Girl, Same Here! How our desire to be relatable is hurting our morals.

If you have much of an involvement on social media, you may have picked up on some of the “unofficial” rules of communicating with others on these various platforms. You have probably noticed one guideline that condemns “shaming”, especially among women, as a big no-no. This breach of e-etiquette can take on many forms, such as mom-shaming, body-shaming, sex-shaming, etc.

To women who passionately enforce this rule, the consensus seems to be that any unsolicited criticism or judgment of a fellow female’s lifestyle or life choices is forbidden. She who commits this infraction should brace herself to face vehement opposition (which is ironic); what’s more, any legitimacy of the critique is too often disregarded altogether. And all this in the name of, er, hashtag of #GirlsSupportingGirls and like notions.

This sentiment is appealing. After all, girls supporting girls is a refreshing narrative in contrast to the stories of stereotypical jealousies and drama that often depict women’s relationships with one another. However, as idealistic as the girl-power-in-numbers movement may seem, it is the ideology undergirding it that women who are pursuing the mind of Christ should be wary of.

In our secular culture where Self is the Supreme Being, the ones often considered to be most pious are those who “live and let live”.[1] The “anti-shaming” movement exemplifies this worldview as it ultimately stigmatizes the good principles of loving confrontation and accountability within relationships altogether.

Please know, I’m not advocating for the berating of someone else on social media, and I’m definitely not saying we should work out personal offenses in a public platform (See Matthew 18 on confrontation). But have we dismissed the benefit of godly wisdom that can make us more like Christ because we immediately assume it to be judgmental or “shaming”?

Proverbs 27:5 tells us “Better is open rebuke than hidden love.” Application of this wisdom contributes to, by common grace, the constraint of evil in the world and, by special grace, the sanctification of God’s people. Christian sister, imagine a society where the status quo is for everyone to do what is right in their own eyes.[2] Scripture tells us how detrimental that society would be (see Judges). Instead of valuing the preservation of self, we should value the purification of self.

God commissioned the prophet Amos to openly rebuke his wayward people, as well as several neighboring nations, because of their grievous, continual, unrepentant sin. The prophet’s namesake book documents the forthcoming judgement that he warned the unrepentant they would receive – the majority of wrath was directed toward Israel.

At this point in Israel’s history, the nation was particularly wealthy, as they were ruled by the prosperous King Jeroboam II.[3] Material comforts and lifestyles of ease became vessels of vice as they were conflated with laziness, the oppression of the poor, and other injustices that were offensive to God. Initially, Amos denounced the entire nation as a whole, however, he was also compelled by the Holy Spirit to confront a specific wayward group.

“Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to your husbands, ‘Bring, that we may drink!’”

It is the Samarian women whom Amos refers to as the “cows of Bashan”.[4] He was metaphorically referring to these women as the elite ladies in society by likening them to the finest breed of cattle in their region. Like satisfied bovines, their self-indulgence led to their laziness; this and other sins assured their wrathful slaughter. Amos was not body-shaming these women (as unnatural as it may be for us modern ladies to grasp). Rather, he was emphasizing the shamefulness of their sins.

Several times in the book of Amos, God lamented being estranged from his people.[5] This reveals the prophets’ ultimate mission in calling out their sins: their nearness to God through reconciliation in their fellowship with him. God is a reconciling God.

Believers today can likewise share in this ministry to one other by implementing loving confrontation and accountability in our relationships, which allows us to maintain intimate fellowship God as we pursue holiness (1 Peter 1:16).

The New Testament, particularly the epistles, reveals that a concern for the purity of fellow Christians was an integral part of following Jesus. Consider Paul’s teaching in Galatians 6:1-2:

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.

Or the vivid words recorded in James 5:19-20:

My brothers, if anyone among you wonders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

I am not, nor do I believe God is, advocating for the unnecessary, haphazard, or self-righteous blasting of other women. But, woe to us if we fail to reciprocally sharpen one another with the tools of confrontation and accountability, especially in a culture that is increasingly fostering a posture of hostility toward merely opposing opinions and even very thoughtful critiques. Praise God that his “official” rules, which are the Believer’s delight, can be timelessly applied (Psalm 119).

May God give us grace to not conceal our love, but to boldly show it, for our good and his glory.

 

 

[1] This concept posits that we should all live as we please and allow others to do the same.

[2] This phrasing was derived from Judges 17:6 and 21:25; verses describing a period of waywardness in the history of God’s people.

[3] NIV Archeological Study Bible, pgs. 1444-1445

[4] I found this article helpful in describing how to interpret Amos 4:1-3: https://bitesizedexegesis.com/2017/02/06/the-cows-of-bashan-amos-41-3/

[5] Amos 4:6b, 9b, 10b, 11b


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