Higher, Further, Faster

I gave up apologizing for lent.

I didn’t say repentance, something that will forever mark me as I follow Christ.

In all seriousness, somewhere along the way I learned to apologize for taking up space, being in places that were normally reserved for men.

When “biblical womanhood” was taught to me, many avoided stories found in Scripture, or spun them out of context in order to fit what is actually known to be more of a Victorian picture of a woman. However, I didn’t know this at the time. I learned quickly that silence and a regular “sorry” might be most helpful as I carried myself into places God had clearly called me; the words and actions of misplaced shame inevitably changing what I believed about myself. I hid my shame for having these brazen gifts God has given with garments coated in guilt.

If I had something to say that might challenge the thoughts or ideas of the men around me, others would mistake it for aggression. Instead of having something to offer, I was perceived as a threat. All the while I was to prove myself, but what more could I give if I had already hit the ceiling of my value?

What I didn’t realize is that the problem didn’t lie within me.

Before going to see Captain Marvel, an article came out that warned me about the movie’s heinous sins dripping of the terrible message it sends to females. What I read was a scathing review not only of the story that didn’t impress the author, but also an argument that lacked true biblical substance and created false dilemmas. Since my writing of this, it has been edited, sadly only taking a few of the many troublesome beliefs with it.

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His longing for Disney princesses past as our model for femininity is a bizarre argument at best. The only reference of Scripture in the entire article is thrown out at the very end, with a comment on Jesus’ care for his mother as he suffers and dies on the Cross as the author’s way of discussing how men should look out for women. Although it feels like a bit of a way to simply throw in a verse to be able to say that they got one in there, if the author is using Christ as a way to dictate how we should treat women, maybe he should see all of how He does, and not just one example that seems to further his cause. I worship Jesus who entrusted woman with the good news (Matthew 16:6), who empowered them to share it (Matthew 16:7), and who equipped them with the Spirit (Acts 2:4).

The depiction of what is hoped for out of femininity in this article is not what complementarianism should be, but is instead patriarchy. If complementarians attempt to recognize both the sameness of men and women and also our differences, a wholehearted “we need each other”—then this article says that we need you in a way that is entirely unthreatening, fitting a mold that we have made with our own hands. This version of biblical womanhood is idolatry. Unfortunately, no matter where you might land on your view of women and their roles in life, you still might be complicit in the misogyny that lies so deeply entrenched in what has been taught and told. Reacting to feminism that says we are equal to men, should be a wholehearted, “yes and amen.” Instead, the pushback in this article becomes a wholly unbiblical and unrealistic catapult that now has something to do with women in the military? Let’s hear the words found in the beginning: You are the same of my same (Genesis 2:23).

Deborah and Jael were not God’s plan B, not there just because a prince charming couldn’t do the job, whatever commentary might say it, because God doesn’t have a plan B. Together, we have always been plan A, because it wasn’t good for the man to be alone. He needed not just what we call a helpmate, but a warrior to fight alongside him through what this life would hold. Just because the scripture that is used references women as being the church in a relationship between man and woman (Ephesians 5:25) doesn’t mean that we are exempt from living Christoform, embodying Jesus as a call regardless of gender. By God’s great mercy, the Bible has shown us time and time again, deliverance oftentimes comes from the faithful obedience of a woman.

Ironic, then, that it would be said, “how far we’ve come since the days when we sought to protect and cherish our women,” while church history has only shown the devastation of not believing women. Spiritual, sexual, mental, and physical abuse has wreaked havoc on the testimony of men seeking to protect women while worshipping a model of one silent. The author is reminiscent of a past that simply has never existed. Not only are we not allowed to lead in any capacity, but the true value of what that implies has been made explicit. A communal lament is surely proper here.

Thankfully, I’m not the only one to have spoken up and said anything, as Christ and Pop Culture recently published an article saying this:

When articles such as the one I’ve been mentioning are published (which even today is a not-infrequent Christian response to big-budget movies featuring female action heroes), it is usually under the guise of wanting to protect women. The argument is not always “men are physically stronger,” but it usually takes some related form. And I don’t fault men who want to protect women—it is noble and godly to desire to serve others. But to do so to the exclusion of the strengths of the helpmates God created to work alongside men is to take a good mandate and poison it with pride and self-sufficiency. In real life, not all men are strong. And even when they are, they are often not protectors. When bad theology masquerading as Christianity takes a tyrannical hold on cultural narratives, it often allows misogyny to strangle the goodness out of stories.
— K.B. Hoyle

*Spoiler alert*

So as I watched Captain Marvel alongside my husband on Monday evening, my heart swelled at seeing a story much like my own. Carol Danvers was inundated with lies that defined who she was, those untruths limiting her. When she was confronted with the truth, she was able to be changed by it, and in turn, was able to change the world around her by sharing what she was given with others. The Kree had power, and they abused it. The Skrulls were not threatened by her powers, teaming with her in partnership regardless of who was better than the other, acknowledging the strengths of both to overcome.

The Desiring God article does have it right in some ways: Captain Marvel doesn’t do the work that it’s supposed to. White feminism, including all of the ways in which we seek to avoid the plight of all women by not being too overtly political, disregarding race and class, brings its own set of new issues to discuss. We must hope for these things in the future, asking those to get more creative with how we truly incorporate the picture of our intermeshed lives.

How I long for the day when the Church can embrace both women and men seen as equally important. Lady Wisdom teaches us that we are all a part of a war that is waging, and we need to link arms. The toxicity of the beliefs of patriarchy hurt both men and women alike. Let’s recognize the lies for what they are no matter what clothing they might be wearing to disguise themselves, and proclaim the truth.

Apparently the author isn’t wrong: “feminist lust cannot be appeased.” I will not be silent when all of humanity suffers with a small vision of what women are allowed to be.


I also thoroughly enjoyed this piece by Eric Schumacher.