What the “Effeminate Christianity” crisis says about women

The latest crisis in evangelical Christianity seems to be the “feminization” of the church.

Now, I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant. Even if we were to ignore the fact that there is no real definition of “femininity,” and even if we were to judge “femininity” by strict societal expectations and stereotypes, what does that mean? It’s not like the church is wearing lipstick and carrying a purse. And I’ve never heard a pastor say anything like, “The vagina cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’”

I mean, really, what do we mean when we say that the church is too feminine?

And, why do I care?

I care because how the church defines “feminization” exposes how the church feels toward women in general.

Women, it’s important for us to know what negative perceptions the church has for us so we can prove them wrong. 

I took a look at the website for the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. I figured they were my best bet for finding information on the “feminization” of the church (well, besides You-Know-Who but I’m trying to fast from You-Know-Who, for the sake of my own health and sanity). Alas, they did not let me down! I didn’t have to browse their website long before I came across an article by Tim Challies entitled Soft, Effeminate Christianity.  

It contained a quote by a man named Horatius Bonar (yes. really. that’s all I’m going to say). I’m going to share parts of that quote, because I want us to realize what is being implied when evangelicals speak of the “feminization” of the church.

For there is some danger of falling into a soft and effeminate Christianity under the plea of a lofty and ethereal theology. Christianity was born for endurance…It walks with firm step and erect frame…it is kindly, but firm; it is gentle, but honest….obliging, but not imbecile…

It does not shrink from giving honest reproof lest it come under the charge of displaying an unchristian spirit.

The religion of both Old and New Testaments is marked by fervent outspoken testimonies against evil. To speak smooth things in such a case may be sentimentalism, but it is not Christianity. It is a betrayal of the cause of truth and righteousness. If anyone should be frank, manly, honest, cheerful it is he who has tasted that the Lord is gracious, and is looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God

So what do Challies, Bonar, and other evangelicals think of women?

*We’re soft

*We’re interested only in ethereal theology and never active faith

*We weren’t built for endurance. We’re incapable of standing firm in our beliefs.

*We’re dishonest

*We’re imbeciles

*We’re afraid to stand against evil

*We’re too sentimental (and further more, such sentimentality is not compatible with Christianity)

*We cannot truly experience God and proclaim truth and righteousness without betraying our “gender role” (in Bonar’s words, we must be “manly” to do such things)

So what’s a woman to do? It’s a lose-lose situation for us, according to the CBMW. If we aren’t “manly,” by CBMW’s definition, we’re betraying our faith and can’t “taste that the Lord is gracious.” If we are “manly,” we pervert God’s “perfect design” for the sexes. We already know that evangelicals certainly don’t want us doing the latter, so what we’re left with is the final implication that women are not really Christians.

Sure, we can pray and love Jesus, and get to heaven. But we’re not active members of the body of Christ (after all, Christ had a penis, right?)–we’re just along for the ride. All the Bible verses about the Holy Spirit giving Christians power and strength–all the parts of the Bible about being able to do all things through Christ? Those apply only to men. The Bible is, by default, for men. Women can only claim passages that address them specifically.

I don’t buy that.

As my first step toward proving Bonar and others wrong, I’m going to step up to the plate with some “honest reproof.” I’m going to make a “fervent, outspoken testimony against evil.”

Quite frankly, thinking like Bonar’s is hurting the church. His view of women is dangerously flawed.

Women, let’s show the church how wrong he is.

The church needs to hear our stories of strength and endurance. Stories that display our capacity for intelligence and discernment and leadership. Stories that prove we can stand strong.

Stories like those of Stitching Seams– a woman who completely smashes Bonar’s definition of “effeminate” to pieces by having the courage to share her experiences.

Stories like those of Elizabeth Esther–a woman who constantly proves Bonar wrong in her relentless fight against evil.

Stories like mine and stories like yours.

Let’s show the world what we women are really capable of–and perhaps, perhaps we’ll soon see the day when the church’s weaknesses are addressed directly, rather than blamed on women. Perhaps we’ll see the day when women are given equal opportunities in which to help the church repair those weaknesses. Perhaps the church will start to see us, not just as submissive wives and daughters, but as sisters, and as fellow members of Christ’s body.

