense of pain, loss, and confusion that many women in the church today suffer as a result of the effects of patriarchy.

While you may think that you have not gone "that far" in your thinking, the feminist is in all of us. Adopting an interpretation based on what happens to you can lead all of us to improper assumptions of Scripture. If pain, rather than Scripture, leads us to judge the men around us, what will stop us from taking this to its logical conclusion? To fall into that temptation means rewriting God himself.

Perhaps you are not on a trajectory to new interpretations of key Christian doctrines, but you may have scoffed at male leadership in your church because of the sorrow that men have caused you in your own life. You may deem every man as a moral failure because your father left your mother for another woman. You might even think that there are no Christian men worth talking to because you have been let down so many times. The circumstances that have occurred are sinful, and your pain is real.

But they are not the end of the story. There is a heavenly Father who will never fail you and he will not falter even when every earthly man around you does. Pain and experience cannot dictate our theology. Rather our theology must lead us through the pain and experience. And tomorrow, we will discuss what we should do with our circumstances. I promise you that this answer has hope.


Andrew Case said...

Wow. Excellent post. You're a gifted writer, as I'm sure others have told you. Keep it up. I'm glad CBMW put you on staff.

Christian Women with Brains said...

Courtney, I don't understand how your example of the woman using Job relates to your premise of painful relationships being interpreted through a feminist mindset. If you have time, would you mind elaborating?

cdt said...

Christian Women with Brains,

The women who was speaking about Job was a Christian feminist speaking to other Christian feminist. She was using a hermeneutic that interpreted the Bible (and in this case, Job's story) through a framework of oppression. So her logical application in reading Job's story is that the women she referred to could relate to Job because he had been oppressed as well. She equated a women not being allowed to preach in the pulpit to men (her understanding of "women in ministry") with the suffering that Job endured. In reality it seems that the application of Job's story is already made up, she is just using Job to prove her point rather than allow the text to shape her.
Does that help?

Thank you for reading