Kristin Rudolph is an Evangelical Program Coordinator at the IRD. Kristin graduated in 2011 with a Bachelors of Arts in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics from the King’s College in New York City.
Last fall Church Relevance caused a bit of a stir when they posted a heavily male dominated list of the “Top 200 Church Blogs.” When it comes to prominent Christian writers, the gender balance noticeably skews to the men. This is not for lack of bloggers, I believe, but the content many Christian women are writing. I am intentionally not naming names because I primarily want to point out a disconcerting trend, not point fingers and make accusations.
Reading through some popular blogs authored by Christian women, I observe that many use an introspective and emotional approach. Personal blogs do lend themselves to this kind of writing, but its prevalence is troubling, and I don’t think it has come out of nowhere.
Somewhere along the way, being “authentic” and “vulnerable” became utterly important elements of Evangelical women’s ministry. Sure, there is still some focus on discipleship, but “being real” is a frequent topic of retreats, small groups, and yes, blogs. Authenticity and vulnerability do have a proper place in a Christian’s life when used to identify and work through sinful areas of our lives, but these qualities have been emphasized to an unhealthy degree.
This issue most recently came to my attention with the spurt of women blogging about the “Evangelical virginity cult.” A handful of bloggers have written about their experiences with the Evangelical abstinence culture, discussing the shame that can result from falling short of the standard, and the damaging message that “pre-marital sex” renders one “damaged goods.”
There is much to legitimately criticize about the “True Love Waits” approach, which has its share of shortcomings. I would hope this could translate into a search for an alternative way to articulate and teach God’s good design for human sexuality, but that has not been the case. From these entries, we mostly read about God’s unconditional love despite His knowledge of our raw, real, flawed selves. Accusations of judgment are thrown at supposed legalistic churches, deflecting attention away from sin. Although it is perhaps implied that sin was involved, (and yes, sin Christ forgives) the emphasis is mostly on the emotional wounds and ongoing therapeutic recovery.
Of course I don’t want to minimize or dismiss the real hurt these women experience, but I am frustrated by the overwhelming emphasis on emotion in their writing. The stories told are often not redemptive, acknowledging the sin as sin and the forgiveness found in Christ, but are sentimentalized and packaged into a “God loves me for who I am” message. The Christian call to live righteously in Christ is overshadowed by the emphasis on vulnerability and sincerity.
Women deserve a theologically deeper, more challenging message. We have issues and emotions, but we have brains and volition too. We, along with our brothers in Christ, are called to live lives worthy of the calling we have received (Ephesians 4:1). Yes, Christian women can live free from shame through the grace of God – this is good news! But we also need to move forward from the place of brokenness into a fruitful, vibrant Christian life.
There are plenty of good Christian blogs out there grappling with the challenges of living a Christ honoring life, answering theological questions, and faithfully thinking about cultural issues. I am happy to see that there are some women involved in these endeavors. To the broader Christian women blogosphere: it’s time to emerge from the emotional echo chamber.