Three Smokin’ Clarifiers (and I Won’t. Back. Down.)

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This week was Smokin’ Hot.

Since there has been so much wonderful back and forth and even a little bit of brouhaha about Monday’s piece, I figured I would post a few clarifiers before bed here on Friday night.

Fact is, the vast majority of responses have come in the form of an “amen” of one kind or another, and some of those have been heart-wrenching stories from women readers about the demeaning culture in some evangelical churches. There have also been a minority that have pushed back, some quite hard, on my suggestion that Christian men and especially pastors making public statements about their wives’ hotness is not a good thing. “Lighten up bro!” has been the general tone of these responses, though one guy made a point to troll around the Internet calling me “douchy.” Par for the course, I guess.

Before the clarifiers though, please know that I’m not backing down on this post. Not one bit. In fact, it’s more obvious to me than ever after hearing from readers that this problem of a demeaning culture in the church is real; and until we are honest about that, change will not happen. The powers that be are simply too insistent on keeping things the way they have been.

Further, this problem is, I’m convinced, the fruit of a root complementarian theology that is deserving of a nice sharp axe (look for that post shortly).

Now, the clarifiers:

1. The Non-Complementarian

I’ve received some kind, thoughtful responses from leaders who stand by their hot-wife talk on the grounds that they affirm women at all levels of ministry and a more equal marriage relationship than “conservative complementarians” do. This is an important nuance to add to the conversation, existing mostly in a more charismatic context. Could the public focus on wives’ smoking hotness be offset somewhat by this charismatic egalitarian thrust? Perhaps somewhat. But I still think the public celebrating of wives’ physical appearance/sexiness/body parts automatically lumps you in with the conservative complementarian smokin’ hot crowd, if only by association. That may be an unjust association in some cases, but there is some sense to it. The watching world, and many women in the church, may still see and assume and experience a form of chauvinism/sexism. (Again, I truly appreciate the charity with which these leaders have approached me – they are good people, and I have learned from them, and hopefully gained friends.)

2. The Overreaction

As mentioned, most of the pushback came in the form of, “Chill bro,” with the basic belief that my post was just a giant hippy overreaction. Did I over-generalize and broad-stroke and fear-monger about the eeeeevils of sexy talk? Surely, lots of pastors who may compliment their wives’ good looks in public spaces are just in love with their wives and modeling a positive, healthy married relationship! Surely their congregations are benefiting from the lurrrrve! But here’s the reality: objectification is often subtle, and it can be caught even if it’s not explicitly taught. Allowing for a superficial culture in the church where women feel pressure to cater to “the male gaze”, i.e., seeing their value mainly through men’s pleasure at their physical appearance, makes them feel like less of a person. Men in power who publicly and persistently draw attention to their wives’ physical appearance (even in seemingly lighthearted, innocent ways) send the message that this is the (primary) place of a woman’s value. I’ve now heard from so many women that this is largely a negative when they observe it in their church culture – the gender/power dynamic is incredibly strong.

3. The Rulebook

This clarification pertains to what I think is the biggest misunderstanding of my post that has been recycled over and over this week. And that is the idea that my goal was just to get pastors/Christian men to not compliment their wives’ physical appearance. Like, ever. And definitely not in front of people. In other words, I am just the compliment police, drafting a new legalistic rulebook for holy Christian talking and tweeting. That is not the case! First off, dudes, compliment your wives all you want, and do it however she (truly) likes to be complimented! Even the most super-duper-sexy compliments shared between you are totally legit with Jesus. And smokin’ hot wife talk may even have a place when you are hanging with those nearest and dearest to you and your honey. What I am specifically challenging, though, is the marketing and PR-driven public heralding of your wife’s hotness, as an outworking of your complimentarian bedrock theology and sex-obsessed sermonizing and writing. THIS creates an oppressive, objectifying culture in the church, and that kind of culture is becoming pervasive and normative among evangelicals. Even in the less “cool” churches, this kind of chauvinism is alive and well. AND IT HAS TO STOP.

Till next time.

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About Zach Hoag

Zach J. Hoag is a writer and missional minister from notoriously non-religious New England. He blogs here at Patheos and HuffPost Religion. His book, Nothing but the Blood: The Gospel According to Dexter, released in 2012. Most importantly he binge-watches TV dramas and plays in the snow with his family.

