On the Importance of Wanderlust (and Why the “10 Women Christian Men Should Not Marry” List is WAY Off Base)

I read a terrible article yesterday titled 10 Women Christian Men Should Not Marry. It made me crazy because it was so full of judgement, teeny, tiny boxes in which to shove women (and God), and proof texts, that poorest form of theology which makes the Bible into a rule book instead of an epic love story and makes a mockery of Jesus’ life and the way he championed people again and again.

To spare you reading it, the author’s list of women who make poor candidates for wifery is as follows:

  1. The Unbeliever
  2. The Divorcee
  3. The Older Woman
  4. The Feminist
  5. The Sexy-Dresser
  6. The Loud Mouth
  7. The Child-Hater (aka, any woman who’s unwilling to procreate)
  8. The Wander-Luster
  9. The Career Woman
  10. The Devotion-less Woman

He includes Bible verses after each category and explanations.

After I finished reading the list, gasping aloud in horror (honestly, I sounded like I was watching a YouTube video of serial kitten murders), and then checking the internet to make sure it wasn’t some sort of satirical joke, I realized I’m 40% a Good Wife Choice by this man’s measure. After all, I cling tenaciously to the ideal of equality between men and women; I wear v-cut t-shirts regularly (sexy, baby); I am very, very loud, although I’m certain the man who wrote the list would be somewhat relieved to know I used to struggle with accepting the enthusiasm and volume at which I live life; I’m a career woman; and I discovered years and years ago that the rote morning devotions I thought I had to have to be a good, Christian woman don’t have as much to do with faith as letting God out of the box, discovering that Love is sanctuary in the midst of the storm, and letting grace unearth the light and not just the darkness inside me.

I shared this guy’s article on the Five Kids Facebook page, because I just couldn’t stand it, and I am so grateful for all your “wows” and “what the…?s” because I felt so much less alone. But someone asked why I’d even bother to give this guy publicity for his article, which is a really great question that deserves an answer. My answer is this: there’s an enormous amount of garbage and judgement that happens in the name of Jesus these days from voices so loud they drown out the rest of us, and I’m not willing to allow this man or those who believe like him to speak on behalf of Christians like me who try and fail and try and fail and keep trying anyway to love each other well, and love each other loudly, and love each other with wild grace, which is the greatest commandment, above all other “rules.” (Matthew 22, etc. Proof text that, dude.

But the thing on his list that just astounded me — even more than the prohibition against Older Women which is just laughable — was his denigration of Wanderlust.

The more I thought about it, though, the more Wanderlust’s place on the list made terrible sense. It made sense because, of course, when we keep women only home, only focused on husbands and children, only giving of themselves and never caring for their own needs — when we feed women the ideal that their fulfillment comes solely from being a wife and a mother — when we tell them their dreams of both/and — both home and travel, both family and friends, both children and career, both God and grace, both boundaries and freedom, both our dreams as a family and my dreams as a person — are rich and full and a reality to reach for, we risk losing women to the wilderness. We risk losing women to complexity. We risk losing women to the place where they’re both human and divine — utterly fallible and also made in the very image of God — full of grit and grace and gratitude and grime and gory and glory all at the same time. We risk allowing women to be more than Stepford Wives and participate in the mess and find magic there and learn that there is that of God in everything. Just all of it. God in everything. Or Love, if you, like me, like to use God’s other name when The Whole God Thing becomes too muddied to understand.

It is easier, of course, to keep women contained. To squash the wanderlust that takes us physically away and the wanderlust of our hearts which lets us dream. It’s easier to keep us only home. To keep us feeling guilty when our entire fulfillment isn’t found in being a wife and a mother. Because when we women are set free to be fully who Love intended us to be, we are a force. WE ARE A FORCE to be reckoned with, and there are men and women in this world who are unwilling to do the reckoning.

To be clear, I am a woman who finds my greatest joy in my family; and they also drive me up a freaking wall. A FREAKING WALL, friends. Because my family is made out of humans, and I’m one, too, which is as awful as it is awesome, but my simultaneous desire to snuggle all five of my babies on my lap and also run away screaming to Mexico has nothing – nothing – to do with the depth of my love for or devotion to Jesus, nor my worth as woman, nor my value as a wife and a mom.

Truth is, I am a better mama and a better wife when I escape from time to time. To recenter. To rest. To live. To wander. To wonder. To think. To find myself beyond wilderness boundary and also longing to come home. To be terribly, deeply, beautifully both/and. And to be a woman fully loved and worthy of choosing, exactly as I am. 

………

P.S. After I read The Terrible Article, I offered to divorce Greg and remarry him ’cause I had an enormous urge to be an even bigger disappointment to the guy who wrote that drivel. 

P.P.S. Greg hasn’t responded yet, so I assume he’s considering divorcing me just to make me happy. That’s why I love him, and I’ll never leave him.

P.P.P.S. I’m writing this as I’m wander-lusting to Australia.

