The Absence of the Female Superhero: Troubling or Telling?

wonderwomanWith the recent surge of super-hero movies, some have asked: “Where are the female super-hero movies?” Many are demanding a Wonder Woman movie, but Hollywood, in the midst of clicking off Superman and Batman movies at a blinding clip, has yet to craft it. A slew of articles emerged this week, trying to navigate this super heroine desert.  The most common response is two-fold: not enough interest, not enough cash.

Jason Free was criticized for saying this in a USA Today piece: “Not trying to sound like a jerk, but typically women in leading action roles don’t sell the way strong male figures do.” The article continues:

“Is that because men wouldn’t go to the box office to see a movie about a female superhero? Perhaps. And, making things worse, men are the majority of comic book readers. A whopping 93 percent of people buying comics are male, according to The Nielsen Company’s market research done for DC Comics in 2012.”

“The results are “troubling,” comicsalliance.com said at the time, because they “raise serious questions about DC’s ability to expand their audience base, and the accessibility of their content to both female and younger readers.”

“Making things worse.” “Troubling.” These descriptions fit a discussion about the state of public education, not banter over comic book characters and movies. Why the outrage over a lack of female super heroes? Many fear this oversight casts women as inferior to men in strength and ability.  

Our culture demands the annihilation of gender distinction. Anything challenging that ideal is immediately interpreted as a step backwards into the dark ages of pregnant wives waddling about the home, starching their husband’s shirts with dinner simmering one room away. Husbands kiss them on their foreheads and retire to the living room after a long day, feet up and the evening paper, pleased with the wife’s home economy.

The reality: men and women are different creatures. Our culture cannot acknowledge this in a civil and intelligent way – much less the implications of those differences – without yelling “Misogynist! Sexist! Bigot!” There are reasons the majority of cultures have banned women from frontline combat. There are reasons women are not playing in the NFL. There are reasons less than 2% of firefighters are female. Both men and women have physical limitations that no hormone supplement or surgery can “fix,” despite the frantic rush to try.

Werner Neuer provides insightful evidence for that which humanity has always known, as expressed in the common, historic division of labor:

“The male skeleton is usually stronger than the woman’s. The bones are thicker and heavier. The greater strength of its bone structure obviously equips the man’s body better than the woman’s to overcome physical obstacles and carry loads. The man has greater steadiness, strength, and stress resistance due to his stronger bones.”

“The striated muscles in men are more strongly developed and constructed than women’s. They serve above all for dealing with external obstacles…The man’s superior equipment in this respect and his stronger bone structure indicate that by nature the male rather than the female is designed to overcome external, environmental obstacles, to reshape and master the environment.”

Female super hero movies are fewer because the female body is not designed for the tasks of Superman. This is not earth shattering news. If being a super hero was the ultimate test of personhood and worth, this would be troubling news for females indeed, but it is not. Gender distinctions have propagated and ensured the survival of humanity since creation.  The rebellion against these differences has created a path of delusion, convincing many that freedom from God’s design is not just possible, but necessary.

Those who take this path believe a lie similar to the one Eve believed in the Garden of Eden. The serpent convinced her God was withholding something good. Men and women experience and yield to the rules of their bodies every day. Some think these rules are unfair and prevent their happiness. They respond by either ignoring the rules or trying to change them. In doing so, they are not free, but imprisoned by the task of disproving the Creator and the bodies He created.

As an avid runner, I buy good running shoes. I do not run in my hiking boots. Is it unfair? Is it discriminatory? No, it’s smart. Hiking boots are built for rocks and rivers, not pavement and speed. They are not inferior shoes, but different shoes. Genesis 1:27 says: “So God created man in His own image. In the image of God He created Him; male and female He created them.” Nothing is lost for either gender in recognizing our differences. If God determined humanity needed to exist as one generic gender, women and men would not exist. He instead created two equal but not identical people, both bearing His image, designed for different but equally great things. Our physiological differences are gifts, not curses.

