Hey guess what. There's a women's bible study starting at church. We'll be reading Esther. Or maybe Ruth. Or maybe Proverbs 31.
And in this case, my rolling my eyes and being offended tends to overcome my enthusiasm for studying the bible.
I mean, there's nothing wrong with having bible studies just for women or just for men. (And I really do have a great time there.) There's nothing wrong with studying the book of Esther. It's in the bible- if you study it, you're gonna find some good stuff. There's nothing wrong with a group of women studying Esther.
But what's wrong is that HOW COMPLETELY DISPROPORTIONATE that is. Why does it seem like EVERY SINGLE TIME, the women's bible study is studying one of those "women" passages?
I mean, just because Ruth is a woman, her story is somehow more important to women than the average bible story is?
I mean, is it? This is a valid question. Is there a reason it would be particularly important to women? Women want female role models or something? Can we avoid the extreme of "the church only talks about the men in the bible" without going to the other extreme, "Christian women should only study the passages specifically about women"?
"Oh, you're a girl. Here, you should read, out of the hundreds of pages in the bible, these particular couple pages, about a few slightly obscure women. Have at it." Dude, I'm not dumb. I'm gonna read the entire thing.
Or maybe it's because obviously, if a group of Christians is going to study Ruth, it has to be a women's group. I mean, it doesn't make sense that men would read that. OH WAIT. IT'S THE BIBLE.
(When I mentioned this over in a comment on Rachel Held Evans's blog, another commenter had the idea of challenging Christian men to study and learn from the "women" passages in the bible. I love it. Because every Christian studies Jesus and Paul and David, but only women study Esther and Ruth. What's with that? If they're really such good role models, aren't they good for both men and women? Or is it "we needed to come up with SOMEONE for the women... eh, Esther's kinda lame but it's the best we got"? Because no matter how you interpret this, it's offensive.)
Oh and here's a wild idea: Can the Proverbs 31 woman also be a role model for men? Not "this is the kind of wife you should look for" but "you should be like her"? Wow I'm gonna have to go think about that. That has totally never occurred to me before.
You know what I want to see? A women's conference whose advertising flier has a picture of a dragon. Because dude, I want to fight dragons. If your women's bible study or Christian conference even marginally associates itself with dragons, SIGN ME UP!
(The dragon is a metaphor for... ummm... well it doesn't matter. Dragons are awesome. Don't question it.)
Like dude, don't get me wrong, the conferences that advertise with flowers and pastels are great and God speaks to people there and everything, but really, why do the fliers need to look all "feminine"? To make sure men don't sign up?
I'm not particularly interested in "being a godly woman." I want to be awesome and follow Jesus, and it just so happens that if I do that, I am technically a "godly woman" but that's so not my goal.
So I want to know: How do the majority of Christian women feel about this? Is everyone else happy with the flowers and lack of dragons? Is it because I'm a nerd girl that I feel this way?
Do we really need to study Ruth that much? Like, is there a valid reason why the story of Ruth would be particularly important/meaningful for women?
Is there some sort of equivalent thing the church does to men?