P.P.P.P.S. These are some pictures of me leading my daughter, Abby, astray and teaching her to be wanderlusty, too: 

AbbyBeth1

AbbyBeth3

AbbyBeth4

Because if I bring a child up in the way she should go, when she’s old she won’t depart from it. 

 

 

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
55 comments
  1. All these wanderlusters, “You go girls!!!” He had some crazy ideas in his article. But thank God for the women who understand that they are gems and jewels to the Lord. They are to be strong and leaders alongside their husbands not under them.

  2. I know I’m late to this, but I just found your blog and have been reading it over the last week or so. Finally got to January! My husband and I have wanderlust. We’ve tried living in a “good neighborhood”, being involved in all the things a nice young family should be involved in. But in the end, always, I want to go. I want to see new things. I want to show my children new things and have new experiences. I value the historical sites we’ve been able to see (homeschooling rocks when you can travel!), the trips in nature we’ve taken (kayak camping is amazing!), and all the people we’ve been able to meet along the way who have helped me, my husband, and/or my children…and who I hoped we’ve been a bit of help to as well.

    We live in an RV….all six of us. And we all love it. Far less house work. More time literally together (as we can’t escape to the family room or whatever and be alone). And we find out what exactly is important, as we don’t have space for things. Birthdays and Christmas, we give experiences. Because that’s what will last. Thanksgivings we volunteer to work at soup kitchens. WE eat there, I don’t have to stress about cooking, and the kids learn a valuable lesson along the way.

    And in this way, I completely agree with your last sentence….train a child up in the way he should go, and he won’t part from it when he’s older. I don’t care if my kids are never into traveling when they become adults. I care that they have a global perspective. That they understand how much work goes into making that bottle of olive oil and they pay fair trade pricing for it. And that they learn exactly what Love is, and how to show it to others, in the many ways we are able to.

  3. It’s amazing to me that I just stumbled upon this blog at 5 a.m. in the morning cause I woke up with a headache! I also stumbled upon the very article you are blogging about (a week or so ago) and I was ready to fly to New York and set this man straight or strangle him one. According to him, I’m 30% marryable. This mans mindset is how I grew up and it caused so much damage to my spirit and my self-worth. I’m 43 yrs. Old and I will need therapy for the rest of my life. Thank you precious lady for reminding me that I’m not worthless and damaged like they told me I was!! Your words bring life instead of irreparable condemnation! I walked away from god/church/religion about 5 months ago b/c I couldn’t take the condemnation, the gracelessness, the judgment, the if u were in church and having your daily quiet times u wouldn’t suffer with depression speech any more. I have even wondered if god truly exists cause my atheist friends show more grace than any of my church friends and I’ve been so damaged by what the church teaches and it’s people! So thank you for building up instead of tearing down!!

  4. nd another thing. What is the core message of the New Testament? I believe it’s John 3:16″For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life ” The Pharisees loved their rules and regulations. Obedience out of Love for the Lord is right but bondage is another thing. We need to take Scripture in it’s proper context and read the whole application. Just because some chauvinistic meatball decides to throw a few versus of Scripture and try and demean women with them doesn’t make him an authority. Ooh that’s made me sooo peeved!

  5. Hi Beth. Great article! And does this perfect Mr Super Christian believe he’s an authority on divorced women? I must admit to being wanderlust by not being at home much due to travelling often to take care of my 88 year old dad, looking after my little grandchildren, ministering to friends and family members. Horror of horrors Beth, I’m a shameless divorced woman and have been for 16 years! After nearly 10 years of abuse towards me and my children I wanderlusted from my ex husband to prevent a possible tragedy and because I couldn’t bear the abuse anymore! (There’s lots more I could say but not in public). Needless to say, he remarried a woman who practised witchcraft and I’m still on my own. So does that mean I’m doomed to spend my life alone because I’m a woman who divorced a dangerous and abusive husband ? I believe Jesus is merciful and is a God of second chances. Bless you Beth.

  6. Funny, If I hadn’t had “wander lust” I wouldn’t have moved, on a whim 6000 miles away to Scotland…and if I hadn’t moved 6000 miles away, I wouldn’t have met my husband..I wouldn’t have my very adorable, perfect children…

    Ok…well maybe perfect might be pushing it some( um…most?) days. They can be complete nightmares…however, my little girl is currently shaking her bootay to a My Little Pony Video and it is awfully cute.

    So..uh, yeah… GO WANDER LUST!

  7. I took your words and put them on a picture, as I am wont to do. It looks awesome.
    http://tattooedmissionary.tumblr.com/post/109726712836/image-words

  8. I love you. That is all. Just found your blog and I’m smitten.

    I see God as Love, also. It’s a love story. The whole Bible is a love letter… It should be read from that point of view.

    *smh* I was in a church.one evening, trying it out, and the pastor got up and said, “if you think this walk is about love, you’re mistaken. It’s about obedience.”

    I had to walk out. Obedience is born of love. *smh* He had truly missed the mark and was instead terrorizing his flock with hellfire and damnation and rules. Pharisees.

