Unwitting Feminisim, Part I


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. . .

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16 thoughts on “Unwitting Feminisim, Part I

  1. Well I have to say you got my attention. Unfortunately you didn’t really give any examples to allow me to consider if there is validity in what you are saying.

    Well perhaps one. The idea of how we as a marriend couple make decisions. This is a big one for me and I have a hard time swallowing the idea that discussion, mutual submission and consensus are not the way that we come to decisions. I’d love to hear some alternatives and to have you explain why the above is not Godly?

  2. Shut up, get in the kitchen and make me a turkey pot pie. That is your lot in life, woman.

    Our Lord and Savior George W. Bush has commanded so.

    Your only job is to feed us superior men and orally gratify us at our every whim. Nothing more, nothing less.

    JEB BUSH IN 2008! THE DYNASTY MUST CONTINUE!

  3. I’d have to agree with Woman of Faith. I need more examples of what you mean.
    I have a hard time understanding what in the Bible we are supposed to view in light of the time period and culture in which it was written and what is supposed to be “disregarded” in our current culture. For example, the head covering portion in I Corinthians.
    Need imput!!!

  4. Dang it woman! You stole my line!!! Back in to the kitchen with you!

    I was just about to write something like, “Hey MT3SA… I can’t wait to see what color head covering you choose!” …

    bah.

  5. Mama (why do I still feel wierd calling you that?)
    You raise very intersesting questions. Each generation that grows up has its own set of blinders that are very difficult to even discern- it is the job of the “prophets” of that generation to point them out. I would enjoy looking at your book.
    Not having seen it, I did try to teach you mutual submission. It is both spelled out, and the example to man is a much more egregious one than to woman. As Christ gave himself for the church, so man is to give himself to his bride. There is no greater admonition for man to give selflessly himself.
    Now that I think of it, your husband is by far and away a great example of that giving.
    Take care,
    Mr. D (D can stand for something else in your case)

  6. MT3SA,
    I agree with Woman of Faith. I don’t necessarily agree or disagree with you. It would be nice if you explain your thoughts a little more.

    I think that ‘the church’ has been influenced by culture and is really guilty for OUR part in breaking up what the family unit should be. However, while you are doing your studies on what a Biblical family should look like – don’t forget these verses:
    Ephesians 5:20-27 and 1 Corinthians 7:3-4
    Read them and blog away – I can’t wait :-}
    love you!

  7. Auntie Faith, Jannie and Mom,

    I’ll try to give examples of what I mean using my own thought-patterns first. I can best speak for the paradigm-shift that occurred inside my head and heart – better than I can truly understand what is going on in the church at large (not that this will stop me from trying).
    Stay tuned 🙂

    Fettuccine Alfredo,

    You are too funny. To tell you the truth, George W. Bush is just so-so in my book, but his wife Laura ROCKS. I want to be like her when I grow up 🙂 I think what you are getting at is that men have mistreated women to fulfill their own selfish desires. It is also a sad truth that in our VERY feminist and egalitarian society, you don’t have to look far to see women still being treated like crap – many of the most modern-thinking males seem to have no problem thinking of and using women as sex objects. I think it IS lame that whichever way society is muddled, it seems women get the raw end of the deal. We are the more vulnerable sex, in my opinion, regardless of what anyone may say. The fact that we are hurt when men mess up proves it. I think that’s why men need to realize their very important role in life of honoring, loving, and protecting women.
    Good men are good for women.

    Jannie and Miroslav,

    I’ve often wondered why it was okay to disregard some of the Bible and not other parts of it. I am in process right now of reading the whole kit ‘n caboodle over again through new eyes, eyes that are more “sola scriptura.” I don’t know the answer, but I am willing to guess that we have thrown out much more than we should of in our “cultural dismissals.” Looking over the past 2000 years history of church history, there are many “outdated” scriptures the church kept in practice – scriptures that we didn’t around to dismissing until just about a hundred years ago.
    I have also met several people in the past few years that use the Bible more as a handbook than a storybook. They have lives that look to me to be more exciting, fulfilling, and fruitful. I’m want to give it a try…so that’s the path I’m on right now.

