I've been wondering what's on young single women's minds when it came to issues like marriage, work, gender issues, homosexuality, politics and their future dreams. I asked Stacey, a young professional (Christian) woman living in Dallas to write a few blogs to help us know what's on women's minds. Here's what's on her mind. (Part 1).
From pre-K through twelfth grade I attended private school. The majority of my time was spent at a small Church of Christ school. My graduating class had approximately eighty students. This was the right size to know nearly everything about everybody, and yet not have to be friends with all out of necessity. With this fertile soil and a perfectionist streak, I was an excellent legalist growing up. How sad it is to say I was voted “Most Christ-Like” my senior year!
Since then I have encountered the life shattering, tour de force called grace. At times I wonder if some of my evangelical friends/acquaintances have felt the whirlwind of grace at all. Or it could be that my pendulum has swung too far in the other direction, as others have implied. Regardless, I’d rather spend my free time with non-believers. In my small sample size, I have found them on the whole to be very graceful, forgiving, and kind. It’s puzzling and disheartening to see my non-believer friends exude these qualities in greater quantities than far too many of my evangelical friends/acquaintances. Also, I treasure how open-minded my non-believing friends are.
The term “open-minded” can easily spring defense walls among evangelicals. This should not be the case. An open-mind does not mean standing for nothing and falling for everything. It is a desire to find truth and confidence in your belief system. Other ideas don’t ruffle your feathers, but instead, deepen your faith. In addition, every time my faith has been challenged, I have come out stronger for it. Though it can be terrifying to examine your worldview - in essence the bedrock of your life - it is critical to know what you believe and why you believe it.
Before I digress any further, let me share a few examples heard often among my evangelical friends and the at large community. In no particular order: (1) treating the Republican Party as if it is God's political party; (2) claiming to be antiabortion while actually having the appearance of being probirth; (3) holding antiquated views of rape culture; (4) the entire homosexuality issue. We shall save immigration for another day.
Just because the Republican Party is more conservative and seems to attract more Christians does not make it "God's party". God is much bigger than a political party. Moreover, this is extremely dangerous thinking. Like in the Crusades, at the extremes people can use God to justify anything. Also, those who know little about Christianity or personally know few Christians believe the messages spouted by the Republican Party represent Christians, since we both agree on a few moral issues. Whether this is right or wrong is another question. The truth is that this is reality. While we may technically agree on certain moral principles, Republicans and Christians are opposites on many others. Politics is devoid of grace and consumed with the attainment of power. It also exalts the status of the American people above everyone else, while Jesus sees everyone equally.
Taking a stand against abortion is a worthy issue. Note that I will not use the terms "pro-choice" or "pro-life" as I think they are too politically and emotionally charged. My qualms with abortion encompass how Christians treat humans across the whole spectrum of life - not only birth. The same Christians that stand outside Planned Parenthood call for less government assistance to those children they so wanted saved. Any rebuttals will fall on my deaf ears, as 45% of food stamp assistance goes to feed children. Nor bring up "waste, fraud, and abuse" within the system. Of course I am all for the elimination of these ailments, but not all can be remedied. If we reach the limit and the choice is cutting meals to even one child so that we can be certain of less waste, fraud, and abuse, I would say no. Who am I to turn down one child? Who are you? What did you do to deserve to be born? Nothing. What did they do? Nothing. Many times I have wondered if we could decrease abortions not necessarily by legislation and standing outside of Planned Parenthood but by utilizing carrots instead of sticks. I do not know enough about specificities, but I do know that this road will be longer and much harder, yet potentially more rewarding long-term.
An antiquated view of rape culture can be summed up with the phrase: "she was asking for it." Somehow the topic of sexual assault came up in a conversation with an evangelical guy friend. He insinuated that the way a woman dresses can impact her chances of being raped. Now at the time I was furious. However, currently I can, to an extent, see where this misinformed opinion came from. He probably associates higher-risk lifestyles - where women are dressed more provocatively - with increased chances of rape, which is probably true. His logic falls apart in that rapes do not spike at pools or beaches in-line with less clothing. Let's get this straight: no one ever "asks" to be raped nor deserves it. Period. End of discussion.
Lastly, we turn to the gay issue. In a strange set of circumstances, it seems as if my friends who are the most opposed to gay marriage don't have any gay friends (or at times know any gay people). Like immigration, this in and of itself deserves a dedicated blog post.
We are in essence focusing way too much on outward sins that we can SEE to the detriment of the others which are equally important. Why? I believe it is basic human nature. As a corollary to this, it brings people to church. Churches are like businesses - no one wants a dying church. Pastors want to see a fuller church, and people don't want to feel bad about themselves.
I have never understood why we, as Christians, expect non-believers to act according to our belief system. Paul says to judge the immoral believer, who is IN the church, not those who are outside of it. Any resulting defense made that the criticism is in fact focused on believers is a load of crap. It is plain to see that Christians are trying to impose our views on overall society. Yet paradoxically, at the same time, we hold fast to and recoil at any slight to our freedom of religion, while refusing this same freedom to others. In my opinion, a big misconception is thinking that Christians can impose change top-down in America via laws and such. This is diametrically opposed to the kingdom of God, which is a bottom-up revolution.
Please don't think I am here just to bash my brothers and sisters. I understand that we are under attack and feel that our values are being threatened. They are. They always have been - in one way or another. Different sins reign in different periods but it doesn't change the fact that it is still sin. My heart's desire is that people are changed by Jesus. I want people to know what Christians are for instead of what we are against. It is definitely ok for people to know what we take a stand against but not if it's our defining quality. For example, people probably knew that Jesus was against people using the temple for profit versus a house of worship - especially after he cleared it of moneychangers. But this was not what he was remembered for. And the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.