With so many demanding more female super heroes on the silver screen, it is only a matter of time before we will see another on a poster, cape rolling in the wind under a curtain of long, dark hair; 120 pounds of metal, diamonds and muscle behind piercing green eyes, ready to slaughter and seduce men. Call me old fashioned, but the female heroes who inspire me do no killing or sexual conquering. They love fiercely, work diligently and sacrifice frequently. They don’t have posters.

-Emily

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Friday’s Fantastic Five! 6.7

FridayFantasticFive

Yes, Marriage Will Change – and Here’s How – Mark Regnerus
A startling article grounded in solid social science that predicts gay marriage’s effect on the institution of marriage as a whole. Sexual permissiveness may be the shape of marriage norms in the future.

Ex-Feminists: Do marriage and parenthood make people more conservative about women and families? – William Saletan
Saletan dissects the recent Pew Research data on America’s views of marriage, parenthood, and working moms. While it may appear that cultural trends make the difference in people’s views, it may be actual experience with family that is driving the data.

Listening to Young Atheists, Lessons for a Stronger Christianity – Larry Taunton
Taunton’s Fixed Point organization interviewed active college atheists across the country to find out what led them to their unbelief. The results are surprising as many came to atheism out of a weak, nominal Christianity. A must read for the church.

Reaching Muslims with the Gospel of God: An Interview with Abdul Saleeb
A great interview with a Muslim who came to Christ and now reaches out to other Muslims. This short interview will be helpful to Christians who are reaching out to or know very little about their Muslim neighbors.

The Graduation Song – Rhett & Link
A hilarious wake up call for all those graduates out there…

Four Thoughts on Women’s Ministry

keep-calm-and-stay-the-courseIf you are in the trenches of serving the Lord by ministering to women, here are four simple things to sharpen and encourage you.

Events are good

Events have a soiled reputation in many women’s ministry circles as marshmallow-y gatherings that produce nothing of worth for the Christian woman. Yes, some women’s events lack vision, are poorly executed and are laced with bad theology, but blanketing all women’s events with this grid is not wise. Strategic, gospel-centered, well-executed women’s events are open doors. They can provide a comfortable environment for non-Christians, opportunities for Christians to use their gifts and they creatively speak to the uniqueness of the female through the lens of the Bible in enjoyable ways. As a general rule, women love events. Put great effort into planning, serving and attending quality women’s events.

Your goal is not to be voted Prom Queen

Some believe serving in women’s ministry, whether in an official capacity with a desk and title or unofficially as a volunteer or teacher, means you are a well-liked, well-known, super-sweet extrovert with a manicure, lots of friends and a knack for biblical truth and fun. You are the woman all the women in your church want to be like, be with and learn from. Every woman, ages 19 to 98, just loves you. These things could certainly be true, but they aren’t always, nor do they ever have to be. Doing ministry correctly often means you make very unpopular decisions. You’ll be misunderstood, misinterpreted and sometimes ridiculed.  You won’t be able to please everyone. When women repent and believe in Jesus, their lives will change and their non-Christian husbands might actively despise you. You will make mistakes and not be forgiven. You might be doing an incredible job with very little energy and excitement surrounding the work. Your goal is to make much of God’s name rather than make a name for yourself.

Not everyone is excited about truth…yet

Have you ever gotten in your car, loaded down with notes, commentaries, possibly a bag of ice-breaking Hershey Kisses and a fat Bible, excited to teach women God’s truth? Have you ever exhausted yourself in that teaching to the point of joyful tears, swelled to the brim with the Spirit, wanting nothing else in the world than to live in that moment? Have you ever then walked back to your car, heavy and tired, because no one seemed to care? Allow God to lift your head. Don’t let perceived or actual apathy curb your zeal for conveying God’s truth. The women you serve need it, even if they don’t know or believe so. Love them, don’t judge them. Be patient, not demanding. Trust God to use your passion and faithfulness over time.

