Feminism By Any Other Name Is Still Feminism

Posted on November 7, 2011 by

As the comments unfolded on the post titled “My Problem With Christian Movements” a theme emerged. Many online religious movements gain traction as a result of wives who force or subtly impose these new marks of true belief onto their husbands. In the years since I started blogging I have felt compelled to do numerous posts imploring women to remember that we are called to adapt ourselves to our own husband’s needs, not the ideology of faceless bloggers with their own ideological agendas. It is an exhortation that never goes out of style because women seem particularly prone to jumping on bandwagons. Below is an edited repeat of one such post.

There comes a time when the bearers of truth need to speak up, even when it is unpopular. Since the day I read the article I linked to concerning the so-called End of Men, I have felt an urge to encourage Christian women to be careful that we are not unwittingly contributing to a culture bent on making men second-class citizens, on relegating them to a place of irrelevance.

I was recently listening to a popular family centered ministry on the radio, and there was a couple on the air  offering hope to those in struggling marriages. The husband made repeated references to men leaving their families. The more he said it, the more disturbed I became, though at first I couldn’t figure out why.  Then it hit me: It’s as if the church is oblivious of the fact that 70% of divorces are initiated by women.

There is a subtle but unspoken line of thinking  that permeates modern culture, and it persists even though there is ample evidence to the contrary. I call it the myth of feminine innocence. A quick reading of Proverbs 5 supports my assertion that this is a modern (feminist?) concept. The Bible paints a fairly balanced picture of men and women as equally sinful, fallen creatures. It’s a balance often missing on either side as these relationship issues are discussed, online and in the mainstream culture.

I’ve observed the scene around me in recent years, and have refrained from offering commentary here frankly, to avoid rocking the boat. But to really be the women we desire to be, to raise godly daughters and strong, free thinking sons, we have to be willing to face the truth which has gone largely ignored particularly in the church, where truth should reign.

A wife has an affair, and the husband is asked what he did (or failed to do) to make her so unhappy that she looked for “emotional”  fulfillment outside the relationship. Women dissolve marriages that their husband wants to save and are still allowed to take the children and move so far away that their father can never hope to maintain a meaningful relationship. Christian women, fully aware of the Biblical mandate  to tend the home, insist on building  careers to find fulfillment and maintain a certain standard of living, and then complain when their husband doesn’t do the dishes.

The truth about what feminist dogma really amounts to is becoming clear to increasing numbers of people every day. But I can’t help but wonder at how far we have yet to go as I read the responses anytime I post anything that seeks to reveal the truth of the feminist agenda. Leaving aside for the moment that fact that as believers, we are not supposed to be  concerned with seeking our own justice, I am bewildered that we can find any good in an ideology that promotes infanticide, denigrates family life, and sees the Bible as a text that oppresses women. If they hate our Savior, who cares that we have the right to vote?

The church, with its overemphasis on the “dangerous” male sex drive treats nearly every man as a potential adulterer, despite the increasing numbers of unfaithful wives. Jilted wives are showered with so much with love and sympathy (which is good and right), that they feel justified in divorcing even if the husband feels genuine remorse and wants to work on the marriage. A betrayed husband, however, is asked to believe that his wife was lacking “emotional intimacy” when she strayed and is given a list of all the things he needs to do to make her feel appreciated so that it won’t happen again.

If I’m generalizing a bit too much,  pardon me. I do recognize and fully appreciate that there are many women who have been betrayed and left by unfaithful husbands. It is not my intention to ignore that, but rather to point out that this problem is hardly as one-sided as we have been led to believe.  I have seen this narrative played out again and again before me as I’ve spent my entire life in and around the church. If what I have witnessed is an anomaly, and I hope it is, I am open to stand corrected. But it is well past time for women who claim to be against feminism to behave accordingly and stand up against it in all forms. One of the most powerful ways we can do that is to respect the authority of husbands, and hold each other accountable. In other words, to stop encouraging wifely rebellion in other women. We have no business inciting familial mutiny from afar.

If a husband has decided that his family is complete after 2 kids, my thoughts are just that- mine. Men are under attack enough from the world without those of us in the church undermining their authority in their homes by telling their wives what  God would have them do. God has made it clear what He would have them to do. Wives: submit to your own husbands. Pray for them, express our concerns to them, but submit to them nontheless.

I can’t help but wonder if those of us on the conservative religious end of the spectrum have been engaged in a twisted form of feminism when we spark in wives a desperate passion for a lifestyle and family that is the opposite of the life their husbands envision. If wives look at their husbands with a diminished view after reading books and blogs where we tell them that it is no less than the will of God for them to quit their jobs and reject family planning of any kind no matter what their husband’s desire might be, is that okay? The Scripture is very clear that a wife is to obey her husband, even  if he doesn’t obey the word.

I have made a decision. I actually made it a long time ago. When I am in a group of women and husbands are being berated, I speak up. I will encourage my fellow sisters in the faith to appreciate their men. I will always encourage a wife to submit to her own husband so long as there is no blatant sin involved, even if I think her husband is as wrong as two left shoes. And if I do think he is wrong, I’ll keep it to myself.

If a husband has decided he needs his wife to help provide for the family financially, I have no opinion that needs to be expressed. What I can do is pray fervently for that man and that wife. And I will always remind you that living on one income becomes infinitely easier when we do away with our spoiled American materialistic notions of the things we simply can’t live without. Many women would do a great service to their families and move closer to their dreams of coming home through a change of lifestyle, and doing away with a mentality that says: I work hard,  so I deserve to buy this, go here, or do that.

I haven’t abandoned my passion for encouraging women in their God-given roles as wives and mothers. I believe in it too strongly and I believe that the Scripture is true: A child left to himself brings shame to his parents. But I’ve also developed an aversion to our society’s penchant for undermining men everywhere we turn: from the media, to the counselor’s office, even in the church. If we want to stem the tide, we need to be more vigilant about the words we speak and the things we tolerate.

I  have resolved that it isn’t enough to silently sit by and watch, wondering what will become of the young men of the next generation. However small my contribution to the good and godly men under assault, I want to make it. Not just in terms of speaking out against liberal ideology, but also so-called conservative ideology if it serves to undercut the role of a man as the leader of his family.

This is not to say that I think it’s alright for children to be left in daycare centers, or for the beautiful picture of  marital interdependence to be perverted by the lie of perfect egalitarianism, which never seems to work by the way. It almost always seems that when a  husband abdicates his authority for the sake of equality, the wife leads by default. Whoever coined the phrase “nature abhors a vacuum” certainly knew what he was talking about!

But no matter how zealous I am for strong, Biblical, traditional families, it behooves me to remember that what matters is what something is, not what it is called.  To borrow ( and modify) a famous phrase from Shakespeare:

Feminism by any other name…

Posted in: Relationships