Evangelical Christian Sexism Galore

Mark Driscoll the mainstream megachurch pastor at Mars Hill Church attacks stay-at-home dads as “not real men” and, my favorite, “worse than unbelievers.”  Ouch dudes, you’re worse than us atheists if you stay home to take care of your kids!  Oh snap!  Enjoy being on the bottom of the pecking order!  We atheists who have real man jobs are moving up the degenerate’s ladder!

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In all seriousness, one of the special things the blogosphere provides is the proliferation of voices informed by unusual experiences.  Laura at Redheaded Skeptic, on which I just found the above video, is the young former wife of a fundamentalist Baptist minister and her blog about her life post-husband and post-fundamentalist Christianity, with a new husband and a new skepticism is really, really interesting.  The entire front page was filled with illuminating, fearlessly personal posts all written within the week.  Go check out what she has to say.  Here’s her life story. As just a sample, here are some of her observations on body image issues for girls in fundamentalist Christian culture compared to secular culture: [6/4/12 Edit: I'm sorry to report her blog has vanished without a trace from the internet. So I have removed all the links.]

I remember reading an article where Jessica Simpson’s father mentioned trying to get into Christian music first. He said the Christian music people were far more concerned with looks than the secular ones (I couldn’t find the original article I read, but I did find Simpson’s comments on it here, two paragraphs above Ashlee Simpson’s segment). Namely, she was too sexy. Despite her conservative clothes, Christian labels thought she had too many curves. And you know what, it’s true. The vast majority of Christian artists and models have small breasts and no hips. Of course, the same could be said of secular artists, too, except larger breasts (in proportion to one’s body) are idealized. And, too, these are conservative Christian organizations that place extreme emphasis on the heart and seeing in others what Jesus  sees. That was the thing: in Christian world, you’re supposed to be sexy, but not too sexy. You were supposed to be outgoing, but not too outgoing or strong, because who could trust a strong, outgoing wife to be submissive? Or of a gentle and quiet spirit? I put on a gentle and quiet spirit, but it wasn’t really me. It made me timid and afraid to express my beliefs, dulling down what had once been a vibrant personality. I am not the only one. Entire books, blogs (the blog I linked is particularly telling–I used to be a huge fan of the Lady in Waiting concepts),  and Bible studiesteach women how to turn down their opinions and ideas to learn to submit and put on a gentle and quiet spirit. I tried, and I succeeded in convincing myself that’s who I really was for awhile.  My senior year in high school, I worked very hard on making myself gentle, quiet, and submissive around guys, only letting my “true” personality show around my girl friends. Needless to say, it led to a lot of depression and loneliness, bringing up an interesting question for young Christian women: what if God gave you leadership qualities and curves?

I had all the wrong parts: flaming red hair and a very curvy figure. An outgoing, strong personality suppressed by years of Christian literature. For most of my teen years, I did nothing with my hair and hid my figure in dowdy clothes. My college years, I fixed my hair, but still dressed and acted very conservatively. The most conservative of dress, however, couldn’t hide my curves, though I tried desperately. I slumped because it made my breasts look smaller. I wore minimizing bras and baggy clothing so it wouldn’t look  like I was trying to show off. But no matter how hard I tried, I could never look the part. I was pretty much doomed.

And here’s an explanation of the excellent reasons she blogs:

When I first left the faith, I thought I was the only one. I could not have been more wrong. When I discovered a multitude of people like me, I found other blogs, books, and resources. What I didn’t find was very many women, even fewer discussions about how painful it is to leave the faith, and absolutely no ministers’ wives. Most reading material centers around news articles and reasons why people leave. Instead of becoming another one of many, I focus on the process (though lately I’ve struggled and have posted more news and comics than usual). Because that is something else I was taught that was very wrong: that people who leave the faith do so willingly, because they would rather lead a sinful life or go their own way instead of believing in God. This is also untrue.

Your Thoughts?

 

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • http://sendaianonymous.wordpress.com sendaianonymous

    This only proves that some types of Christianity are like Gor, only for real :

    My senior year in high school, I worked very hard on making myself gentle, quiet, and submissive around guys, only letting my “true” personality show around my girl friends.

    This is horrible beyond anything I could ever say, and there’s not enough D: in the world DDDD:

  • http://www.realitybong.com/ Tom

    wow. This brought me waaay back. In my early 20′s, I was in the Fundy Baptist/pentacostalish religion for10 or 12 months, bringing wife and kid with … what finally made me do the “holy fuck, these people are complete wackjobs” is —-> We went to ‘christian counseling’ like good drones, submitting to the “authori-taaay” of the church … see, my (ex)wife was having serious sexual dysfunction when we first married. Unknown to me at the time, she was a victim of rape several times as a teenage girl. That, however, did not come out in the “counseling”; in fact, they made barely an attempt to counsel or to find out what was bothering her.

    They told my wife (and I am not kidding) that she had to just “lay there and take it, because God ordained her as my wife, to submit to me sexually” and submit to me in every other way … and kinda talked to her like she was some kind of rebellious Jezebel to the lord.

    And that is when we never went back. Never looked back.

    These crazy f*cks really believe that they have “perfect knowledge in all things” and “special discerning powers”


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