Feminism by Any Other Name — Still Doesn't Smell Sweet
I'm beginning to re-think many current "Christian" ideas concerning the role of women.
I'm re-thinking them because they just don't seem to hold up to biblical precedent. How I could have been reading this same Bible for years, content to gloss over verses concerning my life as a woman? Usually, I used the excuse of the Bible being written so very long ago, during a different time period, a different culture. These verses needed to be carefully interpreted in light of these differences, and then thoughtfully dismissed. They simply couldn't apply to my life in the straightforward way they were written, could they? And besides, compared to my friends outside the church, I was practically old-fashioned. I shared a bank account with my husband, took his last name when we married, didn't make any major decisions without him, and decided to not work outside of the home once we had children. Heck, I even submitted to him the two times we needed a "tie-breaker!" Feminist? Not me!
In an article entitled Many Evangelicals Unwittingly Live as Feminists, Russell D. Moore is quoted as saying:
"Evangelicals maintain headship in the sphere of ideas, but practical decisions are made in most evangelical homes through a process of negotiation, mutual submission, and consensus. That's what our forefathers would have called feminism — and our foremothers, too."
I'd agree with Moore. Today's typical books on Christian marriage promote a contemporary way of looking at submission and many other issues having to do with a woman's role in life, marriage, the church.
In the introduction to The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality, Mary Pride sounds a wake-up call to Christian women about the feminist ideas we have picked up and made our own:
"Christians have accepted feminists 'moderate' demands for family planning and careers while rejecting the 'radical' side of feminism — meaning lesbianism and abortion. What most do not see is that one demand leads to the other. Feminism is a totally self-consistent system aimed at rejecting God's role for women. Those who adopt any part of its lifestyle can't help picking up its philosophy. And those who pick up its philosophy are buying themselves a one-way ticket to social anarchy."
Pride's words certainly were true of me — I had rejected radical feminism but had fully embraced moderate feminism. A few generations of moderate feminism, and we end up with a church that not only is hardly distinguishable from the world, but one that is bent on self-destruction. (In fact, I wonder how many church issues could be fixed by a re-wiring of our brains when it comes to reading scripture? A Reformation of thought where we return to the ideas of sola scriptura?)
What parts of feminism have we as Christians unwittingly picked up? What parts of scripture have we closed our eyes to? How have these thought patterns affected the church? How in the world did these changes come about? And how did I come to see my own patterns of thought had strayed so far from the biblical ideal?
Stay tuned for more thoughts on this controversial issue. . .