This guest post was written by Sara Roberts Jones.
A small gold bell above the front door rang, announcing a new customer. A young woman stepped into the richly-decorated interior of the Christian Patriarchy Shop.
The shopkeeper, dressed in a tailored dark suit, leaned over the polished oak and marble counter. “Welcome! If you want life the way God wants life, you’ve come to the right place! How may I help you?”
The woman smiled tentatively. “Hi. I’m looking for a new one of these. I was told I had to get it here.”
She laid a large purse on the counter top. It was dark leather. Stamped on the front in faded yellow letters was:
“I just turned twenty-two,” she added. “I’m ready for a bigger one.”
The shopkeeper smiled. “I’ve got exactly what you need!” He opened a cabinet and withdrew another bag. It was much larger. Engraved into its smooth leather surface in flowing silver letters was:
“This is ideal for a woman in your situation,” he explained. “See how much bigger it is. There’s a special pocket here to store your heart — I assume you locked it away in a box and you’ve given the key to your father?”
“And you’ll see that this bag has lots of different sections. Here’s where you put your church ministry, here’s where you add your advanced homemaking skills, and don’t forget to fill up this baby pocket with lots and lots of longing! You can’t start wanting babies too soon.”
She examined the bag with interest. “It’s lovely, but I’m not sure it’s everything I need. I really love working in the yard…”
“You can put that with homemaking skills!”
“… and I’m really good at organizing events…”
“Church ministry! But you’ll need to tuck it way down so it doesn’t spill over.”
“And … to be honest, I really want to learn to fly a plane. I’ve looked into being a private pilot.”
The man paused. Then he cleared his throat. “I don’t think there’s really room for something like that. You could get your father to authorize an add-on for missions, but I’ll be honest with you, it’s bulky and doesn’t really fit.”
“But my brother’s accommodates all of that!”
“The men’s line is designed a little differently, of course.”
She fingered the soft leather. “I’d noticed. Well, anyway, this won’t really work for me, because I’m getting married this summer.”
The clerk’s face lit up with excitement. “Really? Oh, you should have told me that to start with! You don’t need this old thing.” He swept the bag off the counter. Opening another cabinet door, he withdrew a leather bag so large that it took two arms to lift it onto the counter top.
It was made of leather, dyed deep red and purple, and fastened with brass. Surrounded by intricate scrollwork were real gold letters spelling out:
“This is everything you need!” the clerk exclaimed. “Look at this capacity–you’ll never run out of space to serve! Huge section here for children, just look at your household work space! And right here–almost the entire middle section–is dedicated to your husband. You’ll have a lifetime job just filling this up!”
He looked at her expectantly, but she didn’t seem to share his enthusiasm. “There’s no room here for piloting a plane. Or organizing events. What about knowing God? I was hoping that my new bag would have a lot of space for that.”
“That’s the great thing about the patriarchy design,” the salesman said. “Watch this.”
He walked around to the front of the counter and opened two large double doors on the front. Using both hands, he extracted a rolling leather bag, reinforced with steel and decorated with images of swords. “This is the married man’s bag. It’s extra-double capacity because once a man is married, he’s basically responsible for everything relating to his wife and family. Pretty hefty weight to carry. Aren’t you glad you don’t have to worry about all this?”
“Well, I could help carry it.”
“Oh, no! This isn’t designed for a woman! But let me show you the best feature here.” He opened the man’s bag. Then he picked up the woman’s bag and tucked it inside. “See? It fits right there in the section for ‘spiritual maturity.’ As long as you keep all your things there, you’ll know everything you need to about God.”
She pointed to a small zip pocket on the side of the woman’s leather bag. “What’s that for?”
The salesman’s smile was bright. “You just stuff all your bad feelings in there and zip it up. That’s the feature that makes our design workable.”
The woman stood silently, taking it all in. Then she burst out, “But I don’t want to put all my stuff in there! And that’s way too heavy for my fiancé! What happens if I have too much to fit? Or if his bag tears open?”
The clerk was no longer smiling. “I thought you were a serious customer.”
“I am! There’s just some serious flaws in your design.”
“Excuse me. It’s not my design. It’s God’s design. This is the way it works. You can go shopping at some other bag shop, but I warn you, those will rip open when you’re least expecting it. You’ll lose everything.”
She cleared her throat. “Just curious … have you ever used the woman’s bag to see how it really works?”
The salesman gave a short, derisive laugh. “Well, no. I don’t think God even uses it. He’s male too, you know. So, can I ring you up?”
“I … think I need to think about it.”
“Just realize that if you walk out of here, you walk away from this exclusively-designed line … and away from the God who designed it!”
The woman shouldered her small bag again. “I think I saw God in some other places. He really seems too big to fit in here, actually. And so am I.”
She turned and left the shop.
About Sara Roberts Jones
Sara Roberts Jones is an author and blogger who writes about bad theology, ordinary life, and making fun of things that deserve it. Her debut novel, The Fellowship, explores spiritual abuse and the search for grace. She blogs at SaraRobertsJones.com.