When Mark asked me to write something here on a similar wavelength to my viral “Smokin’ Hot Wives” post, but with an emphasis on Mother’s Day, I knew there could be trouble.
And from the looks of the title, I was right.
(Mark, get ready for some strange #SearchTermsForMyBlog.)
The title sounds racy at best, but the question it provokes is, I think, an important one. Because Christian Culture has a tendency to baptize what the broader culture deems normative. Not least what the broader culture deems normative in regards to gender roles. And that, especially, when we are talking about marriage and family.
See, if it is culturally common to equate masculinity with machismo (and the popularity of the UFC and ESPN suggests that it is), then Christian Culture will jump on board and say that “biblical manhood” means being a strong leader with an angry/violent streak who likes rough sports.*
And, if it is culturally common to view femininity mainly as being physically and sexually attractive to men (and the popularity of Victoria’s Secret and twerking suggests that it is), then Christian Culture will jump on board and say that “biblical womanhood” means treating the female body with suspicion before marriage (because sexy) and using it to satisfy their husbands’ every desire after (because sexy).*
My friend Stephanie Drury searches Twitter every Friday night for Christian men talking about going on “date night” with their “smokin’ hot wives.” There is literally an endless number of tweets that emerge from the search, using those exact words. Misogyny and objectification are cultural realities – we know this – but they are also Christian Cultural realities.
So what does that mean for moms?
To say nothing of the harmfulness of rigid gender roles in general, the weight of an objectifying culture on moms in particular is just crushing. The idea that the same body going through the glorious trauma (traumatic glory?) of bringing brand new human beings into the world is also primarily valued for its sexiness according to the male gaze is an absolute travesty. How on earth can someone live with the dual expectation of birthing/mothering/everything else AND being a smokin’ hot wife for culture’s demanding gaze?
Answer: it’s no way to live.
This culture of misogyny and objectification needs to die. And Jesus’s cross is the perfect way for it to meet its end. [Tweet This]
See, the problem is not the body. God made the body and called it very good. And the problem is not sex or sexiness. Same thing – very good. The problem is sin – the way that we distort the good things God has made. The way we get it twisted. The way we seek illicit pleasure or power or control that harms ourselves and others – and fail to love God, self, and neighbor in the process.
Jesus died on the cross as an affirmation of the body and all that is good in creation. Really, he did! It was sin – gross injustice – for the Romans to lift his body up and break it. By objectifying Jesus’s body to serve their own selfish power, the empire epitomized how all sin works.
Jesus also died on the cross to somehow absorb all our sins into himself. We behave like the empire too, sometimes. We need someone to graciously represent us, to shield us from getting burned from all our fighting fire with fire, to wash our sinful slate clean, to give us a new start.
Oh, and Jesus also rose from the dead as the ultimate affirmation of the body, the renewal and reification of the very good creation – and as a final victory over all the sin that objectified him on that tree.
So I wonder.
Maybe the church needs to take up her cross and buck the cultural trend again.
Maybe the church needs to affirm all people of all genders, identities, and walks of life as truly, very good.
Maybe the church needs to lead the way in putting objectification to death – and raising the beauty of our full humanity to life in Christ.
The result might be wives and moms – and husbands, children, grandparents, friends, siblings, spouses, et al – all free to enjoy their holistic worth and value just as God made them and loves them.
Not because of the particular appearance of their body or a stupid slogan on Twitter.
*Do note that neither UFC nor Victoria’s Secret are necessarily wrong in themselves – but things like this sometimes tip us off to a harmful, demeaning, or objectifying culture at work underneath.