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The Virtuous Woman Workout: Sanctioned by God

By Klym ~

No matter how hard I try, I just can't get away from the constant bombardment of Christian culture. Granted, I live in the Bible Belt of the USA, in the south, so why should I be surprised? But, still, I find myself getting "evangelized" in the strangest places and at the strangest times.

Picture this: I'm minding my own business at work last week when I go to my work mailbox and find a plastic 16 oz. bottle of water, the neck of it wrapped with a pretty bow of pink netting, with a couple of cards attached to the bow advertising "P31 fitness". Now mind you, I'm an educator, so this was in my "secular" mailbox at school. Every single mailbox in my school (even the men's boxes) had the "message in a bottle" placed in it that day.

I eagerly look at the cards attached thinking, "Wow, I haven't heard of this new fitness craze---I wonder what it is?" Since I was 18 years old I have been a fitness junkie---you name it, I've done it---Jazzercize, Pilates, TaeBo, martial arts, yoga, power yoga, belly dance, Zumba, tap, ballet, jazz, kettlebell, water aerobics---you get the idea. So, I'm on this like stink on a skunk thinking it's something new and different I can try---I'm so excited...

UNTIL....I read on the card that along with the exercise I will get daily email devotionals and a devotional will be delivered at each workout. Can you hear my balloon of enthusiasm bursting? POP! I can't help myself though, I have to go to the website that is advertised on the card to satisfy my curiosity.

Here's what I found: "P31 fitness" is based on Proverbs 31:10-31. The cluster of verses in the Bible known as the "Virtuous Woman" verses. It basically describes a woman who works her ass off from before the sun rises until after dark so that her husband can go sit at the city gates and be respected by the elders. But his poor wife NEVER sits down for a minute to rest her weary bones. Virtuous?? I think not.

The "P31" website states the following:

"Taking time to workout isn't crazy. It's Godly. And no one does it because she loves sweating . She does it because her day is otherwise full of service to others--working, mothering, caring for a home, caring for parents, serving every other person--and she needs that hour to put herself first, just for a little while."

Excuse me, but nothing in Proverbs 31 says anything about the "virtuous" woman taking time out for herself. It says that "she eateth not the bread of idleness". Of course I realize that working out for an hour is not being idle, but here is just another example of how Christianity can take verses from the Bible and twist them to meet the needs of whatever agenda they are promoting. This P31 Fitness is not free; it is not provided to God's followers just for the joy of getting healthy in God's name. I understand that Christians have to make a living too, but still, the whole thing just irks me. I'll be damned if I'm going to a workout where I have to be preached to about being a virtuous woman. And, I resent that a blatant advertisement for Christianity was put in my mailbox at work, at a federally funded institution,at a public school!!!! The thin line separating church and state in our country is getting more blurry by the second.

I highly doubt that my school in the Bible Belt would have allowed Muslim, Buddhist, or Freethought pamphlets to be put in my work mailbox. And yet I am unknowingly subjected to this type of advertising in the workplace. I haven't decided yet who to complain to about this. Since most of my colleagues are Bible-believing Christians, I know my complaints would not be well received. And, to complicate things, the church who sponsored this ad provides free food for some of our needy students. I guess if we accept their charity, we also have to accept their evangelizing?

It's a lose/lose situation for me. If I speak up, I will become a pariah; if I stay quiet, then I am not being true to myself. But being true to myself in this instance could cost me more than I am willing to pay for my nonbelief. After all, it's only an exercise class---how much harm can it do? ALOT, as we here at ExC know all too well. While I'm sure the creators of P31 fitness are well-intentioned people, how much good/harm will they do in the name of their god?

This situation reminds me of how fortunate I am to have escaped the bonds of this religion---a religion that infiltrates every waking hour with some message telling us that we're not quite worthy enough just as we are. We can't even exercise without God's sanction!? I am so thankful that I can vent to my fellow escapees---what would you do if you were in my running shoes? I'll probably just drink the water, recycle the plastic bottle and the cards, and use the bow for a future gift wrapping decoration. Us ExC's have to pick our battles carefully.