Find him on Twitter & Facebook!

  • EstherEmery

    You’ve added me as a subscriber this week, Zach. Well said, well written and well articulated. Smokin’ hot, really.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      EstherEmery thanks so much Esther :).

  • Wayne Barnard

    Don’t back off, Zach. You’re absolutely correct on every point.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      Wayne Barnard thanks Wayne :).

  • Mark Demers

    Great post, Zach.  My major concern has to do with the attention this sort of post gets.  It smacks of  “fiddlin’ while Rome burns’.  Christianity, like the faith of Abraham, is supposed to be a blessing to the world.  But we keep having to circle back and take care of our own internal stuff – like Paul had to do in I Corinthians 11 regarding the Lord’s Supper.
    Ahhh … but now that I’ve mentioned I Corinthians 11 – Sarah Ruden points out that “the reliability of the Greek text is most controversial on the topic of women”.  Before he talks of the Lord’s Supper in I Corinthians 11, Paul speaks of the importance of a woman to cover her head while praying or prophesying.  Three chapters later, in I Corinthians 14, Paul instructs women to “remain silent in the churches”.  Ruden points out the obvious contradiction between the texts.  It’s one thing to have one’s head covered “while praying or prophesying”; it’s quite another to keep one’s mouth shut.
    Ruden does an excellent job of pointing out the extent to which Paul, and texts attributed to him – even with their apparent contradictions – will go to elevate women toward more equal ground with men.  Given the Greek and Roman context in which these texts are situated, Paul is pushing hard to expand respect for and power to the women of his day.  Were the church to have continued on the path Paul was on, we would have stopped objectifying women, abusing them, underpaying them, devaluing them and limiting their role in church and society eighteen hundred years ago!
    That you wrote this post, and that you got so much response to it, is so disheartening!  No wonder the church struggles!  No wonder people longing for salvation look elsewhere.  No wonder people don’t look to Christianity – in any form (Traditional; Contemporary: Missional; Emergent; whatever …) for hope and healing.  No wonder so many new churches continue to struggle.  People harbor their prejudices under all sorts of banners, and our agendas are not long masked by our contextually cliche catchphrases.
    Three other things … First,  Ruden’s book: “Paul Among the People: The Apostle Reinterpreted and Reimagined in His Own Time”.  You don’t need to read it in order to get to heaven; but it is an excellent read.
    And second …. You – and everybody else who needs to know – will know that Jan and I love each other because of how we treat each other. People are smart enough to see through the “smoke” of empty rhetoric or church announcements designed more to titillate the mind than transform the heart.

    Third – I am grateful for the wisdom and thoughtfulness of your writing.  I like how it “spurs me on toward love, good works …” and deeper thought.

    • http://www.somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | smitten word

      @Mark Demers fiddlin’ while Rome burns? what do you mean exactly?

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      @Mark Demers Hey Mark, thanks for your comment. Appreciate the bookend-compliments, & the Paul/1Cor. stuff is definitely preaching to the choir :).
      I want to push back on your perspective of the post and the response it has received. I understand that we need to get to work in making a better church for the culture around us, but it is just as necessary, at times, to prophetically speak to the “internal” issues in our tribe so that there can be true reform. I have been heartened, humbled, and amazed by the response, which has mainly come from women who have been affected by misogyny in the church, specifically because it means there is truth being spoken and there is hope for change in the evangelical world that many of us identify with. To be silent for the sake of keeping peace would be a great sin. And there are many prophetic voices out there saying the same kinds of things (and better than I ever could) – like suzannah | smitten word.
      Far from delighting (fiddlin’) in the church’s failures, this is giving voice to those who have been oppressed and helping the wider culture to believe that the church can change for the better. I’ve gotten responses from several non-church folks who found the post refreshing and hopeful. This kind of reform is specifically what will begin to draw the world back to the church.
      Lastly, it’s sometimes necessary for some organizations and institutions burn. Even Jesus wrecked the Temple while the world watched – and it burned a few decades later, as he warned. But that was the way to resurrection for the people of God.
      Grace to you, and see you soon!

