Confronting the “church girl” stereotype”
I was in a conversation with a coworker the other day. It was a Wednesday and she asked what I was doing that evening. Going to church was my response.
She let out a huge gasp and said “oh my gosh you’re a church girl?!”
I chuckled and reluctantly said yes.
Although it’s an honor to be associated with church, because that associates me with God, there is a negative connotation behind the church girl stereotype that I think is worth talking about.
Church: What’s in a name?
Before we get started, I want to be clear. The term “Church” (as used in the Bible) always refers to God’s people as a group.
In modern day, we have repurposed the word “church” to be a place instead of a group of people. When I refer to “church” below, I am primarily referring to our modern use of the word “church” which would be a physical building or location.
Please note: I am not denying the importance of going to church. Going to church is LITERALLY what helped me find God. I am just trying to address the assumptions and stereotypes that comes with women who choose to live for God.
Now, let’s continue on….
Why I am Not a “church girl”
What does it mean to be a church girl? In my humble opinion, it is an overused stereotype that has a negative connotation.
When I think of a church girl, I think of those innocent, naive women that are often depicted in Christian movies. They grew up in church, all they know is church, and men salivate at the thought of their innocence. The “church girl” does all the right religious things. She dresses right, she speaks right, she carries herself modestly; she does alllll the right “church girl” things.
But the one thing lacking in her life is power and presence.
She lacks the power of God and the presence of God in her life, which is often why in movies these same “church girls” end up falling. Because they made their life about church…and not about God (isn’t this such a sad & familiar story about modern-day Christianity?).
This piece — power and presence — is what separates women of God from “church girls.” The church girl knows church, but she may or may not fully know God. She does all the “right things,” but it flows from a place of religion, tradition and rules, not out of a place of power, intimacy and relationship with God.
But me? I am first a child of God, and that is what inevitably connects me to the Church. You see?
I don’t go to church to act out a role, I go to church because I am God’s child and that’s simply what we do…it’s who we are!
Let’s be clear – I am a faithful church-goer and wouldn’t change it for the world (that’s what God has called us to, after all). But my total identity is not rooted in the physical church that I go to or how well I “play the part”. It’s rooted in Christ.
And that’s what separates me (and many other women) from the label of a church girl. I am a child of God. A daughter of God. And as a child of God I do what God has called me to do. One of those things is go to church.
I don’t go to church to fit the role of a “church girl”, I go to church out of an internal, undeniable prompting to walk in fellowship with others on the same journey as me.
Combating the “church girl” stereotype
There are so many stereotypes connected to the idea of a church girl. Those stereotypes are the complete opposite of what I, and many other Christian women truly are, which is why I am not a huge fan of the term– it implies something that is not true.
Stereotype 1: The church girl is naive.
This stereotype implies that the church girl will fall for any and everything because she is foolish and unaware. But unlike the church girl, the Christian woman has wisdom from God that enlightens her and gives her foresight. She may not have experienced everything, but she doesn’t have to because she looks to the word of God which shows her the outcome and impact of decisions that she may make.
Stereotype 2: The church girl is sweet, innocent, and has never experienced life.
The implication is in the name: church GIRL.
The idea that Christian women are innocent is (obviously) contrary to the word of God because ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (including the “innocent church girl”)(Romans 3:23). The idea that she has never experienced life may be true, but in many cases is not. If you talk to a lot of Christian women, including myself, what you’ll find is that a large majority have “experienced life.”
That’s what makes us so special. We are completely aware of the fun (and not-so-fun) ungodly parts of life, but we still choose to deny those things and serve Him.
We may not have made all the right decisions. We may have once lived a life that wasn’t pleasing to God. But he has set us free.
Just because we’ve currently made a decision to live for God does not mean that we are unaware of how the world operates. In fact, many of us know exactly how the world operates, and that’s why we cling so much to Him – we know how much we need Him in this world!
Stereotype 3: The church girl is perfect
Well we know that as God’s children we aren’t perfect. That’s why we need God. We are righteous through God alone and it’s his power that keeps us from falling (Romans 3:22).
Declarations, realities and truths for Christian women to recite
Repeat after me…
- I am not what society deems a “church girl”. I am a strong, powerful woman of God who is whole-heartedly committed to serving Jesus.
- I love God and have wisdom. These two realities are not contrary. My heart for God makes me stronger, more powerful and more filled with love, grace & wisdom day by day.
- I am blessed because I trust in the Lord and put ALL of my confidence in Him alone (Jeremiah 17:7).
- I am not perfect. I am the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21) and I am who I am today by him alone. His love has set me free, and will continue to keep me free in every area of my life.
- I am not weak, foolish or naive for choosing God’s path. It is this choice that shows my wisdom. As I continue to serve God, his wisdom will inevitably flow to me as I ask and believe for it (James 1:5).
- I am part of the most powerful family to ever exist, the Church — the body of Christ — and my connection to this family makes me stronger and bolder (Ephesians 4:16).
- I am walking in, experiencing, and living out the greatest, most authentic love because I am connected to God through my belief in Jesus Christ, my savior.
- I do what I do and I am who I am because of God alone. No physical building dictates my identity, but as I grow in my identity of who I am, I lean more toward the fellowship he has called me to.
What other stereotypes have you heard about Christians and Christian women? What truth is there to them? What are your thoughts on the church girl stereotype? Comment below!