This issue has been talked around for a very long time. Suddenly a simple over arching truth occurred to me that encapsulates something specific about how Christianity appeals to women. The personal Jesus is sort of along the same lines but what I’m on about now is the function, the utility of the personal Jesus beyond having the creator of the universe sitting on your shoulder conversing and discussing her life plan with her. Don’t discount the allure of that, of having a sort of life coach deity who gathers your input and actually considers it in His greater plans, moving goal posts, lowering some standards, raising others, creating new ones and eliminating pesky ones.
But there is more.
She sees Christianity as another shackle to place on her husband, and in the bigger picture on the male gender. It bends husband to her will on the matters of married or relational life and it bends males to the collective will of the Christian sisterhood. It is a way to at least once a week hear authority take men to task, an organized collective blow back against things male. Still, some things male cannot be only admonished, there are begrudgingly things about males that they have to cede,on a biblical basis, are good. Those things have been masterfully marginalized, derided with tongue in cheek humor, juxtaposed to the bad in a behavioral moral “net out”, reclassified as bad (male sex drive) or simply ignored.
Ive wondered before how it must be for the young woman who sat under the teachings of today’s evangelical churches, being told at once she has nothing to be accountable for that cannot be tied back to the man, and that men are walking a tight rope over a pool of filth and sin and lest she be the safety net he likely will fall in, willingly or by accident. Hence the utility of the new faith for women. She has discernment and enforcement. She loves to discuss obedience to God, because its not about her, its about the man.
The young women raised in church will never have experienced another narrative, and more problematic nor will have the young men. The narrative is fed and buttressed by the constant influx of new members, divorced and remarried couples with a melange of kids and parents living under one roof, divorced single women looking for a good man (a man who is under authority….hers), and divorced men who show up desperate and think they, in their despair, have found the codex to relational nirvana in the things spoken in truth and love from the pulpit. Fast forward through a generation or two and you end up with what is a large group of controlled men and women in control.
There is more.
The empathy and personal Jesus belief set not only sets divorce trip wires in Christian marriages, it also defines the relationship between spouses, setting exalted boundaries that women so thrive on because they are wrapped in the ribbons of Christianese. The bible is suggestive that men lead, but unpacked that is defined as men go first on things that require relational effort, and sacrificially hold zero expectation of reciprocity. Love, respect, and sex have all been placed on a scale of justice, lady justice holding said scale being Mrs. Evangelical Christian Wife (ECW). Mr ECW is now the reflection or projection of Mrs ECW derived from scripture.
Mr ECW laps it up. he laps up disrespect, contentiousness, sexual rejection, even divorce because he is taught that he deserves same if she SAYS he deserves it. Mr. ECW sets a competition to how effacing he can be compared to other men. Men in this situation will confess and agree to anything to get back into the good graces that result from mamma being happy. These men will defend their right to be pathetic, vehemently, having taken on the conventional wisdom that nothing else matters except the Mrs. ECW being happy. Nevermind that happy is subjective hour by hour, he takes a page from the SEALS and adjusts and adapts to the changes in his surroundings, keeping his head down to avoid the sniper fire of his wives vitriol, then in a flash of a form of masculinity he forecfully sells the virtue of his behavior to other men, mainly because it gets positive feedback from other women. If a man cannot have sex with lots of women, the second best thing is to have nice compliments from lots of other women. This plays Mr. ECW like Stradivarius.
Christian women in the west are all this way. That it may manifest in greater or lesser degree in one or the other doesn’t negate its presence. An insidious truth is that the couples who cast a shadow of traditional comportment are usually the worst offenders, giving the impression that through his meek servant
leadership, he has his wife happily following scriptural guidelines. Meanwhile he makes no decisions, caters to her whims, and if he is lucky is given sex time to time. In younger couples this results in her being unhappy and ultimately filing a divorce. in older couples it simply seems to work, both burrowed comfortably into the female led marriage with a veneer of male headship.
The church is there to make this happen for women. The men in church are doggonit goinna make sure every women who walks through that door understands the that church loves its women and they are going to lift up women. Women, its safe in church. You can literally do almost anything short of taking on a Rugby team under a stop light, and it will be reflected back on the performance of Mr ECW. She gets to be a woman of faith, to micromanage her husband, to have no sense of personal accountabilty, to have both Gods written word sorted out in a female centric way, and to have her personal Jesus on her shoulder as enforcer and as one to validate her every fleeting emotion. he will even feel empathetic.
There is no more powerful expression of empathy that can come from the creator or empathy. To tap in is a no brainer.