Expect great sorrow and great joy

When you kneel down into the dirt of life with women whom you are ministering to, you will unearth both trash and treasure in their lives. You aren’t trying to avoid one and find the other…you are actively looking for both; some women can’t tell the difference between the two. They are unaware they’ve rooted in a dangerous place and are headed for destruction. You will see great sin. You will hear of situations that make you physically ill.  You will earnestly pine for a woman’s salvation and she will ultimately run from God. You will weep with many who weep. And yet, you will witness the hand of the Lord move and work so mightily you will at times be unable to stand because of His goodness. Women who were once ensnared by the enemy will be released and worship the living Christ. The adulteress and the abused will turn to Jesus and become disciple makers. Homes will change. There will be tears of joy. God’s goodness and provision will overwhelm you.

Don’t let the trash deter you. There is great treasure to be found in the work of women’s ministry. Stay the course, dear sister.

-Emily

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Mother’s Day: Not Just for Mothers Anymore

momTraditionally, many churches go to great lengths to recognize moms on Mother’s Day.  It is a great day, but can isolate the barren, those who have lost children, single women, and those whose children have abandoned God and their parents. In your congregation this Sunday, many women will sit next to you in the pew, heavy with these quiet realities.  What about these women? Is there room for them on this special day?

Regarding philosophy of children, we are working with a broad spectrum complete with two extremes. As a I write, abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell is on trial for the murder of four babies, one adult woman and hundreds of counts of illegal abortions over the last ten years in his “house of horrors” located in Philadelphia. Americans are postponing parenthood longer than ever before to work, travel and live. Simultaneously, there is a revival and reclaiming of parenthood among evangelicals, praise God. Christian couples are more actively pursuing parenthood both naturally and through adoption. Even in this goodness, however, there is an extreme.

Some Christians don’t consider you a true parent until you birth four children in as many years. The argument has moved past birth control and on to, “Is there a reason for a woman to ever quit bearing children?” Others relentlessly chase after parenthood in hot (sometimes idolatrous) pursuit, believing life without kids would be impossible. Just as they have become inconveniences for our world, have children become ultimate for Christians?

Children truly are a blessing and inheritance from the Lord as the Psalmist wrote. However, the reality is not everyone will be a biological parent. Paul wrote the Corinthian church and told them he wished everyone was single; this path, if done in a Christ-like manner, leads to childlessness. Bareness is a recurring theme throughout Scripture and the Lord does not always choose to reverse it. If children are ultimate for Christians, how can God allow this?

In his book This Momentary Marriage, John Piper writes: “The purpose of marriage is not merely to add more bodies to the planet. The point is to increase the number of followers of Jesus on the planet.” His statement is affirmed by Christ Himself. In a speech to His disciples, Jesus said,

 “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.”- Mark 10:29-30.

Here, in acknowledging that we are called away from even our children to serve Him, Jesus affirms that the gospel message transcends parenthood. It is ultimate, not children. Regardless of whether or not we are gifted with biological children, God has called every Christian to the task of spiritual parent as they make disciples.   Toward the end of his letter to the Romans, Paul made this request: “Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well (16:13).” Paul recognizes the value of his spiritual mother and honors her in his letter.

Mother’s Day is a good celebration, lest we forget to include every mother. Christian woman, whatever you state this Mother’s Day – whether a van full of car seats, college tuition bills on your desk or a house all to yourself- God has called you to be a spiritual mother to someone. Maybe the kindergartners you teach Monday through Friday. Maybe some teen girls who sit on the back pew of your church. Maybe the woman in the cubicle next to you. Ask God to equip you for this task and embrace it. Church member, encourage mothers this Sunday…all of them.

