Women want to marry and have daddies for their babies. But if they can’t find good men to commit themselves to, well… Our most pressing social problem today is a man deficit.
– Glenn Stanton, Secure Daughters, Confident Sons: How Parents Guide Their Children into Authentic Masculinity and Femininity
One of the most striking features about modern Christianity is the pervasive denial that feminism has radically changed our culture, and as a result modern Christian women are in rebellion against all Scripture which offends feminism. This is especially the case when discussing the social problems feminism has created. Nearly every piece I read by modern conservative Christian leaders reads like an essay assigned with the direction “Pretend that feminism never happened; what then would be the source of our problem?” But feminism did happen, and denying that it happened is incredibly foolish.
In the piece by Dr. Dobson that I quoted from the other day, Dobson describes the putative oppression of modern day wives very much the way Betty Friedan did twenty years prior with her problem with no name. At the same time he was channeling Friedan, he also denied that feminism still existed (in 1980):
2. She can become very angry at men and society for their perceived insults and disrespect. This source of hostility helped to power the now defunct women’s liberation movement and gave it an aggressive character. Fortunately, both men and women quickly recognized that that was not the answer.
In this article by Covenant Keepers they address the question of why men aren’t taking the lead in their homes.
(2) Some pastors do not teach about a husband’s leadership role because they fear being charged with male chauvinism.
Yes, but why are the pastors afraid of that today? In dodging this question they are displaying the same cowardice as the pastors who are afraid to confront the rampant feminist rebellion in their own congregations. This denial of feminist rebellion inevitably leads to the Christian leader trying to defend Scripture from charges that it isn’t feminist. We can see this in another example from Covenant Keepers What Is God’s Design And Calling For You As A Wife?
I believe the reason why this idea of submission is so abhorrent to many wives is because the concept has been taken out of its biblical context, and this has resulted in many abuses.
Later in the same piece they explain (emphasis mine):
4. Be a submissive wife. I know for some of you, as you read the word submission, you are becoming very uneasy. If the idea of submission rubs you the wrong way, I want to encourage you to take another look at the definition according to Scripture. Submission should never be considered a word that denotes inferiority or a position that is contemptible to you. If this is your belief, let me assure you that your understanding of this issue is not a biblical one.
To the contrary; while he is right that it doesn’t denote inferiority, with a handful of exceptions (women who aren’t in feminist rebellion) if a modern Christian woman isn’t “uneasy” with the biblical command of submission this is a sign that she isn’t understanding the Scripture. The idea of a wife following her husband is contemptible to the modern woman because feminism has taught women that men are oppressors. The only way to make submission palatable to the modern feminist woman is to distort Scripture beyond all recognition. The right answer is not to explain that the Bible secretly agrees with feminism, but to be honest that the two are in irreconcilable conflict. Thus the modern Christian woman has to choose between faiths; she can either hold on to her feminism and follow Friedan, etc. or she can follow Christ.
That of which we do not speak.
Dennis Rainey of Family Life expressed discomfort at the thought of his female audience hearing Pastor Baucham (a man!) preach on submission in Ephesians chapter 5, but he couldn’t bring himself to name the problem:
And yet, in this culture, Bob, I feel like we poisoned the
stream about—I don’t know—four decades ago and really made it almost objectionable for a message like this to be preached by a pastor—by a man—to a mixed audience, at this point. I don’t want you to hear me apologizing that we did it—that’s not my point. I want to recognize that, in this culture, we understand that it does go against the grain of what a lot of women are taught. All I would say is, “If you can find a better way for a marriage to work, I’d like to see it.”
Who is this “we” who poisoned the stream? Feminism has such a grip on modern Christian culture it has become something too terrifying even to name.
Rainey’s simultanious embrace of and denial of feminism is even more clearly on display in Encouraging Our Guys (H/T Empath). Rainey and his guest Kenny Luck are selling their respective DVD programs exhorting men to man up. As they make their pitch for men to view these two programs on the Saturday before Superbowl Sunday, they are very sensitive of the fact that in nearly all Christian households the wife has usurped the position of headship. They don’t criticize this at all, they just beseech the wife to give her husband permission to attend the event even though this will mean she misses a day’s worth of ordering her husband around.
Bob: …You know, on Super Bowl Sunday, on the day of the game, you can pretty much count on the fact that most guys are going to want to kind of have that time blocked out and they’re going to want to watch the game. They are not going to be available to do a whole lot of “Honey, do” stuff around the house that afternoon; right?
Dennis: That’s correct. That’s correct.
Bob: So, I‟m thinking of a wife who is planning for that weekend. She’s got the option of either her husband, on Saturday, doing all the projects around the house so that he can watch the game on Sunday; or she can send him to the Stepping Up® Super Saturday event, down at the church, that’s happening in their community. We’ve got hundreds of churches that are participating in this; but she’s not going to get any “Honey, do” lists done that day. What would your counsel to her be, Dennis?
Dennis: Give up the “Honey, do” list for a day.
Bob: How did I know that was what you would suggest?
Dennis: Give it up! I’m not trying to be a guy who is abdicating responsibility. I’m actually—I’m actually encouraging you, as a wife, to look beyond the “Honey, do” list and beyond to making an investment in your husband’s life—to encourage him, not discourage him— but encourage him to become the man God made him to be. If you send him down to the Stepping Up Super Saturday event—I can’t guarantee this because he’s got a choice—he’s got a real choice, and some guys don’t make it; but a lot will. I’d encourage you to send him down here and find out more information.
Kenny: I was just saying—the hall pass—“Ladies, here’s the deal. When you do give permission for a desired activity—but more importantly, when you encourage your man to take ownership of his life—spiritually, relationally, maritally— in the context of other men, that’s when you get a solid result versus hinting, hoping, nagging…
So, when you were talking about “Hey, let him go. Ladies, let him go! It will be so encouraging to him,” —that’s the first point.
Dennis: …The wife needs to be very foxy, and smart, and know exactly what to say to her husband to get him to help champion this in your community.
All of this of course reassures the wives that the men who come back from the video event won’t expect to follow biblical roles in marriage; the wife’s position of headship will not be threatened by this event.
Kenny then explains that the problem his video is intended to address is the broken male subculture. Bizarrely, he claims the problem goes back 20 centuries. Is he blaming Christ, or perhaps the early church fathers for corrupting the previously healthy culture of the ancient world? He doesn’t explain, but he does state that while modern women have a much healthier culture than men do, women are now starting to show some problems as well (emphasis mine):
…what you have is men retreating from the caricature and withdrawing from responsibility. What’s interesting, though, on the female-side, is that, with the advent of, what I would call—female-independence, politically; female independence, financially; female independence, educationally; relationally, from men—with distancing of the need for a woman to depend on a man they now have the power, and pressure, and responsibility that goes with that.
And guess what? They are developing their own broken female-subculture as evidenced by Fifty Shades of Grey. They’re looking for diversions and relief from that pressure of assuming life, without partnership with a man.
Why can’t Kenny bring himself to speak the word feminism? Also, note that he doesn’t frame this as a problem, except to the degree that it makes women unhappy or causes them to consume chick porn.
The irony of all of this is modern Christian men are guilty of failing Christian women, but a huge component of our failure has been to enable the feminist rebellion by refusing to confront it.