  • GavinJohnston

    One thing in the post-modern technological age is that something doesn’t feel ‘real’ until it has been seen on the television or commented on in Facebook.  And in a time where it takes the extremes to get noticed, it is no wonder that a Christian blog post that had a title with “smoking hot wives” would garner a lot of attention.  I mean, even God has the flare for the dramatic when he appears in burning bushes, works through talking donkeys, and crucifies His only son.  One of my favorite ministers, Paul Washer, who has a beef with Joel Osteen says that Joel is a punishment from God sent upon his congregation and perhaps in this situation we should pray for the congregation and the wisdom of their leader.  As my salvation continues to work itself out I’ve been amazed that certain things no longer feel right coming out of my mouth.  I used to take pride in my un-prudishness as a liberated superman, but things have changed.  There is such eternal wisdom in just the simple request not to raise one’s voice.  As we realize the extent of our wickedness through our Christ-Consciousness, we not only notice and tackle the gross sins in our lives, but we start to uncover the subtle and barely perceptible sins that rot away at a soul just as much as the deadly ones.  I used to indulge in all the cultural phrases and use them with eloquence and coolness.  I was popular among so many popular people because I was so slick with all that phraseology and mastery of hipness, BUT then I found myself convicted of my sins.  To even have a phrase roll off my lips like “smoking hot” opens up an awful disgust like I’m in the pits of Gehenna.  I do not say that to profess my holiness, but to question the holiness of someone that is comfortable to have such cultural rubbish come out of their mouths.  I think as carnal Christians with our focus more on BELIEF in God versus God-realization that we think with strong belief and understanding of Scripture that we can be carnal in a cultural type of way and still be godly people.  Is there any context in which Jesus could have taken the meaning, connotation, concept and everything associated with a phrase such as “smoking hot” and used it in a loving and meaningful way?  Impossible!  So why would anyone that considers themselves a leader of a congregation think they can rationalize the usage of such a phrase?  There is simply no way to justify it within the context of having Christ in you.  And Zach, I know you are man after God’s own heart and that by using the phrase as the title to your blog posts you were able to use a very cultural technique of bombastic headlines to garner attention.  Brilliant!  As obviously you have brought a lot of attention to the matter, but it is another indicator that sometimes we all have very little time and focus for ‘just another’ blog post.  Who that posted over the last several days has sat down and read the whole Bible from cover to cover?  Perhaps very few because it is boring, difficult, and there are so many more exciting things going on out there.  But put the tagline “smoking hot wife” in a Christian blog post and suddenly hundreds of people have lots of time!  And sitting down and reading the Bible does not make one a better Christian than another, but our inability to do so is indicative of our superficial culture that needs “smoking hot wives” to keep us awake…

  • GavinJohnston

    The term “smoking hot” in reference to a female is a skewed perception of beauty and as biblical Christians we get very little insight into the nature of Beauty especially when it comes to the human body.  And although feminine beauty plays a key role in several OT books, we still do not get a good teaching on what Beauty is say unlike if we were Greek philosophers.  Beauty is an attribute of God and for someone to use the phrase “smoking hot wife” in reference to their beauty is like a little dog humping the leg of God and hence, lust-filled!  None of us would watch television (which I don’t) unless their was a lot of “smoking hotness” on it.  Take the great mini-series “The Tudors” for example.  All the actors were beautiful people and it was a very popular show.  Now, if we were take unattractive actors (a realistic portrayal of the actual people) and use them for the show, it would not have been as popular.  Does that make beauty bad?  No!  Beauty makes us desire that which is perfect!  Perfection is an attribute of God.  An imperfect reflection of Perfection makes some people on the surface more beautiful than others.  But such imperfect reflections of the Divine nature are pointers to God, not ends in themselves and there is nothing in creation that can ever satisfy and perfectly represent beauty other than God.  So if we improperly attach too much meaning to attributes of creation that are merely pointers to the greater perfection of God we end up focusing our adoration too much on the creation and not the Creator.  Our value system then gets based on temporary, relative, and cultural definitions of beauty and other such attributes.  That is why we must not became carnal Christians thinking there is some way to defend the use of “smoking hot” in relation to one of God’s creations…

  • Tom

    I’ve actually been discussing this article with friends. I disagree with the article, but don’t feel as though it’d contribute to the conversation to rehash it all here. :)
    I do just want to say one thing about a selection effect though: be wary about counting all of the comments from women as justifying your position. Given the medium in which it was posted (Huff Post), I think you’re going to overwhelmingly draw from a very specific subset of females who are naturally going to agree with your position. I’d be a little more cautious about counting their anecdotal comments as justification for your position as you’re not drawing from a neutral source.
    Thanks for the conversations though! More conversation is almost always a good thing.

