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Hashtag about Christian women unleashes torrent of emotions

Social media apps on a phone. Photo by Jason Howie/Creative Commons

(RNS) What a Christian author started on a whim rapidly turned into a whirlwind.

Sarah Bessey, author of “Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Review the Bible’s View of Women,” created a Twitter hashtag on Tuesday (April 18) called #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear. She kicked it off with a couple things that have been addressed to her.

Maybe it was a publicity stunt to drive up sales of her book, or garner more Twitter followers. Certainly, it released a flood of pent-up frustrations from women.

 

Men shared things too (when they weren’t trolling the hashtag).

Another had a message for his brothers in Christ:

By Wednesday morning, Bessey took to her Facebook page to reflect on the outpouring (she did not immediately respond to a reporter’s call).

“This hashtag is pulling back the curtain on the everyday lived experiences of women within the Church,” she wrote. She gave thanks that the men in her life encourage her, but then added, “we still need to speak about freedom and expose the lies and amplify the voices of women who have too often been silenced.”

 

About the author

Kimberly Winston

Kimberly Winston is a freelance religion reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

77 Comments

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  • Is that something like the book about Islam where it promotes spanking your wife?

    Chapter (4) sūrat l-nisāa (The Women)

    Sahih International: Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.

    Pickthall: Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High, Exalted, Great.

    Yusuf Ali: Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband’s) absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, (And last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means (of annoyance): For Allah is Most High, great (above you all).

    Shakir: Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great.

    (http://corpus.quran.com/translation.jsp?chapter=4&verse=34)

    Christians – Love your wife as Christ loved the church.
    The woman wrote the book about the wrong following.
    (edit) Christians respect women.

  • “Maybe it was a publicity stunt to drive up sales of her book” – wow, can you tone down the cynicism just a little bit? You’re suggesting Ms Bessey had the most selfish motives. Yet you also say she did it on a whim. And yet again, you say she didn’t respond to a reporter’s call. Clearly you don’t know the story at all, yet you report guesses you make up as you go along. Ms Winston, have you any idea what you are doing?

  • I may be wrong Sandi, but if memory serves, suzyspellcheck is no friend of the Gospel. The “franbot” reference is most likely a sarcastic characterization. She is free to correct me if I am in error, whereupon I will acknowledge my error. But I rather think she was expressing a spiritual truth which she does not accept. I’m sure you would appreciate the story of Balaam’s ass in this context, only Balaam’s ass had better sense than ss.

  • You neglected to mention the Israelites. They were more like Islam. I remember kidding my Mom about the scriptures in Proverbs about a good wife, “her OWNER will rise and pronounce her happy.” She knew the bible better and was a superior teacher, but that glass ceiling and the superiority of men held her back. The admonishment about women in the NT was refreshing but seldom practiced in the history of Christianity until society evolved.

  • Correction: Christians should respect women. There are plenty who claim the name of Christ and who demonstrate no discernible respect or compassion for women at all. The way some of them speak, their version of Christianity is barely distinguishable from Islam, in treatment of women and on other issues as well.

    And that includes plenty of self-appointed leaders.

  • amen, my brother. I was surprised at the change of heart also, but intended to rejoice if it were true…..

  • Sarah Bessey has been drawing attention to the treatment of women in the church for years if not a decade. She did it before she published any books. Maybe she created the hashtag because she actually cares about the way women are treated in the church. Maybe she heard one too many inappropriate statements herself and wanted to share. Maybe she heard again about a women being treated badly and wanted to provide an outlet. All of these are at least as likely as the hypothesis advanced by this reporter.

  • Yes, just look at all those women disciples Jesus accepted…what, about half of twelve, six or so, right?

    And this speaks volumes about women in Christianity…instead of using his miracle powers to get rid of foot odors…Jesus disrespected Mary Magdelene enough to get her to wash his savior feet !!

