In case you’ve missed it, Twitter has been aflame this week with the #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear hashtag conversation about women’s experiences in the church and everyday life. Red Letter practitioner Sarah Bessey — a Christian author and feminist — unwittingly launched the hashtag before jumping onto a flight, only to be flooded with a torrent of responses when she landed.
While some posts describe positive experiences, the majority of tweets testify to the reality of discrimination and double standards for women in ministry and beyond.
Patriarchy is alive in well in the 21st century, but let’s be real — it’s always been a part of HIStory:
You were the first to preach the Gospel? We will ignore that and instead call you a prostitute. For centuries. #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear
— Mary Magdalene (@ChurchofMaryMag) April 19, 2017
So it’s refreshing when Twitter conversations like this center women’s experiences and bring the sin of sexism to light.
“Feminists misunderstand complementarism: different roles, equal value.”
I understand what patriarchy is. #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear
— Hannah Menendez (@hannendez) April 19, 2017
Women Ministry: Never deny your husband sex. Once you marry, your body is his body. #thingsonlychristianwomenhear #MisogynyAsDoctrine
— Joan Nicole (@joan_nicole) April 21, 2017
“You’re in seminary? Do you want to be a missionary’s/pastor’s wife?” #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear
— Katrina (@brgmnk) April 19, 2017
“Only men are strong enough to lead.”
“Men just aren’t strong enough to resist your above-mid-thigh shorts.” #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear
— Mary Calhoun (@marbearcalhoun) April 20, 2017
And despite the requisite trolling and pushback, it’s encouraging when these voices are genuinely heard and men step up to listen.
The #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear discussion is a heartbreaking, eye-opening glimpse at how badly American Christians have bungled gender
— chrisicisms (@cdubbs727) April 19, 2017
It would be a good thing for fellow Christian men to read through this hashtag. #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear Be aware and be better, y’all.
— Barnabas Piper (@BarnabasPiper) April 19, 2017
Though male privilege is acknowledged in the thread, Christian privilege is another story. As Red Letter Christian leader Alicia Crosby points out, Christianity does not have the market cornered on misogyny:
#ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear makes me question if Christian women speak to women of other faiths bc a # of these things aren’t unique to us
— Alicia Crosby (@promisechaser) April 20, 2017
And this dialogue certainly does not represent all women’s experiences across race, class, sexual orientation, or a host of other identities that contribute to the mistreatment of women inside and outside the church.
While deeper and more diverse truth-telling is needed in this conversation, it has become a cathartic and empowering space for many women to unpack the toxic teachings and misguided messages within Christianity.
And it has led many to dream about #ThingsChristianWomenShouldHear, a spin-off conversation that creates a vision for the kind of church God calls us to be to one another and the world.
there are no second-class citizens in the kingdom of God. #ThingsChristianWomenShouldHear
— D.L. Mayfield (@d_l_mayfield) April 21, 2017
I believe you. I’m sorry our Pastor sexually abused you. It’s not your fault. He is no longer in leadership.#ThingsChristianWomenShouldHear
— Ezer Rising (@EzerRising) April 20, 2017
Without you, the church is missing half of its voice, half of its gifting, half of its mission & ministry. #ThingsChristianWomenShouldHear
— Scott Lencke (@prodigalthought) April 20, 2017
But perhaps the best part of this trending dialogue is how both hashtags help move participants and readers from lament to healing. By holding space for women to grieve and cry out to God’s people, these conversations not only draw attention to the hard truths and injustices within church and society, but also guide us to prayerful acts of repentance and restoration.
Read some of #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear this morning. Praying my daughters hear more affirming and hospitable messages as they grow.
— Christopher Brown (@brwnchrstpher) April 21, 2017
#ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear—accurate. harmful. heartbreaking. #ThingsChristianWomenShouldHear—accurate. healing. heart mending.
— Grace Arneberg (@ohhgracious) April 21, 2017
We’re listening to: #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear
Let’s fix it together.#ThingsChristianWomenShouldHear
— Dawn Sutherland (@DawnLSutherland) April 19, 2017