FEMINISM AND THE AMERICAN EVANGELICAL CHURCH – PART 2

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There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man,

there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus – Galatians 3:28

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One may wonder why Feminists continue to insist on reading the unnecessary classless inferences into Galatians 3:28. It is as if one has a puzzle comprised of a few basic pieces, which when fitted together form a clear and coherent pattern. But when another turns one of the pieces he insists that the puzzle does not really fit together at all. He is persistent in declaring that most of the pieces must be rejected because they form an unaccept­able pattern, and in their place a whole new pattern must be de­signed which is more compatible with the piece that was twisted from its original position.

What is it that prompts the Feminists to insist on such a drastic redrawing of the pattern of New Testament teaching, despite the fact that it is not necessary to do so? In other words, Galatians 3:28 does not demand the elimination of male-female roles in society.

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Orthodox believers are suspicious of the impetus behind the evangelical feminist movement. Put simply, we believe that the true momentum behind evangelical feminism is not the spirit of the New Testament, but rather the spirit of this present age.

The Biblical Worldview

Orthodox Christians believe that the Bible presents to the reader a unified worldview. This worldview is based on the assumption that a sovereign, personal God designed an ordered universe to function in a particular way, and the finest achievement of the creature is to discover that design and fulfill it. At its fundamental level, this design is not open to change or redefinition. God has revealed His authorita­tive will in a finished revelation to man, and each person’s task is to obey that will by fulfilling the appropriate role God has assigned to him or her within the overall design for creation.

Crucial to this worldview are the con­cepts of authority and hierarchy. God is the source, not simply of all authority; He is the source of the very concept of authority (Romans 13:1). That the universe should be ordered around a series of hierarchical relationships is His idea, foundational in His original design. 

God delegates His authority according to His own pleasure to those He places in appropriate positions, and it is to Him that His creatures submit when they acknowledge that authority.

Orthodox believers believe that these assumptions about the funda­mental nature of things in the universe are basic to understanding the Bible’s teaching on other topics. They are impossible to undo. They give strength and coherence to the Old and New Testaments like the bars of steel that lace reinforced concrete. Far from being something unconnected to the Word of God, a perceived excess baggage that can be thrown out while retaining the essential truth of the Scriptures, these ideas are the essential truth of the Scriptures. To reject them is to reject the Bible.

Moreover it is important to recognize that this understanding of the basic worldview of the Bible is not, as some evangelical Feminists would have it, simply a Pharisaic artifact concocted by a contemporary set of orthodox believers who are obsessed with security and tradition. It is what Christians have consistently discovered in the pages of the Bible from the beginning.

Opponents of orthodox Christianity usually portray the biblical worldview as unattractively as possible and thus reject it. Yet in the essentials the and the orthodox believers agree on one thing: that basic worldview that the Bible is teaching that men and women have different roles in society.

Humanistic Rebellion

It is no secret, of course, that modern man has rejected the Bible’s view of the world. In its place he has inserted a wide range of secular, humanistic, sometimes quasi-theological ideologies which have one feature in common: the denial of the authority of a sovereign, personal Creator over man’s exis­tence. Echoing Satan’s primordial cry, modern man arises with clenched fist to assert, “I will be like the Most High; I will be the god of my own existence.” Rejecting God’s claim of sovereignty, and thereby cutting himself off from any final knowledge of his own identity, humankind is left in this sadly mechanistic faux pas to discover who he thinks he is, to define himself without the aid of His Creator. Man is fumbling in this attempt.

This humanistic rebellion against the authority of God is the wellspring from which radical feminism springs. Radical Feminists do not want anyone to instruct them on who or what they ought to be. They want to define their existence for themselves.It is not even that they believe this is the pathway to happiness, for it is not finally happiness they desire. It is freedom that they crave,and they are determined to pay whatever the price to obtain it.

Thus secular Feminists find the biblical vision of a divinely ordained male-female hierarchy appalling and they reject it with all their might. Their view cannot tolerate any concept of an original divine arrange­ment of roles to which the creature is to conform. 