  • “Fran” was a commenter on RNS from the pre-Disqus days. She was RNS’s only Jehovah’s Witness, and like some other commenters both Christian and atheist, tended to produce the same copy over and over again. What is posted above is pretty much an excerpt. Look closely and you will see the JW theology.

  • You were raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, correct? I just checked the 1984 New World Translation for Proverbs 31:28 and it does indeed say “her owner” for “ba’ala.” The 2013 Revision replaces it with “her husband,” consistent with most Jewish and Christian translations, even the original King James Bible. The truth is the word “ba’al,” which Hebrew borrowed from the Canaanite deity Ba’al with whom the Israelites were familiar, does literally mean master or lord. But in the context of the Proverb here it can mean husband. In modern Hebrew it is used both ways (and wife is ba’alah). In short, master or owner was one way in which the author of this Proverb saw a woman’s husband.

  • Same here. Sadly, though, it’s not so far from the mainstream as either of us would like it to be.

    If you don’t believe me, you might check out the treatment that Marie Notcheva received from her church when she divorced an abusive man. Also, how Karen Hinckley was mistreated by Matt Chandler’s church, as well as some of John Piper’s more outlandish statements on women and marriage.

    The CBMW is a total con game.

  • You are going to find that anywhere. The point is, Christians do not mandate hurting women. I gave several interpretations of the same writing from the Quran and they all said to abuse women.

  • Umm, the last time I checked, Mary volunteered to do the foot-washing — and the one person who was all uptight about the event, was Judas Iscariot !!

  • A gentleman would have turned Mary away from his dirty feet…and it sure looks like Judas is the hero in this foot washing escapade !!

  • Even if it doesn’t mean don’t speak at all, it’s still an admonishment for women not to speak at certain times.

  • Do you speak during a speech? Do you speak when your boss is talking? I think you are splitting hairs.
    Some people go to church to learn, Arb. We don’t need to hear rude people instead of the pastor.

  • I like the women-run mosque in Berkeley. it’s named the Heart of Mary mosque in honor of the mother of Jesus. Jesus is a prophet in the Qu’ran, the second most important prophet, and Mary always accompanies him. Men are welcome to join this mosque.

  • Depending on the type of talk being given, I would raise my hand. But that’s something I would expect both men and women to do.

  • You think the guy who was embezzling from the ministry’s funds was “the hero”? Donald Trump, is that you?

  • How generous of god to tell men not to hit their women! I believe
    The Abrahamic religions claim women are inferior to men and under their headship. That in and of itself is reprehensible and abusive in modern society.

  • The Disciples were to Jesus as the Memphis Mafia were to Elvis. He was much closer to Mary Magdalene and Mary and Martha than to any of them. Some have speculated “The beloved Disciple” was Lazarus, Brother of Mary and Martha.

  • Characterizing someone based on these posts as “not a friend of the gospel” is reprehensible.

  • Actually, scripture teaches that a man should love his wife, as Christ loves the church, and a woman is to respect her husband. Seems to me, if you love someone, you do repect them also.

  • It is not. Having revisited a recent post by SS, I am more completely confirmed in that view. You recently used the phrase, “calling a spade a spade,” Within the context of Ms. SS’s remarks. I have done exactly that. And based on your history of remarks, the same assessment follows. It is not a malicious judgment, but a frank declaration based on a large body of remarks in which Christians and their reliance on the Gospel are regularly disparaged.

  • Oh yes, I remember Fran quite well; and while I may be biased, I don’t see Sandi in the same light. Atheist Max was also inclined in that direction, though we don’t see much of him anymore, though he has used other names. Sandi does cite reams of scripture, but they are usually to the point of the discussion, and often amends them with a personal perspective which makes her posts more lively, and less static in nature. Thank you for the reminder on Fran.

  • “Separate but equal” doesn’t work, unfortunately. However you spin it, that’s what you’re suggesting here. There’s a reason why secular societies don’t do that anymore–and a reason why Christianity, especially the kind you seem to like, does.

