Feminist or Femininity?
There has been a paradigm shift in our culture in the last century. A number of factors are responsible and a shift in worldviews resulted. The so-called women’s liberation movement changed along with many other social aspects. Europe and America went from women fighting for the vote in the first quarter of the century to fighting for the idea of equality for men and women on all fronts in the last half of the century. Women went from rallying in the streets while pushing their children in strollers to protesting in the streets while pulling their bras off to burn them. Women’s suffrage of the early 1900s is not the same movement as the women’s liberation of the late 1900s. Many may claim they have the same ideas that have just evolved over the years, improved even, but the mindsets behind the two movements are quite opposite. We could discuss all day the reasons behind such a change in beliefs and behaviors, but it really comes down to the abandonment of God’s Word and what it teaches on the roles of men and women.
One of the more vocal activists of the 1960s women’s liberation movement, Gloria Steinem, stated, “A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.” She also declared, “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.” What can we make of such statements in light of God’s Word? The first quote may make us as women say to ourselves, “Yes, equality is what I want; I guess I’m a feminist.” Such thinking (as this author used to think) is misconstrued and is not mindful of what God’s Word teaches on the “equality” and “humanity” of men and women. (We will discuss these terms.) The latter statement is absurd and meant to be funny no doubt, but it shows the underlying thoughts behind the so-called feminist movement that has swept the Western world. Are men and women that unrelated? Do we have no sense of dependence on one another? It is interesting that Steinem says the goal is “equality”, but then uses fish and bicycles (two unequal objects) to illustrate women and men. Such sentiments should make us as Christian women question the beliefs and motives of individuals who affirm as much. Let us look at feminism as it really is today and compare it to what it should be, namely how our Maker views men and women in relation to the subject of “feminism”.
It should be understood that God created man and woman in His image (Genesis 1:27). An image is a reflection of the real substance. How do we reflect God? There could be an exhaustive study on the image of God. A part of what makes us “in God’s image” is that we have an eternal spirit that each human possesses. God is a Spirit and has placed a spirit in mankind, unlike the animals. Both men and women have the responsibility to mold that spirit to be more like His image (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18). Therefore, men and women are equal before God in the sense of human worth and spiritual standing (Galatians 3:28; 1 Peter 3:7). However, our equality before God does not mean we do not have different and distinct roles towards our Maker and one another. This is where many misunderstand the term “equality”, thinking that if women are really equal to men then they should be able to act in every way as a man, including in the church. As we saw in the above quote, feminists today proclaim that in order to be fully human then total equality must be achieved. In fact, they desire an egalitarian society that views men and women the same in all areas of life, to the extent of a “genderless society” (Oxford dictionary defines “egalitarian” as “of, relating to, or believing in the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities”). This is not the equality God’s Word teaches, nor the society He intended from the beginning.
God is the Creator of human sexuality. The Author of the universe created men and women physically as well as psychologically different, and He does not leave His creation to wonder about how a man or woman should think or behave. He is not silent on the roles each of us has in connection to one another and Himself. The best place to start is the book of Genesis, which records the origins of individual, family, and social life. To end the week of creation, God made mankind and gave them the responsibility of dominion and stewardship over all the creation (Genesis 1:26-31). The more detailed chapter two of Genesis tells us that God created man first and then woman (Genesis 2:7, 8, 15-22). Let us think about the possible reasons behind God creating man first (because He could have created both man and woman simultaneously). One notable reason is that God was helping Adam see that he did not need to be alone (Adam observed the animals had mates); he needed a “helper comparable to him”. Another reason could be to point out the headship of man. Indeed, Paul, is divinely guided to point back to the beginning as he writes about headship as it applies to the spiritual life of the church and the home (1 Timothy 2:13-15; 1 Corinthians 11:8). From the foundation of the world, God intended for the male to be the head of the family and in the area of all spiritual matters.
Many evangelical feminists today miss the above point and claim that woman’s submission is due to the fact that Eve sinned, pointing to her punishment: “your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you” (Genesis 3:16). Thus, they make woman’s submission a curse of the fall and would go on to conclude that Jesus came to restore man and woman’s true standing. Therefore, they reason that today it is right to have women serve in leadership roles in the church. Besides the clear contradiction with New Testament passages (1 Corinthians 14:34; 1 Timothy 2:11, 12; Ephesians 5:22), they also contradict Genesis 3:16. Notice the overall punishment on man and woman. Prior to sin, man was created to work (Genesis 1:28; 2:15), but after Adam sinned, men would have to work harder in much sweating and struggling. Before sinning, Adam and Eve were commanded to reproduce and fill the earth, but after Eve sinned, women’s sorrow and ability to conceive were multiplied. Just as God changed these other factors that were established at the beginning, He also states that now because of sin, woman would have “desire” for her husband, but he will “rule” over her (compare these words in Genesis 4:7: “And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”) The same Hebrew words are used in both passages. Genesis 3:16 is saying that due to sin men and women will have a “power struggle” – women will want to lead men and men will in turn, dominate women with harshness. This is exactly the sinful world we live in today. With this in view, and in light of the New Testament passages, we can see that Christ did come to restore the true order of men and women’s roles to what it should have been from the beginning: man leading with a loving, understanding, and honoring spirit and woman submitting in a respectful, gentle, and quiet spirit (Ephesians 5:22-33; 1 Peter 3:1-7).
God’s woman knows that she stands before God equivalent to man as a human being in need of God’s grace. She understands that God has placed different, but equally important, responsibilities upon the man and woman. God’s woman knows that she is not inferior to man, but she has a different role than man. Because the Christian woman is submissive to the Lord Jesus and loves Him dearly, she understands and upholds her God-given role to be submissive to her father, husband, elders, and men in the church. She is not offended by the word “submissive” (any more than citizens submitting to the ordinances of their government or the church being submissive to one another, etc. Ephesians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:13), but rather, she understands and believes that the Almighty Creator, knowing best, has placed limitations upon both men and women in various respects. She wants to please her Maker rather than please her own desires. God’s woman wants to be called a Christian rather than a feminist.
God’s Word is the best source for understanding true femininity and masculinity. Unfortunately, men and women through the ages have ignored, blasphemed, and even tried to change that Word (Titus 2:5; 2 Peter 3:16). It is time Christian men and women stand up and speak out on the truth of God’s Word. No longer should we be silenced by the feminist, humanist, modernist, or anyone else claiming the Bible to be an outdated, culturally-based document that suppresses humanity. The opposite is true. We hold the most precious words ever written. May we study, obey, and teach it for what it is, namely, God-breathed Scripture that has the power to save souls!
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