14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.
— 1 Tim 2:14-15, ESV
Minesweeper was kind enough to provide a link to the original source I was reworking in my previous satirical post. Strayed’s message to women is extremely common, and a message modern women can’t hear often enough. The message is that women become more moral by casting off obligation and following their own desires. We see this message to women so often that it doesn’t stand out. Even when we see it, the full absurdity of it isn’t visible unless you switch the sexes.
This teaching is just one variant of the modern message that women need to worship themselves and their feelings. The highest virtue for women today is not to do their duty and honor their obligations, but to cast off duty and obligation and be true to themselves. Strayed explains that a woman’s own desires are a god she must obey and worship:
I didn’t want to stay with my ex-husband, not at my core, even though whole swaths of me did. And if there’s one thing I believe more than I believe anything else, it’s that you can’t fake the core. The truth that lives there will eventually win out. It’s a god we must obey, a force that brings us all inevitably to our knees. And because of it, I can only ask the four women who wrote to me with the same question: will you do it later or will you do it now?
This concept didn’t begin with Strayed, or even second wave feminism. The vow for the UK equivalent of the Girl Scouts, the Girl Guides, originally included:
do my duty to God
In 1910 this was modified to remove a sense of obligation to God, and substitute it with emotional feelings for God*:
to love my God
This was then changed in 2013 to:
be true to myself and develop my beliefs
We also don’t get this merely from secular sources, or even just from liberal Christian leaders. Women’s feelings are taught by modern conservative Christians as something holy, divinely inspired. Thus we are taught that wives are light years closer to God than their husbands, and that wives are channeling God’s will when they throw godly tantrums. This is especially true when it comes to women’s sexual/romantic feelings. Pastors Dave Wilson and Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. both teach that a wife’s sexual attraction (or lack thereof) to her husband is a signal from God regarding her husband’s righteousness.
Another form of this message is the idea that a woman’s sexual/romantic desires are sanctifying. Drs Mohler and Moore teach that the romantic feelings of the wife (instead of the commitment of marriage) are needed to purify sex. Without the wife providing the purifying cover of her romantic desire, married sex becomes dirty, merely rubbing body parts together. Former CBMW president Owen Strachan had something similar in mind when he described God honoring romance. All of this of course goes back just over a thousand years to the idea of courtly love, which CS lewis describes as:
The sentiment, of course, is love, but love of a highly specialized sort, whose characteristics may be enumerated as Humility, Courtesy, Adultery, and the Religion of Love. The lover is always abject. Obedience to his lady’s lightest wish, however whimsical, and silent acquiescence in her rebukes, however unjust, are the only virtues he dares to claim.
Strayed also teaches that a woman’s sexual/romantic desires are sacred, holy, and sanctifying. However, it is easier to see the ugliness when Strayed teaches it:
…in order to heal [my wounds] I needed fifty men and three good women to have sex with me.
The Brilliant Lie.
There is a key lie that is used to sell the idea that women become more moral by being self-centered. This is the lie that women’s nature, their great fault, is to forever put others before themselves, and to feel guilty whenever they don’t put others first. This is exactly the message self-centered women want to hear most, and it is why the message of virtuous self-centeredness, of holy selfishness, is so wildly popular in all forms of media aimed at women. This is again both a secular and a modern Christian message. When Strayed tells women they will be more moral if they divorce, she explains:
Doing what one wants to do because one wants to do it is hard for a lot of people, but I think it’s particularly hard for women. We are, after all, the gender onto which a giant Here To Serve button has been eternally pinned. We’re expected to nurture and give by the very virtue of our femaleness, to consider other people’s feelings and needs before our own.
Notice how amazingly similar the message from Strayed above is to the message Sheila Gregoire is selling to Christian women in Guilt makes the woman go around:
We women feel guilty about everything. In fact, they say that the most common emotion women feel is guilt…
We feel guilty for relaxing, for reading a novel and leaving the housework behind, for spending money on a manicure instead of on paying down debt, and for feeding everyone cereal for dinner.
We feel guilty for not saving more, not loving more, not giving more.
Men find it easier to shrug guilt off, go out on the porch, and relax. They don’t tend to bother themselves with silly things like housework standards, menu standards, or etiquette. And they don’t even have to go through labour! They’ve got it easy. But perhaps they just aren’t as susceptible to this particular foible as women are. Instead of listening to God for what we should do, we tend to let society, the media, and the church culture set our standards. It’s no wonder we feel like we’re always falling short.
Maybe, we should try, just for one day, to be a man and not to feel guilt about stupid things. Let’s stop listening to those voices in our head and just seek out God’s voice. It’s worth the effort. If only someone would fold the laundry for me while I tried.
This is a common theme for Gregoire, and you can see another example in her complaint about women being asked to make sandwiches for funerals.
What we are seeing here is a very old pattern, where women are strongly tempted to put themselves (or their feelings) in the place of God, and men are strongly tempted to go along. Put another way, women are tempted to worship themselves, and men are tempted to worship women.
*Loving God properly means to obey God, but since obeying God had to be removed and replaced with loving God it is clear this is not what the new vow meant.