At the Top of the Pecking Order
Thousands of Christian women and girls point to Heather Lindsey as an inspiration for Godly dating. They take her stories and advice as a playbook for mimicking her success. From every perfectly posed picture to every caption and status update, Lindsey becomes beaconed light of “if she can, I can too” in the fog of an uncertain dating scene.
Lindsey’s appearance is hard to ignore. Heather herself admits to having relied on her appearance for validation in her early adulthood and dating. Appearing in perfectly tailored outfits, detailed to compliment even the most minor accessories, she is a fashion icon of modesty. Her hair is always perfectly coiffed, even when intentionally messy. Her makeup is never askew. It’s not hard to see why girls and women alike admire her style.
The Social Capital of Beauty
It’s also not hard to see the physical traits of her biracial genetics. The (biological) daughter of a Mexican-German mother and Black father, her resulting lotto of favorable biracial features is prominent. Outfitted with “light skin and good hair,” she represents the top of the social pecking order for Black women. It is a pecking order that favors lighter hues over darker ones in everything from income and occupation to dating and marriage outcomes.
Certainly, Heather has absolutely no control over her genetic makeup. Heather, while a beautiful woman, possesses a physical appearance that doesn’t represent most Black women. It is not to say that she was chosen solely because of her fair skin, petite figure or standard Eurocentric features. But when dating, she had an advantage that much of her audience does not. An advantage that would have made her more likely to marry than a darker hued woman with or without sexual abstinence.
Still, Lindsey continues to preach to women that they too can achieve a marriage like hers if only they remain abstinent and know they’re worth it. A message that she pushes while ignoring the dating realities for women who are too brown, too fat, too old, or just plain too undesirable. All of which are realities of a number of her audience that cleaves to her every word for guidance.
Lindsey’s driving force for Pinky Promise is a strict adherence to sexual purity (abstinence) in singleness and Godly submission in dating. Extolling her own example, Lindsey often reminds readers that she and her husband waited until marriage to share their first kiss. As always, her ministry places an emphasis on mimicking her behaviors to gain her outcome. Little room is left to question if her model is God’s plan for the lives of her adherents. Her path and actions tend to come across as the infallible plan of God for all truly Godly women.
The question arises of her model’s biblical compatibility. Kissing, and other forms of physical contact such as hugs and cuddling, has been a subject of debate among well-meaning Christians for some time. Lindsey emphasizes her sexual purity practice with constant reminders that she and Cornelius withheld kisses until their I Dos. While the bible does speak to sexual intimacy before marriage (and theological interpretation thereof is debatable), it speaks nothing of kissing as a sin. Kissing as a form of sexual impurity is a long-reach interpretation of the biblical text about fleeing sexual immorality.
Perhaps Lindsey assumes that kissing is a gateway to sex. It is an assumption that doesn’t give credit to the self-control or discernment. It is also an assumption that possibly discredits the impact of her teachings. If her followers have been properly instructed to “say no in a yes world” as her program intends, it is curious to think that they’d be so easily overcome by the power of lust from a kiss.
Strict definitions of sexual purity such as Lindsey’s plants and waters seeds of sexual neurosis. Instead of practicing abstinence for spiritual growth, the follower of Lindsey’s theology becomes bogged down with acts of performative Christianity. They become more consumed with following her playbook to the tee as the path to marriage than with obedience as an act of worship.
Exaggerated Godly Submission
But Lindsey’s impact doesn’t end at sex. She offers a playbook for married women as well to sustain their marriages in a Godly way. She offers constant advice for women who want to be the best Godly wives possible. As usual, Lindsey offers no greater example than her own actions as a wife.
In a 15-minute video message on the subject, she candidly recalls an occasion from 16 days into their engagement about buying a car. She describes how she purchased a vehicle after having thought she clearly discussed it with her soon to be husband. Turns out Cornelius wasn’t as clear that she was purchasing the car as she thought he was. His concern and request for consultation is understandable. The car purchase is a financial impact that would affect them both. It’s an example that’s fairly easy to relate to and understand. But the tales of Heather Lindsey-defined submission gets a bit more interesting.
A few years ago, Heather sent tongues wagging with a simple Instagram post about clip-in bangs. Posting a photo of herself installing the bangs for a date night with her husband. In the caption, she informs readers that her husband disliked the addition so she removed them. She used it as an example of submission in even the littlest things, an action that contradicts her insistence that she doesn’t seek out her husband’s guidance in every little thing (an expression found in the 15 minute video above).
Concerns were raised again when she used an opportunity to extol the virtues of submission by recounting her husband’s request that she not sit in the backseat with their infant son. Her husband, Cornelius, quickly objected to the clamor. He defended his wife, stating that “submission is a beautiful thing, and my wife does it for her protection.” He goes on in praise of her submission and of himself, declaring that “…she chooses to honor and respect me as her husband. There’s peace in our house, and my wife is happy. I, as her husband, makes sure [her smile] stays there.” His self-exaltation continues: “That’s the role of a real man, and I assure you’ll be willing to submit to one if one was ever presented to you.”
His rationale for asking her not to sit with their son in the backseat? “Specifically, her sitting in the backseat with Logan hinders his growth. He needs to learn to adapt in certain situations. I also cannot allow Logan to be constantly pacified and emasculated. As a man, I understand how that can hinder him later in life.” And Heather, despite her earlier claims of her husband’s submission to her in parenting, reposts this with pride of her Godly submission.