Wednesday, January 17, 2018

An Ugly Story

As we continue to dive into this unnamed book that I'm talking about whose author is beloved by so many Christians, but whose writing is anything but, something else comes out of this unrecognizable "we" that she has created on the wide road by conceiving of Jesus as nothing more than a teacher and of Scripture as the most fragile of threads:

It gets really ugly. 

This is a woman who claims to love God, but if you read her book, you get more the impression of a miserable old bitty, a chain-smoking hag tucked away in the corner of the bar, and you get the sense that she's proud of this. Like, you know, she's just like all the rest of us. (Here's that "we" again.)

It's ugly. 

You're reading along in this book, and you're listening to this woman who is judging life by all its darknesses, trying to create a camaraderie through misery, swearing out the sides of her mouth without a second thought about it except perhaps her own insecurities because, let's face it, that's what happens when all you've got is the miserable stuff: insecurity. You can tell she's insecure, too, by the way she raises an eyebrow after dropping a curse word.

It didn't take long before I was saying to myself, "This is a Christian woman?" And that's part of the problem with a theology of this sort, one that takes Jesus as just a good teacher and as perhaps a good idea and widens the road until we all fit on it - it's not just that this author has created a picture of Jesus that is far lesser than He truly is; it's that she has created a picture of us, particularly of those of us who are women (since she is also a woman), that is far lesser than we truly are.

God has a design for beauty, and this isn't it. God has an intention for femininity, and it's sorely lacking here. We read Proverbs 31 or 1 Peter 3, and we know what it is that God desires from a woman, but we read this woman's words, and there's none of that in there. As if it's not valuable. Or as if it doesn't matter. Or as if, even, God's design for women is the lesser thing.

You can almost hear her saying it: yeah, I curse - so what? Yeah, I complain - so what? Yeah, I grumble and gossip and judge - so what? You expect me to not engage in all that stuff that "all women" do just because I'm a Christian woman? Methinks thy corset is a bit too tight.

But that's just it. She has taken the lessons of her own wide road theology and internalized them so that in her mind, God's image of a woman is the lesser image of a woman. So that in her mind, she is entitled to all the judgment and gossip and grumbling and complaining and even swearing and cursing and spitting that women of the world do. She wants to be made in the image of a woman and then, perhaps, find room to love God a little, too.

It just doesn't work like that. What she's ended up with is something much lesser, and it's written all over the pages of her so-called Christian book. She is no longer a woman, no longer filled with the feminine beauty of womanhood, no longer created in the relational dynamic of God as a complementary creation, nor is she any longer a Christian, having taken the wide road rather than the narrow one. And this means that her witness on both points - on what it means to be a woman and on what it means to be a Christian - is an ugly one, uglier still if she is claiming to be a Christian woman.

We are, first, beings created in the image of God. We are, first, His, not ours. We are, first, the fullness of God's design for human nature. It is only when we recognize this that we have integrity in our beings and the full measure of both our human nature and our God-likeness. We cannot obtain them separately; they are intimately woven together.

What we see in this woman's narrative is not a beautiful tapestry, but a tangle of knots. Because it's missing something essential, something fundamental, something foundational to the whole thing.

And that is a God who is more than just a "good teacher." She is missing a Father, a Savior, a Friend. 

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