Tag Archives: objectification

Linking You Up.

I have been home alone this week – kiddos have been visiting with their grandparents.  It all came about suddenly and before I knew it, they were off on their trip and I was home alone.  I had a million things on my “must-do list”, the least of which was to write some thoughtful (no little ones interrupting my train of thought!  yay!!!) blog posts.

But I have had the startling experience of unproductivity in the face of all this independence.  Yes, I still had my job to do every morning for several hours.  Yes, we managed to shop for and purchase a second car.  Yes, we’ve moved Abbey’s bedroom out of our walk-in closet and into the boys’ room (this required a lot of painting).  Yes, we are still trying to get the boys’ room ready downstairs.  Yes, Logan and I went out to celebrate our tenth anniversary (I thought for sure I would have a sentimental blog post about how our relationship has grown and changed and beautifully improved over the years).  But I have been lonely and uninspired without my entourage.  I’ve also avoided everyone else in my life and turned into a hermit this week!

So I decided today it was the least I could do to share some of my favorite posts from other bloggers this week.  When I have my little posse back, I’ll be eager to be having adult thoughts again and won’t be zoning out to “White Collar” episodes every night.  Without further ado…

This week, Jon Huckins wrote about “Raising Girls In a World Where They are Less Than Human.”  I would encourage you to email this powerful post to the fathers of daughters in your contact list.  I did.

The Junia Project shared the “10 Best Sites for Egalitarians (+5 more).”  Check them out!

Esther Emery explained “What Feminists and Complementarians Have in Common (Let Me Be a Woman).”  In a similar vein, Marg Mowczko wisely taught us “How to Keep Friends and Influence People” when sharing our Egalitarian views with others.

Tim and Anne Evans share a third post in their marriage series on The Junia Project, “Co-Leadership in Marriage: Who’s In Authority?”  Earlier posts in the series: “Co-Leadership in Marriage: Let’s Talk about Submission” and “Co-Leadership in Marriage: What about Headship?”

I loved this piece by Rachel Held Evans on modesty for Q: “Modesty: I Don’t Think it Means What You Think it Means.”

Sarah Bessey wrote this beautiful piece for The High Calling: “Rethinking Scarcity: A Legacy of Abundance.”  Here are a couple quotes to whet your appetite:

The myth of scarcity tells the powerful to accumulate and take and dominate, to be driven by the fear of Not Enough and Never Enough. We make our decisions out of fear and anxiety that there isn’t enough for us. These core beliefs can lead us to the treacheries of war and hunger, injustice and inequality. We must keep others down so we can stay on top. We stockpile money and food and comforts at the expense of one another and our own souls. Throughout Scripture, we can see the myth of scarcity’s impact on—and even within—the nation of Israel. The prophets wrote and stood in bold criticism against the empire’s myth of scarcity that built on the backs of the poor and oppressed….

…But it’s within the life of our Jesus that we see it most clearly: Jesus was the full embodiment of what it means to be human in the way that God intended. He uplifts instead of tearing down, he heals instead of kills, he lays down his life instead of fighting to survive, he chooses compassion instead of numb acceptance, he is water to a thirsty soul, bread to the hungry, oil of joy for mourning. And instead of death, he is life. Life!\

And The Work of the People posted a new video with Sarah Bessey that you should not miss: “Detoxing From Not Enough.”

Here is a link to a free ebook by Oscar Romero: “The Violence of Love.”  I will definitely be reading this.  He was martyred while he was the archbishop of San Salvador, assassinated for his work on behalf of the oppressed.

Ann Voskamp’s weekly “Multivitamins for Your Weekend” always bring a smile.

I wholeheartedly agree with Elizabeth Esther on parents who use home schooling as a means to abusing their children.  Makes me furious.  Gotta love her title: “Protecting Christian homeschooling’s reputation vs. protecting abused kids, slam poetry for menstruation, children of Christian narcissists and books I’ve been reading.”

I really love Kathy Escobar.  This week she has been sharing a helpful series on grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  We’re all grieving something, so this is powerful stuff.

And don’t miss the CBE links: “The Scroll Links Up 6/27/14”.

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Musings on my muffin top

I read a fascinating book last year by Kevin Leeman, author of “The Birth Order Book.”  This one was, “What Your Childhood Memories Say About You.”   The basic premise is that our earliest childhood memories are those “aha!” moments when we had a monumental realization about who we are. 

One of my early memories is watching my mom exercise to Jane Fonda videos in our living room.

If I had to guess, I bet that isn’t a stand-out memory for my three brothers.  Even though I was largely protected from damaging media, I still absorbed our culture’s not-so-subtle message that I must be thin and attractive to have approval, worth and love, from the angst of my mother as she struggled to maintain her slender figure.


I was never unhappy with my body growing up.  People tell me I’m tall – I’m 5’7″ – but I always knew I should be 5’10”, and probably would have been if I hadn’t needed corrective surgery at 14 for a mild case of spina bifida occulta.  My brother’s are 6’5″ and 6’7″, so I’m something of a runt in my family.