Let’s share our stories.

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  • http://www.somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ ShoutLaughLove

    your post reminds me of a part in So The Bible Tells Me So that argues that homophobia is misogyny. insulting men by calling them sissies or girls reveals a deep seeded hatred of women and belief that being a woman is the very worst thing.

    it’s the same thing here, and you’re right. plus, it’s a lot of cultural nonsense and anachronism to pretend that jesus was a tough american gladiator. scripture extols humility, and the fruits of the spirit hardly win wrestling competitions. in the Kingdom, the last are first and to love is to lay down one’s life. strength is in sacrifice. we don’t need power plays from men or women. together, we need to recover our prophetic voice.

    • http://gravatar.com/moonchild11 moonchild11

      I agree that a lot of homophobia has to do with deep-seeded misogyny and a desire to perpetuate strict gender roles. LGBT folk kind of throw a wrench in the whole patriarchal family deal.

  • http://www.diannaeanderson.net Dianna

    “And I’ve never heard a pastor say anything like, ‘The vagina cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’”

    Must…resist…distasteful…joke.

    This is great, just great.

    The thing that really gets my goat about these sorts of discussions is that it’s very hard to make men who believe as Bonar and Challies (and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named) actually listen to women. This is mainly because, as you point out, when we do speak up, when we do point out how unjust and harmful their thinking is, they can write it off as “a woman out of place.” This, unfortunately and fortunately, is why we NEED to have more male allies in the cause. Unless, of course, like VoldeMark seems to think, speaking up for women is being effeminate and therefore also outside the narrowly prescribed role of one’s gender…).

    I’m rambling now, but thank you.

    • http://gravatar.com/moonchild11 moonchild11

      Agreed. Male allies are important, and it is really hard sometimes to get men to listen and to appreciate/believe my experience.

      And, VoldeMark. Love it! haha

    • http://gravatar.com/moonchild11 moonchild11

      Oh, and, the whole “the vagina cannot say to the hand…” thing? Totally intentional. haha!

  • http://www.facebook.com/HeatherSamuel78 Heather Stanley

    I’ve been incensed to the point of tears and sleeplessness by some of the damaging words masquerading as biblically based teaching that is on the surface at the moment. Thank you for this – it has helped me crystalise some of my own views on the topic. I’m inspired to write my story – why being a woman is to be celebrated, but why be pigeon-holed by my gender and limited in a way that God never intended is to be reviled.

    • http://gravatar.com/moonchild11 Sarah Moon

      Glad I could help!

  • http://Smith Sally

    Maybe the problem with women is that they keep engaging in this abusive relationship and try to prove themselves to boners. The boners set the agenda and we react to it, we cry over it, we can’t believe that they think this way…wa…wa…wa… How about completely disengaging from this abusive place? That’s been the most liberating thing for me.

    • http://gravatar.com/moonchild11 Sarah Moon

      I agree that it can be the most liberating for some people to disengage. I tried it myself before. But church and religion is still important part of many people’s lives–religion needs to be redeemed from the harmful patriarchy it has becoming. Maybe disengaging is a way to do this, but there are still going to be harmful patriarchal churches lying to women and there are still going to be men brought up by the church to treat women in this way. We can’t ignore or escape the impact that these churches have on our lives and on our society. Sometimes, we have to challenge it.

      • http://transformingseminarian.blogspot.com Mark Baker-Wright

        Picking up on what others have called “VoldeMark” in your post, I wrote this bit last week which wrestles (admittedly inconclusively) with the whole question of when it’s best to disengage (I used the word “ignore”) and when something MUST be fought, lest it continue to cause damage.

        I’m still not sure what the best strategy re: “VoldeMark” (specifically) is, as I fear that by engaging him, we also feed his particular brand of anti-woman theology. There’s little question to me that he actively TRIES to create controversy, and in so doing gets his message out there all the more.

        http://transformingseminarian.blogspot.com/2012/01/on-dealing-with-bullies.html

        • Catherine Fox

          When public figures are deliberately controversial in order to generate publicity, here’s a useful maxim I came across recently: Never wrestle with a pig. Everyone gets dirty and the pig enjoys it.