Feminists are drawn to various Darwinian conceptualizations which conform to their requirements.

Christian Feminists reject the basic worldview of the Bible in favor of a more fashionable way of thinking. Naturally they are attracted to theological constructs which are more open to their Feminist predilections. Evangelical Feminists are more comfortable with the open-ended theology of liberals where God is the impersonal Ground of Being and revelation as conservative evangelicals understand it is unknown. It is a system where culture and history are always new and unfinished, and where man is thus ever in a state of creating himself. Here feminism is free to flourish.

The biblical worldview is unfavorable to Feminism, requiring Feminists of both the secularist and liberal band to reject it in favor of perspectives more conducive to their purposes and ends.God is redefined, usually toward the impersonal. Revelation, if it exists, is viewed as an ongoing thing to be discovered in the unfolding of human experience. The concept of an original divine will for creation is rejected in favor of a more fluid, Darwinian vision of reality. Notions of hierarchy, authority, and submission to authority are ridiculed. In their place appear an arrangement of spiritual chatter hailing egalitarianism, human rights, justice, and the transcendence of sexual distinctions.

The Error of Evangelical Feminism

Orthodox believers deem that the evangelical Feminists have unwittingly bought into these deceptions. Pleas for the elimination of all gender-based roles signify that the evangelical Feminists have taken up, not simply the secular movement’s rhetoric and proposals, but some aspects of its worldview as well.

Since the evangelical Feminists refuse to reject the Bible outright, they are imposed to colossal reinterpretation: first, to eliminate those aspects of the biblical view that are hostile to feminism, and, second, to find ways to make it appear that their cause is sanctioned in the Bible.

Orthodox believers are not unaware that the biblical worldview appears outmoded by present-day standards. We feel the societal pressure to conform to a more modern way of thinking. Yet we are also aware that the oscillations of intellectual history demon­strate that the worldview of any given culture or generation pro­vides an extraordinarily capricious standard by which to measure truth. It is the peculiar conceit of each age to believe that its view of the world is definitive; our present generation is no exception.

Christians need to remember that modern man, despite his much advertized sophistication, merely continues the age-old human tradition of suppressing the truth about God, exchanging it for a lie which renders the creature an object of worship instead of the Creator (Romans 1:18-32). Can the distorted speculations of such a rebellious creature be a reliable guide to understanding the fundamental ques­tions about man and the reality of which he is a part? Orthodox believers think not. We simply believe it is more reasonable to prefer the view of reality which shines through the eyepiece of God’s timeless truth, the Scriptures.

Final Thoughts

Most orthodox believers do not relish the prospect of a confrontation with evangelical Feminists. As far as we know these Christians are fellow members of Christ’s Body and much of what they have written is valid, even praiseworthy. Women have often been shortchanged and every Christian needs to be made aware of it so that a proper biblical balance can be achieved. But in advocating the elimination of all gender-based roles the evangelical Feminists go too far. They have embraced a profoundly unbiblical — in fact antibiblical — ideology and are pressing it on the church. Orthodox believers are convinced that they cannot stand idly by and let this happen. Thus in the tradition of Paul’s encounter with Peter in Galatians 2 orthodox believers feel they must confront their Feminist sisters and brothers. To do any less would be, in their view, to betray the truth of God.

Why do Christians so easily accept inconsistencies into their worldview? The Christian who trusts the Scriptures and therefore has access to the one worldview based on eternal truth should be the first to recognize the bankruptcy of secular worldviews.

Feminists will not cease their efforts in the evangelical church; nor will the orthodox believers ever go along with them. How, then, can this conflict be resolved? One can only pray that both sides of the confrontation will handle themselves and the issues without attempts to negate the truth-claims by pointing out a negative characteristic or belief of the person who is merely trying to support their argument. We should endeavor forward using the honesty, integrity, and balance that comes from attempt­ing to “speak the truth in love.”

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