We’re doing “CREATION Health” in our Bible study right now, and last time we met, we each described a time in our life when we were most fit, and how did that feel.  For me, that was in college.  I was hitting the gym, jogging and biking in the wooded trails around campus, taking kickboxing classes and swing dancing on weekends.  I felt strong, energetic and powerful.

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My brother Jon and I backpacking thru Europe in 2002.

Lately, I feel weak, tired and vulnerable.  I have a recurring dream that I’m being chased by an attacker and I just cannot move fast enough to get away.

When I was in grad school and my husband, Logan, and I began to date, I didn’t have as much time to be active, plus we were eating big meals together and were mostly sitting to study, talk and watch movies.

Several times, I wept in despair as I began to gain a few pounds.  I was suddenly, for the first time, having a great deal of body image issues, very worried that as I aged, I would struggle with weight gain.  Evidently, I had a subconscious fear of being fat that had never before surfaced.

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At our wedding nearly 10 years ago, and at my brother Danny’s wedding last month.

When Logan and I got married, I was on birth control for a few months, which messed up my body chemistry in a big way, and I was gaining more weight.  So I stopped taking birth control….and got pregnant immediately.  More body issues, as my stomach, legs and chest broke out in impressive stretch marks.

When Josiah was born (all 10 lbs., 7 oz. of him!), I was spending eight hours a day breastfeeding.  I won’t even mention how birth messes things up ‘down there!’  He has since been joined by a little brother and sister, two more large babies.  When pregnancy and nursing were behind me, I was sure those lagging 20 pounds would fall off, but an emotional crisis last year bumped that number up to 50 pounds.

I have a closet full of lovely clothing that I cannot fit into.  I have a muffin top that spills over the waistband of my pants and peeks out under my shirts.

I feel like this post belongs on WhiteWhine.com – “a collection of First World Problems.” Waaaaah!!  Waaaaah!!  I have too much food to eat and a comfortable house to raise my children in!  But I’m not skinny!!!  Waaaaaah!!!

I was already dealing with so much last year that I learned very quickly to be kind to myself.  I read Brene Brown’s book, “Daring Greatly,” and decided that I was going to “show up,” even if the only thing I had to wear were yoga pants.  I am grateful that I learned to accept my body for what it is.  I’m not going to diet anymore.

But I do still have that nagging dream of being chased and being too weak to get away.  I want to get healthy and strong — emotionally, physically, mentally, and most of all, spiritually.  I want to live life abundantly, not to attain the approval of others but to have the stamina and strength to fulfill my calling in God’s kingdom, to see my grandchildren and great grandchildren, to live pain free and joyfully.  So I am not dieting, just strengthening my body.


Why am I sharing all of this?  Because we all have our own body-image story.  Many are dealing with deep, deep hurts and fears and insecurities that lead to eating disorders and body dismorphia.  I pray that you can learn to be kind to yourself and know that God doesn’t look down on his beloved children and ask, “Are you sure you want to eat that?” or, “Come back and talk to me after you’ve lost 50 pounds.”  He wants to talk to you and me today.  His love is “never-stopping, always and forever,” and “He loves us as we are, not as we should be.”  We are each made in the image of God, and as we grow in Christlikeness — not in conformity to superficial beauty standards but in strength of character, humility, love for others, etc. — how could we be any more beautiful?


Think about these questions:

What messages did you receive from your family about physical beauty?  Did your mother, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, or the men of your family talk about weight?  How?

Has media’s bombardment of skinny models and actresses affected your perception of beauty?

When have you been the most active and fit and how did you feel at that time?

Is being attractive a priority for you?  Do you associate physical beauty with value and worth?

May we all grow more and more comfortable in the skin that we are in, and may we feel God’s unabashed, unrelenting love for us.  He accepts us as we are and calls us His Beautiful Ones.

Blessings – Ruth
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P.S.  Here is a spoken word poem about the power of generational influences that run in our families, and how we absorb them despite our greatest efforts not to.

Thomas Jefferson on Freedom

I recently came across these words from Thomas Jefferson:

“Freedom is the right to choose: the right to create for oneself the alternatives of choice. Without the possibility of choice, and the exercise of choice, a man is not a man but a member, an instrument, a thing.”

Freedom is the right to choose.

Without the possibility of choice…a man is not a man but a member,

an instrument,

a thing.


WOW.  That really struck me.  How dehumanizing.  It has been said that the essence of sin is to dehumanize another.

Our world is full of women who are denied the right to choose their destiny.  To differing degrees depending on our country, family or faith community.  In parts of the world today, girls are aborted or killed as infants, are denied education, adequate food and healthcare, are sold to traffickers or married off as children, are mistreated by chauvinistic husbands, are paid little and are unable to own land.  In the United States, women are still battling a patriarchal system that objectifies our bodies, a culture that shames victims of rape and sexual abuse, we are given unequal pay and promotions, and we only hold 11% of governmental offices.


