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Feminist Dilemmas

We lose many spiritual battles because, in our defense against some misbegotten charge of wrongdoing, an enemy traps us into committing the offense with which we are charged. This happens constantly in the war against feminism. Christians who do not think clearly find themselves attacking women or denying plain truths; the feminist then rounds on them, saying, "Ah ha! You see? Christianity is misogynistic!"

We forget that not all of feminism's assumptions are true. Feminists believe that all women, at some level, agree with them, and the deceit by which feminism works has more women sympathizing than would claim the philosophy. Even the name feminism lends credibility to this assumption -- it identifies itself as supporting the feminine gender. This is a falsehood which must be rejected, for if we agree, then our attack on feminism will be an attack on women.

But worse, we forget that not all of feminism's assumptions are false! It has accurately located the source of much spurious oppression in male abuse of patriarchal power. Men abuse power because they are rebels against the God who gave it. They beat their wives, ignore them, cheat on them. Male bosses sexually harass female employees and unjustly prevent them from being rewarded for their work.

When feminists point out how badly men have treated women through the ages, we should agree. But because feminism identifies male leadership itself, rather than its abuse, as oppressive, we part company radically because of our radically antithetical viewpoints. The difference between us is not that we deny a problem which they affirm, but that we understand its nature and cure very differently. The Bible gives us a reason for upholding Biblical headship and a reason for condemning the abuse of women. If we give up one, we may not keep the other.

When we argue the Biblical case for headship, feminists hear us defending its abuses and conclude that patriarchy itself is evil. We ought indeed to argue the case, but we ought most of all to attack furiously the sins of the fathers and husbands against wives and children.

Men have selfishly perverted their positions to the injury of women. Through the gospel they must be called to repentance, and to sober humility in their careful leadership of the women over whom God has given them charge. Only through the Biblical exercise of headship will God be glorified and the error of feminism destroyed.

WJC


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