17 October 2012

Guest Post: On Why Single Females Should Not Attempt to Save the World

From a friend of CSPP who wishes to remain anonymous.

Ok, first of all, a shout-out to the doctrine of election and an acknowledgement that none of us can save the world.  Jesus does that.  We don’t.

Moving on –

If you know a Save the World type who is a single female, please make every effort to curb her enthusiasm.  By STW types, I’m referring to those optimistic and generally sincere individuals who leave the comforts of home and move to a developing country where they teach English or feed the hungry or educate women or something.  (A side discussion could easily be had about whether any of these efforts are even needed or helpful. Another time, another place.)

The problem with the single female Save-the-Worlders is that they are subjecting themselves to dangerous, hostile environs, and they often think they have some kind of force field around them for going under the name of a Christian sending organization.  I am here to warn you: No such force field exists.

The Christian sending organization will not protect you from knife-wielding malandros*  lurking at an otherwise deserted metro bus stop as you go on your merry way to church. The Christian sending organization will also not protect you from dreadful illnesses that cannot be understood or treated in the local clinica**.  Neither will it not protect you from illegit taxi drivers who are actually there to kidnap your pretty single self.  Oh, and the Christian sending agency will not protect you from experimental vaccines that are required in the foreign airports (but your out-of-country immunization record could spare you from this if you have the clarity of mind to produce it in time).  Let's not forget angry, violent political demonstrations involving tear gas and loud shoutings of anti-American rhetoric.  Oh, and house fires.  Those too.  Then again, those could happen anywhere.  But emergency response time is a LOT better in the U.S.of A.

[Alert! Alert! All of these examples are actually real! And all in the time span of one short year. I am not making this stuff up!]

Here’s the point -- and as you've already gathered, it’s coming from someone who knows:  The “mission field” is not a safe place for single ladies.  It is not.

And I know I’m being cynical with this talk about the imagined magic powers of the Christian sending agency…  We recognize that it is our own heavenly Father who commands His angels concerning us to guard us in all our ways.  I know and believe that it is only by the grace of God that I am safe and well today. I was a very stupid young woman and I realize now that things could have gone a lot worse. I am so incredibly grateful.  The same hindsight which produces this sincere gratitude, also compels me to urge others to be smarter than I was.  I did not need to go to those corners of the world. The Lord has promised that His Word will reach everyone.  I could have easily left it in His capable hands and spared myself a lot of calamity and hardship.  If my parents had had any real idea of what was going on over there, they would not have slept for an entire year.  Thankfully they were a tad on the ignorant/naive side. (Love you, Mom! Love you, Dad!)

Single ladies, please do not think you have to STW to feel good about yourself. Serve the neighbors closest to you. No passport required.  And no deadliness, either! I do understand that you may not have the same satisfaction of having done something super glamorous (Since when was living without running water glamorous? We’re all so backward!). But you will be no less a Christian.

If you have a daughter who aspires to STW, please encourage her to use her many gifts and talents in a setting that will not put her in great bodily danger.  If we aren’t ok with our baby girls sticking their fingers in electrical outlets, why would it be ok for them to wander alone into a crime-ridden foreign city 22 years later?

* Scroungers. Or a more literal translation: bad men walking.
** Oh wait, that's a cognate.  I'm not needed here!


Gauntlets said...

I think sometimes about two young women spending an unchaperoned night in an open train station somewhere in the middle of Hungary. Sure they rotated sleep schedules, but what did they think one skinny awake girl would accomplish if it came to fisticuffs? I think perhaps their angels are still a bit mad at them.

pekoponian said...

Gauntlets, I call those situations "keeping your guardian angel busy."
Also, thank you, Guest, for absolving me of my guilt over not joining the Peace Corps.

Katy said...

I have a sister like this, with some REALLY bad (really bad) theology accompanying her STW syndrome. It keeps ME up at nights. Thankfully, I have a circumspect father who has limited her independence (by feminist standards, anyways), and she hasn't left for California or China yet. She might find teaching English at a city public school "glamorous" enough.

Anonymous said...

she should just married and pregnant, like Jesus wants.

Anonymous said...

and not leave the house, or be in a room with others without her husband.
it's scary out there.

Consecutive Odds said...

My Aunt works for NGOs that supply aid to remote areas where there are often terrorists; and she regularly goes through kidnapping and hostage survival training. This post lists some legit dangers.

Sure, Jesus doesn't promise us all husbands or that they will always be alive to provide. But, He also gives us a brain and expects women to use it to avoid dangerous situations.

Rebekah said...

Oh, come on, Anon. You know better than anybody that this blog is just a big ole barrel of fish. Bad form.

Anonymous said...

I find this post surprising and unfortunate.

Who are you or I to question the calling of God in someone's life, even if that person is a single female? The stories of Esther, Ruth, Jael and so many other Biblical women remind me that God uses women to His Glory in ways that don't always seem "safe" or make sense to us at the time.

As one who has been on mission trips to developing and third world countries, I am not naive. I know there is no "force field" protecting me when I am abroad. Neither is there a "force field" protecting me when I get in my car to go to church here in America.

I don't have a "Save the World" syndrome. I simply strive to follow God's call in my life. And I must say, I've been to some pretty awesome places, seen amazing things, and met truly remarkable people because of it.

Pr. H. R. said...


How does one know one is called by God to go on a mission trip to a third world country?

