Most Christian women love women’s ministries. They look forward to gathering together and communing with their own gender at various functions including, and most especially, women’s Bible studies. But, I have a confession to make. I hate women’s Bible studies. I do!
For the last 25 years my husband has been encouraging me to attend female only studies, and for the last 25 years I have avoided attending female only studies because they are all alike. Every women’s Bible study that I have ever attended has the same elements, and they drive me crazy! For example…
At every women’s study there is always at least one person who cries, and usually numerous people that cry. Now don’t get me wrong, I can cry with the best of them and sometimes crying is justified. Someone could be going through a divorce, or has a wayward child, or has lost a loved one. These are legitimate reasons for tears. But other times??? I remember one instance when there was a young newlywed who was all broken up because she couldn’t go shopping for clothes as much as she did before she was married. “It’s just so hard!” she cried to the group. And then of course, all the ladies got up from their seats and surrounded her and laid hands on her telling her things like, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Within moments it had turned into a bunch of bawling women sharing spiritual clichés and their own experiences about not being able to shop till they drop!
Another thing that irritates me with women’s studies is what they study. I’ve never understood why men get to study things like: A Canonical & Synthetic Approach to New Testament Theology,” “Philosophical Hermeneutics,” “Exegetical Fallacies,” or “Church History, Doctrine, & Ecclesiology.” But women? We study things like: “Are you a Mary or a Martha?” “Keepers of the Home,” “Being a Woman of Encouragement,” or Refreshing your Heart.” Why do the guys get the deep stuff and we get the fluff? And then of course our flowery studies come with workbooks that ask questions like: “In what ways have you refreshed your heart today?” “How can you encourage others to refresh their hearts?” or “Can you think of some Biblical examples of women refreshing their hearts?”
And then there is the wonderful question that is always asked at every Bible study: “What does this verse mean to you?” And inevitably you get answers like: “God is always with me and will help me through the storm,” or “Let’s all just love Jesus!” No one ever realizes that it’s not about what you think it means, or what you want it to mean, it’s about what it actually says. Many of the women at these study groups rarely look at the context of the verse, or the cultural meaning at the time of its writing, or what the original Greek and Hebrew meaning of the words actually were. It’s all touchy feely, mushy gushy, what it means to me, how do I feel, stuff.
Then, of course, there is always one woman that takes over the meeting. She has to relay every personal experience she has ever had that in some way or another, in her mind, relates to the topic being discussed. She answers every question from the workbook extensively and thoroughly. And then, everybody nods and smiles. But you know what they’re really thinking: “When is she going to shut up?” Be honest ladies. You know it’s true!
There used to be one redeeming factor at women’s Bible studies. Women used to bring really good food. We used to have donuts and quiche for brunch, fried chicken and potato salad for luncheons, and three-cheese lasagna and chocolate cake for dinners. Not anymore. Now everything is organic, whole wheat, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, high-fructose-corn-syrup-free, and most definitely flavor-free. And with the edible food gone, that one remaining lure for me to attend a woman’s Bible study is kaput!
Does this level of honesty make you uncomfortable? Does it make me unspiritual for saying what I really feel? I’m sure some people will think so. But, since we’re being honest, I believe a lot of women think the same thing, they just don’t want to admit it. Perhaps you have seen the scene in the film, “Mom Night Out” that depicts women at a Bible study. They are sitting in a living room listening to a woman talk about how God gave her a parking space at a shopping center, all the while texting each other and making faces about the woman that is talking. And the pastor’s wife is doing the smiling and nodding thing I previously mentioned. So you see, other people think these things too; it’s not just me.
I know that as believers we need to have fellowship and that women need to spend time together and share their hearts with one another. But in all honesty, I would much rather simply call up a friend and go out for coffee or dinner than to have to read through a book I have no interest in and give fluffy answers to a series of contrived questions so I will fit in with a bunch of overly emotional women who eat nothing but kale and kumquats!
With that said I have one final thought:
“Hey Barb! Wanna go to Panera for some Mac and Cheese?”