Wanderlust and Other Reasons I’d Make an Awful Christian Wife

There’s this really revealing article floating around the Internets, describing the 10 Women Christian Men Should Not Marry. Maybe you’ve read it. I know plenty of wives of Christian men who aren’t up to standards, and their husbands love those qualities about them, so I’m thinking this is the thinking of a particularly fundamentalist pastor-web-personality-guy-thing. A loud one at that. Of course my most obvious strike out with that list happens before you reach number one, since I am a staunch universalist religious inclusivist. I’m not an anti-believer; I just believe that a lot of beliefs are valid. So, I’m okay with not making the list, truly. I’m also a feminist, career-focused, I believe in preventing pregnancy until a person is ready to be a parent AND ALSO THAT ADOPTION IS A VERY ETHICAL AND SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE FORM OF FAMILY PLANNING, and I wear deep V necklines and miniskirts sometimes too.

But here’s my sinking ship: I am a Wander-Luster. I don’t love moving as much as I have had to move–Oregon, Arizona, New York, Arizona, and I hope California–in the time frame of the last year. But I move a lot, and I love to travel–not just touristy travel, but like, to visit dear friends on other continents or to go to school in other countries and learn foreign languages in my spare time. It’s an enlightening and resilience-boosting pastime, I assure you. It’s a pretty attractive quality in my book, too, which makes the Wander-Luster’s slot on NYCpastor.com’s list a little surprising. In another recent article, Beth McDonough Woolsey supplies the reasons why a good conservative fella might want to avoid the Wander-Luster, and it’s not because of the word “lust” inside:

It is easier, of course, to keep women contained. To squash the wanderlust that takes us physically away and the wanderlust of our hearts which lets us dream. It’s easier to keep us only home. To keep us feeling guilty when our entire fulfillment isn’t found in being a wife and a mother. Because when we women are set free to be fully who Love intended us to be, we are a force. WE ARE A FORCE to be reckoned with, and there are men and women in this world who are unwilling to do the reckoning.

Okay, that makes sense. Keep the woman down, literally. Keep those feet rooted in one place and the attention focused on God and country. I mean God and home. But you know why else I think wanderlust is so dangerous to the conservation of any fundamentalist belief system? Because wanderlust is the symptom of desire for something more, something different, something other than right here and right now. Wanderlust isn’t just about the incurable itch to circle the globe. It’s about tasting new foods, feeling warmer winds when you’re used to arctic blasts, meeting people with different beliefs and experiences, hearing “I love you” or “I’m hungry” in other languages. Getting dirty in someone else’s dirt. Wanderlust is the incurable happenstance of being an open individual. Which is exactly the kind of person an evangelical movement needs, but that’s just the opinion of an old maid talking.