Originally published Aug. 8, 2014
I hate when I think of a snappy comeback three weeks after a discussion ends.
That’s happening right now, as I think of a coversation I had with another American student in our group in Trinidad. I’ll call her Samantha.This woman is about 22 years old and has some values I would call old-fashioned. A few of us got into a conversation about Jamal Bryant, which led to a conversation about women in church who are desperate for a pastor to be their husband and what these women wear, which I think drifted to how women used to dress and how things used to be in church, or should be, which then led Samantha to say that if she were pregnant out of wedlock, she would go before her church, apologize, and ask for forgiveness—an action women of my mom’s and grandmothers’ generations were expected to take.
I was flabbergasted.
Samantha said that’s just how she was raised and what she believed was right. I challenged the basis of the biblical “rules” on sex, suggesting they were more invented than mandated directly by God. Samantha and another student were having none of that. The rules were to maintain order, to keep things the way they were supposed to be, etc. and other stuff I now can’t remember.
No matter how the conversation went at that point, I should’ve said, “If you go before your church and apologize for having a baby out of wedlock, the only thing you’re really apologizing for is for being a woman, for being designed to show evidence of sexual intercourse while whoever impregnated you gets to go on about his business.”
What made me think of the snappy comeback three weeks after the conversation? The other day I saw a post on Facebook from a woman who had hidden her pregnancy because she has a career in gospel music and is engaged to the baby’s father but not married to him yet.
Again, I was flabbergasted, but this time more so than in the conversation with Samantha, I was angry. I thought about all the attention, support, and love generally shown to pregnant women, no matter what their marital status is, and I was angry that she missed out on feeling all of that (and she missed out on good parking spaces, too) out of fear of judgmental Christians and because of a societal double standard that frees men from responsibility for their sexual behavior and condemns women for natural sexual desire.
Reader, she hid the entire pregnancy. All. Of. It. Nine months. Six if you only want to count the months when women tend to show. This woman—and she’s grown, mind you, a grown woman free to live life as she wants—posted a picture of her baby some three weeks after she gave birth because women’s sexuality is awful, especially in Christian circles.
Can you tell I’m fed up with this? I didn’t ask for a vagina, a uterus, or sexual desire, but God gave me all of that. Why be ashamed of it? Why apologize for it?
Granted, as a public figure and automatic role model, this Facebook friend’s concerns about what people would say probably had more weight than they would have had if she were an anonymous citizen or random church member. That doesn’t change my argument; what people say is based on the models I’m fed up with.
The assessment of what kept this Facebook friend from going public with her pregnancy is my own. I infer from the post that she feels like she sinned in a big way and is now experiencing God’s grace in a way she never has before. She’s been delivered from shame and secrets. She takes joy in motherhood. She has a testimony.
I just have anger. And a question: Was the fiancee worried about what people would think of him?