The Aggressive Christian Woman

If you’re not part of the evangelical Christian community (I’m a survivor of it), then no doubt you look at the title and think, “Aggressive Christian woman? They’re all aggressive, male and female. Look at the tea partiers.”

This post has nothing to do with tea party politics, and come to think of it, beautiful things like tea parties need to be disassociated with politics. Tea by the Sea by Steve Henderson

I’m sorry. This post won’t make sense to you.

But if you do live within the cultural boundaries of evangelical Christianity, and you’re a woman, then you’ve probably heard the term “gentle spirit.”

If you’re like me – outspoken, analytical, a little pushy, ambitious, dreaming dreams that you want to see come true – then you’ve battled with that term because, deep down, you know that you’re not submissive, meek, gentle, self-deprecating, and fully “under the authority of your husband” – all vague mandates that, despite it being the 21st century and not the 17th, contemporary evangelical Christian women labor under the burden of fulfilling.

Everyone, male and female, harbors a natural sense of aggression – in even the meekest of the gentle spirit meek it comes out when someone pushes your three-year-old into the sand box – and it’s time to admit that it’s okay, as a Christian woman, to be aggressive. Wanting something, asserting yourself, standing up to a male, any male and including your husband, doesn’t make you a bad Christian.

I bring this up because I have transitioned from being my generation’s idea of the proper Christian homemaker – wife at home, fulltime; husband at work, fulltime – dinner on the table by five, house tidy, kids scrubbed clean – to running a business with my partner in life.

Just as there are many types of homes, there are many, many types of homemakers, from the traditional to the contemporaneous. Bayside by Steve Henderson

In order for this situation to work, I had to alter my notions about what it meant to be the “wife” part of the Christian marriage, and it helps that I never bought into the system in the first place. Although for years I felt sadly lacking as an official Christian wife, I never did defer to my Norwegian Artist’s every judgment (nor did he expect me to) or wait for his every pronouncement before echoing and embracing it.

We always ran our marriage as equals, which goes far in explaining why we never fit in to the conventional evangelical paradigm. My ambitions exceeded being named deaconess of baby showers and table centerpieces. I was too forward, too outspoken, too questioning, too unwilling to accept any one’s word – other than God’s – as law.

Does this sound harsh?

It is actually gentler, kinder than the unseen strictures placed upon many women of faith, many of whom, like me, are intelligent, articulate, aggressive. We have strong ideas of places we want to go and things we want to do, with our husbands and with our children, and without the unseen, unspoken, undefined but very real fetters placed upon us by breathy-voiced women’s seminar speakers, shepherds from the pulpit, and the nebulous community itself.

"Gentle" and "weak" are not synonyms. It takes great strength to be the woman that we are uniquely meant to be. Riverside Muse by Steve Henderson

A gentle spirit is not the unique province of woman alone – and I speak as an outsider, who was formerly an insider, of the evangelical Christian lifestyle. We are all – male and female – called to be servants of one another, loving our neighbor as ourselves, putting the needs of others before our own.

And we all – male and female – have an assertiveness, confidence, aggression, and boldness that is not evil, but natural. Like any natural tendency, it can go too far, but not going far enough is just as bad.

 

 

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4 Responses to “The Aggressive Christian Woman”

  1. brenda says:

    Here! Here!! Well said! I agree with you and glad that you are a confident young woman.

    • Thank you, Brenda — I really like the “young” part of confident young woman. The older I get, the more I realize that, inside, I am the same young woman I was 30 years ago — only a bit wiser, in some areas.

  2. YES!!! I’m with you Carolyn! I am a Christian, but “evangelical” is not my nature… Although my hubby makes up for it.

    Just want to point out a couple of things (that you’re probably already aware of). The woman in Proverbs 31 had seravants and managed them, she had her own business, didn’t ask her husband permission when she bought a field with her own earnings and planted a vineyard…. She had a lot more energy than I’ll ever have, but she was in charge of her own life and decisions for her income and outgo…. Completely independent.

    2nd. The world did not come under sin when Eve sinned, but when Adam sinned. He was ultimately the one responsible.

    3rd… This one I’m sure you know… Shortly after “submit to your husband” scripture says for husbands and wives to submit to each other. Paul also expresses that husbands love their wives so that they enter Heaven unblemished. To me, this means that when husbands are cruel and controlling, it sometimes makes their wives seek love outside the marriage relationship.

    Lastly, when it says that husbands should love their wives enough to give up their lives for them… I don’t think it means “die” necessarily. Husbands will often readily state that they will gladly die for their wives, but once during a Bible study, I mentioned that it said, give up their lives…. Christ gave up his life too, in that he lived a life he did not deserve for us. Anyway, when I asked the husbands of the group.. What things in your life would you give up in order to better love your wife… There was complete silence until one guy said, “I feel so convicted”.

    As a young woman, I let some of the men in my life hand me scriptures to support their idea of control, but God does not believe in control… He wants Women to think and act for themselves.

    In typed this on my iPad, so please forgive the auto speller. Now I have to get busy running my business :-) . I hope to support my husband soon so that he can work for me, and he’s all for it!

    • Lori: Amazing thoughts — more so because you typed them all on an iPad.

      Love that Proverbs 31 woman — especially that part about buying land, which implies a LOT of business acumen and assertiveness.

      Your story about your comment at the Bible study — amazing. I mentioned it to the Norwegian Artist at lunch and he stopped chewing. “Brilliant,” he concluded.

      And he was right. There is a lively discussion going on at my companion middle aged plague site — http://middleagedplague.com/2012/03/29/the-aggressive-christian-woman/ — and I copied and pasted that paragraph from your reply because it said it, 100 percent.

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