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 was a pastor 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 but I would say it’s worse with my Dad. So not only was I hearing comments from my parents but also from other pastors or faith leaders, even women who were influenced to believe the sexist 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 political world, 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.
I won’t name names here, but there was a pastor that my friends and I were around for different events and he’s one of the worst ones I know. One time while staying at a hotel for a conference, myself, sister and friend were running through the hallway and this pastor told the boys in his hotel room that the girls were running around like wild animals and needed leashes. This same weekend he got in my face and was yelling at me for something. The next morning after yelling at me the night before, I saw him in the hotel lobby and he said “good morning” to which I replied “good morning” and I guess he didn’t hear me because he grabbed my arm aggressively and told me “I said good morning, communicate!”. All while his wife stood there and said nothing.
Pastors said all the time that women can’t be pastors because they can’t teach men, only women. The men is these religious environments I speak of believe that women have no authority over men and do not have the knowledge a man has. They could only speak at women’s get togethers. Pastors would 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 even one scripture verse 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. The same pastor from the hotel story said, in front of his whole church, that his wife should give him sex whenever he wants it regardless of how she feels. He believed that husbands or men in general, are entitled to sex.
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.
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 horrible men by name. Jack Hyles and Jack Schaap. If you’re ever bored and want to get really mad at something, look them up or 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 videos how much hate is inside these men. They speak and move like they’re possessed by anger.
I’ve been at youth conferences and sat in church every Sunday and Wednesday and the Baptist pastors speaking were always so angry. They screamed, 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 faith leaders 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. I love to meet people with similar stories.