    Dad,

    You are right that mutual submission is a good thing. The Bible does say “submit to one another.” But just like Jesus and the Church will have different ways to serve the other, husbands and wives mutually serving one another will be accomplished differently from each vantage point.

    And you are right, my husband is an amazing, giving, serving husband. He doesn’t lord himself over me but woos me with his gentleness and patience — I am a lucky girl.

    And you are right too that men DO have a more-difficult-to-accomplish command from God than women…
    In fact, I think that is how I got on this journey that has led to a desire to die to feminism. I first realized the amazing responsibility Ron has and then realized that I WANT to be his helper in accomplishing this responsibility. I want to help him embrace God’s vision for his life. I want to make it easier for him to live for Christ. And I think God made me for this purpose — so I will feel fulfilled and blessed in the process!

    Everyone,

    I’ll expand more on this stuff in the near future. I meant to have a few posts prepared before I posted the first, but hit PUBLISH by mistake and started a bit earlier than expected!

    I plan to post on my personal story and grappling with feminism, the “mystery” verses about women in scripture, how feminism has affected The Church in recent history, and what a man’s role in all of this is. I have quite a few draft pages, but it will take me a while to sort through them and get them posted.

    In the meanwhile, I am excited to see such an interest in women’s issues! I had no idea anyone would care 🙂 I hope you have a fun time researching and studying for yourself, and can’t wait to hear your take on my thoughts in the future.

    Please remember that I really am a poor beggar girl who is just trying to figure things out. I claim no expertise.

    Love to you all (even this pasta character — I do hope God’s very best for you!)

    Deborah

  8. Debba,
    Funny that you and I could grow up in the same home, and though we agree with each other, are thought so radical by our parents.

    From reading this post, though, I can understand your readers’ concerns about being barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. I think that your idea of being a submissive wife is something far greater that doing what your husband says. Am I wrong?

    I spent several days this summer going through passages on womanhood with the hs’ers at my church. We read the passage in Ephesians (?) and talked about the way in which the church is supposed to submit to Christ. It seems that the church should do what Christ says, but more than that, it should take on the mission of Christ as its own and live in a way that reflects this like-mindedness. In the same way, a woman should submit to her husband.

    And it is wonderfully true that the husband is called to serve as Christ in this analogy. Christ loved the church so much that He shed his perfect life on a cross in order to save it–is it any wonder that the Church ought to be so enamoured with Christ that it WANTS to take on His mission?

    As a single woman, this leads me to one conclusion: I sure as heck had better marry a man that loves me in a way that leads me to desire to take on his vision!

    I love thinking about Christ’s love for us in this way. How great God’s love is for us! How awe-inspiring and love-inducing. Once I find myself in his love, following his commands–submitting as part of his Church–is not a chore, but a delight.

  9. Me again, signing back on to argue with myself. 🙂 Is that genetic, too?

    I do have a bit of a caveat with what you’re saying. I was reflecting on what you said about how day-to-day living should NOT be about mutual submission. Do you think that God wants his people to express to him their desires/thoughts/doubts, etc? Of course, this should be done WITHIN the view that God is sovereign, but shouldn’t it still be done? How does that affect the idea of submissive wives and mutual submission?

    And, Mom, I LOVE cbmw.com. I read their 500 page book on the internet last year. It’s good stuff to chew on, anyway.

  10. Feminism? What’s that?

    Once upon a time in America…

    Women weren’t allowed to vote. (It would pollute the purity of a rational political decision-making process.)
    Women weren’t allowed to own property. (Dad or husband or brother or some other man held the estate.)
    Women weren’t allowed to take out patents. (Who invented the cotton gin? Eli Whitney’s wife.)
    Women weren’t allowed to serve on juries. (Too emotional, incompetent to swear an oath, no sense of honor.)

    The double standard:
    Society winked at a man having a mistress.
    A wife having a lover was a social scandal.

    Eject feminism?
    I’d be careful about that.
    You don’t want to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
    Redefine feminism, modify feminism, reject the wrong definition, sure.

