At first I thought it was going to be like a “31 days in a month = 31 days to eat healthy” kind of thing. But when I clicked – and clicked and clicked and clicked, as Twitter goes sometimes – learned that it was a little more convoluted than a simple diet campaign. I’ve learned over the years that in order to voice an opinion in a public venue, you also need to have enough knowledge to back it up. So I read approximately 1,400 pages from other #Live31 commentators. I’ve read their Facebook page, their Twitter feed, and seen their YouTube video on their website. I’ve read the disagree-ers, the supporters, and the all-around-rude-talkers. And now, I think I can say that I officially have an opinion.
I don’t think I like this movement. I don’t think I like it one bit.
I tried. I promise I tried. Because when I look in the mirror, I don’t see a Victoria’s Secret fashion model. I don’t have the legs or the boobs or the ability to walk in high heels while feathers block my view. I definitely don’t have the tall thing going for me, and the only time I like posing for pictures is when I know it’s going to end up on Instagram. So heck no techno to being a Victoria’s Secret model. But I do like to read Proverbs 31, and I like to believe that I can “laugh at the days to come,” or “fear the Lord.” So yes, I’d rather be this virtuous woman. She sounds fantastic.
But sometimes, I don’t measure up to those things. And I have to believe God still loves silly little me. Because if I don’t look like a VS model, the world will reject me. And now, if I don’t measure up to this passage, men will reject me too? Who decided that the purpose of being a virtuous woman was to gain a man? Who determines our worth to be found in our relationships status? I used to believe relationship equated reward, and I was bruised deeply by that ugly lie.
The words in Proverbs 31 bring it right back down to a concept of feminism known as the “male gaze.” This is shown in the end of verse 30 – “…but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” The whole thing is told by (most scholars believe) Solomon – a man! He has described a fictitious woman who men are to “praise”, and this movement is now setting that description as the only woman worth settling for. The one praised by man! This is not an attack on men; they cannot help their frame of reference any more than a woman can. We are all wired certain ways and there’s little that can be done to switch that. But should these men from Baylor be telling women nation-wide what kind of woman they should be and why?
It would be hard to say what hasn’t already been said. I agree with those who beckon the question of exclusion – what would a Victoria’s Secret model, upon her arrival to this Facebook page, be led to believe about Jesus, Christianity, or the Church after reading? You have compared her to a passage in Scripture that describes an “ideal woman” and you have called her the antonym. A woman who fights the lie that she is not good enough would be crushed. A woman surrounded by comparison and loneliness would be brokenhearted. Any campaign – whether Christian or not – should never idolize one woman at the expense of another.
I also agree with those who argue that the Proverbs 31 woman, while a desirable woman, is not the ideal. She is not a goal to be attained, nor a model by which we should measure ourselves. Christ is the model. Christ is the only model. And we are only able to strive after His model because of the Grace that sanctifies us every single day and makes us more and more like Himself. And the crazy thing is, we aren’t the ones at work within ourselves; He is. And He is nowhere near through with us yet.
My biggest problem with the whole thing is that if we focus on this slogan-ized rendition of our faith, I think we have missed the Story. If we simplify the Christian female expectation in this way, we are so far off from the point of the Gospel that it is devastating.
The point is that we all fall short. Neither woman – the VS model or the Proverbs 31 woman – is undeserving or unfit for the gospel that Jesus came and preached. Both women fall short. Both women need Grace. Both women deserve Love, in light of the cross. I don’t think this is lost on the men from Baylor; I just don’t see it on their page.
Any story told outside of the Grace of God is not a story that depicts the bigger Story. And our lives are meant to depict the bigger Story, making much of Jesus at any cost.
I’d love to know your thoughts, your questions. I’m not as brilliant as most of my blogging peers who are writing on this subject, but I am definitely just as interested.