I’ve been thinking lately about how much women are often made invisible or ignored.
Specifically, I’ve been reading through Every Young Man’s Battle (I’ll write a review soon; I just need to process its awfulness first), and I’m amazed at how the authors keep telling boys just to ignore women or turn away from them. Receptionists, baristas, etc, you name it: You’re supposed to try not to see them.
This was never the approach of Jesus, and today I want to just do a very quick series of thoughts, since it’s Tuesday and I don’t normally write much on Tuesdays.
We’ll start with this graphic that I shared last night on Instagram and Facebook:
In the story, a woman has been weeping and anointing Jesus’ feet, and others have been thinking badly of her. And Jesus asks them, “Do you see her?” He sees her. And he invites the men to truly see her as well, for who she is.
It reminds me of this that we wrote in The Great Sex Rescue, after talking about how harmful the obligation sex message is, and how evangelicals have turned it into justifying coercion in all too many cases:
When the three of us think of how badly women have been hurt by the obligation-sex message, whether through manipulation, obligation, coercion, or pain, we’re reminded of the Bible story of Hagar, Abraham, and Sarah. As you may remember, God had promised Abraham he would have a son and from this son God would make a great nation. The problem? Abraham and Sarah were both old, and Sarah was barren. In desperation, Sarah suggested that Abraham have a child with her slave, Hagar.
Nothing in the Bible story tells us that Hagar was a willing participant. As a servant, she would not have been able to truly consent. Her feelings and needs wouldn’t matter. Nevertheless, Abraham heeded Sarah’s advice and used Hagar to have a son. Some years later, miraculously Abraham does have a child with Sarah. Now Hagar and her son Ishmael were threats to Isaac, the child of the promise. Abraham sends Hagar and her son away.
While she is in the desert, God provides for her. And here’s where things get interesting. Hagar is the first person in Scripture who is given the honor of bestowing a name upon God. And the name she chooses? “The God who sees me.” After being sexually assaulted, forced to carry a baby, and then abandoned, never hav- ing her needs or wishes taken into account, being invisible and used to meet other people’s needs, God sees her.
And being seen makes all the difference.
God sees women. God does not say to women, “Your experience doesn’t matter compared to your husband’s tremendous need.” God does not tell women, “Let your husband ejaculate inside you, no matter how you feel, because otherwise you are in disobedience.” No, God says, “I designed sex to be a deep knowing of two people. And that, my child, means that both of you matter.”
We serve a God who truly sees us.
He sees you today. May you rest in that, dear friends.
What if you're NOT the problem with your sex life?
What if the messages that you've been taught have messed things up--and what if there's a way to escape these toxic teachings?
It's time for a Great Sex Rescue.
What do you think? Have you ever felt invisible? Have you ever been angry at some of these Bible stories? Let’s talk in the comments!
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
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