Evangelical Update

A resource for lefties who want to understand conservative Christians.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Feminism

Feminism is a big topic to tackle, but I will do my best to summarize the thoughts of some of The Cast. Even though I had heard of the website "Ladies Against Feminism", I was shocked to learn the widespread feelings against feminism in the Conservative Christian (CC) world. CC's believe in a Biblical mandate that the man be the head of the household. This means that wives must submit to their husbands when unsolvable disagreements arise. I have read husband-wife partnerships compared to a captain-cocaptain relationship. In other words, the wife's input is valuable, but the husband makes the final call. Here are three examples views on feminism or women's roles within a traditional marriage.
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Amy posted "Feminism Schmeminism" where she quotes Ann Coulter's recount of the recent Atlanta shooting (where a prisoner overtook a woman guard and managed to get her gun) and then says:
"Feminists like to think they’ve liberated us, but they’ve really only enslaved us to a bunch of post-modern hoopla. If a criminal were breaking into your home,would you want the 5-foot-tall female officer to be the first on the scene? I say, give me a linebacker any day."
This view demonstrates a negative view toward feminism based upon the belief that feminists want women and men to be treated as physical equals. Further commentary intimates that feminists do not believe in traditional man-woman roles:

"...take my word for it: men like their women to be woman. They don’t prefer them silly, uneducated, and wimpy; they like them the way God made ‘em: woman. And that means… physically weaker. Men like to be needed: they like to rev their drills, they enjoy opening the pickle jar (and then they like to squeeze your arm and make a joke), and they like to work up a sweat on moving day."
When I questioned Amy's definition of feminism in the comments section Amy replied, "I’m promoting complementary roles. Feminism is not about equality; it’s about independence, from God and man..." (italics mine). In other words, the downfall of feminism is woman's desire to independently make their own way/fortune/etc. in this world, which removes her from her Biblically mandated relationship with God and man.
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Carmon is the author of the Prairie Muffin Manifesto. This work is meant to dispel stereotypes ("denim jumper-wearing, Little House on the Prairie-worshiping, baby machines who never trim their hair or wear makeup") of women like herself who choose to live a Biblical lifestyle and have as many children as nature allows (or as God allows, as Carmon would say). In Carmon's view, feminism is a modern invention, not Biblical, and therefore not relevant to the way she lives. Several of the 38 points in the Prairie Muffin Manifesto have to do with husband-wife roles:
2) Prairie Muffins are helpmeets to their husbands, seeking creative and practical ways to further their husbands' callings and aid them in their dominion responsibilities.

9) Prairie Muffins do not reflect badly on their husbands by neglecting their appearance; they work with the clay God has given, molding it into an attractive package for the pleasure of their husbands.

17) Prairie Muffins place their husbands' needs and desires above other obligations, arranging their schedules and responsibilities so that they do not neglect the one who provides for and protects them and their children.

18) Prairie Muffins are fiercely submissive to God and to their husbands.

29) Prairie Muffins are open to correction from proper authorities. They are responsible to submit to their own husbands, to their elders, and ultimately to God. If rebuked by these authorites a PM should receive such correction gracefully and gratefully. If rebuked by others, she should take the concern to her proper authorities.

36) Prairie Muffins are happy to be girls—they rejoice in the distinctives which God sovereignly bestowed on them which make them feminine. They are also happy that their husbands are masculine, and they do not diminish that masculinity by harping on habits which emanate from the fact that boys will be boys, even when they grow up. In addition, Prairie Muffins are careful not to use their feminine, hormotional weaknesses to excuse sinful attitudes and actions, but learn to depend more and more on God's grace and strength in the midst of any monthly trials.

She sums up in point 38 with: "The Bible has some very specific things to say to women regarding their God-given role, and Prairie Muffins take those divinely-ordained distinctions very seriously."

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Ron wrote a 7-part series on the Biblical role of men toward their wives (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). In Part 6 ("The Ephesians 5:25 Husband - Marriage Roles ," scroll down, the link doesn't go directly there), Ron bravely tackles the issue of submission, knowing full well the hackles he will raise should a non-CC read his post. He refers to the Biblical passage of Ephesians 5:22-24: 22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
In an era of feminist thought, where the term "submit" carries connotations of weakness and inferiority, many have undertaken to "re-interpret" this passage so as to remove the offense of it to modern ears. Others have attempted to hold more tightly to it, pushing it to mean male dominance over women, or that abuse is justified. Neither approach is correct.

...Submission looks an awful lot like what a husband is to do for his wife. It is a selfless seeking to elevate the other, recognizing that God gave that person a role to play, and that you are there to help that person reach the goals for that role.

...Submission is not male superiority. All are equal, none are better than others. Likewise, submission does not equate to husband-dominance in decision making.

...The problem is that submission is seen as a negative thing, when in reality is a virtuous thing. It is serving others out of love and respect. It is recognizing that one person has to make a decision in a stalemate, and the selfless thing to do is to submit to the others' will.
Ron goes on to say that he has had to make the decision when he and his wife disagreed once in their 11 year marriage. Ron's wife has a career (science educator), so he is coming from a different angle than the women above.
IN SUMMARY:
The study of attitudes toward feminism in the CC world is a great case study for understanding the chasm between the mainstream world and the strictly Biblical Christian world. As a mainstream person, the idea of submitting myself to my husband and God does not enter my everyday conscience, and therefore has no bearing upon my career or life goals. My decisions are based upon an equal partnership with my husband, and we chose to marry because we love each other, are soul-mates, and wanted to be in a committed, socially-acceptable relationship...not because the Bible says we must be married. The people above put their decisions in the context of what they believe that Bible says they should do (and this will be the major theme of any entry I post here) - that is the main difference.
I've tried to make the case in the comments section of a few blogs that these women wouldn't have the right to make such anti-feminism statements if feminism did not exist, but so far I have had no takers on that one.

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