There have been recent discussions about the inequality, and oppression, of women in the United States. With the Women’s March that took place in Washington D.C. on January 21st, this topic has been placed in the national spotlight. Among this crowd were a group of women who believe in the struggle against what they call a “Patriarchal” culture in America. Dina Leygerman, the author of “You Are Not Equal. I’m Sorry,” after paying respect to the women she believed paved the way for women’s rights in America wrote the following:
You can make your own choices, speak and be heard, vote, work, control your body, defend yourself, defend your family, because of the women who marched. You did nothing to earn those rights. You were born into those rights. You did nothing, but you reap the benefits of women, strong women, women who fought misogyny and pushed through patriarchy and fought for you. And you sit on your pedestal, a pedestal you are fortunate enough to have, and type. A keyboard warrior. A fighter for complacency. An acceptor of what you were given. A denier of facts. Wrapped up in your delusion of equality.
After this comment, Dina Leygerman made another statement concerning inequality and women who live in America:
You are not equal. Even if you feel like you are. You still make less than a man for doing the same work. You make less as a CEO, as an athlete, as an actress, as a doctor. You make less in government, in the tech industry, in healthcare.You still don’t have full rights over your own body. Men are still debating over your uterus. Over your prenatal care. Over your choices.You still have to pay taxes for your basic sanitary needs.
Dina Leygerman concluded her letter by writing:
Open your eyes. Open them wide. Because I’m here to tell you, along with millions of other women that you are not equal. Our equality is an illusion. A feel-good sleight of hand. A trick of the mind. I’m sorry to tell you, but you are not equal. And neither are your daughters.
The ideas mentioned by Dina Leygerman, and many others who share her perspective, come from a worldview known as secularism. The word secularism has its origin from a 13th century Old French word meaning “living in the world, not belonging to a religious order” (etymology.com, 2017). A more current definition is defined below:
[Secular humanism] believes that humans are on their own and must depend on their own resources and strength to attain the good life. They do not affirm or deny the existence of God, but most are atheist or agnostics (New Standard Encyclopedia, 2002).
Secularism, in essence, views human history without a consideration of God. A person who holds to a secular worldview, at the very least, is indifferent about the existence of God. Consequently, they observe feminism very differently than one who holds to a Biblical worldview. Consider these two types of secular feminism: Liberal Feminism and Radical Feminism.
Liberal Feminism is described below:
Liberal feminist focus on helping individual women overcome the limits and constraints of their socialization patterns. Liberal feminist argue that women deserve equality because they have the same capabilities as men. These feminist tend to believe the differences between women and men will be less problematic as work and social environments become more bias-free (Corey, 2005).
Radical Feminism is characterized as follows:
Radical Feminist focus on the oppression of women that is embedded in the patriarchy and seek to change society through activism…Radical feminists strive to identify and question the many ways in which patriarchy dominates every area including household chores, paid employment, intimate partnerships, violence, and parenting. The major goals are to transform gender relationships, transform societal institutions, and increase women’s sexual and procreative determination (Corey, 2005).
These are the philosophies of those who observe feminism from a secular worldview. There is no God that governs their thoughts, and attitudes. As a result, they believe the problem resides in social structures and cultural attitudes only. They also believe either education, activism, or a complete overthrow of the “patriarchal” system is necessary for true equality However, a person with a Biblical worldview observes feminism very differently.
First, the Biblical worldview asserts God created the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1:1), and He created male and female in His likeness, and image (Gen. 1:26-27). The very way male and female were formed by God came from the very mind of God. Man and woman, according to a Biblical worldview, are equal, because male and female are both fashioned by the same Creator who is greater than the both of them, and they bear His image and likeness in creation.
Second, Paul gave insight into the equality of man and woman, and how they were to observe one another. In addressing the churches in Corinth, concerning head coverings, Paul wrote the following:
For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; 9 for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake. Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God (1 Cor. 11:7-12, NASB emphasis mine).
Paul pointed out all things “originate from God”(1 Cor. 11:12). If all things find their origin in God, then this makes all things (that is, male and female according to the context) equal and interdependent on one another. Woman came from man, as we observed in the creation account in Genesis. However, man is conceived in the womb of a woman by conception. A person who has a Biblical worldview understands men and women are both important, and necessary to bring about physical life.
Third, women were instrumental in serving the body of Christ in many ways in the early church (and even now). One example is Phoebe, who was a fellow servant of the Lord, was a help to many of the saints in the region of Corinth, and even Paul himself (Rom. 16:1-2). A second example was Priscilla, the wife of Aquila, who took Apollos aside with her husband, and explained the Scriptures with greater accuracy to Apollos (Acts 18:24-26). Priscilla, along with her husband, even risked their own lives for Paul’s sake (Rom. 16:3-4). In addition, godly women were to serve as an example to younger women with the way they lived their life (Tit. 2:4-5).
Fourth, the sacred Scriptures instruct men to love their wives. This is highlighted with how Christ loved the church, who sacrificed Himself for His bride (Eph. 5:23-25; Col. 3:19). Peter cautions that husbands who do not love their wives, and do not live with them in an understanding, and honoring way, will have their prayers hindered (1 Pet. 3:7).
Fifth, in terms of female widows, the body Christ is to be charitable to older widows who are faithful to Christ, and serve His saints (Jas. 1:27; 1 Tim. 5:9-10). A person with a Biblical worldview observes younger, and older, women in high regard, and understands women are made in the image of God, are unique in their function and position in the world, and godly examples for other female saints.
Sixth, a secular feminist, and a Biblical feminist, would agree there is injustice against women in the world. However, the source of injustice, in contrast to a secular feminist worldview, sees a world that has been cursed, and corrupted, not by a “patriarchal” society, but by sin (Gen. 3:15-19). The reason there are injustices against women is that all mankind is born dead in trespasses and sins (Ps. 51:5; Eph. 2:1-2).
The hostility against an almighty, omniscient, Creator, makes us hostile to the people God has fashioned. If you ponder it, we are all “equal opportunity offenders,” who have offended God, and thus have been hostile to mankind, and have all earned His wrath equally. However, Christ has paid the cost, has forgiven men and women for their sins, and rescued them from His wrath (Jn. 3:16). In short, it is the regeneration of the conscience by the Holy Spirit, through the gospel of Christ Jesus and His word, and love for one’s neighbor that promotes true equality between the sexes.
Lastly, Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit, has also made the saints one in body. It is the Holy Spirit that has joined men and women into the body of Christ. Paul wrote there was neither Jew, Greek, slave, free, male, or female, and that all who belong to God are one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28). Paul also wrote believers are a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). This has everything to do with the unity in the Holy Spirit believers have in Christ, who is Lord and Master. The distinctions of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, cultural position, or even male and female orientation, are removed when considering the divine unity, and the glorification that is soon to be revealed in the saints at His Great appearing.
If we are believers in Christ who subscribe to a Biblical worldview, we hold that Christianity is the only true feminism. Christianity recognizes the value of women, because women are made in God’s image and likeness. A Biblical worldview acknowledges we must speak out against injustices concerning women, understanding the world is under the curse of sin, and subjective equality is not equality at all, but bondage. The only thing that brings true liberation and freedom for women (and men) is the gospel of Christ, and the word of God. The perspective of feminism, apart from a Biblical worldview, although sincere, may lead to chaos, and hostility between both male and female.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Dr. Luther Smith is Dean of the College, Department Chair of Biblical Counseling, and Associate Professor of Biblical Counseling at Calvary University.