The Argument Against Feminism

A great myth that is often spread within the church is that feminism is a bad thing. This is based on two things – the over publicised aggressive “feminism” and arguing its failure to Christianity due to legal changes prompted by the liberation movement in the 1970s, whereby the Matrimonial Causes Act was replaced with No-Fault Divorce in 1975. What comes out of this deridement of change is an overwhelming argument that feminism causes more harm to Christianity, than good.

Matrimonial Causes vs. No-Fault Divorce

Under the Matrimonal Causes Act 1959, there were 14 different types of reasons that a divorce would be approved by a court. However, a spouse had to be proven at fault for the marriage breakdown. Who was the adulterer? Who was the drunk? Who was insane?

In reality, to prove someone was at fault a solicitor and/or private investigator needed to be hired. Divorce was an actual legal battle, with plenty of finger pointing. The nature of Matrimonial Causes meant that divorce was harder.

So why did feminism come in and make divorce rates sky rocket?

Women prior to the 1980s, and particularly mid-1970s, did not maintain financial independence once they were married. This meant that if a divorce was to occur, and cause was to be proven, a woman could not do that with no money. Often they were shown as the damaging party. But they got their divorce right? In some cases, yet the one usually found at fault forfeited much, if not all, their rights to children, assets and reputation.

No Fault Divorce removed the need to prove a specific cause. It alleviated the litigation in courts and the demand to point fingers.

The Damage

Feminism was a catalyst for increasing divorce rates, there’s no argument there. However, laying waste to a movement that aims to bring equality between the sexes because of one turning point for divorce, ignores all the good that the movement has achieved.

By telling young men and women that you don’t like feminism, tells them you don’t value anything else the movement has achieved nor the implications for if the Matrimonial Causes Act had continued. The vote, equal wages, marital rape and discrimination were still issues under a hundred years ago (and still are for some people/places).

Whenever something comes along with a ‘feminist spin,’ and it challenges the status quo for Christian men and women, the echoing remnants of being told that someone who teaches them doesn’t agree with feminism, justifies them ignoring the rebuke of maintaining the status quo.

Reminder

Men and women were created equal (Genesis 1:27), however, it was screwed when sin entered the world at The Fall (Genesis 3).

And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. – Genesis 3: 21-22

The relationship of the world, men and women, is not what it is supposed to be. Perfection was in Eden. Feminism is simply a tool of the world to achieve something that will never be fully attained in this life. Yet, we should not take lightly the implications of treating feminism with emnity.

Christian Feminism

The Bible is all about a bunch of dudes telling women to cover their heads and be silent…

Unshaven armpits, bald heads and man-haters…

What is Feminism?

Feminism is not about a group of jaded, spinster women who hate men with body hair galore and undercuts.

Feminism is the fundamental belief that men and women are equal. The movement itself was borne as a response to inequalities that, for the most part, women experienced compared to their male counterparts.

Some examples are:

  1. The inability to vote
  2. Requirement to leave the workforce once married
  3. Inability to control their own finances once married
  4. Perceptions of single women who had sex versus single men who had sex
  5. Unequal pay for the same work
  6. Marital rape and domestic abuse
  7. A real woman was a domesticated house-wife
  8. Incapable of “logical” professions such as doctors, lawyers, bankers, businessmen etc.

There are also ‘waves’ of feminism. That is, different stages of the movement that focus on areas of inequality. Note: Some of these deal with direct inequality whilst others may deal with institutional inequality.

  1. First-wave: 19th and early 20th century – focused on legal issues, primarily suffrage
  2. Second-wave: 1960s – 1980s – focus on sexuality, family, the workplace, reproductive rights, de facto inequalities, official legal inequalities
  3. Third-wave: 1990s – 2008 – intersectional feminism (the experience of inequality will differ across ethnicities, nationalities, religions, colors and cultural backgrounds)
  4. Fourth-wave: 2008 – present – increased focus on intersectionality including trans-inclusion

I am a Christian Feminist

How can this be? Well, I believe that men and women are created equal. This is not contrary to the Bible nor to the ideals of feminism.

Both Adam and Eve were created in the image of God. Just as the first man and woman were equally in the image of God, so are men and women now.

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. – Genesis 1:27

However, far more radical to feminism is my belief that men and women were created equal but different. Equality does not mean doing the same thing. We are designed to have different functions but with one purpose.

Adam was given the responsibility to lead, whilst Eve was given the responsibility to be the helper. Both functions were to glorify God, both with equal weight and both with equal worth.

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. – Genesis 2: 15

But for Adam no suitable helper was found…. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. – Genesis 2: 20 -22

What Equal but Different does NOT mean..

  • That being a “helper” is of less significance than being a “leader.” The glorification of leaders over helpers is a human idea. In the Bible, there is none that can fit the role that Eve fills, so God creates her. Without Eve, Adam could not lead. Without Adam, Eve could not help.
  • That women are incapable of leading. There are particular circumstances of the design of men and women, where women should not lead such as teaching men the Bible or headship in a marriage; however, for most positions of leadership, that don’t fit the two already described, women are more than capable of leading armies, governments and other groups. Both Adam and Eve are placed as rulers over the animals in the garden. Eve wasn’t the deputy, she was the co-ruler.
  • That women’s opinions are worthless. Just because men are given the function of leader does not mean they get to ignore women. Equal means that a woman’s opinion is of equal worth to that of a man’s. Adam cherishes Eve as his own flesh after she is created by God.
  • That men are workers and women are stay-at-home wives and/or mums. Women as helper does not mean that they should clean up after their husbands and do everything for them. Women are not servants and subservient; remember Adam loved Eve as himself which means he sees her value too.

Feminism is not a dirty idea, where women seek to “rule” over men nor where men are the scum between our toes. It’s essence and creation is based on equality of the sexes; an equality that is clearly acknowledged in the Bible.

Stay tuned for the follow-up posts in the next few days.