Feminism and the Gospel: Continuing the Conversation

Saturday, January 7, 2017

I definitely do not consider myself an expert on feminism in the least, and I do not wish to be. And I am certain that my other article - Feminism: Friend or Foe -  reflected that. Many of my examples and stories came from personal observations and conversations with my feminist friends. The example of Kyle was intended to be a depiction of many different facets of feminism. There are most definitely feminists that do believe that women are more evolved than men (like this example: http://people.com/movies/ryan-gosling-says-women-are-better-than-men-wants-female-president/) [of course, I believe that God is the creator, and therefore do not agree with evolution at all, but this is an important point to many feminists, so I included it]. And according to the modern view of feminism, holding doors for anyone breaks the sense of equality they seek to develop (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/relationships/11063234/Why-I-no-longer-hold-doors-open-for-women.html). So technically, if you think it’s a good idea for men to hold doors open for women (I definitely think it’s a good idea!) then you cannot also fully agree with feminism - the idea that seeks equality in absolutely everything, even in door holding (which should apparently, according to the feministic viewpoint, would always and only be for yourself).

I honestly didn’t know that it’s full equality that feminists seek until I received a message from a reader. And I don’t believe that Christian men (or women for that matter) seeking to follow Jesus can be feminists because, if a man is living out the pattern of masculinity that God has set for him (to be the protector and leader [see Gen. 3:16 - notice that God says “And he {Adam} shall rule over you {Eve}”, and see Eph. 5:24-25] ; and the first one to lay their life down [check out: Eph. 5:25-29]), then it’s not equality - someone else is being put before yourself.

If the church ultimately accepted the notion of feminism, it would be like throwing a grenade at ourselves - it would be like saying “Hey Enemy! Come over here and tell us what you think gender should look like!” Ultimately, after a fair bit of research this weekend, I have come to understand feminism as the view “I’ll treat you as well as you treat me!” (That is equality). Would you say that Jesus was a promoter of equality? Jesus was the servant of all - maybe one way to put it could be “the ultimate door holder” - He, more than anyone else, deserved special treatment. If I may steal a quote from an anonymous author: “Wouldst thou be a chief? Then lowly serve. Wouldst thou go up? Then go down. But go as low as you will and the Highest [Jesus] has been lower still” (emphasis added). We, as believers, are meant to be Jesus to those around us (Him living in us, and emptying us more and more of ourselves, and filling us more and more with Himself).

He didn’t get treated with equality. And I have no doubt in my mind that if our Jesus had wanted equality (in the sense of “I’ll treat you as well as you treat me”) then the entire human race would have been abruptly eliminated from the face of the earth the very day Adam and Eve sinned. God deserved our total worship, admiration, and praise, and yet when Eve sought equality with God and disregarded Him completely, it eventually ended in the reverse effect - God coming down to earth, the beautiful servant of all, who washed His disciples’ feet (His students, whom He knew would forsake Him later), healed lepers, forgave the prostitute, healed blind beggars, and let the little children come unto Him - and ultimately took our sin and bore it on the Cross. That’s some major inequality.

If our lives are going to be aligned with His, then equality gets thrown out the window, and we each must view one another as better than ourselves and seek to serve one another - no matter if the other person will serve us in return or not. If we’re totally obsessed with Jesus Christ, then our view of feminism will be radically different from the culture’s. Feminism should seem a far off notion to the Christian because, feminism is built upon the foundation of “my rights, my way, my interpretation.” This idea, as Kristen Clark has said, is woven with the same sin Satan committed in the beginning. A person whose life is built upon Jesus Christ has lost sight of oneself - one’s rights,one’s way, their interpretation - are all swallowed up in passionate pursuit of Jesus. If my life is all about Him, then I have no theme of my own - whatever He’s proclaiming is what I’m proclaiming too!

Do you believe that Jesus Christ proclaimed feminism (AKA equality)? Let’s see what His Word says:  

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-11 ESV, emphasis added).

I’m no theologian, but I say that it was zero percent fair for Him to die for us. Jesus taking the blow for our sin = equality??? Jesus taking on the punishment I fully deserve, and making me a co-heir with Himself = totally fair? I don’t know about you, but if I took someone else’s punishment, and then shared my inheritance with them, I probably wouldn’t have felt like we had both gotten what we deserved. Jesus deserved adoration, we gave Him scorn. We absolutely and fully deserved hell because we broke His law, but He took our punishment so that we could have a chance to know Him. There’s something massively unfair and unequal about that. He gets the worse end of the deal, we get to be His children, if we will accept Him as our Lord.

What should make us uncomfortable about the “Kyle” example in my other post, is that, on almost every point, he’s nothing like Jesus!

One reader of my other feminism article said: “If feminism really did believe that men were dumb and nuisances, while women were to be exalted above others, I agree that such a philosophy would stand in opposition to the Bible. If we go with the definition that a feminist believes in the social, political, and economical equality of the sexes, then I actually believe that the Bible supports feminism and gender equality.”

