Bible Journaling is a popular creative outlet with modern Christians that emerged out of the adult coloring book phenomenon. Entire craft store aisles sell the various paints, pens, and washi tape designs you need to make your Bible over into a devotional masterpiece. But who drives this Pinterest board of biblical artistry? Not surprisingly, it’s Christian women.
Women In The (Bible) Margins
A quick search of the Bible Journaling aisle at your local Hobby Lobby will tell you, gendered marketing is everywhere. Just take a look at the adds for the journaling Bibles I’ve inserted from my affiliate, Church Source, and you’ll see what I mean.
There’s nothing wrong with liking flowery lettering and petal motifs. It doesn’t make you any less of a Christian or a Feminist to enjoy the “girly” things. What matters is when we force women into exclusively those choices. When we hear that a woman’s Bible looks this way, it inherently makes us feel that masculine or even non-gendered Bibles are not for us.There is no perfect way to be a Christian woman. God created us to be diverse. Click To Tweet
Which Bible Is For You?
When we succumb to unnecessary gendered marketing it can result in a number of negative issues:
- Bible Shaming
There is no one way for a Christian woman to look. We don’t have to buy into the cookie cutter model of the Proverbs 31 image that we see marketed. If you’re a woman who would rather mow the church lawn than attend another bake sale or craft retreat, I hear you.
But when young girls are brought up to think the only version of God’s word that is meant for them is the one covered in pink and petals, we limit their experience. It creates a feeling of not belonging. When you don’t fit the mold, you tend to disengage completely or alter yourself to try and fit in. Neither of which is God’s best for daughters or sons of Christ.
I’ve had this happen to me multiple times. I’ve shown up to a new Bible study with my “girly” Bible; ready to get serious. Only to be laughed at for not having a real Bible, or an adult Bible. Whatever that means. This created a sense of shame and confusion in me.
I like my flowery Bible. Why does it disqualify me from answering thoughtfully if I’m reading out of a Bible with decorated margins? Could it be that it’s not my Bible choice, but rather the way we view feminized items as inferior that’s the problem here?
Casting grown women as childish is a form of oppression. Adults can enjoy childlike hobbies and posses childlike faith, but this doesn’t make them children. If your male youth pastor plays fantasy football or wears a Star Wars t-shirt, no one thinks of him as a child. But if a woman wants to “color” in her Bible it’s seen as frivolous.
The gendered marketing would suggest that grown men take notes in their Bibles, while women simply draw. Men who journal are seen as mature scholars, while women who create are seen as children. Both ideas support oppression of authenticity.Creation through art is a legitimate form of worship regardless of your gender. Click To Tweet
What’s So Offensive About Sensitive Expression?
I think when we are creative we are truly imitating God, the ultimate creator. Art is a grand Christian tradition that has sustained the souls of many. The monks who illustrated the ancient texts we keep in museums today are not viewed as frivolous. They are artists who used their talent to express their faith. So why can’t we take that same viewpoint for women and men today?
The modern church creates such a division between what is masculine and feminine that we corrupt the simplicity of being human. We create categories you must follow in order to qualify as biblical women and men that limit expression and criminalize deviation.
Christlike Goals Not Gender Roles!
Legalistic gender roles cause us to see emotions and sensitivity as weakness. Thankfully, we have a savior who made us sensitive and emotive for a purpose. The God who painted the strokes of ocean waves wants men to feel vulnerable. The God who sharpened the peaks of mountains wants women to feel empowered. And the truth of the freedom we have in Christ will always come to light.