The other day I was outside with my little boy. He had a tight grip on the “flower” he had picked for me- a dandelion. I didn’t have the heart to tell him it was really just a weed. As he sat there studying the dandelion’s intricacies, he rubbed it across his cheek, admiring its softness and beauty. There were talks of taking it inside and putting it in a vase. And then, out of nowhere came a giant gust of wind. He watched as the fluffy, white flowery top quickly disintegrated, disappearing into the wind.
Later it dawned on me that our own theologies can be like that dandelion; they’re fluffy and pretty, but don’t stand a chance at weathering life’s storms.
In college, I took a course on worldviews. The professor challenged just about everything I held to be true. “Why do you believe the Bible to be true? Why Christianity over other world religions?” he asked. Question after question, the Professor crushed my dandelion-like faith. I’d been a Christian for years and yet I couldn’t give a basic defense of my faith. It didn’t take me long to realize that the countless sermons I’d heard, the Christian books I read, and the Bible studies I’d attended had consisted primarily of one thing: fluff.
Flash forward a decade and as I sit with a child who has crippling diagnoses, I’ve been forced again to wrestle through what I believe to be true. It hasn’t been an easy road and there’s been more struggle with the Truth than resting in it. I’m going to go out on a limb here and believe that many of you can identify as you have your own struggles.
For years I’ve witnessed a large disconnect between the real lives- the doubts, pains, struggles and questions- of women I know and the ministry material readily available for them. Blogs, books and speakers that have soared in popularity within the church and yet, leave their readers feeling spiritually malnourished.There’s a prevailing thought that studying doctrine is something that happens in seminaries; it’s boring and not relevant. Combine this assumption with our consumeristic church culture and you get what I’d been fed for years and what a large majority of women’s studies tend to focus on: fluff.
Fluff is pretty. It’s emotionally engaging. It’s clichés and personal stories and shallow truth statements neatly packaged for us to buy at wholesale. Fluff discourages deep thoughts and theological questions because those things threaten to unravel its pretty little facade.
Fluff relies on moralistic behaviorism, leading us to believe that if we just do more and try harder, God will love us more and things will finally be made right in our lives. Fluff focuses on what we can do instead of focusing on what Christ has done for us. It seeks glorification of self instead of glorification of Christ.
Fluff leads us to believe that the shallow doctrines it proclaims are the final destination, instead of the tip of the iceberg of our faith journey.
Ladies, hear me when I say this: It’s not that fluff doesn’t at times, have something good or true to say. But fluff only gives us a microscope to study God where a telescope is needed.
Relying on fluff to grow your faith is like putting your toes in the ocean and thinking the whole sea is only that deep.
If the power of a lie is how much truth you can pack into it, then isn’t it worth considering if the Enemy is not doing exactly what he set out to do by sending teachers who feed us fluff? Yes, Satan sends teachers who offer just enough substance to keep us coming back for more, all the while distracting us from the real source of deep theological Truth- the Bible.
And this is where it get’s really awkward, because we live in world that does not applaud you for saying something is objectively wrong. But what if we, as educated women, began praying for humble discernment when it comes to what teachers/teachings we listen to? What if we decided that we want to go deeper in our theologies, not out of moral obligation or a desire to improve ourselves, but simply because we want to know the One who is pursuing us? What would it look like for us to take the time to learn deep spiritual Truths instead of being satisfied with mere rudimentary teachings?
Let’s go deeper. Let’s not be afraid to ask the hard questions. Let’s stop using cliches. And let’s use our intelligent minds to think carefully about the world through a Biblical lens, letting the Bible guide our beliefs about what we know to be true.
Let’s stand together, deciding that we are ready to #EndTheFluff in women’s ministry.