    • http://www.meaningandsignificance.blogspot.com Nathaniel Simmons

      It seems to me that disengaging from the church because many of its messengers are rude and hateful would be similar to disengaging from the medical system when a doctor is rude. In the end, it does more damage to you than it does to the doctor.

      I completely agree with Sarah, you have to challenge it. The gospel of Jesus Christ is too important to walk away from. While challenging Christian men to act and think lovingly toward women may be a long hard fight, its one worth fighting. In the long run it will be good for you and good for us.

      • Jeff W

        Or perhaps, disengaging from the/a church is similar to disengaging from the mortuary whose workers insist that it’s a hospital.

        • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

          My problem is with ignoring mortuaries that are trying to bury living people. I care, not because I care about the mortuaries, but because I care about the people who are being buried alive.

  • http://mamacompton.blogspot.com Erin

    Sometimes I think that the bible wasn’t written to women. At least much of the Old Testament from the cannon anyway. I think that a lot of the negative attitudes about women stem from and are justified using that misogynistic narrative that runs through much of the OT.

    I’ve been reading “Holy Misogyny” and something I’ve found really enlightening is that “the Spirit of the Lord” when mentioned in the OT was actually the feminine aspect of God, and the Spirit of God does a LOT of speaking out against evil, and punishing in the OT, sounds pretty, ahem, “manly” (gag) to me. (I don’t articulate that thought as well as April DeConick does, so please, read her book!)

    • http://gravatar.com/moonchild11 Sarah Moon

      That sounds like a book I need to check out! Writing it on my book list now.

  • http://Yahoo SallyN

    I would like to see any church have any kind of effective ministry without the participation of women. This is not only insulting, it is ridiculous and ignorant. If this man wants to be a part of a masculine church…let him. The place would fold in a matter of days!

  • http://www.justwhatimean.blogspot.com Emily

    I think it’s fascinating that the very attributes he decries in the “effeminate church” are the very same things Patriarchy works tirelessly to create in its women. I grew up in a church like that and always felt out of place for wanting a voice, for knowing my worth beyond wife & mother, for going to college & seeking God’s vision for my life with no limits, for thinking critically & coming to my own conclusions.

    I watched so many girls TAUGHT to be soft, submissive to evil, weak, ignorant and sentimental. And then rejected for the exact characteristics that were forced on them. It’s like growing a watermelon in a box and then dismissing it for being square.

    I am angry and sad right now, but have to continue to hope in a Jesus who loves men and women and IS still building his church on the backs of both, entwining our gifts and love with no hesitation. Lord, help us! Let partnership with each other and you be our constant hope!

    Thank you for continuing to speak up about this, Sarah Moon. Your voice is powerful!

  • http://mendipnomad.wordpress.com mendipnomad

    Bonar’s been dead for more than 100 years: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horatius_Bonar. If the best the folk at the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and their ilk can do to defend their ludicrous position is drag up a small part of the writings of a generally well-thought-of Victorian Church of Scotland minister, most famous for writing hymns, including “I heard the voice of Jesus say”, then they really should be ignored and not given the publicity!

    • http://gravatar.com/moonchild11 Sarah Moon

      If this wasn’t an issue that was so woven into the daily lives of myself and so many women, I would be happy to ignore it. Unfortunately, CBMW already has support and publicity without my calling attention to them. Many women are being taught these things about themselves in the name of “God” and so I cannot in good conscious ignore the harmful practices of the patriarchal church.

  • Paul Janssen

    OK. First, I almost fell off my chair when he said we must stand erect. Sheesh. Second, when I read “Horatius Bonar” I suspected it’s the same one, a Scottish clergyman, of the19th century. How many Horatius Bonar’s could there be? You’ve probably sung a few of his songs over the years, but I doubt you will again. Look him up in the hymn book; he’s probably there. I suspect he’s a descendant of the Beecher (Lyman)/Phinney Second Great Awakening school of preachers, who railed on quite a lot in these terms. Which is to say, among other things, that this is NOT new in the least. Its roots are pretty deep in American protestantism. In addition, to me, this center of which you speak represents the Limbaugh-ization of conversation. Sounds exactly like stuff Rush would say. I think maybe it’s time to write a confession — a heavy duty confession — against his ilk. Increasingly, I am becoming convinced that these voices, or the opinions they put forth, are heretical — antithetical to the gospel itself. Their views on gender equality would be just one instance among many.