-Emily

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Oh-Oh It’s Magic (Or Not): What to do with Magic Mike

ImageMagic Mike opened at the box office in the number two spot grossing 39.1 million in its first weekend. After Showgirls it seems women are finally getting their day in the sun, basking in the glow of male strippers/dancers and loving every second. As one viewer tweeted, “Does this movie need a plot?! Matthew Mcconaughey and Channing Tatum…are you kidding me?!” The Internet Movie Database articulates it this way: “A male stripper teaches a younger performer how to party, pick up women and make easy money”. In turn, women of all ages are turning out in droves to theaters. Adult entertainment isn’t new; women taking their place in the audience and not the screen is new.

The sexual revolution did not happen overnight and it’s far from over. Slowly and certainly, women in recent years have been encouraged to not only embrace their sexuality but shamelessly chase it. Not only is porn for women more common today than in years past, but it’s also more acceptable. Romantic sagas like the Twilight series have been labeled “women’s porn” because women traditionally crave romance and sensitivity instead of sex. Ladies in the church have been told to guard their hearts from the accidental wink of the guitar player in the worship band and not to lust after his declaration to kiss his bride for the first time at the altar. The days of believing girls struggle only with crushes and emotions are over. Women (Jesus-loving, Christian women) struggle with real sexual sin and it cannot be ignored or dismissed.

It seems obvious Christians would immediately see the problems with Magic Mike. Since all do not, here are some answers to common objections Jesus-followers use to defend their choice to see Magic Mike and why this movie should not be on your must-see list this summer:

It’s Just a Movie

What does that mean? The “it’s just a” phrase is frequently tossed around in reference to television, music, books and video games also. Presently, American culture is created, maintained and reflected through these mediums. It is not just a movie…it is a collection of words and images designed to not only entertain but send a message. Magic Mike’s message: ladies, satisfy your lust any way you choose with no guilt; our way is the most fun and don’t forget to bring your friends.

It Doesn’t Have an Effect on Me

It is ignorant to believe everything we see, read and hear does not significantly impact our hearts, souls and minds.  Once entertainment is consumed, there is no objective way to measure its effect or contribution to your person. There are times you cannot control your intake (a billboard or overhearing a conversation from your cubicle)…this is not one of those times. Inviting this level of depravity into one’s soul will have a great impact and will not point you to the greatness of Jesus’ name.  What will it impact? Your heart, soul and mind: in seeing Magic Mike you are not loving and worshipping God will all of them. Your marriage (present or future): watching a movie designed to whet appetites and perpetuate fantasies with people you’re not married to gives Satan an open door to cause division, dissatisfaction and temptation. What does Magic Mike point to? Sexual satisfaction with no boundaries, an idea the Bible rebukes.

I Have Freedom in Christ/Scripture Isn’t Specific

Christians are never given freedom to trample God’s grace and truth for a few hours of selfish pleasure…that’s called sin. Furthermore, Scripture is specific. Christians are to meditate on things which are praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8), to keep their eyes from viewing worthless things (Psalm 119:37), to fix their eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2), to guard their hearts (Proverbs 4:23), avoid sexual immorality (Acts 15:29, Romans 13:13, 1 Corinthians 6:18, Galatians 5:19, Ephesians 5:3) and to put to death fleshly deeds (Romans 8:13, Col. 3:5). The message of Magic Mike is intrinsically opposed to Scripture.

There are times when liberty wins and Christians can freely disagree and differ in their practices. There are other times when Christians are blinded by their desires and do not align their practices with their faith.  Viewing Magic Mike is not a liberty Christians can take. If you are yet unconvinced, consider this: viewing Magic Mike flies in the face of the sacrifice of Jesus. It is not an act of worship or surrender of the will to the One who gladly surrendered His own will to buy back sinners. When your friends are texting you, asking if you want a ticket to the show, meditate on the words to this famous hymn:

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus.

Look full in His wonderful face.

