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Sh*t church women say

I can write this because I used to be one of these church women.  I was in leadership, I was married to a pastor, I was a mentor to younger women, I taught classes for women discipleship.
I can write this because it was too risky to speak up about the problems in my marriage.  Because “submission” was a word that my husband and I argued about.  Because when I asked other church-women for clarity about “submission,” they sided with my husband.
And so, because it was too risky, I adhered to the patriarchal narrative of submission and silence.  I encouraged other women to do the same.
Here’s a list of sh*t that I have heard church women say to me and things that I, in turn, have said to others:
  • Submission means that your husband is the ultimate authority in the home.  He is the one responsible to God for you and the family.  You should defer to him in major decisions.  In real life, I cried and fought and spoke my mind until I realized that it was no use and he was going to do whatever he wanted anyway.  I learned silence.
  • Sex is for your husband.  Again, you should submit sexually.
  • If there are issues in your marriage, take it to God in prayer.  Don’t bother your husband with your petty, nagging concerns.
  • Long hair is the glory of a woman.  This is in the Bible somewhere, probably KJV, and taken all kind of out-of-context.  Men like long hair on women so look how he wants you to look.  
  • Don’t cause men to stumble.  This means that you are responsible for men’s sexual morality.  Your sinful behavior, flirting, provocative dress is the culprit.
  • And when I was questioning my own marriage:  God did not call you to be happy.  He called you to be obedient.
Side note:  I found another blog about beauty tips for young women and this is what she said, “Yes, God looks on the heart… but that doesn’t erase the fact that the world is looking on the outside. Is your external appearance healthy, radiant, and beautiful in a meek and quiet way? Or, do you neglect the outside thinking it’s too vain?  God cares the most about what’s in your heart, that inner radiance. But He also desires to have young women representing Him that are caring for, and properly adorning what He has already given them.”
Gag. 
These next few are things are direct quotes from a website (an older woman “mentoring” younger women):
  • “The woman is the stabilizer in the home. She sets the emotional climate in the marriage. You will need the Lord to stabilize your emotions throughout the day.”
  • “In communicating with your husband, make suggestions with options—not commands. He is not a child. This approach will promote a more favorable response from him, if used consistently.”
  • “Men want to relax at home. Make your home a haven—a refuge from the world and its demands. They do not consider “heavy” discussions relaxing, whereas women enjoy analyzing and talking about relationships. Instead, fulfill this need by seeking out women friends who are of like mind in the Lord for meaningful discussions.”
  • “Don’t put all your emotional needs on your husband”
  • “Be on your knees daily”  Ha!  That one meant prayer but it was too funny to leave out.
  • Think before speaking. Never let your tongue run loose.”
  • “Adultery does not necessarily lead to divorce.”  Translation: if he cheats, forgive.
  • “It’s okay to tell your husband what’s bothering you ONCE—maybe twice—but try not to mention it after that.”
  • “Try not to involve third parties in your marriage problems, if possible. It makes it harder to resolve things between you two.”  Wow, this woman is confirming everything I wrote earlier!
  • “Where there is verbal abuse, remind yourself that GOD LOVES YOU!”
  • “Men don’t want their wives talking to others about the marriage relationship. Try not to do this.”
  • “When things are tense at home, sometimes SILENCE is the answer.”
And on, and on, and on, and on…
I’ll tell you, as I was reading through her list, I was feeling little twinges of pain.  I believed these things for so long.  I was told them over and over again.  I believed that this was God’s truth.  It makes me so sad for younger me.  It makes me so sad for the women that I taught and mentored.  It makes me sad for the women who stay in abusive relationships because of these beliefs.  –the children in those relationships.  –the women who never know that they were created to be strong, whole, impassioned leaders in their communities.
We were not created for doormat submission and silence.
Thoughts from you women that have heard or taught these things but have changed?
How did you make the shift?  How do you honor yourself and others/partner now?
until soon,
b.

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