    • http://gravatar.com/moonchild11 Sarah Moon

      Yeah, when I looked up Bonar, I decided I can excuse his pre-feminist view of women as just being an outdated (though still harmful) mode of thinking. But to promote that thinking as a model for the modern church? Really? Gah.

      Also, “First, I almost fell off my chair when he said we must stand erect. Sheesh.”

      Me too! haha. I almost made a comment about that, but then I thought, “I already laughed at Bonar’s name and talked about the vagina speaking to the hand. People are going to think I’m in junior high.” :P

  • http://gravatar.com/donguseddy donguseddy

    What does the Bible say?

    • brambonius

      The bible says that you should give alcohol to the hopeless… (somewhere in proverbs 31) and it says that Solomon had 1000 wives. And it says to love your enemies and bless those who curse you. And it says to greet each other with a holy kiss…

      And a lot of other things, but I’d need a whole bible to sum them up…

      Why this question in this discussion?

      • http://www.facebook.com/DonGuizzetti Don Guizzetti

        “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16

        The Bible is God’s Word given to us that we may know God’s truth and how we learn to honor Him and to enjoy Him forever.

        • brambonius

          I know all of this, even thought I would say that the title ‘the Word of God’ belongs first and foremost to Christ, the Incarnate second part of the trinity, who has died on the cross and destroyed sin, satan and death in the resurrection… Like you can see in the verse you quote, the scriptures do refer to themselves as scriptures.

          But my question remains, what is the connection between your question and this discussion?

    • http://gravatar.com/moonchild11 Sarah Moon

      “She sets about her work vigorously;her arms are strong for her task”

      “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh…and your daughters shall prophesy”

      “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ.”

      That.

  • EMP

    Thank you for making a point that is too often overlooked by those who claim to be the most “Biblical”. Attitudes like those you’ve mentioned have hurt me deeply in the past…to the point where even thinking of attending any church begins to make me angry. I know that many communities oppose this type of thinking, and I have found one, but it still brings up the painful sense of being 12-years-old and being told that God considers a me a second class citizen whose only real hope is to find a “Christian man to be my master”. No one ever seems to notice that they verse that tells wives to submit to their husbands is followed by one that tells slaves to obey their masters. We’ve realized the injustice of the one, why not the other?

    • http://gravatar.com/moonchild11 Sarah Moon

      I was watching the miniseries, “God in America” on PBS. The discussion between southern and northern churches in the Civil War era reminded me so much of the discussion going on now about men and women

  • http://preacherwoman.wordpress.com/ preacherwoman

    Strange how Jesus didn’t seem to mind talking and listening to women. And God even chose a woman to bring him into the world!

    • http://www.rhodaschultz.com/ Rhoda Schultz

      at the resurrection of Jesus, he trusted women to GO and TELL…Matthew 28:10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

      • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

        Amen! :)

  • http://gravatar.com/moonchild11 Sarah Moon

    amen!

  • http://catherine-fox.blogspot.com/ Catherine Fox

    Horatius Bonar was a Victorian hymn writer. Anyone who is looking backward to his Victorian forefathers for validation of his views is probably not at the cutting edge of serious theological thought. (Personally, I tend to find that a judo black belt puts questions of femininity and the church into an interesting new context when I’m in debate with people.)

  • http://loveiswhatyoudo.wordpress.com Jessica

    “Let’s show the world what we women are really capable of–and perhaps, perhaps we’ll soon see the day when the church’s weaknesses are addressed directly, rather than blamed on women. Perhaps we’ll see the day when women are given equal opportunities in which to help the church repair those weaknesses. Perhaps the church will start to see us, not just as submissive wives and daughters, but as sisters, and as fellow members of Christ’s body.”

