Monday, August 15, 2005

The Gender War and the Call of Christ

We can admit, readily, and with great sadness, that there has been much oppression and abuse of women throughout the centuries. And a great deal of this has been in done under the banner of the church and with the claim of biblical authority. It is the duty of the church, and Christians filled with the Spirit and under the authority of the whole counsel of God’s will to fight vehemently against such attempts and oppression, and any and all abuses against women in our homes, churches, and communities.

But in fighting against oppression and abuse with the power of God’s word and the love of Christ, we must certainly not abandon the clear teaching of God’s Word regarding the roles of men and women, and the biblical complement that they offer one another toward the building of the home, the church, healthy community, and the propagation of the good news of Jesus Christ.

Since the 1960’s there has been a direct assault on the biblical portrait of manhood and womanhood, and of the biblical institution of marriage. This assault has come mainly from social and gender feminism, and abides today. Sadly, this so-called feminism has crept into the church itself and is redefining the biblical calling of the home, the biblical call of male authority and leadership in the church, and is even redefining a biblical theology of the fatherhood of God. Under specific attack has always been the calling in a woman’s life to the role of nurturer and caregiver in a family through the vocation of motherhood:

In 1962, Betty Friedan boldly wrote an article and Ladies Home Journal boldly published it. The article for the ‘home journal’ was ironically titled, “Housewife is NOT a profession”. This was a prelude to her classic work of women’s liberation, “The Feminine Mystique” which called for the end of “domestic slavery” where wives are held in “comfortable concentration camps”. With colleagues such as Germaine Greer, author of “The Female Eunuch”, the women’s liberation movement sought to end the destructive bondage of the traditional family. Liberating women through abortion on demand, the advocacy of divorce, and a strong call for government funded childcare, so that women are not shackled to the home and the needs of children and are able to better find themselves in the world.

We have found though, that women on the whole have lashed back at such radical claims and goals. Through the 80’s and 90’s women began to see the emptiness of the world’s portrait of value being measured by some outside vocational reputation or corporate success. They have returned and are returning to the home, a place of nobility and value, where children can be nurtured and raised. In the 80’s, Friedan recanted much of her earlier rantings, and affirmed the lofty calling of motherhood in her book “The Second Stage”. Germaine Greer, previously the radical of “The Female Eunuch”, authored “The Whole Woman” and said this: “I mourn for my unborn babies. I still have pregnancy dreams, waiting with vast joy and confidence for something that will never happen. In the “Female Eunuch” I argued that motherhood should not be treated as a substitute career: now I would argue that motherhood should be regarded as a genuine career option” she goes on to affirm the “immense rewardingness of children is the best kept secret in the western world”. And yet, it hasn’t been a secret, and shouldn’t be to those who know God’s Word.

One of the main reasons for our recent series on Manhood and Womanhood has been to reveal the ‘secrets’ of God’s Word, as the church is called to do. The revelation of these secrets is called, in the New Testament, ‘proclamation’ or ‘preaching’ or ‘bearing witness’. Let’s bear witness to the truth of God’s Word as it touches with grace and mercy every area of our lives. Let’s proclaim with joy the gospel of Jesus that liberates us from sin. Let’s instill in one another a great vision for what God can do in and through us as we seek to be his children, man and woman alike. In these things, are we not more than conquerors? Then why stand ashamed of the whole counsel of God’s Word in the face of a dying world and collapsing culture? Let's answer the call of Christ to be salt and light in a dark world.


Some Quotes on Manhood and Womanhood

“What I have to say is not validated by my having a graduate degree or a position on the faculty or administration of an institution of higher learning. It comes not from any set of personal tastes and preferences. It is not a deduction from my own genetic leanings or temperament. Instead, it is what I see as the arrangement of the universe and the full harmony and tone of Scripture. This arrangement is a glorious hierarchical order of graduated splendor, beginning with the Trinity, descending through seraphim, cherubim, archangels, angels, men, and all lesser creatures, a mighty universal dance, choreographed for the perfection and fulfillment of each participant.”
- Elizabeth Eliot

“Tell me what the world is saying today and I’ll tell you what the church will be saying seven years from now.”
-Francis Schaeffer

We should find in Christianity and the Church “an element that unbelievers will call irrational and believers will call supra-rational. There ought to be something in it opaque to our reason though not contrary to it…if we abandon that, if we retain only what can be justified by standards of prudence and convenience at the bar of enlightened common sense, then we exchange revelation for that old wraith Natural Religion.”
-C.S. Lewis

“One day I was privileged to sit at the table next to Mother Teresa of Calcutta. I had long admired her and her work with the destitute and dying in Calcutta and throughout the world. The Capitol Hill luncheon in her honor was held in the ornately decorated Senate caucus room in the Russell Building. As she entered, she seemed dwarfed by the enormity of the room. She was even tinier than I had expected. As she walked into the room, clad in a simple blue and white habit, I saw some of the strongest leaders in the world rise to their feet and applaud her with tears in their eyes. They were honored simply to be in her presence. Here was a woman who obviously had tremendous power. She possessed more power than those who walked the marble halls of Congress. She had more power than I had seen in this city of power. “How has she done thing?” I asked myself. She owned nothing, never shook her fist in anger for her rights, and never asked for anything for herself. Instead, she had reached down into the gutter and raised up and loved those the world calls unlovable. And she had done it simply because the poor were created by the God she loves and serves.”
-Dee Jepsen

