In ‘Dragon’s Den’ style I have something I would like to pitch to the Christian market….and what a market it is (but that’s for another day!).  Drumroll please…………..

……yes a blindfold.  It could come in a variety of styles; sporty, smart, geek-chic, and even more colours.  It could be emblazoned with mottos, logos and as many semi-colons and capital Xs as possible (I know the market!). 

But why?  Well one of the people I love most in the world is involved in a church group which in my mind is a little strange.  Now strange can of course be amazing, so many of the wierdest people I know are those who live out faith in the most provocative and obedient ways.  This group however, seems to believe that men and women should behave in some odd ways.  My friend is a very beautiful girl… I mean show stopping beautiful.  What makes her even more attractive is that she is such an amazing person as well (makes you sick!).  She loves Jesus and is striving to follow him in all she does.  This group though, instead of celebrating  her for who she is has taken to chipping away her, battering her confidence and pushing her away.  This beautiful girl, let’s call her Eve (!), wears the clothes that many 20 year olds wear.  She looks good.  The group thinks she looks too good.  The other day one of the group, appointed specifically for the task, told Eve she should start wearing clothers 2x her size so as not to distract the boys.  I was not aware that dowdy, frumpy, non-attractiveness was so scientifically defined by wearing clothes exactly 2x your size – an important point for us all to note!  Eve was upset….well more than that.  This amazing, faithful girl under critque and judgement for being beautiful.  Now I have worked with young people for over ten years and have encountered many, many young people who use their dress as a way of proclaiming their own insecurities.  Young people who scream, ‘I need someone’, young people who try to use sexuality as a way to buy affection….Eve is not like that.  She dresses well, she could wear a sack and still be beautiful and probably accused of causing others to sin!  This issue it seems isn’t Eve’s.  She is not the one who is jealous, or lustful or ungracious, or judgemental.  Where is the responsible of those people?

Listening to Radio 4 one day I heard something talking about their response to Muslim women wearing the Burka.  Although the person in question affirmed a woman’s right to choose this if she wished, she also posed an important question; ‘Why if the Burka is about modesty, does it merely rely on a women?  Surely it would be more cost effective to just give every man a thin strip of fabric to cover his eyes!’  I think there is a real return for Christians to this question of modesty.  I believe that our bodies are amazing and should be treated with respect, for example not objectified, but I also believe they are made for enjoyment.  Why does a Christian response to modesty 99 out of 100 times seem to be about how a women dresses?  Where is the responsibility of the onlooker?  Didn’t Jesus say something about even looking lutfully as being equated to adultery.  The empathsis of his address was placed on the onlooker.  I am not suggesting girls should parade around in literally nothing, but I believe they should be able to dress in ways that they are comfortable and confident in. 

So the blindfold is my solution to the issue!  My friend can still wear her cool sassy clothes, in the correct size, and at last those who find it so offensive can overcome their own issue.


Feminist Jesus

I’ve been thinking for a while that I’d like to write a paper or do a talk on ‘Jesus:  The Feminist’.   I’m not sure who would read or listen to what I have to say, but practising my arguments helps pass the time when I should be doing other things like work!  In the interests of research the other day I drew on the best of academic resources available to me….Google.  Firstly, I read a very articulate article on Jesus as a feminist which made me think I still need to polish my own rants.  Secondly I found a disgusting, offensive and totally abhorant website basically conveying the author’s opinion that women are second-class citizens in God’s Kingdom.  Nick, my husband, immediately told me to leave the site in concern that I may engage in one of my tirades – website tourettes – against the ‘author’.  It was just so inticing to read though!  The arguments put across were irrational, unbiblical and stank of misogyny.  My favourite line had to be “Not one man has ever had an abortion!” as seeming justification that men are righteous before God and women evil.  I think he failed to perceive the anatomical limitations of his argument somehow.

Sadly this kind of attitude, although in this case very extreme, seems to underline so much of the Christian thinking I have encoutered.  From the raised eyebrows of  ‘Oh so you used to be your husband’s line manager’ to the ‘feminism is from satan’ I have struggled to equate the Jesus I read of in the gospels with the one that thinks I am a little less (or in some cases a lot less) valuable than a man.  In the words of George Orwell  “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others

So what to do?  Give it all up?  succumb to the call of home-baking, home-making, baby-making, baby-rearing, always endearing, hospitable, unflappable, unintelligible, unquestioning wife and mother? (Not that I think being a ‘stay at home’ mummy is in any way wrong – just not very me!)  I am afraid I can’t – much to my husband’s and daughter’s relief (I really can’t cook well).  Onwards with the challenge in the belief that equality, fairness and justice are at the very heart of God.