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace.”  – Helen Lemmel, 1922

-Emily

Is There a Right Way to Interpret the Bible? One Woman Lives “Biblically” for a Year

Now revealing number one on our list of most-viewed blog posts of 2011! Thanks to a number of websites – friendly and not so friendly – who linked their readers to this article, it became the most popular one of the year. Not only did it take a look at the dubious attempt of an author to be a “biblical” woman, it also had the boldness to suggest there is a right and wrong way to read the Bible. So check it out and we hope you join us back here at Entire Gospel for 2012!

What is biblical womanhood supposed to look like? Rachel Held Evans, author of Evolving in Monkey Town, has committed one year to following the Bible’s instructions to women as literally as possible. She has blogged about her experience and intends to publish a book with Thomas Nelson in 2012. She interviews women with differing views, camps in her backyard following Levitical laws, and grows out her hair. Nine months in, she said this about her experience:

I had long questioned the notion that the Bible presents one uniform prescription for how to be a woman, and these past nine months of research and experimentation have confirmed the fact that the whole concept of ‘biblical womanhood’ can be terribly misleading.

In any project involving research and experimentation, one’s methods will largely influence the results. For example, suppose I want to discover which weight loss program – Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, etc. – is most effective for my body type. I decide to try each for one week and whichever sheds the most pounds I will crown as “most effective”. At the end I will have a new perspective, but it is determined largely by my method. One program may be effective for a week, but another may be more effective if practiced regularly. One may benefit from the achievements of last week’s program and skew the results. The amount of exercise I engage in may affect the results in ways I have not measured. My method of research and experimentation will lead me to a result, but it may not be the right one.

The same holds true with Rachel Evans’ research into Biblical Womanhood which prompted her to view the concept as “terribly misleading” and to declare “none of us is actually practicing biblical womanhood.” Her method, while it entertains and will attract an audience, ignores basic practices of interpretation. It has the effect of making Bible interpretation seem utterly hopeless; the best we can do is try to make sense of it for ourselves and not judge others who see it differently. Thankfully, one of the long-held doctrines of the Christian faith is the “clarity” of the Scriptures. The Bible is written so its teachings are able to be understood by all who read it, desiring God’s help, and being willing to follow it (Ps. 19:7, 119:130, Matt. 12:3-5, 21:42, 22:31, Luke 16:29-31, etc.). The Bible is not a hopelessly confusing book leading different people down different paths but a clear book that rewards faithful study with the truth God has revealed.

This will make some uncomfortable, but there is a right and a wrong way to interpret the Bible. We already believe this to be true of other documents. We are not free to interpret our bank statement, a restaurant menu, the tax code, an algebra book, or a Hemingway novel however we wish. While interpretations may vary, there is a right and a wrong way to read those things. It is the same with the Bible. While individual interpretations will vary, there is a right and a wrong way to interpret it. Let’s take a look at some of Evans’ comments and see three practical things to keep in mind in our own interpreting.

She says her most eye-opening experience was turning Proverbs 31 into a to-do list and finding it impossible. Of course it’s impossible! It’s a poem, not a list of commands. When interpreting the Bible, always keep in mind the genre of literature you are studying. The Bible is composed of narratives, laws, poetry, letters, apocalypses, prophecies, and wisdom. Each genre has its own rules and must be read on those terms. If I write a poem to my wife and say, “If I don’t see you my heart will stop beating” she doesn’t assume eye contact will prevent my death. She knows it is an expression of longing. In the same way, Proverbs 31 is an acrostic poem depicting the excellent wife. The author literally intended it not to be taken as a to-do list.

She also camps in her backyard to observe her “time of impurity” as prescribed in Leviticus. While this makes for good reading, it ignores a basic principle: the parts of the Bible are understood in light of the whole. I recently assembled a bookcase using a manual with ten steps. I couldn’t imagine trying to assemble it using only step three! I can only understand the bookcase in light of the whole manual. Similarly, I can’t understand Leviticus without understanding the whole story of the Bible. Paul declares in Romans 7:6 “But now we are released from the law…” So the laws guarding against impurity have been fulfilled and done away with in Christ. In forming our biblical view on womanhood or anything else, we must take into account all of what God has revealed in the Bible.

