Tell us we’re not strong enough. But you’re wrong.


Some people out there say that Christianity is for men, because our God came to earth as a man. He was brutally executed on a cross and there was blood and guts and other bad-ass manly things. Some people think that, if the church gets too “feminized,” we might replace Jesus with a Disney princess and the cross with a field of dandelions and the broken body and blood of Christ with chocolate milk and cupcakes.

Yeah, some people think that way.

I don’t think those people know a lot about women. 

A few weeks ago, I put out a call for all women to challenge the mainstream definition of a “feminized” church.  To share our stories and show our intelligence and our strength and our importance in the body of Christ.

I did that because I know a lot about women.

I know we are strong.

And those who don’t believe that? Well, they need to look around…

How about the women who have birthed children–who sacrificed their bodies and shed their blood so that another human being might live? These women went through excruciating pain. Some of them (especially those who lived before the age of modern medicine or who live in developing countries) died.

Tell these women they aren’t strong.

Tell these women that you, in your manliness know more about the suffering of the crucified Christ than they do.

Or how about we travel back in time. How about we visit the black slave women who were, according to Angela Davis, “required by the masters’ demands to be as ‘masculine’ in the performance of their work as men.” Who performed the same back-breaking work alongside male slaves, often while several months pregnant, or carrying infants. Or even the white women of the working-class in England around the same time who, also according to Davis, were used in place of horses or mules to haul canal boats.

Tell these women that did the work of horses, that to be “effeminate” means to be weak.

Tell them that they are the weaker vessel.

Tell them that you in your manliness are more suited to do the work of the church than they.

What of the women of the suffrage movement who organized together, facing backlash and imprisonment, and gained the right to vote at a time when women were not even considered to be adult human beings? 

Tell them they don’t have leadership skills.

Tell them that they are too emotional and “wishy-washy” to get anything done.

Tell them that you in your manliness would have done better.

Yes, tell us women, who have overcome slavery and oppression and objectification that we are not strong. Tell us who have been raped and beaten and silenced, yet survive to stand and speak, that we will break under the pressures of fighting injustice. Tell us women who continue to make progress and continue to use our talents to improve this world, despite ongoing oppression that has been around for centuries that the church would be better off masculine. 

Go ahead and tell us.

But we won’t stop proving you wrong.


23 thoughts on “Tell us we’re not strong enough. But you’re wrong.

  1. How about the woman described in Proverbs 31? She’s buying and selling fields, clothing her family, selling profitable merchandise…now that is a standard! Or Deborah? She led her (male) troops into battle and won. She was a judge. Anyone who says women are weak don’t know us.

  2. This:
    “I think it’s about recapturing something that we’ve lost as far as strong male presence and leadership in the Church”

    Is a myth. With regard to “strong male presence,” nothing has been lost because the church never had it in the first place. I’ve read a lot of Christian history, and there have always been more women than men in church. From the very beginning. In fact, the Romans denigrated Christianity as “the religion of slaves and women.” Why? Because Jesus came with good news for the downtrodden. Is it any wonder that more un-privileged people are drawn to Him than those who were born with privilege?

    But– leadership in the Church has been, and still is, predominantly male, because the men insist on interpreting one or two passages in Paul’s letters to give them the sole right to power. I always raise my eyebrows a bit at how men insist on being the leaders, but then don’t want to take responsibility for what happens in the churches they lead (and won’t let women lead)– they’d rather blame the women!

    Do you know, if we’d just follow Jesus’ teachings about “not so among you,” we’d realize that church isn’t supposed to be about who gets to be in power in the first place. And then maybe it wouldn’t be such a threat to men, to let women serve in positions that aren’t supposed to be about having authority over anyone, in the first place!

  3. Yes, my sister. Thank you.
    I was feeling low today but I love this. Especially this: Tell us women who continue to make progress and continue to use our talents to improve this world, despite ongoing oppression that has been around for centuries that the church would be better off masculine.
    Keep on keeping on, sister!

  4. Goose bumps. Seriously.

    “I don’t think those people know a lot about women.” Me neither…

    Thank you for this.

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  6. So, Mark Driscoll travels, “writes books” (come on, we all know he has umpteen ghost writers), creates sermons, counsels people, has meetings, and makes sure that big M (for Mars Hill, not Mark, guys! REALLY) is ever broadening its locations, and is supposed to be the ultimate MASCULINE pastor?

    Somehow, that doesn’t seem like super “manly” work to me. There’s no physical labor, lots of talk, lots of sitting… Other than raising kids (which he claims he’s super involved with), I’d say that Marky Mark fits his own definition of a “feminine” job description more than anything particularly “manly.”

    Bummer, dude.

  7. My life has been filled with many strong women for whom I’m quite grateful. But as I read your post and the way some equate “feminization” to weakness, the first thing that popped into my mind was St. Paul.