    This is lovely. This whole recent conversation about women sharing their stories is why I started blogging again. We have to speak out, those of us you are more than craftsy stay-at-home recipe sharers (though there’s a place for that), but who are real women standing knee deep in the muck and the mire of the world.

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  • AlexInWonderland

    You have articulated exactly why I no longer go to church.

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  • http://sarahfegredo.blogspot.com Sarah Fegredo

    Snigger on VoldeMark…

    And I agree – I blogged on a similar line this morning
    http://sarahfegredo.blogspot.com/2012/01/feminisation-of-church.html

  • Mara

    Yeah, this no win situation that men have created for women upsets me too. I’m tired of the “Sucks to be you” gospel these men preach to women. It upset me so bad, I wrote about too.

    http://frombitterwaterstosweet.blogspot.com/2011/12/soft-effeminate-christianity-rothlmho.html

  • http://leadfromthefringe.wordpress.com LeadFromTheFringe

    Thanks for the post! I will be sharing it

    - a male ally

  • NancyP

    The “effeminate Christianity” meme has been around for a long time, and is a product of psychological projection. Since the 18th century, Protestant English-speaking ministers have not been seen as displaying the “virtues” of empire-building men, and have been seen as inherently weaker than successful businessmen, soldiers, politicians, and so on. Add to that a social setting where it is permissible to ignore or even ridicule ministers, and insecure male ministers are going to start calling for the butching-up of the congregation, so said insecure ministers can be seen as Leaders of Men.

  • http://dancingpastthedark.com Nan Bush

    Why so much talk as though “the church” involves only this type of thinking? This corner of jock-itch thinking is really a miniscule voice in all of Christianity. You don’t need to leave “the church”–simply go down the block and visit one that welcomes the full participation of women. Plenty of us out here!

    • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

      I’m sure there are. In fact, I’ve stopped attending such churches for the sake of my own health. But, I still try to see “the church” as a whole, and, a little jock-itch thinking can hurt a lot of men and women (and it can hurt the public’s perception of the church too). We still need to actively fight such thinking.

  • tim ellison

    i have to say though that a lot of Christian history has been on the side of woman. woman have done so many amazing things for Christ…i am thinking of Catherine Booth, Mary Slessor, Amy Semple Mchpherson, Corrie Ten Boone…the list could go on and on. don’t pay any attention to those loudmouths whose churches are a mile wide and an inch deep! just keep doing all the great stuff as unto the Lord!

  • http://setfreefromtheic.wordpress.com Set Free Indeed

    I really appreciate this post!

    The current craze is to call modern day Christianity “feminized…” and I have also described the church that way too but since repented of that thinking and even took down a video of me saying it….

    I realized that the Church has always been referred to as a BRIDE…

    For many being feminine means being weak in character, and courage, afraid to stand for the truth, BUT THINK ABOUT IT… look at the holy women of the past… do they fit the characteristics of being that way? NOPE…. that is NOT BIBLICAL WOMANHOOD AND FEMININITY AT ALL, and I think we really need to re-think this terminology because it speaks VOLUMES at how some in the church view women and their character.

    There is much strength in being a woman… of being the Bride of Christ.

  • AntiFeminist

    Although obviously you are not feminine in your appearance by not following 1 Corinthians 11, your article should rather refer to the Scriptures than experiences. The Bible defines women as the weaker vessel, they are physically weaker than men of course and are emotional creatures. They are to be keepers at the home and give birth to children, not to teach men, etc. Men need to lead women and show the other characteristics that compliment the woman’s weakness.

    • abekoby

      I don’t think personal attacks are a good way to make a point. Unless you’re talking about the Jesus that insulted others’ appearance. There seem to be a lot of people who believe in that Jesus. But generally I think those people’s God tends to be themselves.

    • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

      Okay, if you want, I’ll use the Bible:

      “She sets about her work vigorously;her arms are strong for her task”

      “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh…and your daughters shall prophesy”

      “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ.”

      Stay classy, Anti-Feminist.

      • AntiFeminist

        Sarah my son, indeed a woman is to be strong, however in comparison to a man she is weak. For instance at the work place where single women work they will often ask men to lift anything with a weight that surpasses 5 lbs due to their inability to lift it.