    • http://www.somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | smitten word

      @Tom um, who is a “neutral source,” exactly? the penis-clad variety? you?

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      @Tom actually, the vast majority of those comments were made here on the blog, before Huffington picked it up. But calling those voices a “specific subset” only reveals your own bias and does nothing to delegitimate their perspective. Neutral source? Please.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      @Tom One last thing: the post is based on my own, personal experience. I have even once held the position in question and “converted” away from it. If anyone knows both sides, it’s the author. My experience is justification enough, and the experience of those harmed is justification enough.

      • Tom

        Pretty sad the offensive presumptions and straw men proposed as a response to a mere helpful correction to potentially poor usage of anecdotal evidence
        suzannah | smitten word : Not at all. Rather, I mean that element of the female population that would readily disagree with the article. Their anecdotal comments are vilified (as in the girl’s tweet several blog posts back). If you’re going to make claims about a population based on anecdotes, you’ve got to try to make them representative. That’s all.
        zachhoag : I don’t know much about your blog so I’m not sure whether it would suffer a similar selection effect. If not, great; feel free to disregard my comment. As for bias, you can believe whatever you want: including making baseless presumptions about my supposed “bias” based on a mere comment whose goal was to be helpfully corrective to a possible reasoning error.
        Never mind the fact that of my 20 years in the church, 13 of those were spent under the guidance of a female Sr. and Associate pastor, 4 of which were spent as a youth pastor directly under their leadership. Never mind the fact that I’m not complementarian in my theology, but much closer to the A.J. Swaboda listed on your blog roll (who happens to be a part of my religious movement). Nah; none of that matters. I’m male so I’ve obviously got a bias. Okay.
        Much love to each of you. Good luck having meaningful conversations in the future.

        • Tom

          suzannah | smitten word zachhoag
          And just to illustrate what I was saying: counting the voices of Huff Post readers as evidence for perceived harmful reinforcement of gender roles is a little bit like counting the voices of Fox news as evidence for a positive perception of the War in Iraq.

        • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

          @Tom suzannah | smitten word Tom, I was responding to your comment and the information you presented in it. Nothing more. You said you disagreed – that’s fine! But you asserted that the responses I’ve referenced are somehow biased (and this supports your disagreement). False! That’s not productive – asserting bias and dismissing a point of view. It would be more productive for you to state your disagreement.
          I’m glad for your affiliations, but I was not responding to that. I was responding to your comment.

        • Tom

          zachhoag suzannah | smitten word 
          Unfortunately, Zach, no you weren’t. :) Nothing about my comment supported your baseless accusation of bias or dismissive tone.
          I think you’ve misread my post. My statement of disagreement was merely autobiographical; it wasn’t supposed to be connection to my discussion of selection bias. The latter was not proposed as evidence for the former, but merely meant to bring a corrective to potentially false usage of anecdotes.
          Selection bias doesn’t delegitimze perspectives. It merely calls out whether a particular source is more likely to overrepresent a particular subset than another. And anyone familiar with Huff Post (or Fox News, or the Daily Show, etc.) will see this as obvious.
          I’m not saying Huff Post respondents are any more or less biased than anyone else. But I’d bet that certain belief structures are more represented than others. And thus, it wouldn’t be surprising to me if the comments you’ve received gave a false impression of overwhelming support for the article when the truth is that there are women on both sides of the debate.
          There’s a reason the article wasn’t posted on DesiringGod.com, right?

        • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

          @Tom I’m not going to keep hashing this out, but again, the comments were made HERE not on HuffPo. Also, let’s  not play word games: the issue is whether YOU think the responses are biased. If not, seems strange to go through the effort of commenting.
          Peace!

