I’m famous for having a beef at the Pharisee’s culture that has developed in the Church as it had in Israel in Jesus’ time, and in the interest of fairness I am taking issue with Catholics and Protestants alike. This time the subject is a blog post arguing that “Men prefer Debt-Free Virgins Without Tattoos”. I feel bad enough for opening it to read for myself how bad it was, despite trusting the words of bloggers like Brita at Muddling Through Together and Phylicia Masonheimer, so I will not link to it. I don’t want the author to get a sense of perceived popularity and I want her to see that the only people talking about it are people who vehemently disagree.
I’ve spent most of the years since “reverting” to the Christian faith of my baptism into the Catholic Church striving to come to term with what I saw as the inevitability of my life-long singleness in a church that seems to put excessive value on being in vows. I’ve written about that journey on this blog (posts on singleness) and for Blogs by Christian Women (Waiting on the Lord in Singleness). So it is with great surprise that I approach this topic from the perspective of a bride to be, but I think it is important. Had she written this when I was single, my opinion could have been dismissed as trying to justify myself when my singleness was in fact proof that she was right, because I am not a debt-free virgin (although I don’t have a tattoo because I’m scared of needles).
The biggest irony in the post is a woman who takes it upon herself to teach women about the Bible talking women down for looking out for books to learn about the Bible, instead of from their fathers and then husbands, but never mind. My father isn’t religious, so no, I couldn’t have learnt from my father. I also couldn’t have learnt from my husband, because the only reason I met my future husband is I was a Christian, and he was attracted to my faith. He sought me after reading this very blog because his faith is important to him and he wanted someone that shares it and with whom he could build a family that also shares it. Anyway, what this blog post goes at the heart of is whether or not Christians believe in redemption. Any self-described Christian man who prefers a debt-free virgin without tattoos has a right to his personal preference, but I would question whether he had a right to call himself a Christian.
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7)
This verse is part of a letter written by Paul, born Saul, THE Biblical example of conversion (which means turning around). He was a faithful Jew who persecuted Christians in the name of his faith until he had a personal encounter with the Lord, and became an ardent apostle for the good news of Redemption in a broken world. 13 books in the Biblical canon are written by him. If Jesus called a person who used to condemn His own disciples to death, surely he is not turning away women who were born in non-religious households and have a past, or women who were born in religious ones and also sinned, or the women who waited for marriage but turned it into an idol. Or the men, for that matter. It always seems to be a conversation about women…
What this perspective that Christian men don’t want strong women who are burdened by the debt of their education, because going to college means they don’t know how to run a household or cook for many people, and that they have babies later in life when they can barely conceive naturally (9 women in the Bible were barren and then conceived, some in very old age, so again I’m not sure which God she is talking about when she criticises women having babies late, which can be for many reasons other than going to college), and how they are less likely to stay home raising them or to learn from their husbands about submission (granted that the husbands knows what to teach them, she says…) betrays a fundamental insecurity and lack of faith. Maybe even insecurity about not being good enough for a woman like that.
Submission.Is.Not.About.The.Husband. Submission is about Christ. Purity isn’t about not having sex. Again, it’s about Christ. Both depend on a transformation of the mind, not growing up being told what to do and what your life should look like. Both depend on God’s grace, and our openness to give our life to Him. It’s not about becoming a doormat to be walked over by a man who isn’t equally transformed by the Lord. If we believe that all of our sins were ransomed on the Cross it doesn’t matter what those sins were: we recognise our shared humanity and sinfulness, and open ourselves up to shine the light of the true Light in people’s lives, and it’s this light that we should be looking for in our life partner, not a tattoo-free skin, a debt-free bank account and a sex-free past. Everything that a person was repentant about has been forgiven, and God is the Healer that can heal all past wounds. He can and does make beauty from ashes. If a sinner is good enough for God, they should be good enough for us too. The only question we need to ask ourselves is: “Is this person serious about their faith? Are they striving to walk in the Spirit? Or do they wear a label without substance to back it?”. It doesn’t mean that we don’t sometimes fall and get it wrong, because that’s inevitable when we try to achieve holiness on our own strength rather than through God’s grace. What it means is that we must extend mercy and forgiveness as the Lord has extended to us mercy and forgiveness, and if we are the ones to fall, then that we find true repentance and willingness to change through God’s grace, pick ourselves up and start again.
I find it ironic also that people who think women should stay at home, perhaps homeschooling, can’t see the value of an education. Many women have gone to college and then became stay at home mothers out of a free choice to serve the Lord, and not the reality that without an education that’s all that there is for them to do. What about women who can’t find husbands even if they are tattoo-free virgins? Without an education they can’t provide for themselves unless their dying father leaves a substantial inheritance, that’s just the reality of a job market that expects a degree. I wonder what the Proverbs 31 woman would look like in our times. She was clearly a woman with business acumen and wisdom, and I can’t see her as being just a blogger making money out of affiliate links while a stay at home mother.
“She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength, and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. (…) She makes linen garments and sells them; she supplies the merchant with sashes.“ (Proverbs 31:16-19; 24)
She is also described as a woman of noble heart or capable (Proverbs 31:1) depending on the translation, and as a woman with strength and dignity, wisdom and kindness, and a woman who fears the Lord. Never in the blog post in question any of these qualities are mentioned. It’s all about the woman in relation to the future husband, and her only virtue to make her worthy of marrying is that she lived with her parents until she got married, didn’t go to college, had no previous relationships and no tattoos. Never her true motives and the strength of her faith entered the picture: the assumption was that if she followed those rules she must have been a woman of faith, and that was good enough. Except that it wasn’t good enough for Jesus (Matthew 23:23-32), and so it shouldn’t be good enough for us.