        Regarding your second verse you must realize all of Scripture must be in harmony and line up, if by posting that and the third one you somehow believe that means that God does not look at the distinct roles between men and women and that subsequently women can teach men in the setting of a pastor you are mistaken. Women certainly can speak the Scriptures, but the Scriptures deny them from being a pastor or preaching to men in a Church setting. Even in regards to teaching other women the emphasis is on practical things, i.e the older women teach the younger to obey their husbands, be keepers at home, etc. This is in Titus chapter 2 the emphasis is on practical rather than on theology, even Proverbs 31 speaks of looking for practical traits in a wife.

        Your third verse does not nullify the roles or gender distinctions which many other Scriptures address, to use that as an argument is to make Scripture not be in harmony, which is a terrible way to interpret, as well you might note that your views go against Church history.

        Also you are making a mountain out of a molehill, even look at that Tim’s fellas site where he posts this and read the comments, by using the word effeminate they are not mocking women, but rather men who take on feminine traits.

        Anyways may I ask how much your homemade cakes are, as I am interested in purchasing some, thank you my friend.

        Oh and I’m not a poe, just have some fun while posting the truth, since women tend to be very emotional and offended extremely easily.

        • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

          oh, so you’re just a troll? Okay, cool. Thanks for letting me know. I’ll be sure to put your name on the spam list, then. You wouldn’t have much fun with me anyways, since I’m a thinker, not a feeler on the Myers-briggs scale. Sorry, buddy. Have fun trolling elsewhere.

    • brambonius

      I call Poe’s law!

      Are you a real person or a fictional character that someone made up to annoy Sarah? Maybe it’s because I’m not American, but collecting that much stereotype and cliché together hinges on the brink of the unrealistic…

      But this paragraph, real or not, is a good example of the one-dimensional ignorance of American supposedly biblical fundamentalism. I’ll use it as an example if I ever need one…

  • http://www.facebook.com/zeal77 Matt Young

    This is the biggest load of horse crap that I have ever read!!! No other religion in the world uplifts women like Christianity. The church has become “feminized” for a lack of a better word, due to the fact that men don’t know how to be men, Christians and churches alike have grown so apathetic and weak out of fear of offending ad nauseum. Christians are not to be the worlds doormat and we are to be the salt of the earth, why? because salt is a preservative and we need to preserve God’s Holy, inerrant, infallible, efficient, sufficient Word of God. Hey guess what? homosexuality is wrong, I don’t care who likes it or who it may offend, we are told time and again in the Bible both in the Old and New Testaments. This can be clearly seen in Genesis 19:1-13; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9. If a woman wants to be a pastor that is also unbiblical, again I don’t care who likes it, you either believe the Word of God or you don’t. God has ordained that only men are to serve in positions of spiritual teaching authority in the church. This is not because men are necessarily better teachers, or because women are inferior or less intelligent (which is not the case). It is simply the way God designed the church to function. Men are to set the example in spiritual leadership—in their lives and through their words. Women are to take a less authoritative role. Women are encouraged to teach other women (Titus 2:3-5). The Bible also does not restrict women from teaching children. The only activity women are restricted from is teaching or having spiritual authority over men. This logically would preclude women from serving as pastors to men. This does not make women less important, by any means, but rather gives them a ministry focus more in agreement with God’s plan and His gifting of them. Many women excel in gifts of hospitality, mercy, teaching, evangelism, and helps. Much of the ministry of the local church depends on women. Women in the church are not restricted from public praying or prophesying (1 Corinthians 11:5), only from having spiritual teaching authority over men. The Bible nowhere restricts women from exercising the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12). Women, just as much as men, are called to minister to others, to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), and to proclaim the gospel to the lost (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; 1 Peter 3:15). The husband is the head of the family as Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 5:23) and because of that the husband is to love his wife “as” (sets up the comparison) or in the same way that Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it (Ephesians 5:25). That means the husband has a great deal more responsibility in the marriage than the wife does. He is the leader, and he is to set the tone for the relationship, and a man who honors his wife and puts her first before all but God will have a wife that responds. The way a husband gives himself for his wife is that he understands she is to be honored for the fact that she is his wife. Of course, this is the ideal and it is not something that happens overnight. A man and a woman begin their relationship when they are married, but whether or not that relationship works is in direct correlation to both the husband and the wife taking their place in God’s order and their submission to obey God. The principles here are given to believers; however, these principles work whether or not the couple are believers or even if only one is. As Christians, we understand the dynamics at work which are totally at odds with human viewpoints and worldly “wisdom.” This word “weakness” can cause great offense when there should be none at all. Women are weaker and need to be treated with understanding and respect. A husband shows his love for his wife by putting her first. A woman who resists this loving care by her husband is robbing herself of the joy of being the “weaker” vessel. Just as the woman may be weak physically, so has the church grown weak in these last days. We as Christians need to take a stand, we need to stand strong and speak out!!

    • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com Sarah Moon

      For lack of a better word? How about we just say that men in the church are acting weak? Why must we equate weakness with femininity?

      Until then, please respect my experience. You aren’t me, and you aren’t even a woman. You don’t know anything about how it feels to have your talents belittled by the church, and you don’t know what it’s like to feel the need to hide your strengths in order to pass as a “weaker vessel.” There is absolutely no joy in that.

    • abekoby

      Jesus generally spoke out in favor of the marginalized, not against them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/zeal77 Matt Young

    You are missing the point! I am not you, and praise God I am not a woman! I would rather be a knot on a dog’s hind leg as to be a woman. If you are being belittled in a church then that is wrong and you shouldn’t have to hide your strengths, that isn’t what God’s Word is saying for you to do. However, the Scripture tells us that the woman was deceived (1 Timothy 2:14), she is subject to her husband (1 Peter 3:1) and that she is a “weaker” vessel. That women are usually physically weaker is undeniable, but the implication of the fall is that by virtue of her being deceived by Satan, women may also sometimes be weaker in other ways. That definitely does not mean she is less valuable (Ephesians 1:6) or that she does not have equal access to grace (Galatians 3:28). Rather, it is a basis for a husband to treat his wife with understanding, tenderness, and patience. The world has caused many men to be very effeminate and the church is not helping because of so many weak kneed preacher. Like it or not the man is to be the Spiritual head of the home and he is to treat a woman with respect. The church as a whole is acting weak and they are not doing what they are supposed to be because of all this Rick Warren Seeker sensitive crap!

    • brambonius

      I should never have suscribed to the comments of this post. It’s full of examples of Poe’s law!

      Please tell me that you’re being satirical saying “and praise God I am not a woman! I would rather be a knot on a dog’s hind leg as to be a woman.” cause otherwise I just found a very interesting anthropological specimen in you… I didn’t know that this kind of thinking did exist in modern Western countries… Your tradition is an interesting backwards relict, interesting for science, but harmful to women…

      It’s quite hard to argue with you though, or even know what you mean sometimes. You’re not giving any arguments or even a definition of what you mean by ‘effeminate’, and why our friend Warren (of which I’m not really a fan) has something to do with it. Nothing female about his approach to Christianity, one might say some of his faith expressions are quite sterile though. But being sterile and emasculated has nothing to do with being female of ‘effeminate’… which is Sarah’s point.

    • Sarah Moon

      Well, I think it’s obvious at this point that you are exactly the type of Christian I was calling out in this article.

      I hope that we women can show you our strength and prove you wrong, and I hope that you can get over your castration complex someday.

      That is all.