The problem I have with gender equality is the simple fact that God did not create equal sexes. The definition of “equal” reveals some important thoughts:

Equal - Uniform in application or effect; without discrimination on any grounds.

I believe wholeheartedly that God values men and women the same amount - I do not believe for a moment that God has a “favorite gender.” A favorite Scripture of Christian feminists is Galatians 3:28. It says:

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (emph. added).

If we dissect this a bit, we find that when His Word tells us that we “are all one in Christ Jesus”, the idea is not that we have no distinction between each other, but that there is unity. The Greek word there for “one” is, “εἷς, μία, ἕν” or transliterated: heis. It is also commonly translated  as -  alike, agreement, common, individual, individuality, unity -  we are the church, His bride. And oh what a day it will be when the men and women of our generation choose to stop chasing the agendas of this world - be that feminism, self-glorification, personal success, or whatever - and walk out into the open carrying absolutely nothing but the Cross! Self completely crucified, and Jesus Christ magnified and exalted. Then and only then will we be able to have the kind of unity described here in Galatians.

This is the kind of unity that is made up of men and women laboring together for the honor of their king - in the roles God has created for them. And He has given us all the information we need in His Word about what it means to be a man or woman of God. Feminism is crafted by the whims of the culture, Christ-centered masculinity and femininity were intricately designed by our God.

It is no cultural mistake that the woman has been called “the weaker vessel” (see 1 Peter 3:7). Ladies, this is the legitimate truth, and we should be excited about it! We are a picture of Christ’s bride, and if we believe that God is all-powerful, then we must agree that His bride is not all-powerful; she is dependant upon Her heavenly Bridegroom to provide for her every need - He is her strength, her joy, her peace, her endurance, and her everything. Other than Jesus Christ, there is no such man in this wide world. We, as Jesus-centered women are created for Jesus - to know Him and to make Him known. Such is the purpose of masculinity as well - that Jesus Christ would be Lord over their lives and their closest heart friend. And each man was created to be a picture of Jesus. This is why we see the man’s role as provider and initiator; it’s who our Jesus is, and the reflection He desires to see in the lives of the men around us. Ephesians 5:23 has such a great picture of this:  "For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.”  

The reader continues, “In the series ‘Romans For You’ by Tim Keller… He outlines how Paul’s discussion of adoption was actually radically different than the cultural ideas of adoption at the time. In Roman culture, women were not considered valid for adoption, since adoption was seen only as a means to distribute an inheritance. Since only males could receive an inheritance, only males were considered eligible for adoption. Paul challenges this by saying that God adopts His children as sons AND daughters, going against the culture of the time and promoting women to a position of equal opportunity with men. Reasons like this are why I support gender equality from a Christian worldview.”

My response to this is, as I previously stated, God loves men and women equally, but He has different roles for them. I agree completely that God adopts His children as sons and daughters, but Paul’s intention was not to exalt women! Paul knew his position - In Christ! And the only one to be exalted as we stand in Christ is, of course, Christ! God has made us as women to be bearers of life and nurturers of relationships, but our ultimate purpose is to glorify His name! He uses the roles He has designed us for - bearers and nurturers - in many different settings, according to His will for our lives. Even if you and I never become moms biologically, we are meant to be bearers of new life - meaning that we bring the Gospel with us everywhere we go, and disciple the women God brings into our lives, as He sees fit.  

No matter how your life looks twenty years from now, His will is for you to follow Him in obedience in every area of your life. His Word is very clear about the roles and design for womanhood and manhood; this is serious stuff, unlike what our culture is telling us! It is not our job to “match” the men. There is no place in all of Scripture where we are told to pursue equality; as a matter of fact, we are commanded in His Word to have this attitude about our rights:

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:5-7a).

We are commanded to be servants; not “personal rights activists.” May our womanhood ever be marked by servant-hood, and a full abandonment to Jesus Christ - in the way we view and exercise our role and in the way we understand the man’s role - and in every other place in our lives.   

I have found that if our culture is promoting something, I must not look at it from their point of view, ever. I have to see everything through the lens of God’s Word. As we navigate through current issues - feminism and beyond - we must know His Word! Or we will become the women as described in second Timothy: “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Tim. 3:1-7 NASB, emph. added).

Our God is fully aware of the state of our world and the strong pull of feminism. And He is not applauding it! He knows that feminism will one day fall, and all shall be as He intended.

 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5 NIV).

A final thought for the person who has come to the end of this article and is still a feminist: do you think we will be feminists in heaven? Focused on gaining equality between men and women? If you know God’s Word, you’ve probably caught onto something - Scripture and all of life is about Him! Not us, but Him! And when we are all in eternity together our focus will be perfectly set upon Him, and there will be no temptation to look anywhere else.

Men and women of the Cross, we are citizens of heaven, even now.

May we live as such.

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