Repackaging modern thought into a Christian and counter cultural sounding message is extremely common, and something I’m convinced conservative Christian men and women do without ever being aware of what they are doing. We’ve seen this with the CBMW inventing the (feminist) sin of servility, laying an extra (and unbiblical) burden on Christian wives trying to fight the culture in order to follow the Bible. We can also see this with Director Stanton explaining that women are innately good, as well as pastors explaining that women are light years closer to God than men are. As I’ve explained, much of the problem is that conservatives find themselves conserving the new social order (feminism), while feminists ironically find themselves becoming conservative to protect the new feminist order they have created.
But another part of this is the blind spot modern Christians have when it comes to women sinning. There is a near complete inability to recognize what women sinning looks like. The only sin modern Christians can imagine women committing is the (again feminist) sin of lacking self esteem.
Whenever modern Christians see signs of women sinning, they look for the devious man who must have forced the poor woman to go against her innately-good-but-servile nature. This takes a good deal of rationalizing, but it is something we (collectively) have gotten quite good at. We see a woman seeking out sexual attention in any number of sinful ways, ways the Old Testament describes in detail, and we just know they are only looking for love and lifelong commitment. All of the young women competing to hook up with the campus alpha or dancing topless on tables at spring break? They are really just trying to find a man who will commit to them. This isn’t what the sinful expression of women’s sexual nature looks like; they are only victims. A woman blew an entire bar? Men must have tricked her into it (H/T Oscar). When women delay marriage until the last possible minute and shamelessly obsess about escaping commitment, we just know this is because men aren’t manning up and committing to women*.
Don’t get me wrong. Women don’t have the market cornered on being fallen. Men are plenty sinful too. The problem we have however is while we have a fairly accurate understanding of the way men tend to be tempted into sin, we are in complete denial of the temptations women experience. Some might misunderstand this as giving women an “unfair advantage” when it comes to sin, but the truth is just the opposite. Giving women a leg up into sin isn’t kindness, it is cruelty. It isn’t loving or protective, it is cowardly. Yet at the same time it feels brave, kind, loving, and protective. Ironically the way men are currently failing women is at the heart of men’s sinful nature, all the way back to our original sin.
As just one example of packaging modern/feminist thought as Christian wisdom, Matt Walsh has a post up titled Dear daughter, please believe me that you’re beautiful. Nearly all of it could have come straight from a Women’s Studies course, but what modern Christian would recognize this? Even the extremely sharp and highly respected John C. Wright doesn’t see it. Walsh explains that the main problem with our current culture is that it doesn’t tell women that they are beautiful enough, strong enough, and special enough. It isn’t that our culture isn’t broken; it certainly is. But Walsh’s critique is the feminist critique. He even bemoans his own male privilege:
I guess I’ve learned to take a few things for granted. As a guy, I can walk into any clothing store and find something that A) fits, and B) provides my body with basic coverage, which is the whole reason clothing exists in the first place, according to Wikipedia. As you will eventually discover, women have an entirely different experience. For them, even something as simple as clothes shopping becomes an all out assault on their values, priorities, and body image.
While this is a post Walsh has framed as a letter to his daughter, I’ll respond to this as a general post on advice to young Christian women (see moderator’s note below). The problem with the post is its feminist frame, and its denial of the role women’s temptations to sin are playing in shaping the culture. The shops at the mall haven’t conspired to force young women to misuse their sexuality. Not too long ago we collectively decided that moral constraints on women’s sexuality were unfair, and tossed them aside. What we are seeing now is where this lack of moral constraint is taking us. Women are being tempted by the culture, but they are being tempted to do something any student of the Old Testament should understand. They are being tempted to do things our great grandmothers understood. We can’t even think let alone use the word harlot, yet we have sluts marching down main-street. While it is true that it is a challenge for a modest woman to find suitable clothing, the reason for this isn’t because men or evil capitalists have colluded to keep modest clothing away from the rack, it is because the vast majority of women are choosing immodest clothing out of a desire to misuse their sexual power.
We don’t help women by denying all of this, or by repeatedly telling women they are beautiful no matter what and begging them to believe it. We don’t help women by adopting their own blind spot regarding their temptation to sin. We help women by manning up and helping them be honest about their own temptations to sin, and we help them by teaching them what God finds beautiful:
Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— 4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands,
– 1 Pet 3:3-5 (NKJV)
The problem isn’t that modern women want to be beautiful, nor is it that they aren’t told enough how beautiful they are, how special they are, or how perfect they are. The problem is that modern women aren’t focusing their desire to be beautiful in the right ways. They shouldn’t strive to be beautiful for the other women around them, nor for the men they meet in public. They should strive to be beautiful to the Lord, and to be beautiful to their own husbands.
Moderator’s Note: Please avoid referencing Walsh’s children (or anyone else’s) in the discussion of the post and instead focus on what is wise advice regarding young Christian women (or men) in general. Comments which don’t follow this rule will be deleted.