And in many faith communities, women are relegated to separate roles from men that limit their choices.  Complementarians believe that it is in these roles that true freedom is found.  From the complementarian perspective, “Biblical manhood and womanhood” is God’s design, and the path to righteousness, peace and joy is in following God’s design.  Just as with the hundreds of other commandments in the Bible, we are in right relationship with God and with others when we submit to God’s will.  Ultimately, we are all submitting to roles designated by God, and it is a rebellious spirit that rejects God’s omniscient design.  We may not, in our finite capacity, be able to understand why it is God’s will for men to hold authority and women to submit, but it is clearly God’s will and we will be blessed by our obedience.

I believe that they are mistaken about God designing a hierarchy of male headship and female submission.

I believe that complementarians are blind to the dehumanizing of women in this interpretation of Scripture.


Freedom is the right to choose.

Without the possibility of choice…a man is not a man but a member,

an instrument,

a thing.


Christianity has a long history of great theologians who have given us amazing insight into God’s Word and nature…and have also subjugated women to a lesser role than men.  Theologians like Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin, St. Augustine, and many more, including today’s leading complementarian advocates, like Mark Driscoll and John Piper.  I’ve long wondered how these great men could say what they have said about women.

I believe they were and are blind to the dehumanizing of women in this system.

Freedom is the right to choose.

Without the possibility of choice…a man is not a man but a member,

an instrument,

a thing.



I began to wonder why Thomas Jefferson could see this reality when it applied to men, but could not see that about the women of his day and also the slaves that he kept.

How is it possible to be so right and simultaneously so blind?

So I Googled “Thomas Jefferson on Women” and found this fantastic article by Thomas O. Jewett.  It goes in-depth on Jefferson’s views on women and I highly recommend the read.  I would like to pull a few quotes for you that demonstrate how this advocate for the freedom of men, who has remained an oracle of wisdom throughout following generations, could subjugate women to a lesser, subservient role.

In Jefferson’s aristocratic Virginia, wives did not normally show a great deal of independence in thought. They were taught to accept the domination of their husbands…

…Jefferson admired women who were soft, passive, modest, and chaste, and who possessed such artistic talents as made them ornaments of a masculine world. As mothers and housekeepers they were domestic workhorses, but as sexual objects they must be delicate and beautiful, living works of art existing in an imaginative world of romantic love. This view of women reduces them to either ladies or sluts. (McLaughlin, 1988, p. 195).

Like most men of his age, Jefferson believed women’s interests were to be confined chiefly to housekeeping and childbearing. (In ten years of marriages, he fathered six children, several at times when his wife’s health should have precluded pregnancy. But Jefferson was unwilling as any male of his class to deny himself the pleasures of the marital bed because of his wife’s poor health.) The two sexes had separate functions to which they were genetically adapted and should not mix. In particular, he thought women should keep out of politics.

Since women were not called upon even to discuss politics, Jefferson saw no reason to give them the vote…

Women thus excluded from public affairs, no effort need be made to educate them in any subjects which did not seem likely to be useful in their place as wives and mothers…

…He felt strongly that women had a single purpose in life, marriage and subordination to a husband. To his oldest daughter, at her nuptials, he wrote: “The happiness of your life now depends on the continuing to please a single person. To this all other objects must be secondary, even your love for me.” (As cited in Nock, 1996, p. 58).

…He, like his eighteenth century, male, aristocratic, contemporaries saw women in a tightly regimented role. For them to break out of these imposed boundaries was repugnant. “In the United States, during Jefferson’s presidency, a female politician was said to be only slightly less disgusting than a female infidel.” (Miller, 1995, p. 181).

So, Jefferson was not atypical in his views on women. But, we have come to expect more from our oracle. It is difficult to understand the dichotomy of an individual who believed in supreme personal liberty and the equal creation of all men, to put such boundaries on women. (The same ambivalence can be seen in Jefferson’s writings and actions toward slavery.)

Freedom is the right to choose.

Without the possibility of choice…a man is not a man but a member,

an instrument,

a thing.



I think there is value in comparing Thomas Jefferson with Christian theologians and complementarians today who have limited women’s choices by reading Scripture through a lens that is informed by patriarchy and sexism.  We are all merely human.  It is to be expected that even the wisest among us will be wrong about many things.  The impact of patriarchy and sexism is a result of the fall in the Garden of Eden, where Satan was pitted against woman.  Christ reversed the results of the Fall through His death and resurrection, and in his life and interaction with women we see equality and rejection of hierarchy and patriarchal roles and rules.  John 8:36 says, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!”

I do not equate the Thomas Jefferson quote with Scripture, but I see the truth in it.  When we think of people as other than us, we can dehumanize them in giving them lesser value.  Jefferson was able to justify the subjugation of women and slaves while also being the greatest and most enduring advocate for the freedom of men, because women and slaves were other than men.  Paul says that in God’s Kingdom, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

Freedom is the right to choose.

Without the possibility of choice…a man is not a man but a member,

an instrument,

a thing.



Image Credit:  all from: http://www.takepart.com/photos/quotes-celebrate-freedom-independence-day/nelson-mandela

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