Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Feminism--The Greatest Threat to the Church?

For many reasons, feminism and the question of true Biblical feminity has been on my mind. A recent post by Dan over at Life on Wings touching on this issue has got me thinking even more, so I'm finally taking the plunge and putting some of my thoughts out here. Feel free to engage me openly and even be hostile if you like.
Hmmm. I'm about to set out into stormy seas. Being a woman, I will always be suspected--whether in conversation or how I behave (or what I write here haha), there will always be a man thinking that I'm a feminist. That dirty hateful word. It's almost the worst insult I can think of, aside from 'woman'. I hate the fact that I am afraid to say what I really think, or to disagree with a man, especially my husband, on anything at all--afraid of being judged as 'one of those women'. Of course, this fear doesn't stop me from saying what I think.

I wanted to open the discussion on whether we think male cheuvenism is really dead or not in the subculture of complimentarian Christianity, and is feminism a major threat to the church. I am still a complimentarian, but I would like to begin really believing that women are equal, not below, men. I realize that bringing up this topic will tempt some people to question whether I'm a feminist. That's my point I guess. How did we get to this place where we are always looking for feminists? Are they really our greatest enemies or could it be that feminists are people too? I'm not sure these labels are helping us love people.

It worries me that the conservative church has focused so much energy toward fighting those outside of themselves. With all the attention focused on feminists and homosexuals, are we perhaps missing some even more dangerous problems within our own camp, such as legalism, self-righteousness, and pride? I'm asking these questions honestly to myself, and I'm becoming ashamed at how easily I've judged people I don't even know without having true compassion. I'm certainly not advocating ignoring what Scripture says about these areas, but maybe it's time to look at our own hearts and see if there's anything besides knowledge in there, like love.

I don't honestly believe that feminism is close to being the most dangerous issue the church is facing today (though it's certainly a problem in some segments of the western church). I appreciate Wayne Grudem's reluctance to label it as one of the biggest issues faced by today's church in a recent interview with Adrian Warnock. Feminism is a response (yes, a sinful response) to the lack of love and grace in the church. (I think if we want to destroy and prevent sinful feminism in the church, then we might begin by teaching men to love and respect women.) I think the greatest threat to the church is pharisaical arrogance and legalism.

Where are the great men of God rising up to speak out against this? Well, there are a few that I know of, and definately some that I don't know of. Men like Terry Virgo (see his book God's Lavish Grace or any of his sermons on grace) and Rob Rufus ( I highly recommend his 5 part sermon series The Grace Hating Spirit,see 2004 series). But I'm praying for many many more. Maybe the loudest message the world should be hearing from us is that 'Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst'

15 comments:

Coralie said...

It's an interesting question. I hardly think feminism is the greatest threat to the church. I do, however, think it is a symptom of the greatest threat that is always threatening the church: doubting scripture.

We have a choice when approaching scripture. Either take it at face value as much as possible, and fit our lives around it, or fit the scripture around our lives. All apostasy and heresy comes from the same question Satan asked in the garden: "Did God really say . . ."

Whether dealing with the preaching of women or denial of the Trinity, each comes down to that one point, that God didn't really say thus and so. This is, and has always been, the greatest threat to the church.

When we face the real problem, rather than dealing with symptoms, is generally when we make progress.

(in my humble opinion - sorry came off a little arrogant.)

jul said...

Good thoughts, and I don't think you sound arrogant. There's nothing wrong with being passionate about the truth!

I guess a problem with Scripture is at the root of every problem in the church. If we truly believed everything in Scripture, we couldn't be arrogant, or legalistic, or a host of other sinful things. I think we make a mistake when we view certain kinds of heresy as more dangerous or sinful than others. In other words, some of the heresy surrounding the whole issue of feminist and gay issues is most vehemently opposed by those who are bound up in the heresy of legalism. Both are wrong, but one is far more subtle and acceptable in the conservative church. That's why I would consider legalism the more dangerous problem. Legalistic churches are often applauded for their outward pretty shiny appearance.

Bryan said...

Julie - Have been reading back posts over the past few days (since I recently discovered the blob) and giving thanks for you and Aaron. Thanks for you honest and thoughtful posts. I miss you guys and have been thinking about you a lot over the past few weeks, though you probably have no idea. Hope to be able to interact with you some here in the near future. Talk to you soon...

jul said...

Hi Brian, good to hear from you. Hope you're all doing well and we'd love to get together with you all sometime. Feel free to comment and agree or disagree when you feel like it.

jul said...

Did anyone catch my mistake? I was reading over my comment and I say "I think it's a mistake when we view certain kinds of heresy more dangerous than others" followed shortly after by "that why I would condider legalism the more dangerous problem". That made me smile. How good God is to hold the mirror up for us when we need it.

Baxter's Boy said...

Great post. Like you I think Grudem is being somewhat over-cautious. But I've just written a post suggesting that this problem has come about because of the present of weak, ineffectual male persons (WIMPS!). I remembered that it is when these poor examples of Christian men are abounding that women do rise up to fill the void. For example - Deborah the judge. Our former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher also filled a political void because the male politicans around her were pitiful.

I can say that - because I'm a man!

But my conclusion is that rather than trying to batter down the egalitarian women suggesting an alternative, we instead pursue a positive drive to fill the internet with teaching on how men should be men. Just a thought!

Robert Ivy said...

I appreciate your comments on this issue Jul. I often wonder, as a man, what the average woman thinks about complementarianism.

I agree that women are not "below" men, I would hope that no one thinks so. Men and women are equal but different. There are some things that women should simply not do and other things that men should simply not do.

I think the denial of this difference is what's dangerous about feminism. If there's not difference between men and women then... ? You can see the danger.

And I think there are many ways to battle it. Certainly battling it theologically is important. But the more important battle, in my mind, is what you are saying: that we should love these women and care for them in such a way that they don't feel the need to strike out on their own and deny the Biblically defined roles for thier gender. Certainly baxter's boy has a good point to that another way to battle it is by once again raising up men in our society who fill their role as they ought. And there are many other Christlike ways to battle it, I'm sure.

jul said...

Thanks for your comments, Dan and Robert. I had a long response but I think I'll save it for another post. I agree that much more teaching is needed on true Biblical masculinity (holding the disrespectful joking). But more than teaching, men (and of course women) need to have an experience in the presence of God to be changed. The saddest thing about this whole thing is that no matter which way the roles/definitions of men and women are distorted, it contributes to a distortion of the character of God.

Shash said...

Legalism is a very dangerous and distructive thing in the church, we just finished a week with Rob and Glenda Rufas and I am amazed at even the level of the law that I was still trying to operate in! Grace, Grace, Grace - more of it Lord!

jul said...

Hi Shash. It's very good to 'meet' you! I have been checking out your blog and am looking forward to reading more. If you love grace, then we'll get along very well. My husband and I LOVE Rob Rufus and have been listening to his sermons online since we first heard of him when people were raving about him after the Newfrontiers Leadership Conference last year. We have just come out of a very legalistic church situation and have been blessed by his teaching on legalism and grace immensely. May God continue to reveal his grace to you more and more and more and more...

DB said...

I wonder why the question isn't, "Cutting half the world's population from walking in their gifts, the greatest threat to the Church?"

jul said...

Hi DB, welcome to my blog! I don't mean to sound cynical or maybe I do...anyway, I think there's a good reason why that's not the question! Men think they're perfectly capable of running the world on their own. OK, not all men of course.

DB said...

Not to be cynical (or perhaps I am,) they're not doing such a great job running things, are they?

Not all men, but the alphas that want to dominate, I don't know if a little balance would help.

jul said...

hehe, is it just me or does 'intentional manhood' sound like someone who had surgery of some sort? I personally prefer men who are not intentionally male but just accept who God created them to be.

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