      • http://www.facebook.com/zeal77 Matt Young

        First of all I never said I liked Rick Warren, I actually stated how I disliked him and how his erroneous teachings has hurt Christianity. “Women show your strength” is all you are chanting to heck with the truth. The Bible uplifts women and glorifies them. In Biblical times they were considered unequals, particularly in a the Spiritual sense, the Bible was revolutionary in its thinking at the time and said that women were very much equals. Galatians 3:28 says that all are equal in His sight. While the Muslims were making the woman walk along side there donkeys in drudgery while the men rode, the Bible was telling us how we should love, respect women. Sarah you read one misguided article and searched no further, when one talks of the feminization of women, it is often referring to how the women outweigh the men in attendance. Of evangelical churches 57% of members are women, Protestant churches 66% are women. Men participate less in practicing spiritual disciplines like tithing, Bible reading, evangelism and prayer. We have preachers out there who teach touchy-feely sermons, instead of preaching the whle word of God. The church needs strong, masculine leadership because men follow men. He said Jesus’ disciples are a prime example of this principle. Yet, much of the church is seeking further feminization, through attempts to increase female clergy and to create gender-neutral Bibles and hymns. Many liberal seminaries now graduate equal numbers of women and men, or more women than men, like Yale Divinity School and Harvard Divinity School.The result of this feminization is that many men, even Christian men, view churches as “ladies clubs” and don’t go — or they often go to please their wives. Murrow’s solution is to restore a masculine ethos. The words of “feminization of the church” has no bearing on women or referencing as to how weak they are, but the lack of strong male leadership and men leading their home spiritually as they should. The feminist movement as a whole has done more harm than good and has allowed men to bow out and not take the responsibility for their families as they should. No one is saying that a woman is insignificant, not worthy or of value. Women can be strong, they can be nurturing and love the Lord. I encourage my own daughter to be strong and not take crap off anyone. Should a woman be a pastor, the answer is NO! That is totally contrary to the Word of God, but they can still teach, evangelize, women are encouraged to teach other women, women are to take a less authoritative role. The only activity women are restricted from is teaching or having spiritual authority over men. This logically would preclude women from serving as pastors to men. This does not make women less important, by any means, but rather gives them a ministry focus more in agreement with God’s plan and His gifting of them. If nothing else I think Sarah has a huge chip on her shoulder when it comes to men. Maybe her father wasn’t around enough, didn’t show her enough attention and or was abusive and therefore feels the need to lash out at any authority that a man my possible have, because she was determined at some point that no man will ever tell her what to do again. If that is true then that is indeed tragic, but the Bible isn’t here, the church isn’t here to degrade you or hurt you, but to uplift you and love you. Jesus is a wonderful, loving and caring father and He wants to be here for all of us and doesn’t want to see us hurting or sad. Christianity is the only religion that uplifts women.

        • http://www.alise-write.com Alise

          It’s unfortunate that as one who claims to be a part of a faith that “uplifts women” you don’t feel bound by the call to be a part of that uplifting.

          Given that without women we have an incomplete picture of God (since BOTH are made in His image), I am thankful to be a woman.

          • http://stitchinguptheseams.wordpress.com Stitch

            …you’re a pastoral assistant? That sort of surprises me. You may keep saying that men are to love and respect women, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that at least 3 of the women here feel neither love nor respect from you (myself, Sarah, and Alise).

            I’m not really sure there’s much else for me to say. I know I used to agree with you a year or so ago. And I know that for years I refused to listen to people’s experiences and refused to see my experiences for what they were.

            I don’t know. I’m simply at a loss. Not angry, just…a little bemused.

        • http://gravatar.com/moonchild11 Sarah Moon

          Alright, pal, it was fun watching you troll for awhile, but this comment has earned you a spot on the spam list.

        • abekoby

          So many false statements here.
          It’s not women’s fault if men aren’t getting their crap together.

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  • http://www.meaningandsignificance.blogspot.com Nathaniel Simmons

    Sarah – I just wanted to let you know that I posted my response today. Thanks for reviewing it and giving it the green light.

    http://meaningandsignificance.blogspot.com/2012/02/how-we-failed-sarah-moon-and-ourselves.html

  • Thokozani Phiri

    Your premise is wrong and therefore your deduction is wrong and that makes your conclusion also wrong. Your premise sounds like this: only manly attributes make a sound christian. Therefore all sound christians have manly attributes. Conclusion (what a big jump!) All women are not sound christians. I know that you claim that this is what the other website posits. First of all, there are some women who have manly attributes. Does that not make them women? Second,
    .Anyhow, it’s not fair to stretch a metaphor (effeminate christianity) to prove your point. Argue fairly.

    A fellow woman.


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