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The Role of Feminism and Why the Church Must Make Amends
Hello everyone! Today's Part 3 will finish the Lion and Lioness series I've written over the last several months. I will release all the links together so don't worry if you have missed the Intro, and parts 1 and 2. I hope you will find these blogs thought provoking and inspiring as you navigate your relationships. I also want you to see Jesus's heart for men and women in relationships, not the culturally, muted abstraction we've made out of our relationships. Let's finish strong.
Feminism: The Eight Letter, “Four Letter Word” in Christendom
The word feminism evokes many things for different people. Some see it as a freeing word for them as individuals. Others see it as threat to the family. Still others don't know what to make of it. I, for one, do not see it as a “four letter word” and I am a Christian. From my vantage point, feminism filled the vacuum that the Church refused to step up and fill by acknowledging its shortcoming where men and women were concerned. What do I mean by the term shortcomings? I mean faulty scripture interpretation (which I addressed in Parts 1 and 2) and silence on abuse and even the allowance of abuse within its walls, families, and leadership structure. I will address feminism's role in abortion further into this section.
In short, the Church lost relevance sometime in the 1970s on these issues. When you lose relevance and you are covering up abuse and continuing to misinterpret scripture, the culture around you decides you can no longer speak into their lives and they will find others who can – enter the Feminist movement of the 1970s (2nd wave). Basically women were tired of abuse by intimate partners and tired of not being paid equal pay for equal work. I think you would find Jesus is tired of women being abused and I think he'd have something to say to all of us about treating each other well and with integrity (where they idea of fairness comes from).
Simply put, what the Church would not do, the Feminists of the 1970s did and I'm glad they did. Yes you read that correctly. If not for their early efforts, the Violence Against Women's Act (VAWA) would not be what it is today. Without their early efforts, we would not have better pay as women in the workplace as most households now need two incomes. This is not theory, this is fact and it is practical fact. This 2nd wave Feminism was unable to get the Equal Right Amendment (ERA) passed but I think the day for that is coming. Why do I say this? Where the Church fails in it's due diligence, law will have to fill the vacuum. The Church must be the first line of defense, protection, and equal opportunity for women, not the last and the most weak line. If you don't believe me, look at how Jesus treated women. He did not deny them access, salvation, protection, or defense. The Cross is powerful. Why is it that some of you wish to lesson its power by subscribing to human-made traditions and cultural constructs when it comes to women? Examine your hearts.
Now please don't misunderstand me. I disagree with some tenants of post modern feminism (Wave 4) and think there is a better way than they have chosen.
For example, some of their activists are very traumatized (and this breaks my heart for these women) who for lack of better way to describe it, seem to hate men. If I am wrong, please correct me. Some of them are even violent, which I would never and will never condone. I can't say that I blame them initially for their malice towards those who have hurt them. I was almost there myself. Betrayal, abandonment, and abuse will do that to someone who gave their all to a person and then that person threw them away like they didn't matter. Ladies, if you are a post-modern, 4th wave feminist and this speaks to you, I get where you are coming from, I truly do. Your heart is hurting and a man or men have put you through great pain that many people would not understand. Those men were wrong and they have zero excuses. They will be held responsible for their actions. However, man-hating is not the answer. Trust me, almost being there myself made me miserable and it didn't heal my broken heart - it just hardened it. Hate does not heal, it just continues to break your heart and eventually destroys you. There is a better way.
I also don't agree with post-modern feminism's abortion on demand stance. However, this again gets back to where the Church left a void and has refused to see the value of pro-life across the lifespan; including acknowledging the life of women in unique situations with abortion and why they arrived at that decision. Post-modern feminism acknowledges the realities for these women (in our fallen world) when the church will not. Post-modern feminism acknowledges choice and the fundamental role of choice in our lives while the Church seems to both acknowledge and deny it at the same time which actually makes no sense. I will say to the feminists and to the Church – you can't have love without choice and you can't have choice about any decision without all the information and I will leave that where it lies.
Post-modern feminism's support of the LGBTQIA+ community became part of 3rd wave feminism in the 1990s with the National Organization for Women (NOW). Again feminism acknowledged choice and has remained charitable to this community where the Church has had a hard time being charitable in the last 40 plus years. Do you see where we are missing it Church? Where we miss it, others will come in and fill the void and we lose our relevance in our culture because we can't even extend hands of love and care. Jesus loves the LGBTQIA+ community. Anything else he needs to deal with, he can do so on an individual level. Oh and by the way, Jesus loves all of the 4th wave feminists too in case you were wondering. I know that we Christians have given him horrible rap over the years. He loves you all – no matter your sex or gender identity and He desires for you to be healthy, whole and healed. All of you are God's image-bearers. Think on this! He meets us where we are – you don't have to meet a bunch of standards to deserve His love. You are already loved and love has already won for you. I refuse to hate you and I refuse to participate in any rage or outrage against any of you.
What now Church?
This is the million dollar question. We have a lot of work to do to restore our culture's trust in us, and not just in us, but to restore their hope in Jesus (who we have represented as a political figure more than the God of the Universe and King who loves them). We have to stop misinterpreting scripture to serve our purposes when it comes to men and women in the home and church (see parts 1 and 2). Tradition does not make something right. We have to protect women from abuse and give them opportunities to lead in the Church. We have to stop putting people in the boxes of “biblical roles” that are actually just cultural constructs that go back to ancient Rome and aid in the worship of Roman deities (yes I went there – see Part 1). We have to lead our homes together as men and women, mutually submitting, side by side, back to back - Lion and Lioness. We have to choose relationship over being right and winning “culture wars”– being right never won anyone to the Gospel. Culture wars are killing our witness, and figuratively and literally killing real, hurting people. This is Satan's way, this is not God's way. And last but certainly not least, we have to call our politicians to a better way on both sides of the aisle. We can't do that if we are vying for power because we are afraid as a Church of losing “political influence”. Let me let you in on a little secret, there won't be political influence or political parties in Heaven. Did Jesus promise us political influence? No. Who told us otherwise? Sit with these things. Think on these things. Consider that we just might have gotten it wrong and need to do a lot of repenting. And in that repentance and embracing our neighbors, families, friends, women, men, and children – He will heal our land.
The choice is now ours. Choose wisely.
With much love,
**A personal note: I have written this series while doing a lot of my own self-examination and healing. I've done a lot of repenting too. I have not called the Church to do anything I have not been willing to do or have done. I have not called Church leadership to do anything I have not been willing to do or have done. I have not called anyone outside of the Church to do anything I have not been willing to do or have done. I know that many of these words will sting, however, the medicine is sometimes bitter and it heals the patient. America is in need of such medicine as is the American Church. My hope and prayer is that all of us, inside or outside of the Church, will take these words to heart and choose to repent. Let us think with redemptive minds, make things right where we need to make them right in our families and communities, and love our nation as only Jesus can!