by Libby Anne cross posted from her blog Love Joy Feminism
Created To Be His Help Meet, pp. 109-10
Women, in general, give the appearance of being more spiritual than men. They like to dabble in soulish thoughts. There are many ways of expressing spirituality, but most of them have nothing to do with the Spirit of Jesus Christ. We ladies are more inclined to trust in our feelings and intuition than are men, which makes us more subject to deception, just like sister Eve. Feelings and intuition are ever-changing. The Word of God is objective and dogmatic—unchanging. It is to religion what hard facts are to science.
Feelings/intuition = bad, untrustworthy
Bible = objective, dogmatic, unchanging
As an evangelical, I believed in two sources for inspiration: The Bible, and the Holy Spirit. I could read the Bible, and I might feel the spirit moving me. Debi appears to be arguing against this second mode of hearing from God.
Of course, Debi is ignoring that the Bible is something that has to be interpreted, and that there are numerous different interpretations, and that interpretations have changed over time. The Bible isn’t quite so objective, dogmatic, or unchanging as she seems to think it is, and she doesn’t realize that what she’s really endorsing here isn’t the Bible itself but rather her interpretation of it. You’re supposed to interpret the Bible like Debi, period and full stop.
You rarely hear a man say, “God told me to do this,” or, “God led me to go down there.” The few men I have known who talked that way did not demonstrate that they were any more led by the Spirit than other Christian men. I know that when God does speak to my husband and leads him in a supernatural way, he will not speak of it in public. He doesn’t feel the need to promote himself in that manner, and furthermore, he believes that if he has truly heard from heaven, God doesn’t need his publicity. God will vindicate himself. But many Christian women habitually attribute nearly every event to divine guidance. Experience proves that women are prone to claim God as their authority, when God had nothing at all to do with their “leading.” It really is quite appalling to see this shameful behavior still in action today.
Wait. Wait. Since when does Michael get a free pass on hearing directly from God while women who say they are hearing directly from God, or being moved by the spirit, are just listening to their “feelings” and “intuitions” and not actually hearing from God?! Suddenly being “led by the Spirit” is okay? But if you read on to the end of the above paragraph, it appears that being led by the spirit is only okay for men.
Note also that Debi never explains how to tell the difference between being led by God and mis-attributing things to God. This is a huge problem I saw growing up evangelical, actually. People talked quite frequently about being led by the spirit, but sometimes they contradicted each other. Because of this, I could understand if Debi were to write off all hearing from the spirit and say you can only use the Bible (though that still leaves the differing interpretations problem), but that’s not what Debi is doing. She’s saying being moved by the spirit is fine, so long as it’s a man who is being moved by the spirit. Women who think they’re moved by the spirit, she says, are just being silly and mistaking feelings for God. Double standard much?
God seems to be gracious to us “dimwits”—and that is what we are when we lightly use God’s name (a form of blasphemy) to give authority to our intuitive decisions. The bottom line is that women “enjoy” their own self-effusing spirituality. It is a feminine trait that few men share or understand. Men can, however, become totally absorbed in their own personal ambitions and, in the process, neglect their “spiritual” side altogether. Women often see this “carnality” in men and assume that women, being more “spiritually” minded, are closer to God—a completely false assumption.
And now I’m totally confused about what “spirituality” is and what being “close to God” is. Are women more spiritual, or do they just appear so? What exactly does “spiritual” mean as Debi is using it? If men who are become totally abosrbed in their own personal ambitions while their wives pray and read the Bible and listen to the spirit are no less close to God than are their wives, what in the world does “close to God” mean? I mean, I was taught that if you read the Bible, pray, etc., you draw closer to God, but if you don’t do those things you can drift away. But in Debi’s world, apparently men can do whatever they want and still be just as close to God as their more “spiritual” wives, whatever the heck “spiritual” actually means. Seriously, Debi needs to define her terms! And actually, strike that, Debi’s making it clear that women who think they’re close to God are just deluding themselves and confusing their feelings for the real deal.
The message here appears to be that men are close to God whether they are absorbed in their own ambitions or deep in God’s Word, but women who think they’re close to God or try to become “spiritual” or listen to God are actually confusing their feelings and intuitions for God’s leading. So basically: Men can’t lose, and women can’t win. Lovely.
Nearly all spiritualits, past and present, are women. Women are the palm readers, crystal ball gazers, fortune-tellers, and tarot card readers. Witches’ covens are headed by women. Mot mediums (those contacting the dead) are women, as was the witch of Endor whom King Saul consulted concerning the long-dead Samuel. When Jesus spoke a parable about the kingdom becoming corrupted with false doctrine, he illustrated it with a woman bringing in the corruption (Matt. 13:33). In the book of Revelation, it is a woman, typically called Jezebel, who deceives the church. We are told she did it through her teaching. Jon wrote to the church of Thyatira and warned them against allowing that a woman Jezebel to teach (Rev. 2:20). Women are either directly or indirectly responsible for most of the past and present cults in Christianity.
You know who was male? Jim Jones. Joseph Smith. Charles Manson. Claude Vorilhon. Sun Myung Moon. You really don’t have to be female to think you’re hearing from God and start your own group. In fact, I call bullshit on that last sentence—there is no way women were directly or indirectly responsible for most of the past and present religious movements within Christianity when it’s men who have by and large been the leaders and founders of Christian denominations and churches. I also call a double standard once again. When men feel themselves moved by God to plant churches and lead movements, that’s seen as a good thing in Debi’s view, but when women do it it’s wrong. Because, they’re women, duh.
The Bible makes a point of revealing the inherent nature of woman when it gives a reason why women should not teach men: “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression” (1 Tim. 2:14).
That a man is less sensitive than a woman does not make him inferior to her, nor does her being more subject to deception than her husband make her inferior to him—just different natures. It is in recognizing that difference that wives should fear God and distrust their natural tendencies. Things that are not the same have different capacities and different offices.
Remember last week Debi talked about how women are tender and without armor while men are tough and have armor? That’s the whole sensitive and easily deceived v. not sensitive and not easily deceived thing going on here.
But here’s the key—this idea that wives should “distrust their natural tendencies.” Debi didn’t spend this time explaining to women how to tell the difference between their feelings and the movement of the spirit. Instead she basically told them that they can’t be moved by the spirit and that when they think they are it’s just their feelings and they have to ignore those. But the real problem is this idea that women are to distrust their intuition. Presumably, they’re instead to listen to their husbands, because their husbands can be moved by the spirit and hear directly from God. And personally, that sounds like a very dangerous idea.
The biggest theme of this entire section appears to be that women should give up this idea that they can be close to God or moved by the spirit, and instead realize that that’s just something only men can do. Women might appear to be more “spiritual,” Debi explains, but that is only a mirage and a deception. And to me, this just cements the extent to which Debi is working to erode and sabotage women’s trust in their own feelings, abilities, and thoughts.
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Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network member, Libby Anne blogs at Love, Joy, Feminism
Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the religious right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving fundamentalist and evangelical religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the problems with the “purity culture,” the intricacies of conservative and religious right politics, and the importance of feminism. Her blog is Love, Joy, Feminism
NLQ Recommended Reading …
‘Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich
‘Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland
‘Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce