In Their Words…
In case you missed it, last Thursday morning, my post “5 Reasons Not to Use Gender-Based Jokes in the Pulpit” went live on The Junia Project blog. And then madness ensued. Right now, it’s been viewed over 14,000 times, and that’s incredible. To be honest, it’s simultaneously exciting and overwhelming.
Next, on Monday, I published some reflections on my experience, in a post entitled “What it Says.” In the post, I expressed my hope that “the response indicates that people are hungry for honest and real conversations about gender in the church.” May it be so!
Then, on Tuesday, The Junia Project folks posted a selection of comments from around social media in response to the “5 Reasons” post. Find the whole post here, but I’m going to excerpt many of the quotes below. I recommend that you read then slowly, as I did yesterday. As you do so, contemplate the importance of this dialogue about gender equality in the church.
“I find [gender-based humor in the pulpit] extremely distracting.“
“I basically left a church because he wouldn’t stop doing this!”
“I can’t listen to anything else after.”
“I can think of one more: Gender-based jokes are dehumanizing.”
“’They’re inherently sexist’ isn’t enough?”
“It leads me right out the door. I feel the same with any sort of ethnic “humor.” There is no place for any of it, but I am glad if a pastor is relaxed enough to show his true colors so I can leave early.”
“I have been in many services where I spent thirty minutes reeling from the sting of some painful joke at the expense of women.”
“Sexism costs: 1) Giving my non-Christian wife a reason to ignore the sermon. 2) Belittling my marriage struggles with cheap “happy wife” lines. 3) Forcing me to reject community by making every men’s event about violence. 4) Reminding me of the dismissal of my wife and daughters giftings…”
“Most pastors would never think of making racial jokes in the pulpit. Gender jokes should be just as obviously off limits. I don’t like it anymore if the joke is on men, just for the record…”
“I’ve heard more gender stereotype jokes aimed at men (by men). Though they may have been intended to come across as self-deprecating, it can be used as an excuse to disengage from their families. “I’m just a man. That’s my wife’s thing.” Thus raising children and running a household isn’t a man’s responsibility. And the jokes give other men the perfect excuse to opt out, too.”
“I am equally frustrated with the big dumb buffoon male trope as I am with the ditzy female or poor overworked wife/mother trope. Let’s cut out all ‘humour’ that reduces people to one characteristic. It’s not just insulting; it’s a disastrous dismissal of the complexity of humans created in God’s image.”
”When I realize that all a “preacher” is doing is a standup routine, I’m out the door.”
”…I remember getting really upset during the sermon one day because the male youth pastor described someone being weak, as, “He was acting like a little girl!” It got big laughs, but as a woman sitting there next to my strong but impressionable middle school girls, I was offended and angry.”
”How am I supposed to take seriously the advice of someone who thinks I must care only about shopping and my husband about sports, when we don’t fit the stereotypes?”
“May I add Point 6? It reinforces an “us vs. them” mentality between men and women…Preachers talk constantly about the need for spouses to respect each other. Well then, stop pitting us against each other!”
“I know many preachers who make jokes about marriage think they are being cute or clever or amusing their audience, but these days, with over 50% of the adult American population being single…the marriage jokes only make singles feel more excluded and marginalized than we already are.”
“This is one of the main reasons that I stopped attending my previous church. As a single professional woman in my 30s I couldn’t take any more of the “let’s celebrate all the things women do around the house” portrayal of women [and] Duck Dynasty-based quotes about ‘real men grow beards’.”
”I’ve been in church when the pastor decided to joke about ‘ditzy blonde women’. All I could think about is how many of those women would not be back the next Sunday.”