  • Childbearing is something specific to women as a fact of nature (and there are even some women who can’t have children, so womanhood can’t be defined even by that). The notion that the CBMW and its allies keep pushing is one of leadership and teaching being somehow forbidden to women, simply because of their gender. To me, it’s an idea that flies in the face of common sense, personal experience, and the character and example of Jesus Himself.

    And the fruits of this teaching, as I’ve mentioned on other threads, is rotten. To the core.

  • Women were created to be a help mate to men. If you have difficulties with that, take it up with the Lord. Women have a different role.
    If a woman were meant to do a man’s job, God would have made her a man.

  • Actually, you’re just using evo-psych, a totally discredited pseudoscience, to justify systemic sexism. “Separate but equal” doesn’t work and has never worked. That’s why we don’t use it anymore in reality-land. In Christian-land, it’s still in use because it’s brutally effective at freezing injustice in place and maintaining a power base for those who want it. You didn’t address my point, only brought up another reason to totally be happy that your religion is failing dramatically these days.

  • Oooh, it’d really suck if it turned out that your fairy tale wasn’t true and women weren’t “created” by anybody. Your “Lord” isn’t talking to anybody, if he ever did, and your religion’s holy book advocates slavery, genocide, and sexual servitude. It is not a moral guide that anybody sensible trusts.

    You’re digging yourself deeper and deeper here, do you realize that? You’re making your product look even worse than it already did to others. “Hey, come convert to my totally sexist broken system. A god made it all.” Uh, right.

  • That is so loving and amazingly Jesus-like. You are a fine ambassador for your beliefs. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. You turn the other cheek, always have a ready answer for those who question your beliefs, and go the second mile for anyone. You are a wonderful Christian, perfectly representative of exactly what I expect out of your fine religion.

  • So what you are saying is religious affiliation is based entirely on political correctness to you. Such a situation is entirely contrary to the real “gospel” of Jesus Christ. I take that as a badge of honor.

  • So it is okay if men do it? I followed your comments and you flip between anyone to just women.

  • Perhaps you might want to look at this resource, linked to the page for Muslim women http://www.faithtrustinstitute.org/resources/learn-the-basics/dv-muslim-women-faqs#What%20is%20Islam%27s%20position? as there are questions specific to what you have alluded to and explained. Abuse is not considered acceptable. (The page for Jewish women is also interesting in terms of religious/cultural issues being a barrier.)

    But according to this Christian ministry, Christians are not any better when it comes to real life. They claim that 1 in 4 Christian women experience domestic violence. http://www.focusministries1.org/

  • Woman’s God-given roles were the arguments used by Christian churches and leaders who opposed giving women the right to vote or to own and inherit property – and that really wasn’t that long ago – a hundred years or so.

  • Political correctness has nothing to do with it. Suzy Spellcheck has specifically and repeatedly expressed disdain for Christianity, which naturally encompasses the Gospel. It takes a committed degree of obtuseness not to perceive that particular fact.

  • Maybe he just got tired, I know I do. But the exchanges are both intoxicating, exhilarating, and addicting. Odd the things we become strung out on.

  • Depends. Are we talking about Mark Driscoll claiming that God wants a woman to perform any sex act her husband demands (no matter how uncomfortable she is with it)? Or John Piper teaching that a wife should endure spousal abuse for a season?

    If so, then I have no problem at all with anyone, male or female, standing up and shouting, “Shut up, you fool! Stop teaching evil nonsense in Jesus’ name!”

  • If you’re telling the truth, and I doubt it, they should have been approached by a member of the congregation for their error. I think you make things up though

  • So? Are you asserting child bearing isn’t a God given role Linda? It’s the same as pastoring, it’s a God given role.

  • Jesus Christ himself would have disdain for what is being sold as Christianity today, the Mainline mostly excepted. The actions of charlatans like Falwell, Dobson, Reed, Perkins et al are worthy of disdain and more. By stating such she honors Christ more than they ever have or will.