        • Tom

          zachhoag:That’s fine. I already said that my comment may not apply in that case.
          The issue isn’t about me at all. The issue is about a well-known and documented problem with anecdotal evidence as well as unrepresentative sampling:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selection_bias#Sampling_bias
          But now that you mention it, I do question whether it was worth the effort posting on a blog where discussion of rational warrant for a belief is mere “word games.” And where questioning an objective reasoning flaw brings not recognition of the error, but discussion of “penis-clad” perspectives.
          My bad for failing to condense such a simple topic to 140 characters.

        • http://www.somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | smitten word

          @Tom the way you characterized women agreeing with zach as being incapable of neutrality came across as dismissive, condescending–and kinda sexist. i pushed back because it sounded like you were inferring that male perspectives are objective/neutral while female perspectives are subjective/biased.
          i think perhaps you’re looking for something this medium never promised. nobody is objective, and this blog doesn’t aim to present the the final say on anything, but i do think it’s a little strange that you’re so offended by this (surely unrepresentative!!) glimpse into how many women perceive and receive christianized machismo and objectifying bravado.

        • Tom

          suzannah | smitten word : I can definitely see how you could think that. I wrote my post rather quickly and it could have been inferred that I was referring to all female perspectives as biased/not neutral rather than a subset of the female perspectives. And biased/not neutral isn’t even the best word I could’ve used; I meant rather that they were likely unrepresentative.
          So, in essence, my point is merely that the collection of anecdotes is not representative of female perspectives in general, but is probably skewed towards that part that already agrees with the post. And thus they are not good independent grounds for believing the post. That’s all. There are plenty of female perspectives on the other side: they see no problem with the language, and even receive as welcoming and corrective of past church dichotomies between sacred/secular, physical/spiritual, etc.
          As to your last point, I’m not offended by the article in the least. I’m not offended by the opposing female perspective at all. My offense comes from the blatant ad hominem and uncharitable response to a mere suggestion about a possible selection effect.

        • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

          @Tom suzannah | smitten word Tom, now you’re just being dramatic and incorrigible. You chose to comment and express disagreement and suggest bias. Now you are crying foul because I pushed back on your assertion. You still won’t honestly explain the content of your own opinion and we are like 7 comments into this thing. So, as the one who runs this blog: either explain your disagreement with the original post, or please move on. Thanks.

        • http://www.somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | smitten word

          @Tom i appreciate hearing your clarification, and i’d agree that not all women are put off by the “smokin’ hot” pulpit language. that pretty much goes without saying–we are kinda diverse like that;)
          but i’d argue that those kind of public declarations focusing on a woman’s physical beauty and sexual desirability are *still* objectifying and inappropriate from christian leaders–even if the man intends to be affirming and/or the woman likes the attention. those comments are off-putting (and even harmful) to an audience because they reinforce rather than subvert a cultural narrative that says a woman’s primary value lies in her body and how she attracts men. you don’t have to believe it, but words are powerful to create and destroy. we who worship the Word-made-flesh should know that best of all.
          you mentioned the ways the Church has fallen short by divorcing the sacred from the “secular” and elevating the spiritual over the physical (and severing the two). Absolutely and AMEN. you and i are 100% on the same page there, but this kind of language (oriented around the male gaze) can be dehumanizing rather than a way to correctively emphasize that our bodies and sexuality are good and holy, created to honor God and one another. spoken from a podium or tweeted, it sounds like the language of a frat house or a construction site, not the language of honoring a woman bearing the imago dei. spoken in the bedroom, it’s a different story. it’s not the words so much as the context that is objectionable (and objectifying).