    “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

    And he says similar things throughout 2 Corinthians. Hmmm. Strength and weakness are not tied to gender, but methinks there might be a problem with people boasting of their masculine strength.

  8. Whether or not you subscribe to the cultural idea of gender roles (though popular music is grossly misogynistic) there is a distinct Scriptural standard for gender roles. When we ignore them, not only do disobey God’s Word, but we turn upside down the way God created humanity.
    As Christians, we have warped the gender roles as described in Scripture, and kept women down in the process, and we must do better for our daughters. I have a son and a daughter. I want to love my girl in a way that teaches her healthy biblical submission, while allowing her gifts and talents to flourish as she discovers her identity in Christ. Likewise, I want to teach my son to be the kind of man who leads in a way that his future spouse would delight to submit to.
    Read Ephesians 5:21-33 (don’t stop with 21-24) and see what a devoted, Christ-treasuring man will do for his wife. THAT is what we are trying to recapture.
    As to Driscoll or Piper, read the recent Driscoll book “Real Marriage” and check out some of the material coming out of the Pastor’s Conference from Piper this past week.

    • No, Brad, there’s actually not. For every gender role that’s “prescribed,” there’s an example of a woman or a man in Scripture who defies it. At some point, we have to admit that there are so many exceptions to the rule that the rule may not exist.

    • always this confusion with description and prescription, and reading Americans culture into the bible.. There are no general gender roles in the bible, the way Jesus relates to women is completely different from what happened in the time of the patriarchs or the great kings like David, or the time of Lydia who was the leader of a house church and Junia the apostle… And I didn’t mention the proverbs 31 woman who seems more like a manager… Making one-size-fits-all gender roles from all of these is completely biblically ignorant, especially when those gender roles are in fact old-school American ones (which are actually completely arbitrary and irrelevant to a non-American like me)

      And I think the suggestion for Sarah to read ‘real marriage’ might actually be quite insulting to her. If you don’t understand why, well… I don’t know how te explain. Seems like the disconnect is too big…



    • If I ever have a daughter (or a son), I would encourage her to be whatever she wants to be and to shoot for the stars. The last thing I would want to do for someone I loved is do things that limit their potential.

    • And I think limiting people’s potential is all gender roles serve to do.

  9. “I don’t think those people know a lot about women.” It does make you wonder, doesn’t it? I loved this post. Why are we continuing to have a conversation in which we have to prove whether women or men are stronger? Do we live in the 19th century? To be honest, it doesn’t really matter, but sometimes it still hurts to have to keep walking against such statements. And churches that are putting women down to lift men up are missing the resilience of the women I know, which is their loss. It doesn’t bother me so much for the leaders, it bothers me for the girls in the pews who might think, even for one second, that they are second-class. That’s why I think posts like yours need to be written and shared. Well done.

    • Yeah, exactly. I also worry about the men who receive these messages about women. Just perpetuates the problem further.

  10. Thanks for sharing this post. Very nice job.

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  11. I think that when the mainstream speaks of the “feminization” of Christianity, I think it’s about recapturing something that we’ve lost as far as strong male presence and leadership in the Church. And solid male headship (as prescribed in Scripture) is really about the flourishing of women and their families under the tough and tender care of men.
    Certainly some would use it for misogynistic purposes, but that is not the point that some are trying to make (I.e. Piper, Wilson, Driscoll, etc.).

    • It doesn’t matter what they are trying to “recapture.” When you degrade women (and YES, no matter your intentions, it is hurtful and degrading to equate weakness and irresponsibility with femininity) in order to lift men up, it is wrong. It is sexist. Don’t do it. Tell men, “Stand strong and take responsibility.” Tell women the same. We are called to the fruits of the spirit, not to some cultural idea of femininity or masculinity.

      And, I would highly disagree with you that Driscoll (and other pastors like him) is not blatantly misogynistic, but that’s a story for another day.

  12. I have always found it fascinating that the only disciples that stayed with Jesus during His Passion were women. John, the youngest of the lot, was the only man. Women, although they often go unnoticed, have amazingly strong abilities: faithfulness, endurance, courage, and love. Then, there is Mary…her son was being sought after to be slaughtered as soon as He was born, and wow, she didn’t freak out. Me personally, if I would have been told to hold the Son of God, I would have probably dropped Him out of sheer nervousness. That courage is there, starting with a “Yes!” by one very brave woman…I just wish those who cannot see the supreme dignity of authentic femininity would be brave enough to see. God bless, sister. Awesome post!

    • Glad you liked it! And yes, I’m also inspired by the women in the Bible who, despite the patriarchal society that they lived in, were brave and strong and did great things for God!

  13. Yes! I’m feeling your energy. You get two snaps!

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