I propose we do just that. But I’m not asking men to do a gut check – I’m asking my sisters in Christ to face squarely some of the unhelpful stereotypes that we hold for other Christian women. What follows is a collection of attitudes or statements that I have encountered during my years of ministry to women. See if any of them sound familiar to you:
- Single women are leading second-best lives.
- Single women in their 30’s are too picky.
- Single women who are self-confident need to “tone it down” if they want to find a man.
- Women who don’t have children are leading second-best lives.
- Women who are childless or single by choice are selfish.
- Women who express their opinions with confidence are threatening.
- Confident women marry weak men.
- Wives who study the Bible more than their husbands threaten male headship.
- Wives who commit to evening activities are neglecting their husbands and children.
- Mothers who choose to work love God and their families less than mothers who stay at home.
- Daughters need less education than sons because they won’t need it to be a mother.
- Daughters need fewer career options than sons because their husbands will support them.
- Divorced women and widows need our help, but not so much help that they start eyeing our husbands.
What if we spent less time drawing lines in the sand to separate the righteous from the unrighteous and spent more time cultivating a gracious heart? What if we embraced the idea that womanhood looks many ways because the Church needs many kinds of women to flourish? God sanctifies single women and married women and divorced women and educated women and uneducated women and loud women and soft women and working women and women who stay at home, and He uses them all uniquely to fill out the mosaic of the church to its full vibrancy. Give grace to your sister, and guard your heart from calling something sin that is not sin to justify your own actions or choices. “Love one another with sisterly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”
What unhelpful stereotypes have you encountered that you could add to the list? Leave a comment and join the discussion.