She also makes this statement: “…technically speaking it is ‘biblical’ for a woman to be sold by her father to pay off debt, ‘biblical’ for her to be forced to marry her rapist and ‘biblical’ for her to be one of many wives!” She also researches woman in the Bible who “defy what many people perceive to be the traits of a biblical woman.” The problem with basing your views off of stories and characters in the Bible is that narrative is not normative. There are certain things the Bible reports and certain things the Bible teaches. Because something happened does not mean God approved of it or prescribes it for us. The Bible teaches marriage is between one man and one woman (Gen. 2:24, Matt. 19:5-6) yet through the stories of the patriarchs and their multiple wives shows how denying this teaching leads to suffering. The characters of the Bible are not mythic heroes to emulate but sinners used by God to bring about redemption through Jesus Christ.

What methods guide your interpretation of the Scriptures? If we simply take into account literary genres, attempt to understand passages of Scripture within the context of the whole, and distinguish the events in the Bible from the teachings of the Bible we can be more effective interpreters.

Does it mean we won’t disagree? No.

Does it mean we won’t struggle to understand? No.

Does it mean we’ll always get it right? No.

It does mean we can faithfully, humbly, and obediently pursue truth God has revealed.

After perusing Rachel Evans’ blog I found her to be thoughtful and well-informed, though I often disagreed with her. Her book will likely be entertaining and insightful. But our goal in interpreting the Bible isn’t to entertain or even to unearth shocking new insights. If we’re willing to set aside the humor of modern day attempts to follow Levitical laws and understand the text on its own terms we can know its truth and it will transform our lives, provoking even more beneficial discussion. Truth matters – about biblical womanhood and anything else. Let’s pursue it.

-Brian

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Stay-At-Home Daughterhood: Optional or Biblical?

Celebrate the New Year by reviewing our top 5 posts from 2011! Coming in at number 3 for the year was an article that wrestled with the concept of stay-at-home daughterhood:

Until recently, I was convinced of my complete awareness about every concept surrounding biblical womanhood. In a desire to continue my studies and further prepare for my exciting role as a new mommy, I ordered the book “Joyfully At Home” by Jasmine Baucham. Familiar with Pastor Voddie Baucham, I assumed the book to be his wife’s. Having benefitted from his teaching, I expected to benefit from hers also. Turns out, it’s his 20 year-old daughter’s book on stay-at-home daughterhood. I discovered this a few pages in and was too curious and committed (especially after paying the shipping cost) to stop reading.

Stay-at-home daughterhood is a new idea for most. It rejects the expectation of girls leaving for college after high school. It embraces staying at home until marriage for a season of parental training and discipleship in preparation for future roles plus full-time contribution to the needs of the immediate family. College isn’t completely ruled out; Jasmine encourages earning an online degree, but more important is avoiding secular academia and staying home to learn and contribute.

There is much about this work I commend. The reevaluation of cultural norms and life pursuits is a wise step, especially for young women. The much needed focus on fashioning the home according to God’s word is boldly presented in a genuine tone. I believe the author is a good example for her peers.

My goal here is not to review and critique the book itself, but to engage with the premise on which it is based: the immediate family is superior to all other efforts and callings.  In this book, it is given an attention and emphasis not found in Scripture. Stay-at-home daughterhood flows from this viewpoint: “Young men and women seeking advice on how they can serve the Lord often pepper me with questions…they never expect the answer that I inevitably give…’If you are serious about serving the Lord, get married, pray that he gives you a house full of children and bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (pg. 115).’”