    So much of the modern church is Pharisees.

    Wolves in shepherd’s clothing. There to hunt the sheep.

  9. Thank you so much for this post. After seeing the article on a friend’s facebook and watch him and other Christian men I graduate applaud this while shaming Women at the same time I felt very hurt. This however summed up my feelings and really helped me to feel not so alone.

  10. I find this interesting. You post loud mouth for one of his things and say you are very loud, which is not bad in and of itself. But he posted gossip and slanderer.. Do you find gossip to be ok? You say you wear v-cut shirts, I hope it’s not showing to much of your chest, unfortunately thats what us guys see whether you admit it or not… and it messes with us!Thats why we have to be careful what we put in our minds. Not saying you have to live by a list of rules cause you dont! And I don’t believe he was saying that either, but please don’t bash a man for his views when you don’t know them. We always try to assume others motives behind things when we don’t even know them. Sounds like they hit you personally and you were offended cause you think he is saying women have to live up to some kind of standard and if not check them off. But i think another thing is these are kind of things to look out for, my uncle married a woman who was divorced 4 times… now he was her fifth… Doesnt mean she didn’t deserve a chance but these CAN be warning signs. So please don’t bash him in the name of Christ for trying to point men in an honorable direction that may not be having any man teaching them what they should look for in a woman. I didn’t had to figure out most of it on my own and articles like his are actually very helpful for clueless young men trying to live a godly life. Everything should always be tested by scripture and he does not say do not marry any like this. He said to avoid which is pretty sound advice the article was not an exposition on God’s grace and mercy and love. Anyways every relationship is difference and requires seeking wisdom from the Lord. Hope this wasn’t to harsh, i mean it in grace. Continue seeking the Lord.May his grace be upon you.

    1. Blake, I have several problems with this. Not with you or your motives, which you correctly point out, I do not know or understand. But with what you wrote publically. Which is point number one: there is no bashing of views here. This is a public response to ideas published in a public format. Second, the very fact that you find his article helpful is exactly why her response is so important. My opinion is that you got both articles wrong. Are there “warning signs” to look for in a relationship? Yes! Things like: Is she kind? Does she admit when she is wrong? Does she fight fair? Does she give you the benefit of the doubt? Does she forgive? Is her love both a feeling and a commitment? You know, all the exact same things SHE should be looking for. His list? It’s demeaning to women, and misleading for men. Which is why it requires a response.

  11. Thank you for sharing your wonderful perspective. Reading both articles really balances things out. However, I couldn’t help noticing a bit of an angry edge to your article and wondered if you meant to come across that way. I can understand your frustration, but it struck me as biting. Perhaps that was your intent?

    From: a very old, old, old lady

  12. Yay wanderlust. Also…his support for that one was a joke…I mean some of the others where iffy too…but the verses he used had nothing to do with it. Here are my slightly ranty…though thought through opinions https://emilyscollegechronicles.wordpress.com/2015/01/22/the-lists/

  13. So, that list made my heart hurt in a thousand different ways. As an unmarried Christian woman who loves God, these sorts of lists only push women like me away from the church. It’s crazy to think a man who hung out with prostitutes and lepers would ever subscribe to such nonsense.
    Jesus loved women. It’s too bad those who think this way think Godly women come in one size fits all (young, quiet, submissive.) We don’t.

    Jesus loves all the children. All the children of the world!

  14. I suffer from a severe case of wanderlust. So does my husband. We bond over it.
    My lust to wander makes me want to visit places like Thailand and Cambodia to help free slaves and share the Gospel with victims of human trafficking.
    Why does wanderlust have to be a bad thing? I think that my wanderlust is God-given and part of the passion and gifting He has given me. I’d be MUCH more concerned about marrying a woman who never wants to take a risk and leave the comforts of home.

  15. I had the unfortunate experience of reading that article first, before finding yours. I fail in at least four categories. But then. as a female pastor, I am likely beyond all possibility of redemption anyway. 🙂 Well done. We are a force indeed, and yes, I do believe that fear drives this line of thought far more than faith. Keep preaching it, sister.

    1. “But then. as a female pastor, I am likely beyond all possibility of redemption anyway”

      I love this so much! You keep preaching it too, sister!

  16. I’m not sure I even score 40%–my husband and I were both divorced when we met! And as far as the “older” woman, older than what?!

    I have only recently found your blog, and I love it. I love your perspective!

  17. Yes, yes, yes, and AMEN! Wanderlusty girls, UNITE!

  18. SPEAK GOD’S TRUTH!!! YOU GO GIRL!!! You inspire us young women to fulfill what God has planned for us apart from being moms/wives. Thanks!!

  19. You continue to be so fabulously awesomely insightful. I’m glad that you have a messy house and an a$$ that busts from your jeans or I might think you weren’t for real. So well written. Again. Rock on, sister!

  20. Me Too! Me Too! Rock and Roll, Beth! You said it sistah!

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