There is an almost unlimited amount of books on “purpose” for the christian life. Books about prayer, missions, singleness, courtship, engagement, marriage, children, gender roles, house keeping, the list goes on. And on… and on. And really, it’s all about purpose. – finding purpose in a life that is supposed to have a higher purpose.
I’ve been wondering lately why it is that the christian culture is so obviously concerned with finding a purpose for its members. Shouldn’t purpose come somewhat naturally when you claim that your faith is the ultimate source of purpose? Why is it that I apparently need a bazillion books to find something that was promised to me when I started believing?
The situation is especially apparent in single women. Pretty much everybody else has a naturally derived, gender-based purpose. Married women care for men and raise godly arrows. Men, married and unmarried, fight for religion, faith, justice and all that and, last but not least, provide for either future or current family. But unmarried women? They’re kind of out of a purpose. “Waiting” is not exactly a purpose that I consider a valuable waste of lifetime.
I remember how I wondered what my purpose would be, some day. It’s fascinating how obsessed and yet how afraid I was that I wouldn’t find something valuable to do. I sometimes felt my salvation was at stake.
This is particularly funny, because if you actually believe in sola scriptura, as most fundamentalists claim to do, shouldn’t purpose be self-evident in some way? I mean, if scripture, and only scripture, is fully and entirely sufficient to answer all questions you could possibly have about life, death and everything in between, you shouldn’t need that many books outside of scripture to actually have an idea what you should do with your life.
All of these books, whether it is “So much more”, “sacred singleness” and all the other books on the issue of single women, claim that all they do is point out things that are already pointed out in scripture. Often times you will read something like “hands-on advice” or “practical ideas” for single girls. Well. Isn’t that what scripture should do?
I don’t merely mean to point out that all of these books are either a simple repetition of bible verses or a weird twisting thereof, I mean to point out that what’s going on there is false theology on so many levels. If scripture is enough, and that’s what you as an author of these books believe, your book is useless and invalid (and, mean as I am, I will call you greedy for selling the book despite your better knowledge). If you claim that your book is neither invalid nor useless, you don’t believe that the bible is the sole source of “godly” advice (which, by the way, makes the bible fallible). I think the hypocrisy in these circles is rampant. To be honest, I don’t care much about defending “biblical” teachings or the universal truth of the bible. I am simply shocked that I didn’t realize this when I believed in all these ideas myself.
I swallowed up all the “purpose” materials. It had to be somewhere in there, right? In the end, I have to realize, for myself at least, that the movement of fundamentalist christianity is nothing but a huge machine which aims to exclude groups of people from society, which feeds these groups ideas about what they should and shouldn’t do, claiming at the same time that their advice is biblical – but nevertheless I need materials outside of the bible to actually understand the bible.
Christianity is not “outside of culture”, it is a culture of itself. A culture which cannot exist with the bible as the sole source of law and morals, because these laws and morals – and, not to forget, assignment of purpose to specific groups – need to be controlled in a much broader fashion to survive. Selling young girls books to help them find their purpose is nothing but a means of keeping them in line when the obvious fallacies of the bible and problems with the bible aren’t enough to satisfy a natural thirst for finding something more in the existence we have been assigned.