sexism in Christian romance novels

If you haven’t read Who Brings Forth the Wind by Lori Wick, thank your lucky stars.

Done thanking them?


I, unfortunately, have read this book . . . many much more times than I would like to admit. Growing up IFB, your reading choices are pretty limited. Grace Livingston Hill and Elsie Dinsmore top most lists, and nearly every IFB teenager girl I met had a copy of Stepping Heavenward in her purse. My mother was slightly more liberal, and I was allowed to read Lori Wick, Lauraine Snelling, and Janette Oke.

I started to refuse reading this *ahem* tripe after I discovered actual literature– including, but not limited to, Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde . . . and Orson Scott Card, Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick . . . (I might maybe be a huge geek).

However, I was pretty familiar with Lori Wick’s Kensington Chronicles, including the above. The essentials of the plot are as follows:

Innocent, naive country virgin goes to London for the Season.
Bitter, trust-issues, oppressive and controlling Duke wants her to be his mistress.
She says no, she’ll only be an honest woman.
They get married.
Bitter, trust-issues Duke “catches” her in the arms of another man.
He sends his now-pregnant-but-she-has-no-idea wife away.
She gets saved.
They are re-united.
Years and years and many children and grandchildren later, he gets saved, too.

Follow? Ok. Good.

The question that most of the book centers around lies in the simple question: how does the Duke get saved?

The answer, my friends, is that she is good, obedient, submissive wife, and through her adoring flexibility and compassion, wins his heart. He never would have gotten saved if she had done things like stand up for herself, or her children, and told her abusive husband to go screw himself. No, she was sweet, and loving, and kind, and considerate, and only because of that was he able to understand the Love of God and Come to a Saving Knowledge of Jesus Christ.


One of the most problematic elements, I believe, facing modern conservative evangelicalism is that sexism is so horribly, horribly rampant. It completely saturates nearly everything it touches. The church I attended with my parents for three years after we left the IFB movement was not that much different when it comes to sexism. Women are ignored, regardless of ability, in favor of men filling the same role.

A woman can do it better? No, she can’t! She’s not a man! So, even if she could do it better, no one would follow or trust her, and her leadership would be ineffectual and all her efforts would be fruitless. If a man did it, even poorly, at least he could be respected and people would listen to him.

I attended a Sunday school class that was only women, and the pastor’s wife stood up and explained to us that it was okay that a woman would be speaking, because they’re only women present. Nothing to worry about here, she “joked.”

The associate pastor’s wife stood up and gave a “lesson” on how not “submitting” to your husband is a sin. Her anecdote was an encounter she had with her husband, who asked her where an item he’d lost was. She was doing the dishes. She told him she didn’t know, and why didn’t he look for it, she was busy. Oh, my word, how she sinnnnnned against her husband. She felt so guilty that she immediately dropped what was doing and went and found it for him. Because good wives submit to their husbands. Good wives are “helpmeets.” Good wives drop anything they are doing, always, because they are there to help support their husband, and how can he go and be a Great Christian Leader if he’s distracted by looking for his socks?


There’s been a lot of focus recently, on “biblical manhood” and “biblical womanhood.”

And I’m puzzled because, frankly, I don’t really see any such thing in the Bible.

Can someone please show me where the “Fruit of the Spirit for Men” and the “Fruit of the Spirit for Women” is, because I’ve looked, and I can’t find it. But, supposedly, it’s there.

What I do find are universal calls to service, to action, to love. There’s no difference between a good Christian man and a good Christian woman. We’re both told to seek love, joy, peace, patience, long-suffering, temperance, forgiveness, compassion. In Christ, there is no male nor female. Dividing up all these aspects of Christianity into “manly virtues” and “feminine virtues” is such a load of chickenshit. Follow Christ, and being a good man, or woman, will come.

Photo by Sela Yair
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