Sunday, March 11, 2012

boy crazy christianity

This post is liable to step on some toes, just like many other things on this blog. You have been warned.

It's something I've come to observe often in the Christian circles around me, especially in the college-hunting crowd (and the college-going crowd, as well). It seems that so much of life for Christian girls is oriented around finding a guy. We're told we should pray for a pastor or missionary to marry. We're told that we need to go to college to find a husband. We're told that we would make wonderful missionary's wives.

Before we get off on the wrong foot, let me just say that I understand the whole helpmeet thing. I understand that women were originally created to work in partnership with man, to form a whole that mimics Christ's interaction with the Church. I understand the desire to get married, even; it's one I share. But I think this focus undermines something very important--that young women can serve God in their own right, not just through their prospective husband. Christian girls are instead pushed toward marriage with a fanatic zeal that I have labeled 'Boy Crazy Christianity'.

During a brief time where I was praying about whether to go to college or not, I looked into my options. Wanting to be a missionary, I examined the different missions programs that various colleges offer. To my surprise and dismay, the vast majority of colleges (or at least, the majority of ones I'd consider going to) offered very little in the way of actually preparing a young woman to be a missionary. Rather, so many of them focused on a narrow swathe of ministry that is specifically designed for her to accompany a man.

When you consider the many women who have formed vital parts of missions work through the years--Gladys Aylward, Mary Slessor, Amy Carmichael, and (in more recent times, and someone I've met personally) Jan Johnson, this seems to me to be a very great flaw in Christian education.

Now, I understand a woman is supposed to be quiet in the church and not take authority from the men (whatever interpretation of that you take). But then again, what if a woman missionary goes somewhere where there is no church? Is she to wait for a man to join her before reaching out to people--even men? (It's interesting to note that 'taking authority over man' is never interpreted to mean that women are not supposed to witness to men.) What about children's ministry or a ministry that focuses specifically on other women? This is, of course, taught in Christian schools. But from what I understand, it is always approached from the perspective of there being a man and some measure of safety involved.

Another aspect of this phenomenon is the fact that, for many young Christian girls, it is expected that their life will be a quest for marriage. Many young women that I know are only going to Bible college to find a husband. In fact, this is such a common reason for going to Bible college that those institutions have come to be nicknamed the "Christian dating services". Whether it be in church or elsewhere, young women are constantly told that their sole function in life is to get married and have babies. Yes, they might work a job--but only if it helps their husbands (a moot point for me as, when I have children, I'll be quitting any job I might have held, unless it is ministerial or home-oriented, in which case my children will learn the value of hard work by my side).

I got to wondering why this idea is so prevalent. I couldn't help wondering why so many young women are chained to the idea that they must get married before they can serve God, even though there are many stories that prove that is untrue, in the Bible and out. So, in the interests of starting conversation, why do you think this is? Or do you simply disagree with my premise? Do tell.

- Kyla Denae


Christie said...

YES. Almost all of the girls I know are simply living their lives waiting for "The One" and planning their lives around their wedding days. Personally, if I never got married, I wouldn't consider it the end of the world.
I am with you one hundred percent. I don't think that it's recognized very much in doctrinally sound Christian circles that women are not REQUIRED to get married. In fact, Paul says that he wishes we could all focus on singleness - not that young MEN would focus on singleness. It is not a woman's sole vocation to get married and this irks me so much because all I hear is "when you get married..." etc. argh.
anywho... i agree. :)

Olivia said...

Thank you for venting for me. ;)

Not that wife- and motherhood isn't an honorable ambition, but I'm concerned that many young women make finding a husband their main priority. There is a quote... something like we all either go down the well or hold the ropes for those who do. I don't know whether I will marry or not, but I aim to serve the Lord in whatever form He sees best, whether as a single woman or by serving another.

I'm still trying to figure out what all falls into the category of "authority"...

Jen said...

Great musing! I personally have a friend who went to college to learn to serve in the missions field. After graduation and WHILE IN THE MISSIONS FIELD GOD SENT HER TO she met and married her husband! She waited until God introduced them. She was not pressured by the college she attended to find "the one"! I too see this as a great flaw in the Christian College circle. Once a friend told me that most girls go to college to get an "MRS" degree. I asked, "What's an MRS degree?" She explained, "Mrs. so and so". I was actually shocked. When my sons entertained the thought of Bible college I actually WARNED them of the risk of being pressured into marrying one of these "husband-hunters". It is definately a problem that is being ignored. Thanks for posting this!
Jen - Mom of two about-to-go-out-into-the-world-on-their-own young men

Kyla Denae said...

I'm glad somebody agrees with me at least! xD

That's a very good point, Christie. Paul did indeed urge those who are single to remain single, and for a very good reason. After all, those who aren't married think about the things of God, while those who have a husband or wife about the temporal things.

And yes, Jen, I've heard that so many times, and so many girls I know are going to college not to learn, but to get that "MRS Degree". It's quite annoying, especially since it's assumed I'm not going to get married because I'm not seeking that. What really gets me is that many of these girls also ascribe to the idea that God will bring them 'The One'. So if He'll bring the person you're supposed to marry, why do you need to go seek them out? Makes little sense to me. But anywho.