        • Tom

          suzannah | smitten word : Thank you as well for your clarification. Your response mirrors my friend’s response and I think this is the crucial area of disagreement: whether these comments need to be read as suggesting that a woman’s PRIMARY value is in her body/appearance.
          I just don’t see that that needs to be the case. While certainly that may be the underlying presumptions of some, I don’t think such comments need to necessarily be so. Those comments–especially when balanced with other compliments regarding character, intelligence, etc.–can merely be an attempt to redeem the church’s past failure in regards to sexual teaching. They can be seen as directly attacking three false views: 1) The badness of physical creation, 2) The badness of women and their bodies, and 3) The inappropriateness of marital love and attraction.
          These (as you are aware) are three specific views the church has held (and continues to hold). And they’re unbiblical! A pastor can be using these comments about a smokin’ hot wife to directly attack all three of these views: directly affirming the goodness of creation, the goodness of women and the beauty of their bodies, and the appropriateness of being extremely physically attracted to your spouse. They can set the example for how the husband should routinely compliment his wife, value her highly, and value her body (but not only her body). It can directly undermine the view that a woman’s beauty is evil or something to be feared or that sex is somehow bad or that we need to be understated in our physical appetites (as opposed to spiritual appetites).
          I’m sure you may concede the above points but argue that there may be a better way to attack these points. And you’re probably correct. But why not do both? I’m not defending all of these pastors who do these things; I don’t know many of them. I just don’t see why such comments necessarily have to be bad. And I see the above great goods potentially being served by such comments.

        • Tom

          zachhoag 
          Zach, the very fact that you’re falsely representing my protests as being against your assertions (rather than your tone and presumptions) just confirms that you still don’t get what I’m even saying.
          I’ve responded to Suzannah with an outline of my position, which you’re free to comment on. But I’m not particularly interested in staying around here if your posts are an example of the discussion.

        • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

          @Tom Oh brother. Tom, your comment to Suzannah above finally makes clear what both of us already knew (but you were too dodgy to admit) – you are down with the hot-wife preachers!
          See, we didn’t have to go through all of that business about ‘unrepresentative sampling’ and wikipedia yada yada because your own bias is clear. 
          Unfortunately, now I’m too tired to engage your argument, but in the future, instead of being dodgy, speak your mind, sir – in the first comment.

        • Tom

          zachhoag : LOL! I thought that was implied by my very first sentence expressing disagreement with the post.
          My comment about unrepresentative sampling is unconnected to my position. It’s an objective reasoning error involved in anecdotal evidence. That fact that you continually try to dismiss it as a product of my position just underscores that you don’t get it. Even if I agreed with you, the sampling bias is still potentially present. I’m not saying people that agree with you are biased. I’m saying they’re an UNREPRESENTATIVE SAMPLE of the multitude of female views on the topic. The fact that Suzannah recognizes this very basic fact while you continue to try to skirt it just shows that you’re not interested in genuine conversation.
          I wasn’t interested in giving my view; I’ve already discussed the topic to death with reasonable friends. I wasn’t being dodgy, but to-the-point. You just simply didn’t care about my main point and wanted to get to YOUR main point. Unfortunately, that is not the mark of good listening.
          I’m sure your marked ability to listen charitably, engage reasonably, evaluate your own arguments critically, and communicate effectively will serve you well in your future communication career.

        • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

          @Tom I’m interested in genuine conversation/disagreement/etc. however strong it may be. I’m not interested in disingenuous, leading, and pointless comments that belittle my readers. Bye.

