You may have seen Lori Alexander’s post this week claiming that men prefer women who are debt-free virgins without tattoos (feel free not to click if you don’t want to drive traffic to her website). In it, she reasons that since college is a major source of debt, and debt prevents a woman from having as many babies as she possibly can, women should not go to college.
A couple of ancillary points: First, Alexandar provides no evidence to support her claim that men prefer these things. Critical thinking (which I learned in the college that I financed with student loans) suggests that we must have evidence to support the claims we make. Not here, though. Here, stating something is true is enough to provide proof.
Second, Alexandar must ignore people who are actually in the Bible in order to hold this view. Tim Fall’s excellent rebuttal highlights the ways in which Ruth, a widowed and impoverished woman who may have had religious tattoos in keeping with her Moabite culture puts the lie to Alexandar’s original post with its judgment directed at anyone who doesn’t fit this narrow view of “biblical” womanhood. His post is definitely worth a read.
But here’s what I really want to say. What bothers me most about Alexandar’s views is her sense that women and men are not equal image bearers of God. Specifically, she quotes that “The husband will need to take years teaching his wife the correct way to act, think, and live since college taught them every possible way that is wrong.” She laments later that most girls haven’t had the Bible explained to them by their father’s or husbands, but instead go and read books on interpreting the Bible, which will lead them astray. It’s clear that in her view, men and women are not equal in their ability to read and understand God’s word. They are not equal in their ability to be God’s agents in the world.
A scriptural principle is that God created men and women in his image to represent our creator here on earth. One aspect of bearing the image of God is that he has called us to steward other aspects of his creation and to exert careful and loving dominion over it. That is, part of what it means to represent God on earth is that humans are to lovingly engage with and care for his creation, an idea expressed well by Walsh and Middleton*. Image bearing is fundamental to our humanity and is shared by both men and women:
God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them
reflecting our nature
So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
the birds in the air, the cattle,
And, yes, Earth itself,
and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”
God created human beings;
he created them godlike,
Reflecting God’s nature.
He created them male and female.
God blessed them
(Genesis 1: 26-28, The Message)
That fundamental aspect of our character cannot be undone by going to college, having a career, having debt, or even having tattoos. We are not less loved by God for having made any of these choices.
*Walsh, B. J., & Middleton, J. R. (1984). The transforming vision: Shaping a Christian world view. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.