Of all the important spiritual topics in the world right now, the Christian organization The Gospel Coalition has published an article about… PMS.
Despite being written by a woman, author and editor Rachel Jones, the piece is stained with misogynistic tropes that made me angry before they made me sad.
It started with the headline, referring to PMS as a “fight with the flesh”:
On Sunday, I snapped at my mother on the phone.
On Monday, I woke before my alarm and spent a lonely hour lying with my eyes closed and my mind whirring—anxious over decisions for the future and despairing about the direction of life altogether. That night I did it all again before going to sleep.
On Tuesday, at work, I simultaneously wanted to cry and punch someone.
Two days later, I started my period.
The hormones had won. Again.
In some senses, the way I think about my hormones ought to be the way I think about my flesh all month long. Paul says that there’s a war going on within us.
While no one is saying that PMS is an acceptable excuse for treating people badly or any other problematic behavior, hormonal fluctuation is a real problem for many women — one that can be treated by a gynecologist. Also, one need not have a seminary background to understand that the apostle Paul was likely not referring to PMS when writing Galatians. (That topic is a bit outside his wheelhouse.)
“My hormones made me do it!” is the cry of many a PMS-sufferer — and yet it’s also true that I did it. As such our hormones helpfully demonstrate how our sinful nature is part of us and yet not us: in Christ, the flesh does not define us, and it need not control us.
Every round of PMS is an opportunity to fix our eyes on a future where our whole being — body, mind, and spirit — will be finally freed from the effects of sin. And we praise God for the Savior on whom we pin our hopes.
This is where my feelings turn from annoyance to sympathy. Jones may be one of those women suffering from a hormonal imbalance and may greatly benefit from medication like the pill. It’s impossible to say without knowing anything about her background. But for many women, seeking outside (read: secular) help for an issue like this is frowned upon, especially if the solution is birth control, which many mistakenly believe causes abortions.
Periods are not the result of sin. Obviously. They are a natural function of the female body, more problematic for some women than others. Needing to see a doctor over it is not a sign of weak faith or weak self-control or weak anything. This article serves as yet another example of why you should never use the Bible as a science or medical textbook.
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