I understand that that's how American Evangelicals talk, that their piety requires them to be able to say pretty amazing things if taken literally, "God just really laid this on my heart. . ." "We just knew that this is what God wanted us to do. . . " etc.

But Lutherans have been quite resistant to such a piety. We take our talk about God very seriously. We like objective over subjective; we like to be able to hang our hat on a clear promise from God.


Anonymous said...

Pastor H.C. Please enlighten me. How does one pastor know he is called into the holy ministry? Might I have misconstrued the promise of my confirmation verse that He would be with me as I went forth and He would be with me until the end of the age? That seems objective enough to me but perhaps my piety doth blind me. I honestly don't think I have the smarts to understand what you are saying.

Anonymous said...

It's a shame to think that the American evangelicals might think they have a lock on the piety quota. Plenty of our pastors ( and occasionally their Mrs.) could give them a good run for their money in the exhibitionism of piety. I fully expect CPH to burst forth with a one piece Roman collar swim garment for those that want to be set apart. So, we might be resistant to some piety but not so much all piety .

Anonymous said...

To the guest author: did you ever consider being truthful with the parents regarding your situation? It seems like a mark of maturity to be honest with the parents rather than assume they are better off "naive or ignorant".

Anonymous said...


The two Anonymous commenters before me stated essentially what I would have said on the subjects of calling and piety. And if you prefer to discuss matters of objectivity, I would assert that the stories of Ruth, Esther, etc., are indeed objective examples of how God sometimes uses females in dangerous or scary situations.

But what I really take issue with is the entire premise of the post, that as a single female I should be discouraged from undertaking missions abroad, JUST because I am single and female. There are much more important and useful attributes to consider in a missionary that their gender or marital status, such as one's talents and capabilities.

Yes, the Lord promised that His Word will reach everyone. But He doesn't tell us to wait for someone else to do it so that women are spared of dangers. If called upon, I will be His Hands and Feet worldwide. I won't wait for someone else to reach the lost when I'm capable, just because it might bring hardship or discomfort to me.

Untamed Shrew said...

Some vocations are "extra nos," or outside ourselves. "Intra nos" (within ourselves) vocations are those we choose because we have a certain interest or proclivity in that field. I may feel called to write or sing or hand out free formula in the heart of Ethiopia, and many would argue that I should exercise my Christian freedom to do so, but there is no Divine ordinance here. Contrarywise, a pastor is not a pastor until he receives a call from a congregation. A mother is not a mother until the Lord gives her the gift of conception.

And that is why, with baby #5 arriving soon, I'm quitting the choir.

Rebekah said...

Deborah existed, and now every last one of us can be Deborah for Halloween. There's a post for that.

An awful lot of this was covered in Jane Eyre, too.

Great news, Anons--Christian Sending Organizations will never tire of publishing photos of pretty girls holding brown babies, and pastor-bashing will never go out of style. The world is yours!

etem said...

Off-topic but serious question:
Why do people who disagree always post as anons?

The Rev. BT Ball said...

I wouldn't usually presume to speak for a fellow pastor, but I bet HR won't mind.

He knew he was a pastor when, as shrew stated above, he received the Divine Call of God (that was when he was in a line at the Seminary Chapel and his name was called, which was then confirmed by the Laying on of the Hands, which is the gift of Holy Ordination. Then, according to Divine Institution and Apostolic Practice, he knew he was a pastor. Everything prior to that was preparation of the man and the discernment of the Church in accordance with Christ and His way giving of gifts to men - pastors.

Our Lord Jesus Christ has instituted no office in His Church for the sending young women to serve in harm's way. Such things are by human right and the anonymous author is simply saying by experience it isn't a good idea; and one should not speak where God hasn't spoken. The Lord Himself doesn't call women through His church to perform works of mercy in far off lands. The Church creates such things. And it is important to make the distinction, because sometimes, lots of times, the Church is wrong.

Joan said...

Wow, there's snark all around, on both sides. Grow up.

Rebekah said...

Hi, Joan. I'm willing to have a conversation with anyone who would like one. However, I don't see the point of feigning politeness to anyone who was not satisfied merely to disagree, but took the time to actively ridicule. I generally ignore comments like this, but I found them particularly offensive when directed against our guest writer who kindly shared her informative experience.I apologize for disappointing you with my childish responses, but I didn't want to hang my guest out to dry and it seemed clear to me that those in disagreement had no interest in discussing it. I am indeed a very childish person. :(

People are welcome to take whatever risks they want. The trouble is acting like these risks do not exist, even to the point of concealing them from good-hearted people. There is certainly a conversation to be had if all sides were willing. (For example, ever compared the rules for male and female Mormon missionaries? Unfair, or wise and caring?)

Arnold Schwarzenegger said...

As a man, should I be upset or looking to get around the fact that I can't conceive and give birth to a child? Or should I simply recognize that there are other vocations the Lord has given to me--even based on my gender?

Take it from me, Arnold. I do much better protecting the world from dangerous bad guys (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0111503/) than giving birth to a child (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110216/).

Anonymous said...

Some of this save the world stuff comes from despising other vocations as though serving in some non church role doesn't count like serving in a foreign mission does. It can also come from our narcissistic culture where we have an exaggerated view of what we can accomplish and how important we are. Christian sending agencies would do well to recruit more ex Marines to foreign missions instead of young single women.