When Jesus began his ministry he brought a whole new Kingdom that turned the old way of thinking upside down. I like to think of this like the hyper-religious were standing on the a glass floor. Jesus came on the scene and began to use words that shattered the glass, smash by smash. He engaged people who were deemed untouchable. He elevated the outcasts of society. He proved again and again that in this new economy, this new Kingdom, things were going to look very different and he simultaneously proved that he was worthy of making such lofty statements. I also like to think that as the glass floor shattered, those who saw the light and began following Jesus realized that something so fragile as glass wasn’t fit for standing on in the first place, and that Jesus was offering a solid ground on which they could not only stand, but build this new Kingdom that he spoke of.
I think that in many ways this is continually happening to me in my walk with Jesus. I’ll be walking along in a way of thinking I’ve always embraced, not questioning for a second what I’ve been taught, and then BAM, I’m hit with a truth that changes everything. Jesus shatters the floor to reveal the sold ground of the truth that has just sunk in and challenges almost everything I’ve ever thought about the subject. He shows me more of the Kingdom he brought when he came on the scene and teaches me how to live it out.
I recently read a blog post that showed me that young women in the Church are being told that in order to be preferred by a young man, they should be careful of a few decisions they might make while young, namely acquiring college debt, having physical relationships with boyfriends, and choosing to get tattoos. Three very specific qualities have been laid before young women and requested of them on behalf of young men looking for wives.
Needless to say, I think we should be past this kind of thinking. I am a woman of God who believes in His Word, and while those who urge young women in these ideals do so to earnestly guide them in Truth, I believe it is mislead and even sometimes harmful. I’ve spent over six years living in residence life at a Christian college. I served as a resident assistant and a Resident Director on staff for the university so I was deeply invested in women’s issues on our campus and if I were still living in Residence Life, I would have the privilege of saying these things to young women face-to-face.
I could spend a lot of time on each of these three aspects of the “woman after a Godly man’s heart” (debt, sexuality, tattoos) but I think it’s more constructive to address the overall tone and point of such thinking. I believe this way of addressing young women keeps them in darkness that we should be fighting tooth and nail to bring them out of. When I read Men prefer debt-free virgins without tattoos, I see a lot of shame and lies being perpetuated, to the tune of the following:
- Your primary value is found in your role as a wife to your future husband.
- Proof of your value to your Creator lies in the person, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (Mt. 10.31, Romans 5.8)
- You should make decisions (down to whether or not to go to college) based on the likelihood that a man will approve, find you appealing, and want to make you his wife.
- A believer should exercise wisdom from Scripture and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit when making decisions. (Proverbs 2) This is easier said than done.
- Your history of sexual sin will make or break your ability to find a husband.
- I struggle not to write a whole new post about this lie, but countless stories of redemption in the lives of my personal friends and Sisters in Christ prove it completely false.
I could go on with more lies and shame I hear coming from this article, but three is enough to make my point.
Ask This Question
Why should the women care what men (in general) prefer? I think this is an important question to ask. From personal experience, the season in which I was focused most heavily on what men want was a season of instability, self-doubt, and upside-down theology in regards to marriage and relationships in general. I look at the blessing that my marriage is today and I am grateful that my husband met me beyond the season in which I was preoccupied with the preferences of the men in my life. He met me in a season when I was overwhelmed by God’s grace and keeping him more and more central to everything.
Don’t hear what I’m not saying. A young woman who has a desire to be a wife and mother early in life is completely worthy of respect and dignity of this calling. And oh, what a dignified and undervalued calling that is in our day-and-age! However, I think that the Christian woman should pursue that life if she chooses. To assume that life as a young wife and mother is ideal for all women of God is ultimately harmful to women in general. This isn’t about being “with the times” or being a “more modern woman.” It’s about becoming resilient to shame in a culture that says a woman can only honor God via one path and that through any other path she cannot possible honor Him with her life.
Re-Writing the Rose Sermon
My freshmen year in college I saw a video of a sermon that I’m reminded of as we have this conversation. The pastor held a rose and he told the story of a woman living a very promiscuous life. With each relationship and failed love in which she gave all of herself, a petal is taken off of the rose. By the end of the story, the rose is tattered and worn and unrecognizable and the pastor asks the question, “Who in the world wants a rose like this?” and after an appropriate pause, he says, “Jesus. Jesus wants the rose.”
With that, my thoughts about the connection between technical purity and worthiness changed forever. The glass floor was shattered and I began to stand on the solid ground of God’s love and His desire to love the broken.
Before hearing this sermon, I’d heard similar sermons and talks but the ending was always very different.The message ends after the question because the implied answer is, “No one.”
No one wants a flower that is all picked apart and withered.
Church, may we be people who say, “Jesus wants the rose.” He wants to rose with her debt, her past, her tattoos, and the like. I can’t think of any reason why I would seek to communicate another story but one of redemption and hope for the future, no matter the condition of the past.