  • “Approached by a member of the congregation”? You mean, in private? Why? They’re spouting their nonsense in public, so they deserve to be called out in public.

    I think you make things up though

    Think again, sister.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christianpiatt/2013/04/mark-driscolls-oral-fixation/

    https://arewomenhuman.wordpress.com/2010/08/08/john-piper-wives-should-endure-abuse-for-a-season/

    And just for good measure, this gem from Driscoll:

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2012/09/20/mark-driscolls-bizarre-world-of-queen-esther-the-bachelorette/

  • If you have difficulties with that, take it up with the Lord.

    No, I don’t accept that gender comp doctrine comes from the Lord. So I’ll take it up with Driscoll and Piper and Chandler and DeYoung and all the other numbskulls who push this chauvinistic garbage. They want to push nonsense in the name of Jesus, I’ll push back. Hard.

    If a woman were meant to do a man’s job, God would have made her a man.

    You mean like all those examples of women being miraculously turned into men, just so that they could do “men’s jobs”? Like Deborah, and Jael, and Huldah, and Anna, and Mary Magdalene, and Priscilla, and Philip’s daughters, and…? Oh, wait, they stayed women. Never mind.

  • Child bearing is biology. Pastoring has nothing to do with biology – it is a calling. God given roles were assumed to mean that women lacked the capacity to make political decisions in an informed, independent manner.

  • Sandi, I trust you realize this already, but your attitude towards Captain Cassidy stinks. I don’t know her full story; I just know that she used to be a Christian, and has no intention of joining our circle again. And I seriously doubt that your dismissive attitude, or your views on marriage and gender relations, will do much to make belief in God more appealing. I, for one, don’t blame her.

    If you were trying to show the love of Jesus just now, I suggest you take a different approach.

  • Wish I could, but i don’t open links from people I don’t know. So, I guess we’ll have to leave it at my not believing you.

  • And this is how you treat me, a fellow believer. Well, at least you’re consistent in your contempt.

  • Well, in case you’re interested in actually knowing what these men teach, here are the pertinent sections. Emphases are mine.

    From the first link (quoted from Driscoll’s 2007 sermon in Edinburgh):

    She [the wife] says, “I’ve never performed oral sex on my husband. I’ve refused to.” I said, “You need to go home and tell your husband that you’ve met Jesus and you’ve been studying the Bible, and that you’re convicted of a terrible sin in your life. And then you need to drop his trousers, and you need to serve your husband. And when he asks why, say, ‘Because I’m a repentant woman. God has changed my heart and I’m supposed to be a biblical wife.’” She says, “Really?” I said, “Yeah. First Peter 3 says if your husband is an unbeliever to serve him with deeds of kindness.”

    From the second (quoted from a video of Piper’s):

    Now that’s one kind of situation. Just a word on the other kind. If it’s not requiring her to sin, but simply hurting her, then I think she endures verbal abuse for a season, she endures perhaps being smacked one night, and then she seeks help from the church.

    And from the third (Driscoll’s intro to his sermon series on Esther):

    “She grows up in a very lukewarm religious home as an orphan raised by her cousin. Beautiful, she allows men to tend to her needs and make her decisions. Her behavior is sinful and she spends around a year in the spa getting dolled up to lose her virginity with the pagan king like hundreds of other women. She performs so well that he chooses her as his favorite. Today, her story would be, a beautiful young woman living in a major city allows men to cater to her needs, undergoes lots of beauty treatment to look her best, and lands a really rich guy whom she meets on The Bachelor and wows with an amazing night in bed. She’s simply a person without any character until her own neck is on the line, and then we see her rise up to save the life of her people when she is converted to a real faith in God.”

    If you don’t trust the links I provided, you can search for them yourself online. They’re not hard to find.

    (Edited to add HTML tags.)

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