Life events conspired this past weekend to land me at a large Christian women’s conference.
I’m not really one for big conferences, so this was not a venue I was all that comfortable with. It goes without saying, if you know me, that the loud, raucous music was not really my thing. But the speakers are where I really focused my attention. One thing I noticed, over and over, were the assertions that popped up:
- Women feel guilty. We should stop feeling that.
- Women feel so much shame, and we should stop that as well.
- Women feel they are “not enough,” and this has to end.
I sat there, kind of befuddled. There were many women in the audience nodding and a few shouting out Amens.
And I wondered: do most women spend significant amounts of time feeling guilty, ashamed, and inadequate?
Maybe I’m the odd man (well, woman) out, because I don’t. But Facebook and Pinterest are rife with motivational sayings urging us that we are “enough” and that we should lose the guilt and shame.
I think of our ancestors on the prairie. Was Caroline Ingalls paralyzed with guilt as she canned green beans and spun wool? Did she experience inadequacy as she lay pinned beneath a log that had rolled on her ankle as she helped Charles build the family’s log cabin? Perhaps, but I’m guessing not. Is this excessive emoting over our perceived shame just a symptom of our “soft” society? I wonder.
Another theme was legalism in the church, and how bad this was. One speaker came right out and proclaimed: “Legalism is killing the church!”
This got a huge round of applause, but it kind of bothered me.
First, how is she defining legalism? These days, I’m assuming that a legalistic church would be defined as one where traditional hymns are sung, there’s a cross in the sanctuary, and even perhaps a pastor who urges tithing or mentions sin.
I’m seeing mighty little legalism in the church today. In fact, church feels so loosey-goosey that I find it hard to believe that too many legalistic Christian churches even exist in the U.S. (I know, I know: WESTBORO BAPTIST!!)
Maybe it’s just me. But it concerned me that we had all this angst stirred up over legalism, while abortion was never mentioned. Same-sex marriage was never brought up. I know, I know — silly me. We are just supposed to LOVE everybody, and not judge anyone. Because, because … um, that’s what Jesus would do … right?
What I do feel some guilt over is that we’re so busy making Jesus over in our own 2015 PC image, and not wanting to offend anyone with our legalistic Christianity, that we have stopped reading His word. We’re too busy, and it’s just too hard. Maybe we should start again. Maybe it would help us feel less shame, guilt and inadequacy. Sure, Jesus loves us. But that’s just one aspect of His character. It bothers me that we seem to be getting steamed over straw men when there are these big elephants in the room that we’re totally ignoring.
I hope all the women at Muslim conferences are being taught that they shouldn’t feel ashamed. I hope they’re learning about Allah being love, and that they should bake two wedding cakes for all the gay couples that come asking.
Here I am at this conferences, surrounded by women smiling happily at each other because apparently their neighbors’ struggles are just as awful as their own. In our city this week, dozens of babies have had their hearts stopped and limbs torn apart. But let’s not talk about that. Let’s just forget all the icky stuff until Sunday, when we can go to church (maybe wearing our Colts jersey and jeans ’cause heaven forbid we come across as legalistic) and giggle with our friends.
Maybe we do have reason to feel guilty.