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Volume 17, Issue 3: Recipio

Day-Old Doughnuts

Ben Merkle

Moscow, Idaho is a unique place. We have two major universities crammed into a few miles of country bumpkin farmland. It's an interesting contrast, which highlights some odd quirks that might have elsewhere gone unnoticed. Four-wheel drives and cowboy hats blend in in most farm towns. But it is a little odd to sit in your organic chemistry class next to someone dressed up as Clint Eastwood: boots, hat, duster and all.

But things stand out going the other way as well. Mom's Weekend is notorious. In a big city these women would be ubiquitous. But in Moscow, we don't have enough size to dilute the influx of early forty-something women trying to relive their youth. Hundreds of moms descend on the town looking for action. A sea of siliconed, botoxed, lypo-suctioned, lifted, tucked, injected, tanning bedded, desperate housewives, and all of them, like Gretchen Wilson, are here for the party. My wife came up with the perfect expression to describe them: the day-old-doughnuts.
Perhaps the metaphor needs a little explanation. Of all the pastries on earth, the doughnut is generally the cheapest. Nothing against doughnuts. I like the ones with chocolate icing and chopped up peanuts. But we need to admit that the real virtue of the doughnut is the cheapness. It is cheap and sugary, requiring no refinement of taste. These are great attributes in a Saturday morning snack. But these attributes are not exactly descriptive of the Proverbs 31 woman. And the only thing cheaper than a doughnut is a doughnut that has been left over and marked down: the day-old-doughnut.
And so we have a flock of women swarming to our town all looking to make an impression. But what look will they go for? How about driving up to campus in the station wagon with simulated wood-grain stickers on the side, wearing the hair in a bun and a t-shirt with iron-on pictures of the kids back at home? No. That isn't the usual approach. They want to be seductive. They want the boys to stare. They want to be the most popular mom at the frat party. (I'm not making this up. The center of Mom's Weekend is the flurry of frat parties where frat boys hit on visiting moms.) And so we have hundreds of forty-something women trying to look like Britney Spears, jiggly midriff and all.
This is where the day-old-doughnut expression comes in. Of all the looks that they could go for, they pick the cheapest. They pick Brittany Spears. They pick the doughnut. But being forty-something, they are not quite able to pull off the doughnut. They have to have thousands of dollars of surgical alterations before they can pull up to the frat party in their midlife-crisis sports cars and step out in all their day-old-doughnut splendor. They show up as an even cheaper knock-off of the cheapest thing out there.
How odd that our society has completely inverted the biblical teaching. Paul urges Titus to have the older women lead the younger women (Titus 2), and we have flipped things. Our older women chase after the younger women, looking to ape them in every way possible, even if it means some expensive augmentation.
Scripture points the attention of young women towards the older women in the congregation. It instructs the younger women to model themselves after the older women who have given years of service to husbands, children, and the broader church body. Paul describes the women who should be counted as true widows as those who have brought up children, lodged strangers, washed the feet of the saints, relieved the afflicted, and performed other works of service (1 Tim. 5). How different is the list of desirable attributes that Paul gives from the list that seems to be used for Mom's Weekend?
That our culture worships youth is not all that surprising of an observation. But it is sad to see what this misplaced worship has cost us. Because we have defined ideal womanhood as a giggling twit of a doughnut, women have begun to consider the very thing that Scripture identifies as their glory as a handicap. Rather than honoring their years, we have taught women to be embarrassed by them. Rather than directing the younger women to learn from the wisdom of the older women, we have convinced our older women to chase after the younger.
And what have we gotten out of the bargain? No glory and a pile of day-old-doughnuts. It's as if we had some glorious palace, sculpted out of the finest marble, at which we turned our noses up and asked if someone could make it look a little more like one of those double-wide mobile homes with a hot tub and a redwood deck. It would be funny if it weren't so tragic.

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