Craig Sowder opined recently about Christian women at Through the Eyes of Faith:
“I'm really starting to think that all young, single, Christian women have brain damage. That's the only explanation I can think of. I mean, in my workplace I am surrounded by plenty of women that are either non-Christians or very nominal, lukewarm Christians and they all behave more reasonably than the Christian women I know.”
I’m inclined to agree with him. Although Craig is somewhat veiled about what specifically Christian women are unreasonable about, I’m going to guess that it has something to do with relationships. After all, Craig is a young, single, red-blooded heterosexual guy, surrounded by young women in the workplace, so there’s a good chance that he’s doing his share of flirting, dating, etc., and workplaces are rife with relationships anyway. Regardless of the case with Craig, I thought that I would take this opportunity to discuss the sanity of young, single, Christian women (hereafter YSCW), since I, and a number of people I know, have had experiences with YSCW in the past, all of which have resulted in disastrous situations and left us questioning their sanity.
So, for those who perhaps haven’t had the pleasure, what are the common experiences with YSCW? Honestly, nothing that’s distinctive from experiences with regular women, (dishonesty, infidelity, manipulation, etc.) but these experiences tend to occur much more frequently and much more egregiously than with regular women.
After a number of barstool discussions, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is something genuinely distinctive about Christianity that makes YSCW much more toxic to relationships. My thesis is that acceptance of female culpability for Original Sin juxtaposed with the projection of Christ onto men is the psychological/theological worm at the middle of this particularly sour apple.
Genesis 3 – “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. They heard the sound of Yahweh God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of Yahweh God among the trees of the garden.
He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’ The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.’ Then Yahweh God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent tricked me, and I ate.’”
Consider this passage from Genesis. The woman is the responsible party for eating the fruit initially, as Adam spares no time in passing the blame onto his wife. But it’s not as if she meant to disobey- after all, she was no intellectual match for the serpent. This passage has been used throughout history as a way to justify female repression, and it’s no surprise that the idea that women are 1) stupid and 2) inherently sinful have been accepted and absorbed into the developing psychology of women, especially in America where religion is much more a part of the general culture. By internalizing this concept, YSCW define themselves as inherently sinful, even more than men, but curiously less responsible for their sin then men, because they are so easily “tricked” into sinning. This results in an increased prevalence of actions typically considered “sin” by Christianity, but without the expected sense of responsibility for those actions.
Despite this lack of moral responsibility, YSCW often become YMCW, often very quickly. And just a quickly, YMCW become YSCW again. I’ve observed this effect time and time again among friends, and while consoling them, I’ve wondered why YSCW are often so dissatisfied with their new husbands. I think the following passage may help to explain it.
Ephesians 5 – “Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”
So in essence, for the YSCW, a potential husband is compared directly to Jesus Christ. And even though they’re mythical shoes, for someone who takes that myth literally, they’re mighty big to fill, especially since every man has his faults. What I suspect is that YSCW approach the most Christ-like man they can find, either expecting him or intending to “help” him become even more Christ-like, and then becoming quickly disappointed when marriage is less than the perfect “Christ and church” dichotomy they’ve expected. Sure, most women enter marriage with at least some ideas of how her husband can change for the better, but only YSCW have an impossible standard of perfection that the Bible says her husband should adhere to.
In addition, there's the element of circular self-justification. Often, YSCW will decide on a particular course of action, one which perhaps would be considered by some to be immoral, and then justify it post hoc by rationalizing that since they really wanted to do this particular thing, then God must have wanted them to do it. Therefore, if that's what God wanted for their lives, the morality of the situation is non-applicable. Obviously, this kind of logic can and is used to justify all number of actions which would seemingly be counter to the Christian worldview, including divorce.
Even when an action is committed which is accepted by the YSCW as immoral, it's just a quick step to beg forgiveness from God and receive redemption. This works because, in the Christian worldview, Christians cannot function as moral agents, and therefore are subject to the whims of their deity. Thus, lying or cheating to the YSCW have no reprecussions, since Jesus Christ paid for all sins already (this is the same kind of rationalization that births all kinds of Christian crime, but that's beside the issue).
Ultimately, of course, this is just armchair psychology from a decided amateur. I’m only going on the experiences of those I have known, and a bit of my own (though I never married a YSCW, fortunately). So this amounts to nothing more than conjecture based on a few anecdotal cases, right?
Well, it turns out that even though my explanations may be off-base, the observations of broken relationships among my friends are representative of an actual trend. George Barna, of the Barna Research Group, recently found that divorce rates of Christian marriages were significantly higher than Atheist marriages. And since these married and now divorced Christian women were (by definition) single at one time, it appears that our friend Craig may not be off-base in wondering about them.
In my experience, marriage to an atheist woman has been wonderful. Not perfect, mind you, but no marriage is, and fortunately I don't have to compare myself to Christ's perfection. Also, our arguments never focus around how we disagree on what "the will of God" may be. Any position I or my wife takes has to be based on logic and evidence. And to be quite honest, it's working quite well.
So what does everyone else think? Am I and my friends the only ones who have had bad experiences with YSCW? Are YSCW really that much worse than non-believing women? Is Barna's data on Christian divorce nothing but rubbish? Discuss.