“Lucille Ball was the first lady of American comedy. Some time before her death she did a remarkable television interview with Merv Griffin, who asked her a very pointed and serious question. “Lucille, you’ve lived a long time on this earth and you are a wise person. What’s happened to our country? What’s wrong with our children? Why are our families falling apart? What’s missing?”
Lucy’s startling yet matter of fact reply came quickly. “Papa’s missing.,” she said.
“Things are falling apart because Papa’s gone. If Papa were here, he would fix it.”
-Weldon Hardenbrook

“The notion of responsibility is at the crux of true fatherhood. The conscious sense of responsibility for the physical and spiritual well being of others is the mark of a true father.”
-Clayton Barbeau

From the beginning of the Industrial revolution, “The groundwork for the 20th century fatherless home was set. By the end of the 19th century for first time it was socially and morally acceptable for men not to be involved with their families.”
-Lawrence Fuchs

“Homemaking is not employment for slothful, unimaginative, incapable women. It has as much challenge and opportunity, success and failure, growth and expansion, perks and incentives, as any corporate career.”
-Dorothy Morrison

“No one can, without renouncing the world, in the most literal sense, observe my method; and there are few, if any, that would entirely devote above twenty years of the prime of life in hopes to save the souls of their children, which they think may be saved without so much ado; for that was my principal intention, however unskillfully and unsuccessfully managed.”
- Susanna Wesley

“Every one is in favor of equal pay, but no one is in favor of doing the dishes.”
-Mary Jo Bane, Wellesley Women’s Research Center

“My career has suffered because of the children and the children have suffered because of my career. I’ve been torn and haven’t been able to function fully in either arena. I don’t know one person who does both successfully, and I know a lot of working mothers.”
- Joanne Woodward

“We have discovered that many of our problems—in children’s and young people’s behavior, in our morals, culture and in production—are partially caused by the weakening of family ties and slack attitude to family responsibilities. This is a paradoxical result of our sincere desire to make women equal with men in everything.” (He added that Russia was looking for ways for women to return “to their purely womanly mission”.)
-Mikhail Gorbechev

Sometimes feminists remind me of little girls standing beneath a boys’ tree hut. Forbidden to enter because they were girls, some of them vowed in their childish hearts that one day they would force their way into that tree hut. Others vowed that when they grew up they would cut down the tree; if they couldn’t play, no one could. Still others became determined that they would never again allow anyone to call them girls. I have to admit that I have been spared this envy because when I was young, I had talked my way into the boys’ tree hut and discovered that nothing all that exciting was happening there.
-Dale O’Leary

It is no accident that the meaning of being a man or being a woman has been radically transformed in a society that celebrates freedom and equality, encourages individualism and autonomy, rejects tradition, practices contraception and abortion, sees marriage as a lifestyle, provides the same education and promotes the same careers for men and
women, homogenizes fathers and mothers in the neutered work of “parenting,” denies vulnerability and dependence, keeps morality out of sight, and raises its children without any sense of duty or obligation to future generations.
- Amy Kass

To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets,
labors, and holidays; to be Whitely within a certain area, providing toys, boots, cakes, and books; to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone and narrow to be everything to someone? No, a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute.
- G. K. Chesterton

One of the ways I help couples get a handle on leadership is to ask, “Who says, ‘let’s’ more often? The man or the woman?” The man ought to say ‘let’s’ more often: “Let’s talk about the kids, let’s have a state-of our marriage discussion, let’s work on our finances, let’s get things in order in the home, let’s take care of our yard better, let’s consider getting a new car.” If the woman is constantly going to her husband and saying,
“Let’s, let’s, let’s. . . .” and he’s always dragging his feet, not taking the initiative, she’s going to be a very frustrated woman. She should not have to be the one who says ‘let’s.’ The man should be.

I asked Noel at the beginning of our marriage and haveasked her periodically over the last thirty years, “Do you operate happily on the principle that I am generally
the initiative taker in this family? And if we cannot agree on an issue, even after many hours of conversation, will you submit to my judgment?” And she has
said, “Yes.” Now that does not mean that I always invoke that privilege. But it’s crucial that she give it. That’s what submission is. And a good husband, a
good leader, a good lover will often say, “I don’t think we should re-do the bathroom now,” or “I’m not sure we should adopt a child now, but I see where your heart is, and I love to see you flourish. I want to honor your desires, and I believe God is sovereign and will work things out. And for your sake and for your joy, I yield to your choice.” She would have gone either way. She would have let me have it, or she would be happy
to hear me give her this choice. That’s not an abdication of leadership. That’s a servant way of handling leadership. And it’s based on the principle of submission, where she says, “You call the shot, and I’ll be happy with whatever you decide.”
- John Piper

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Some blaaahhgs re: our recent sermon series

Hey All. As all you Oaksters know full well, we have just finished a series on Manhood and Womanhood in the middle of our study of Ruth. I have gotten such an overwhelming response to our study of this very important issue in our church and culture. I will blog some of the thoughts that came out of our time together, with some good quotes, and a bibliography that I hope might be helpful.