  • http://abnormalanabaptist.wordpress.com/ tristaanogre

    Okay… let me add a twist to things here…
    I do not hold up a “smoking hot wife” as an example of any sort.  My wife I do not hold up as an example of how much I appreciate my wife as a “complement” to my awesome leadership.  If anything else, my wife humbles me and brings me down to reality and shows me how lowly I am… and that is not derogatory (i.e., a nagging wife) but is truth and what I depend on to keep me real.
    I do not hold up a “smoking hot wife”, either, as an example of someone who is a leader in her own right and a female minister, comfortable in her “hotness” in that position, either.  My wife, really, doesn’t aim for leadership and doesn’t have that desire.  And NO…that is not me the “penis owner” saying that and she’s not “deluded” and “brainwashed” by the patriarchy…
    Let me clarify something… if you look at my wife right now, this moment, this second… she is no smoking hottie.  My wife has been ravaged by surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation for the past 7 months as she’s been battling off the curse of cancer (and winning AMAZINGLY mind you) so, when it comes to being a “smoking hottie”, she would be the first to say she is not.
    So, what do I hold up?  I hold up a courageous woman who defies the fraility of being a human subject to disease and continues to live strongly in the face of the immense challenges of the past half year.  And not only does she exhibit an amazing strength, but through it all, she has pointed to Jesus, to God, to her faith as her support and standard.  She puts the “joy” in “consider it pure joy”.  She puts the “blessed” in “blessed are the poor in spirit/mourners/meek”.  She puts me to shame.  
    What do I hold up?  I hold up a woman who has gone through hell and back and any man who says that women are not strong enough to lead, not strong enough to minister, not strong enough to do what is needed to move God’s kingdom forward has not met my wife.
    Any man can hold up a smoking hottie of a wife and say look at how beautiful she is.  Only a man who is truly humbled by a courageous wife can hold up her broken body and say “look at how beautiful she is.”
    This subtle objectification, Zach, that you point out is rampant.  And we need to, we men, who have strong, courageous, Christ-like wives who put us to shame on a regular basis need to step down from our place of privilege and shout to the world, “My wife is better than me.  I gain no status from her.   She is her own and I am put to shame by her.  She was not found worthy to be my wife.  Quite the contrary, I am unworthy to be her husband.”
    I have come to an amazing epiphany just today.  You know how Paul writes to husbands to love their wives, as Christ loved the church?  It’s not because we are somehow better than our wives, somehow more worthy.  It is not because, like Christ, we men are somehow more perfect and, therefore, give up our perfection for them.   It is because, like Jesus prayed in the garden, we are to be one.  Jesus wanted oneness with his followers as Jesus and the Father are one.  And marriage points to this oneness.  As Christ and the church are one, husbands and wives are one.   There is no “stronger” or “weaker” person in the marriage.  We are one.  And it is out of this oneness that I feel confident to hold her up and show her to the world, not because she’s a smoking hottie, but because in our oneness she is showing how much better of a person we are together than either one of us is alone.
    I know this all seems like a bunch of rambling.  And I know that some of this could be taken as a complementarian view. But if you have experienced what we have experienced these last 7 months together, there would be no doubt.  My wife and I are one.  Neither one is above the other.  Neither one “leads” the other.  We are one.  Jesus is the head of our marriage.  We are one with each other and one with him.  

    So, I give you my broken wife and say, “Look at us… we are one.  Look at how beautiful we are together.”  What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      tristaanogre dude, THIS. Thank you for sharing this amazingness. I don’t think this is pointing to anything theologically “complementarian” – I think it is an experiential example of gospel mutuality and oneness. My wife, like yours, has no desire/gifting for church ministry, and the topic usually produces eyerolls and gagging motions :). She is, however, the most intuitively missional, spiritual, & caring woman I have ever met, abounding in spiritual gifts like discernment, etc. And that’s precisely the point – an environment of true equality allows everyone to be exactly who they are, and who they are in Christ. In the hard complementarian church culture we spent time in, she was stifled, demeaned, and suppressed. And any woman in that church called to preach and teach was firmly put down. 
      So, thanks man. 
      And, prayers for you and your wonderful bride.

      • http://abnormalanabaptist.wordpress.com/ tristaanogre

        zachhoag tristaanogre Thanks, man…  We’re almost done…  5 more days of radiation and we’re DONE, praise be…
        And keep it up here, man… you’ve got good stuff here on the Nuance.

      • http://abnormalanabaptist.wordpress.com/ tristaanogre

        zachhoag Oh, and BTW… feel free to use my stuff above…  One of the things that my wife and I committed to years ago, before we were even married, was that our life together would exemplify and point people to God… My words are not my own if they are used for the kingdom.

        • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

          tristaanogre thanks, will do.

    • Bev Murrill

      tristaanogre this is a powerful picture of what Jesus envisions marriage to be. It’s far more powerful than the trite verbiage/male (or female) posturing that this article is about.

  • Bev Murrill

    One then wonders how the women who are not ‘smokin’ hot’ feel. I mean the women who have a baby or three and are struggling to be what their genre requires. Many of these preachers also speak in a way that allows us to infer that if the lady in question doesn’t stay smokin’ hot, their godly husband has every right to look elsewhere. The shame that is triggered, coupled with the fear of failure and fear of losing him, etc. inevitably collides with his own shame that his wife is now not as smokin’ hot as his colleagues… I’ve known ministry marriages to break up over this. Ugly. Ugly. Ugly.

    • http://zhoag.com/ zachhoag

      Bev Murrill  so ugly.


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