Every Friday Rebecca writes an email that goes out to our 45,000 email subscribers. (Well, sometimes it doesn’t go out until Monday, but she does write a weekly round-up!).
It tells you what the top posts of the week were, points you to the podcast, and makes sure you didn’t miss anything. But most of all, it contains a reflection that wasn’t on the blog, that often sums up what’s going on behind the scenes as we wrestle through what we share on the blog and the podcast.
I’d like to share one of her email updates today, and let you know that you really should subscribe!
So here’s Rebecca!
Last month my mom (Sheila) did the “digging yourself out of the pit” month, where we planned to talk about how to get a great sex life back, how to move forward, etc.
We constantly have people asking us to do more positive material, and focus less on the abuses and mistreatments that have happened because of evangelical teachings.
And you know what happened?
Horrible, misogynistic “Christian” men took to the comment sections.
And women in marriages to horrible, misogynistic “Christians” sent us questions and stories because they were stuck and didn’t know where to turn.
So what was supposed to be a month of super upbeat, “happy” posts turned into pretty much a month on marital rape. And I think that was necessary.
We would love, LOVE to be able to be at a place as a church where we could focus on making the good better. But what if the way we get there isn’t supposed to mean we leave those who are drowning behind?
What if we all banded together, as women, and said “no more” to the horrible, misogynistic, toxic brand of religion that is leading to all this abuse, instead of ignoring it to focus on prettier things?
What if instead of getting frustrated that people who are being abused are being given too much air time, we decided to roll up our sleeves and work to make our local churches safer places? What if we stopped laughing at the sexist jokes made in our presence, we made a fuss when churches held book studies of harmful books, and we refused to support institutions that kept secrets for abusers and rapists?
All of this has gotten me thinking about Christmas.
Christmas has never really been my favourite holiday.
I mean, I loved it as a kid, but once I was in my Jr. High age I enjoyed Christmas but felt Easter to be more significant for me, personally. My birthday is in January so as a kid Christmas was really exciting but I feel like my birthday was a bit more exciting, and it was just a few weeks away.
But as I’ve grown up into adulthood and specifically motherhood, Christmas has become so meaningful.
Specifically, Mary and Elizabeth’s relationship in the Christmas story is sacred to me. Christmas has begun to signify female support and friendship in the strongest way. Mary goes and stays with Elizabeth for the final months of her pregnancy, and we hear both Elizabeth and Mary prophesy together about the beloved little lives they are carrying.
As someone who gave birth in October and November, Christmas has been really special as I look down on my little babies and think about back all those centuries ago to what a young virgin mother may have been feeling, kissing his tiny bloody head, holding his tiny little hand in hers. Feeling the warmth of his breath on her breast as she nursed him.
I worry that sometimes we long for a whitewashed faith, a whitewashed church. One that looks so pretty, where we talk about the virgin birth and the miracle of Elizabeth’s pregnancy with John the Baptist, but we don’t talk about the more grisly realities that the women went through. We don’t talk about the virgin torn, we don’t talk about what it would have been like for Elizabeth giving birth to John in her old age. How scared might she have been? How did her bones and joints ache during her pregnancy? I know how much mine hurt, and I was 24 with my first.
I feel very much right now that we, as a church, are going through labour pains.
And when I think of a woman going through labour, I immediately wonder what the dad is doing to help! Most husbands, when their wives are in labour, are really uncomfortable watching her in pain. It hurts them to see her hurt so much.
It’s OK to be uncomfortable seeing people in pain. That’s natural. It doesn’t mean you don’t have compassion, it means that you have empathy! Empathy hurts!
But what you do next matters. The good husbands are the ones who jump right in, embrace the pain, embrace the discomfort, and hold her hand through it all.
The others are the ones who leave, who make it about them, or who try to convince her it’s not so bad, getting mad at her for being “dramatic”.
I personally believe we are in one of those times where the church is facing a real crossroads. We are in the middle of the not-so-nice part of the story. We’re not at the angel meeting Mary, or the baby jumping for joy in Elizabeth’s womb.
No, we’re in the part where it hurts. We’re in the part with blood and pain and tearing. And although we can have faith that this too, shall pass, and something beautiful will be on the other side, what we do in the midst of the pain matters.
I believe something good and something new is coming.
I believe that what we are doing here at Bare Marriage is just a very very small part of the larger movement that is happening. And I believe it will be for the good of all, not just those who are already healthy.
And that, to me, is glad tidings of great joy for all people.
That is a reason for hope.
Sheila here again!
I believe there’s reason for hope too.
I also believe that this is a really painful time for so many people.
It’s like that final comment I left on Friday’s post where I was sharing some of your thoughts on spanking. One woman had written:
Y’all, our churches/church leaders lied to us about sex. They lied to us about marriage. They lied to us about purity. They lied to us about submission and hierarchy. They lied to us about impending Armageddon (some of you are too young to remember this). They lied to us about many things. They also lied to us about child-rearing. Please stop striking children. Follow the many wonderful gentle parenting/connected parenting resources, and grow.
Many of you are feeling like the church you grew up in lied to you.
In fact, as we gear up to release She Deserves Better in the spring, we’ll share with you some of our survey findings–that those who no longer consider themselves evangelical and those who are leaving the church are not primarily doing so because they just want to sin or they don’t have enough faith. No, these are the people who were super involved as teens, and were far more likely to have been hurt by church teachings.
They’re the walking wounded.
Some of you are among them. Others of you aren’t, but you’re looking at people you loved leave the church and you can’t figure out why. Or you’re looking at your church starting to have fracture lines, and you don’t know what to do.
But maybe at this time in history things aren’t going to be pristine. In fact, maybe they never really were. Maybe life is always messy.
And the Christmas story tells us that God understands that, and enters into it, and redeems it.
For the first time in a few years, I have a church I’m excited to go to on Christmas. So does Rebecca. So does Joanna. And we’ll all be telling you about that on the Bare Marriage podcast this Thursday.
But it’s been a messy few years.
Thank you for hanging in there with us. And I hope that as we listen to the Christmas story this year, we’ll embrace the mess and the pain, rather than try to whitewash it. The pain is part of the story. God understands the pain. And through the pain, something better is coming.
What do you think? Do you find comfort in faith not alwas being pristine? How are you processing that this year? Let’s talk in the comments!