Why I’m Frustrated With Being a Woman

I set out earlier this week to write a post about all of the beauty in Complementarianism. If you google Complementarianism, you’ll find any number of legit websites that explain and define the term for you, but I’ll also give you a quick explanation that stems from my understanding. Basically, a Complementarian believes that men and women were created by God to fill different, but complementary and equal roles: leader men and helper women.

I am a Complementarian.

I’ve read any number of books on gender roles. Of course I’ve read Elizabeth Elliot and a decent amount of stuff from the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. I’ve also read some Feminist literature (even some recommended by a certain academic I live with).

And here’s the deal – for this post, I started out by making a list of those things that stir my affections and fill me with love for the role I believe God has created me for. Here’s as far as I got with the list:

  1. “Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.”
  2. “Helper” – Just like the Holy Spirit
  3. Submission is what Jesus did in the garden of Gethsemane
  4. Earning the trust of a man’s heart
  5. Gentle and vulnerable

The items on this list truly touch my heart. The call to humbly submit to the leadership/will of another the way Jesus submitted to the will of the Father takes my breath away. “If it be possible, take this cup from me, but Your will and not mine be done.”

But if you’ll notice, there’s nothing on this list about scrapbooking, serving in a church nursery or homeschooling my kids. There’s nothing inherently wrong with those things; they’re just the most visible aspects of Complementarian culture. We teach our men to lead, and we teach our women to be wives and mommies.

Now, don’t get me wrong,

it’s SO important to build up godly, leader men…

but at the risk of seeming incredibly childish, I ask: what about me?

What about singles who won’t be married until they’re 50?

What about singles who will never be married?

What about women who hate changing diapers but love Jesus?

And don’t give me that balogna sandwich about how nearly all people get married. A huge portion of those people also end up single again after marriage.

When I’m honest, my current struggles with figuring out what God is doing in my life stem from the conflict between church culture and biblical womanhood.

There are some changes happening at my church. You can read about them from Pastor Mike by clicking here.

Let me start by stating that I share some of his enthusiasm, but there are also a lot of things about this change that give cause for concern. My biggest worry is that the church we’d be merging with doesn’t seem to know how to use singles… which isn’t necessarily an indication of anything bad. And God doesn’t need the church to have a plan for using singles.

God has a plan for using me.

Yet I’m not thrilled about the message it sends to single women for a church not to have a plan for using them: the message that women need men in order to be valuable. That the church can’t use us. That we can’t serve well until we’ve got a pretty ring and a few kids.

Which leads us to the mentality that plagues our young women already:

get a man at all costs!

We all know that’s not what God is saying to single women. Yet, it’s a message that’s absolutely communicated, and in particular communicated by Complementarian churches. The pastor can give a sermon with brilliant biblical content emphasizing the value of singleness and/or the value of women, but if the culture reminds us of the marriage that we may never be called to, the kids we may never home-school, the ways we won’t be used in the church rather than the ways we will be, we are led to rest our identities in our success or failure to attain those things.  We have to focus on Jesus inspite of the church rather than with the help of the church.

Who knows? Maybe these first glimpses I’ve had of the church we’re looking at marrying (you like my word choice?) are incomplete. Maybe I’m seeing things that aren’t there or missing things that are… but thus far, I’ve felt an awful lot like… I don’t know… like the plan is for me to assimilate.

In true, non-traditional Complementarian style, I have to now reference Star Trek “Resistance is futile; you will be assimilated.”

And I don’t want to be assimilated. I won’t become a Borg! God created me to be a unique member of the body. 7 of 9 may have been smokin’, but she wasn’t special.

Seriously, though – this issue is SO close to my heart. I’ve been struggling to understand and live out femininity for my entire life. God has guided me from conceited feminist athlete bent on success to occasionally humble Complementarian daughter hoping towards His glory. Yet labeling me a Complementarian doesn’t come close to communicating my thoughts about womanhood. Nor does labeling a church as Complementarian come close to communicating its heart. And while there’s nothing overtly, obviously off about the theology our partner church presents, I’m tired of listening to sermons where the example is always marriage. Sermons about sin, grace, sanctification, justification, love, and forgiveness don’t all have to also be about marriage. They don’t all have to be about the Complementarian agenda. Jesus didn’t select a group to target and preach to them. He didn’t die for wives who cart their five kids around in mini-vans. He died for everyone. He died for men and women. He died for the young and the old. He died for suburbia and tiny villages and cities. He died for me. 

So ought we to preach HIM with every ounce of our being? I’m tired of the gospel of marriage consuming our conversations, sermons and identities.

I want the gospel of Jesus Christ and I won’t settle for anything less! 


7 thoughts on “Why I’m Frustrated With Being a Woman

  1. Katie, I totally see where you’re coming from. I really feel like the church is for married people with kids. I think if you are not married, don’t have kids, are divorced, or are younger than 30-you don’t fit in as a part of most churches. The majority of ministries are set up for married people with kids. I have felt that ever since I turned 18 and haven’t been a part of a youth program, I’ve never found a part of the church to really connect with. The crossing has done an excellent job reaching that younger group of people that fall through the cracks at so many other churches, so your concern makes sense. I’ praying for the best possible outcome for that transition.

  2. Katie, I understand your sentiments exactly! I think that is what I have always had trouble with in “big” churches (TCC) and my church here in Tennessee… Every “Women’s small group/Bible Study” is on Wednesday morning at 10 a.m., (specifically catered towards stay at home moms, and not college age, or singles who NEED to work.) All the evening small groups are for “newly marrieds” “30-40’s married couples” “couples who can bring their kids” etc, etc.

    I have found one group of singles who are in a similar life phase as me, but there are only 7 of us. It is easy to feel out of place and not supported when the rest of the church population does not put effort into getting to know us. And I definitely hear the message that life for a women in her 20-30’s does not start until she gets married. It might not be said out loud, but it doesn’t have to be, their thoughts are loud enough.

    I think that is why I was drawn to The Crossing and stayed. I wasn’t looking for a husband (well, it’s always in the back of my mind) but it was just so nice to feel welcomed and included.

    So… I just got off on my own tangent there, sorry. What I meant to say is that I agree with your statements on Biblical womenhood.


    • Jordan – I like what you wrote about “the message that life for a women in her 20-30′s does not start until she gets married” not being said out loud, yet being loud and clear. I think part of me wants to ignore my concerns because it seems invalid to disagree with something that isn’t spoken.

      If I could rewrite this entry, though, I’d also include some of the verses in the Bible that point out the importance of being fruitful and filling the earth. I think there’s a tendency for the things I’ve written to be viewed as anti-marriage or anti-marriage ministries. I’m not.

      Like you said – I just want to be included.

  3. Definitely. I didn’t take it that you were anti-marriage or anti-housewife, and I am sure like most women you look forward to those things. But at the life stage we are in RIGHT now, those things don’t apply, and probably won’t for a while longer. Because of that, we need to find our place in the church, and hopefully others will recognize that there IS a place for us. 😀 xoxo

  4. It is very interesting that for most singles the biggest issue is feeling ignored and very overlooked by a church that values it’s married members. Even though the Churches are not intentionally pushing us to the side (specially women), their programs and focus are family oriented. This leaves no place to go for the poor unmarried “sisters.” Welcome to the struggles of being single and Christian. I too share your frustrations with this issue.

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