women bible

I’ve been reading a hashtag on twitter today called #WhyIDidn’tReport. It’s about rape. More than one woman (and a few men) tweeted the myriad reasons why they didn’t report their sexual assaults to the police. More than one is one too much. I was left on the verge of tears – shocked and dismayed that so many have been silenced, emotionally abused, manipulated, and violated in every possible way, not only by their rapists, but by police, family members, and those who are supposed to care about them. I wanted to reach into the future and wrap my future daughter in a blanket of love and a blaze of terrifying anger that would be soft enough to cushion her and hot enough to sear those who would try to hurt her. I saw the pain, and I tried for a moment, to empathise, knowing that I will never fully understand. One tweet caught my eye in particular. A young lady mentioned that her abusers had been popular members of her youth group at church, and she didn’t report because she knew no one would believe her or they would try and protect her abusers.
I have a problem with the word ho. I take umbrage with the word slut. I haven’t always been this way. My 16 year old self would casually refer to other young women as ho’s. I could say the intent wasn’t malicious, that my teenage mind was regurgitating the waste I’d absorbed from rap (and rock) videos and conversations I’d heard on the double decker that took me to and from school. I don’t want to let my 16 year old self off that easily though. The intent was malicious, if only because it came from a place of elevating myself above these other young women – I was Christian and virginal and rigorous (probably not enough) with the criteria for the young men I allowed to so much as hold my hand. My Daddy was at home and very much involved in my life. My family wasn’t perfect but there was love there, and protection, and although I yearned for male approval the same way that any 16 year old dark skinned, kinky haired girl who isn’t sure that she’s not ugly does, there was love there. So many of the 16 year old girls who I mistakenly called hos didn’t have that love there.
But some of them did. They just made choices that were different to mine. I don’t know whether they thought they were the baddest thing out of South East London or whether they needed a man to tell them so, I just know that they made choices that were different to mine. They weren’t in my opinion, wise choices, or even morally good choices, but that didn’t give me the right to use derogatory language and define their whole personhood based on those choices.
I don’t like labeling myself as feminist. As a self described fairly conservative Christian, I definitely wouldn’t be called a sex-positive feminist by most. I do understand though, that they are somewhat correct when they accuse the church (and I want to differentiate between the church and Christianity) of having issues with women and sexuality. I do know that men in church are ‘allowed’ to be promiscuous and preach from pulpits. I know that women who are promiscuous are shamed in ways that men aren’t. I know that pastors sexually abuse women, and sleep with multiple women in their congregations and don’t get given the P45’s they deserve. I know that despite having awesome parents and a Dad who tells me that “a woman’s place is wherever she wants to be”, I still managed to absorb this strange notion that men were sexual, and I was kinda half sexual, and Jesus is little bit more ok with men sleeping with multiple women than me sleeping with multiple men.
This is part of the reason why women in church don’t report sexual abuse. Because we aren’t supposed to be sexual anyway. Because we’ve heard ridiculous things from the pulpit about ‘good men’ who became pastors and were somehow ‘trapped’ by short skirted Jezebels in church clothing who corrupted them, as if a man in a position of power has no agency. Because people in church will tell you that he is a ‘man of God’ and God is a God of forgiveness and so you shouldn’t report him(or her) to the police, but keep it ‘in house’. Because when I was 8 and one of the deacons at church sat me on his lap and began to touch my leg in a way that made me uncomfortable and I screamed and kicked him and ran to my mum I was asked by someone ‘why I kicked a poor old man?’.To which I say, to hell with that. Literally, I condemn it to hell. It’s hellish because it is a culture of evil that allows people to abuse power and abuse the name of God for their own sick gratification.
So in a rather incoherent way, I want to say that silence is deadly. Not the silence of victims who don’t speak up, because they have every right and reason to be silent if they so choose to be. The rest of us though, should be careful not to silence the voices of those who do want to speak. That’s all.

My friend posted a blog entitled 7 ways Christian women go wrong regarding relationships. It was kinda interesting, and it got me thinking. We always hear about the ratio of men to women in the church, and how the numbers are low yadda yadda.  I’m not intending to blog about the reasons why, or give tips on how we can manage to smuggle in some unsuspecting males into our congregations. Neither am I going to give you tips on how to manage your singleness. I suggest you rent a Tyler Perry film, and click your heels together really fast like Dorothy in an attempt to transport yourself to your ideal life. Sorry, no further advice. (Guys, I’m joking, singleness is not a curse)

No seriously, my main problem with this apparent man shortage isn’t so much that they aren’t around (although obviously that is worrying), it’s that the ones who are left often have egos bigger than the Biblical canon. Now this would be understandable if these men were Denzel Washington lookalikes, with the brains of Stephen Hawkings, the athletic prowess of Usain Bolt, and the spiritual fortitude of Moses… but no,no, not really. The majority of the men I encounter in church are fairly decent individuals. Polite, relatively hardworking, kind to their Mothers (sometimes a little too attached, but that’s another post), can hold a conversation without eliciting sleep, not bad looking – all round good eggs. The kind of men that you don’t daydream about, but you might end up marrying. Cos you realise that they aren’t Prince Charming but then, neither are you a Princess – you’re just two average folk trying to make it through life, right? Wrong. Because some of these church men are as arrogant as Boris Johnson on a good day.

Why arrogant Shade,  you ask? Because I’ve heard shocking stories (thankfully haven’t experienced it), of men playing several different women off each other because they KNOW they have options. Because the sheer length of what they require from a woman is frankly, ridiculous in relation to their own relative mediocrity. Now, on initial meeting, these men may appear humble. “Praise God”, they say, “Not I but Christ”..all that good stuff. Then the topic of relationships comes up..and the everlasting to everlasting list begins.

His future wife must be:

1)Super spiritual (but mate, wasn’t that you at the club on Saturday night?)

2) Exceedingly good looking (now with all due respect, but…really? Should men who are 5’s be reaching for 10’s?)

3)Have chef like cooking abilities. (Says he with the assorted Pot Noodle collection in his cupboard)

4)Have effortlessly long natural hair.. (ummm..how many pots of Dax do you go through weekly to get your ‘waves’?)

5) Be intelligent, well read and able to hold an intellectual conversation. (Yet you spend the majority of your free time playing Grand Theft Auto )

6)Be a Virgin/ or have a looowww number of previous sexual experiences. (LOL. That’s all I’m going to say to that one. LOL)

7) Wear no makeup (Erm..wasn’t that you banging on about how Gabrielle Union or Kim Kardashian are the hottest things going? You DO realise they wear a full face of makeup for every public appearance right?)

I could go on and on. So this post is tongue in cheek, and I’m sure there are lots of super nice Christian guys who aren’t like this. I know some of them personally. Something I always say to myself though, is that I am to never ask of someone else what I do not require of myself. It’s just downright cheeky to expect the opposite sex to exhibit this list of qualities when you fall faar below that list in your own day to day life.Women are guilty of unrealistic expectations too. I might fantasise about an amazingly handsome man with no character flaws to sweep me off my feet, but then I realise that I am not physically flawless, and neither do I have a flawless personality or character. Only God is perfect. And he knows exactly who to put me with so that we can walk this journey with.

Humility isn’t being unnecessarily self deprecating. It’s realising your strengths and your weaknesses and being realistic abut them with the knowledge that God is the giver of your intelligence, good looks, musical talent, whatever. Seek to marry your equal not your daydream.

Peace guys x