By chance, I live in a very conservative, Christian state in the Midwest. I am a Christian, but I am not too conservative. I am what many call a "Christian liberal." (I can sense the eye rolls from some of you already.) Being more liberally-minded, while also a Christian, I am often caught between two worlds. I believe in a few basic tenets that I strive to impart unto my children: Jesus loved us. Jesus died for us. We should try really really hard to be like Jesus as best we can. For my kids (5 and under), that pretty much sums up our Christian philosophy. However, it is not this simple, and we do have to navigate through some choppy waters with our kids.
Last week, my 3-year old daughter asked, "Can girls marry girls and boys marry boys?" I paused for about 3 seconds... and then said, "Yes. People can marry any person they love." She seemed very content with my answer, even running to tell her older brother: "Girls can marry girls and boys can marry boys!" to which he responded, "Ok, cool" and returned to his Legos.
For us, the homosexuality debate within a Christian household, a Christian culture, is a personal issue. I don't feel overly inspired to argue my points into the ground. For those of who think homosexuality is a sin and feel that gay people should not be allowed to marry, I disagree with you. However, if you support your beliefs with biblical text and / or you appear to be a remotely kind, loving human being who just feels differently than I do, I don't disrespect you. I am saddened by this mindset because I do believe it discriminates against men and women who live and work alongside us, but I do actually see your side. I just don't agree. It is pretty black and white.
There was another conservative Christian argument I heard the other day, however, that I do not respect. I am fired up. I am ready to voice my very frustrated and frankly bewildered response. I was experiencing the very rare opportunity of driving alone in my car -- no kids -- while doing errands. Flipping through the radio, I heard a pastor preaching, and for some reason, felt compelled to stop and listen. I actually do listen to conservative Christian radio on occasion, mostly to really try to hear the other side. I want to educate myself and feel strong in my convictions about what I believe and what philosophies I am passing on to my children. So sometimes I do stop and listen to pastors who, I know, are going to ruffle my feathers and make blanket statements about Christianity that I think are flat wrong. But it is good to listen anyway.
This well-known pastor was from California, and started with his "homosexuality is a sin and is going to cause the demise of the human race" speech, which really did not present any new thoughts or ideas I had not heard before. But it was his next sermon that floored me. He asserted that women, if truly Christian and following the teachings of the Bible, should marry, obey their husbands, and stay in the home tending to their children. That is all they should do. That is all they were meant to do.
Well, as a woman, and a Christian, a CHRISTIAN WOMAN, who IS married AND a stay-at-home mom by choice, I felt a long list of emotions hearing this. First, I was offended at the value he was placing on all women. Nothing gets my face redder than hearing that women should "obey" their husbands. My husband I have a mutual level of respect, admiration, tolerance, patience, and support for each other. I don't "obey" him anymore than he "obeys" me because, frankly, we are not children. Or puppies. Also, the idea that ALL women should serve in this role and only this role is not only oppressive, but it honestly does not make any sense. So, Pastor, I have some response questions for you.
In your ideal "biblical" world, where NO women work outside of the home, how does society function? I don't have to guess -- I am pretty confident that you believe there should be no female police officers, doctors, lawyers, construction workers, soldiers, etc., so I will skip that debate. But, in your utopia, are there only men ringing up our groceries? Are there only male nurses caring for our children? Or the mothers bearing the children? Are there only male teachers? Are there only men working in offices or banks, managing crucial paperwork and transactions? I am honestly baffled by this concept. How does your visionary society function? Everywhere I go, there are women. Important women. Working.
And then the momma bear -- mother of a daughter -- comes raging out. You are passionately telling girls that their ONLY option, if they are true to Christ, is to get married, have babies, and not work. That girl who wants to be a nurse and care for sick babies. That girl who wants to teach, to inspire, to reach out and save the child ready to give up on life by giving him a book, touching his shoulder, and telling him he is worth something. That girl who wants to start a non-profit organization that will bring clean water and medicine to families -- CHRISTIAN families around the world. No, you are saying to them. You aren't meant for that. Our world does not need women doing wasteful non-Christlike things like saving people, teaching people, helping people. Heavens, no. Jesus would NOT approve of that work.
I try to see your perspective. Has having my children brought me closer to God? Yes. It is a miracle. All three of them are miracles, gifts from God, for which I am grateful. And I am thankful that I was granted the choice of whether to work or stay home with them. And I believe I made the right choice for my family. But there are devout, good Christian mothers who work and there are abusive, cruel mothers who don't. I ask you to simply look around your world as you walk through each day and notice all of the women in every building you enter, on every street you pass by, in every facet of our society. Excuse the cliche, Pastor, but women -- mothers -- CHRISTIAN wives and mothers -- are making the world go round.
Being a stay at home mom does not define how "good" of a Christian a woman is. Just as being a Christian does not define how "good" of a mother a woman is. Honestly, Pastor, when I hear these impassioned sermons, I have a hard time with the fact that we claim to follow the same Jesus.
My God loves my daughter and he sent Jesus down her for her. And when she is grown, if she works as an attorney like her daddy, he will love her. But if she quits the workforce and stays home with her kids, he will love her. And no sermon of yours is going to take that choice away from her.