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