Many Christians, when they picture feminists, see shouting women on the barricades spewing hate against everything that is male. Their imagination is inspired by images of protest in the 60s, 70s, and 80s when women demanded freedom, independence, and autonomy. True, feminists belong to the progressive movements in our culture. Feminism is often mentioned together with radicalism and socialism. Women’s Lib, as the broad movement is called, is about changing the social order and demanding changes in society that have far-reaching consequences.
Feminism is a movement that started in the early 20th century as a call by women to be heard and treated as equals in a male dominated society. Feminism calls this the patriarchy (from the word patriarch). Men have been in charge from the very beginning and stipulated the boundaries within which women could operate. Men’s place is in public while women are supposed to stay at home. Men deal with public affairs, women with domestic ones. Men lead, women follow. Feminists say that this is wrong and that women need to have equal opportunities and equal access to jobs, money, and positions of leadership.
It is probably no wonder that for a good number of Christians, feminism represents a great danger. Long-cherished Christian values are being subverted in the name of progress and freedom while the God who is the perceived foundation of these values is often mocked as a product and relic of the patriarchy, the male-dominated world. Such a movement cannot but be a great danger for the Christian cause.
And so Christians have good reasons to come up with arguments as to why feminism needs to be resisted in the name of the God of the Bible. In this article I will briefly outline what these arguments are.
1. Feminism is Rooted in Very Anti-Christian Movements
Feminism has a very bad ancestry, according to some. It is seen as a movement that wants to subvert an entire social order. It protest governments of Western nations in order to unleash a revolution. The Bible tells us to obey the government and those who maintain order in our nation. Many Christians believe that feminism is linked with radical and revolutionary movements that have nothing to do with Christianity and have no respect for the Bible. They lump it with other movements such as marxism, humanism, and see it as part of the de-christianization of our Western culture.
2. Feminism is Unbiblical
Furthermore, feminism is unbiblical. The term ‘unbiblical’ is a broad term that covers various aspects of feminism that are deemed wrong. One could for instance point to the revolutionary character of the feminist movement mentioned above. But ‘unbiblical’ also applies to the whole notion of how women and men are to relate to one another according to the Word of God. This we need to unpack a little further.
Many conservative Christians see the Bible not only as descriptive (i.e. it comes to us from a certain historical and cultural context that is simply assumed) but also and foremost as prescriptive (i.e. many aspects of the cultures that form the context for Biblical narratives are taken as normative). Especially, when God is heard speaking in the Biblical text, whatever God says is taken as extremely important for the ordering and norming of human society and social conduct.
3. Feminism Goes Against God’s Created Order
So when God creates Eve as a helpmate to Adam (Genesis 2:20), many believers see this as an indication of subordination of the woman to the man. This interpretation is aided by the fact that after the fall Adam is seen as dominating Eve (Genesis 3:16). When human societies come into existence in the Biblical text and God calls Abraham to be a chosen people among the nations, no one is surprised that men take the lead and women serve and follow.
The whole idea, then, that women are equal to men is seen as a godless attempt to subvert God’s order for creation. As things are happening in the Bible, that’s how things ought to be. Many evangelical Bible teachers will readily point to the fact that this order is maintained in the New Testament. After all, Paul doesn’t think women ought to teach in church (1 Corinthians 14:34) and he maintains that man is the head of the woman (1 Corinthians 3). He thinks that women will be saved through modesty and producing offspring (1 Timothy 2:15).
4. Feminism is Tantamount to the Idolatry of Jezebel
Rather than allowing women to co-teach in the church and treat them as equal partners in ministry and community, many Christians are dead-scared to do so and keep the woman out of the office. They fear that this way they would give in to the idolatry of Jezebel. Wasn’t this wife of Old Testament king Ahab the one in charge and didn’t she lead this Israelite king astray? It is not for nothing that the book of Revelation contains a warning against the idolatry of Jezebel, the woman who leads people away from God into idolatry.
5. Feminism wants us to believe in a female God
Feminism is not comprised of just one group. It is a very diverse movement. Yet, the fact that some feminist in their struggle against the patriarchy have also questioned the male pronoun (He) for God, makes many Christians shudder. What is worse, some feminist Christians have been reported to gather around a crucifix with a Christa instead of a Christ. For a lot of Christians such a subversion of the biblical accounts of God and Christ simply goes too far.
6. Most feminists support abortion
Because feminism advocates the independence of women, everything that comes in the way of her independence is seen as problematic. If a woman becomes pregnant, the dominant opinion in our culture is still that she take care of her child. Pregnancy is therefore seen as a potential hindrance to a woman's freedom. If abortion is the only way a woman can regain her autonomy, so be it. It is no wonder that many Christians with a pro-life attitude, find feminism horribly at fault in this regard.
Here are just 6 good reasons many Christians, all of them conservative of course, will not easily give a listening ear to the message that feminism has for the world today. In a next article I will look at another approach to feminism in which Christians actually embrace feminism and feministic ideas as a God-given opportunity to transform the Church into a more Christ-like community.
- Introduction: What Is Feminism?
- 6 Reasons Why Christians Should Reject Feminism.
- 6 Reasons Why Christians Should Embrace Feminism.
- Two Biblical Approaches To The Position Of Women