Recent Bumper Sticker
I recently saw a bumper sticker that read, "Well-behaved women don't make history." I got to thinking about it, after my initial highly negative gut reaction, and discovered that that simple statement has quite a few underlying assumptions, depending on how you look at it. Incidentally, I'll just keep talking about women in this post since that's what the sticker said. However, it generalizes to men just as easily. So to head off any charges of male chauvinism, I'll just assert that everything I say about women in this post can also be said about men. Some people may laugh that I'm even giving this much consideration to a bumper sticker. I wouldn't, except that I rather think the sticker represents a decent cross-section of thinking in this postmodern America. Hence, I feel no compunction about subjecting it to the hammer of what I hope to be biblical analysis.
Of course, the statement itself is quite simply plain wrong. I rather think Sarah, Ruth, Abigail, and Mary were well-behaved women, generally. They are immortal, literally. Hehe.
Why is the statement wrong in its assumptions? Here's one assumption the statement makes: this world is all there is. Going on the basis of that assumption, you could conclude that whatever makes the biggest splash in this world makes the biggest splash period. However, while history has a beginning and an end, there is a life after this one; in that life what counts is what God thinks of you, not what other people think of you. And, of course, God likes well-behaved women (good behavior being defined as adherence to the law of God), though they don't exist apart from salvation in Christ. There must be the grace of Jesus' perfect obedience being imputed to the believer, before that believer can turn around and, with God's strength, start obeying the law. And we also know that perfection doesn't occur in this life, either; the obedience will be imperfect until glory. Only such "well-behaved" women make it into heaven. In heaven, I rather think people will not remember much the deeds of ill-behaved women. Therefore, the bumper sticker is actually the reverse of true: it is the well-behaved women (as defined above in relation to law and grace) who will "make history", not the ill-behaved ones.
For the next assumption of the sticker I'll deal with, I need to make a distinction between history and history books. History is what actually happens, period. History books are the automatically biased, selective record of what some people think happened. Quite a difference. In fact, it should be clear that the sticker ought to have read, for the purposes of its author, "Well-behaved women don't make it into history books." That would have been a much truer statement in any case.
The next incorrect assumption the sticker makes is about the inherent nature of man. You see, history books tend to record aberrations, not normalcy. Therefore, in order for ill-behaved women to make it into history books, the normal thing has to be that women are well-behaved. However, the Bible teaches that this is not the case: all men and women intrinsically tend toward all evil. We are totally depraved, understood as meaning not that everyone is as bad as they might be, but that every aspect of our being is tainted by sin such that we cannot please God in any of our actions, no matter how "good" they might be.
To anthropomorphize the sticker, I disagree with the way it breathes; hopefully I've convinced you from Scriptural principles that it is wrong. So if the bumper sticker is so wrong, why does it even exist? This is just a guess, but I would say it probably exists because the owner of that vehicle is suffering from guilt feelings, maybe a little, and wants to encourage others to be as bad as she is. Then she won't feel so bad, see. What she needs, like anyone else, is the gospel. The loving thing to do would be, at the appropriate moment, to give her the gospel, to show her God as He has revealed Himself (not as we imagine Him to be). Then, if the Holy Spirit regenerates her, she can turn from her ways and come to know Christ.