There are a few topics that really infuriate me and sexism is one of them. I can’t even get into how bad this issue is in our society in one post but I’ll do my best to at least cover how it shows up in religious environments.
I’ve said before that I was raised in a strict Baptist household. My Dad had his own church for 11 years of my life but was working in the ministry long before I was born. Both of my parents have a sexist view of the world so not only was I hearing comments from my parents but also from other pastors or faith leaders, even women, who believe these teachings.
From the time I was a little girl I was taught to be ladylike, dress modestly at all times, aspire to marry a man and have children, never join the military or politics, never become a pastor, don’t cut my hair too short, don’t wear too much makeup, don’t touch boys, text boys, date boys and especially, never ever have sex. Don’t be too weak but don’t be too strong either, only go to Bible college, don’t move out of the house unless you’re getting married (or attending Bible college).
When I was 16, I remember telling my parents that I didn’t want to get married. They both laughed and said “Of course you do! Don’t worry, you’ll find someone and you’ll want to get married”. Umm I didn’t say I was worried there were no men out there for me, I simply was not interested. Not only is this a whole issue because of societal standards but it is a religious issue as well. Girls are taught that they HAVE to marry someone. It’s the goal in life. Get married, have kids, be a stay at home mom and then just be an unemployed old lady until you die. The end.
If you were a girl in a religious environment and were strong willed and confident, you were a problem. If you used your voice and showed your personality, that was a problem. You were not supposed to have personal goals, strong opinions or different beliefs. You weren’t supposed to have career goals, put your kids in public school, dress fashionably, have financial success or remain single through life. These things were either laughed at or strongly preached against.
One of the big issues with religious groups treating women poorly is that they limit their spiritual growth. Women and girls are not allowed to be as involved in church as men and boys are. Pastors I grew up around said all the time that women can’t be pastors because they can’t teach men, they can only teach women. The men is these religious environments believe that women have no authority over men and do not have the knowledge a man has. Pastors would then twist scripture to support this.
These pastors also preached how women have to dress a certain way to maintain God’s favor. Saying women who wear pants are an abomination to God. My Dad has said several times while he preached that God looks at women wearing pants and throws up. Women are blamed for being sexually harassed and assaulted because of the clothes they had on. Again, they twist scripture to support this and live their whole lives by it.
Pastors I grew up around never preached about how they needed to do better. Be better husbands, dads and leaders. They only preached at women for everything they did wrong. They used scripture to glorify men and hate on women. Even blaming women for sin entering the world. Claiming that women were created for the sole purpose of being a mans wife and serving her husband and of course, having children. Saying women are weak, sensitive, wild and ignorant.
Let’s not forget how some horrible pastors have made fun of women for having periods, having fun with their friends or being overweight. Some of these pastors believe grown women need male supervision. They also glorify having sons over daughters. I spent the better part of my childhood wishing I was a boy so my parents would actually like me and so I could wear whatever I wanted.
Are you mad yet? Me too. I kind of went off on a rant there. Let me say quickly that my Dad did not believe or teach everything I named. But I know plenty of other men who do. I will call out a few of these men by name. Jack Hyles and Jack Schaap. If you’re ever bored and want to get really mad at something, look them up and watch some sermon clips on YouTube. The way they speak to women is absolutely appalling. These are big name men in Baptist history that other men aspired to be like. You will see in their videos how much hate is inside these men.
I’ve been at youth conferences and sat in church every Sunday and Wednesday and the Baptist pastors speaking were always so angry. They yelled, punched things and jumped all over the stage. One guy did literal cartwheels. They claimed it was the holy spirit getting them all fired up but really it was all the rage built up inside them. These men were bitter, abusive, sexist, most likely racist, perverted, and hateful. I think the people they disliked the most were teenagers and women.
If you grew up around these types of people, I’m truly sorry. I’m not saying all this to hate on all churches or all pastors. I’m simply calling out the bad ones and sharing my experience. There are some great pastors out there who are doing so much good, so please keep that in mind. But there are also horrible men teaching very damaging beliefs in churches as well. They do not have God’s spirit in their life. They are what some refer to as false prophets.
If you have been in churches like this, let me know in the comments.