  11. The most, by far, radical feminist comment was made by none other than Paul. For there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male or free, but all have been made to drink of the same spirit. We do not need feminism in my opinion; we do need to recognize the truth of what Paul said.
    Frederick Douglass (1852)”Now take the constitution according to it’s plain reading, and I defy the presentation of a single pro-slavery clause in it. On the other hand it will be found to contain principles and purposes entirely hostile tothe existence of slavery.” Isn’t the same true of the equality of woman? I know this is referring to the constitution, but the principle is the same; if the church had not spent so many years ignoring the Bible there would have been no need for feminism.
    Pat

  12. Some more comments at my blog.

    David and Mr. D I do agree with what you had to say. Very well put.

    Who wants a doormat for a wife? I want her love, respect, and admiration!!! I think the problem is that feminism has taken it beyond legal definitions of voting, etc.

    Read my blog(in the comments) section for more.

    Mama- keep blogging about the denigration of men . . . keep up the good fight.

  13. I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments as the Lord is clearly speaking the same sweet story to me–a blessing of my marriage, quite unearthly.

    Here are some of the scriptures you asked me to reference:

    Genesis 3:16
    Matt. 13:33
    1 Cor. 11:3, 7-9
    1 Cor. 14, 34-35
    Eph. 5:22-24, 32-33
    1 Tim. 2:12
    Titus 2:3-5
    1 Peter 3:1
    Rev. 2:20

    It is clear our culture is so far from this picture, that even the Church resists His plan. It is no accident that His still quiet voice is speaking the same purpose to each of us today.

    In eager anticipation, preparing for Him,

    Emily

  14. Deborah,

    You bring up a very valid issue these days for Christian women. I am so encouraged to see a generation of women who are willing to challenge the presuppositions by which modern society operates.

    Whether offered in poignant sarcasm or in jest, comments like “Shut up, get in the kitchen and make me a turkey pot pie. That is your lot in life, woman.” presuppose 2 things: 1) an unloving husband and 2) that a woman who wholly devotes her days to nurturing new life, educating herself in nutrition, preparing genuinely nutritious meals for her family, educating her kids, in submission to her husband’s headship as his helpmeet etc., is a woman living an inferior, supressed, miserable life. It operates from the presupposition that a woman MUST do things outside of this sphere to be truly fulfilled and truly in ministry. That is the lie of feminism. For when we women believe it ourselves, we become discontent in that role, and the result is often neglect of that role: haven’t we seen the destruction that abdication causes (on both the male and female counts)?

    G.K. Chesterton once wrote that he would never pity a housewife for the smallness of her task but rather he would pity her for the hugeness of her task. “How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about [arithmetic], and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious because it is gigantic, not because it is minute.”

    Secondly, can we really believe that is was only in the 20th Century that the Holy Spirit led the Christian woman into her fullness? (simultaneous with the feminist movement which no one claims as having been rooted in biblical authority). Is it indeed the Holy Spirit or merely the spirit of the age? Here is a question that requires much honesty, humility and discernment.

    While we do well to hold Sola Scriptura as our ultimate standard, we would be foolish to ignore the testimony of the Christian church through the ages. Is there calling for women beyond what the Scriptures have revealed and what the church has supported for 1900 years (and before that if you will)? We are so very quick to dismiss biblical assertions as “cultural” with little or no basis to do so: merely assumed. Or we reason that if the Scriptures don’t forbid something by name, then we are okay to do said thing. Or we assume that things that are “cultural” have no inherent rightness or wrongness.

    Re: Submission and doormats: While being domineering is not acceptable neither is being a “doormat”, as wives are called to be helpmeets to their husbands. A godly wife’s wisdom is an indispensible resource to her husband; if she withholds it, she is not being faithful as a helpmeet. Now, where submission comes in is knowing when to shut up. As head, it is the husbands decision to consider what you have to say, abide by it or not. It is a great responsibility on his shoulders. I know there have been times that I’ve been grateful my husband did not choose “my” way, because I saw later that I was wrong. There have also been times that my husband was grateful for my input, that I have a perspective which he does not, and he had changed his decision in light of that.

    A good article:

    http://www.credenda.org/issues/9-2femina.php

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