Jesus did not agree. While the texts on familial roles and the importance of marriage and raising children are just as inerrant and inspired as any, they do not exclude nor eclipse the rest of the Bible. Jesus was very clear throughout the Gospels about the connection of family relationships to His mission:

  • “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:26
  • “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:37
  • “But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!” Matthew 12:47-49
  • “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.” – Mark 10:28-30
  • “To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” – Luke 9:59-62

Obviously these texts have a context, but Jesus meant what He said. He was frequently confronted with familial idolatry as He recruited disciples and taught on hillsides. Never once did He encourage someone to devote the best and most of their time and attentions to the family unit. He explained to the Sadducees that the family unit is not eternal (Matthew 22:29-31). Yet, His teaching is not incongruent with texts emphasizing the spiritual importance of and roles within the family. Teaching about family is part of Scripture, not its grand subject. Jasmine reminds readers that “the Great Commission isn’t the only passage in the Bible (pg. 186).” However, Matthew 28:18-20 contains Jesus’ final words to those disciples who would carry out His kingdom work. If her view of family was shared by Jesus, as He ascended to heaven and charged the faithful one last time, He would have said, “Go ye therefore and get married, having lots of children and focusing primarily on your own household,” but He didn’t.

Jasmine appeals to Paul’s Epistles in building her theology for stay-at-home daughterhood (with other texts such as Exodus 22, Numbers 30, Deuteronomy 6 & 22 and Proverbs 31). She states: “…I understand that the college campus is neither the only nor the best place for ministry to take place. If it were, the Apostle Paul would have spent less time encouraging Christians to devote themselves to building solid family units…and more time encouraging them to go out and be educated among the Romans.” One problem with this observation is Paul himself never married. Arguably the greatest missionary and servant of Christ we know of did not see procuring a family unit as the best way to serve His Savior. Another problem is that Paul didn’t really spend that much time writing about families. He spent more time engaging skeptics and intellectuals with the gospel message (Acts 17 &18). On one such occasion, however, he wrote this:

  • “I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband.” 1 Corinthians 7:32-34

The author makes it clear she is not mandating this practice for every young woman: “…living at home after graduation should be a decision that we can trace back to guiding principles in God’s Word (pg. 140).” I found myself having to perform some pretty clever Scriptural gymnastics to link her cited texts to her reasons for staying home. She confidently rests all her book’s content on this assertion: “I can see no pattern in Scripture for a young woman to pack up and head cross-country to be discipled outside of the framework of the church and home (pg. 142).” This statement accomplishes nothing for her case. Because of travel constraints, underdeveloped nations, lack of education and widespread illiteracy in first century Palestine, we would no more expect a pattern for a girl going off to college in Scripture anymore than we would a pattern of space exploration. Aside from this claim, her case is founded on experience and opinion, cushioned by some cherry-picked Bible verses. By applying her hermeneutic, one could easily argue that all Christians are called to overseas missions. I do not think a biblical case is made for or against either stay-at-home daughterhood or girls going off to college.

I do admire her convictions. To see such a young girl making a culturally radical choice for God’s glory is refreshing. I am not necessarily disagreeing with stay-at-home daughterhood; I’m disagreeing with the elevation of family above all else. This serves as an example of what happens when we “go beyond what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6), extrapolating from the Scriptures, filling in the gaps with personal experience and elevating our conclusion as biblical.

A family can pursue a Christ-centered home with a vision of “multi-generational faithfulness” and not flirt with family idolatry. I agree with her: the neglect of the family unit in and outside the Christian world is shameful, but to lift it above all other biblical teaching is irresponsible. A young woman leaving home for anything other than a husband is not antagonistic to the Bible. There’s no reason the kind of preparation Jasmine speaks of cannot take place prior to college. I am a very blessed stay-at-home wife with a baby on the way. No other task has given me greater joy. However, a day is coming when my wife and mommy duties will cease and I will function as part of a larger, heavenly family. That is the family I must ultimately work in view of.

-Emily

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