Single Lady Missionaries

maryslessorFundamentalists would never let a woman preach in one of their churches. Some won’t even let women speak from the church platform. Yet strangely enough, women missionaries like Isabel Kuhn, Mary Slessor, and Amy Carmichael are highly praised in fundy circles.

It would seem that there is an unwritten rule that goes like this “A woman must never, never ever have spiritual authority over a man unless that man lives in a remote part of the world and has skin at least two shades darker than her own.”

It’s a fair guess that if the lady missionary in question were from Africa and her work involved instructing men in Raleigh, NC she would probably not make it into the fundamentalist hall of fame.

10 thoughts on “Single Lady Missionaries”

  1. BJU used to have female Bible Conference speakers. Bob Jones Sr.’s roots were in Southern Methodism, a denomination that was relatively open to female preachers (pastors, not so much).

    For a good history of fundamentalism and women see Margaret Bendroth’s “Fundamentalism and Gender.”

  2. Sadly, most single lady missionaries I met were unattractive or overweight. They were just too fat or too ugly to find a husband and get their MRS degree at Bible College. Scientific studies show attractive people have a distinct advantage in life. But fundies live in denial of this fact, and in doing so, only make things worse.

    1. I have to disagree with you on that one. I had the chance to run camera for a missionary commissioning ceremony (at my former SBC church) a few years ago. Most of the new recruits were married, of course. All of the singles were women, and they weren’t unattractive.

      I also have a connection to someone who trained as a missionary. She said that 90 percent of the single missionaries are women, and they realize that they are probably sacrificing all hope of marriage and family when they sign on. The few single men who go can easily find wives among other missionaries or even among their congregations. The women generally don’t have those options.

      To say the women were just too ugly to catch a man at a Bible college is also wrong. Many of the Fundy U’s will have more women than men enroll. Between that and some of the most unlikely pairings that occur, it’s actually quite possible for even attractive women not to find a Fundy U mate.

  3. Reposting a comment I made on this ( thread:

    “Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! I am a young Christian woman whom the Lord has called to a life of singleness to better serve Him on the mission field of urban America. However, the Word of God tells us that “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12) Therefore, I believe it to be God’s will for me to seek out the companionship of another Godly woman called likewise to singleness. We would combine our households as did Ruth and Naomi. As commanded in Ecclesiastes, we would also share a bed. Perhaps, like my missionary role models Amy Carmichael and Gladys Aylward, we can eventually adopt foreign children from heathen lands together that we might bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

    Please note that my companion MUST share my commitment to chastity, so much so that the thought of knowing a man brings not the slightest temptation to her heart.”

    1. Be careful. Ruth ended up getting married even though committed to chastity. If you will remember, it was Orpah who decided to remarry. Naomi, then encouraged Ruth to marry and she eventually did. Don’t be so committed to chastity that you are unwilling to be pursued by a godly man.

  4. The single lady missionaries I’ve known usually went with a married couple to whatever field they were going to. They would be a helper, help teach the couple’s children and help out in the church as a Sunday school teacher or whatever. Quite often she wasn’t even regarded as a missionary at all. I remember my pastor in Michigan just burning me up when he said of one single lady missionary that she actually wasn’t a missionary at all since she was a woman. And I might as well say this, I have always hated the term “missionary wife” since that implies she is not a missionary in her own right. Most of the missionary ladies do much more on the field than be the missionary’s wife. 😐

  5. Interesting comment:

    “It would seem that there is an unwritten rule that goes like this “A woman must never, never ever have spiritual authority over a man unless that man lives in a remote part of the world and has skin at least two shades darker than her own.””

    This appears to be true, though I’ve not thought of it is in this way. I’ve not been overseas to see a single missionary woman at work amongst the native male population, or how she is treated by the male missionaries.

    I do know many single fundy female missionaries whom I highly respect and regard and real servants of our Lord.


  6. Years ago when I was getting back into Fundystan I called a church to see which one I should attend and the MOG said he didn’t approve of single women missionaries. I don’t remember how we got on that subject because that wasn’t one of my criteria.

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