Mainstream Western culture has been spewing its feminist mantra of gender equality, abortion on demand, cessation of discrimination, and women's liberation from degrading practices such as marriage, motherhood, etc., for generations now. To anyone who's been observing the cultural trends - couples having children only to turn them over to be raised by daycare workers and schoolteachers, rampant teen and/or out-of-wedlock pregnancies, annual abortion rates sustained in the thousands, and the overwhelming pressure on girls to find fulfillment not in being wives and mothers but in being career women - it would appear that the FemiNazi movement (to borrow the words of Rush Limbaugh) has established a pretty solid foothold.
Lately, though, I've been seeing signs that maybe feminism's foothold isn't quite as solid as the feminists have hoped, that maybe their runaway campaign is losing some of its steam. It's got me hopeful that maybe we're not quite finished and down for the count yet. Maybe we still have the juice for another upswing in the cycle.
What's the giveaway?
It's called "New Feminism". Here's a very basic rundown of the idea:
Many professing feminists are beginning to discover that they actually gain a greater sense of emotional, spiritual, and physical fulfillment from being homemakers and even stay-at-home moms than they do from being professional, career women. Some are putting forward the idea that the physical differences between men and women are connected to a difference in the roles in society and family life that they are each best suited to fill.
Wikipedia's article on New Feminism has this to say:
In order for men and women to be truly free, New Feminists assert that
they must act in accordance with the way they are psychologically and
emotionally structured to be as sexed human persons. Philosophy and
Religion, then, are essential components in the search for how men and
women should and ought to act for "a higher truth or good", not just how they want or can act. New Feminists assert that people must remember God and purpose to
recognize that life, in some way, is a gift and not a mere thing which a
person can claim as his or her exclusive property.
New Feminists claim that other feminisms are preoccupied with "power",
domination and positions of visible "authority" and claim that those are
as masculine and faulty. Dismayed by what they see as the bitterness,
hatred, or retribution of many feminists against men or other women for
current or past injustices, they argue that men and women should
cooperate with one another in interpersonal communion. This means giving of themselves in mutual service and love.
Now, there are some flaws in this secular interpretation of the ideology, naturally. But at its core, its structure is remarkably similar to the way the Bible outlines the separate and distinct roles of men and women.
Initially upon hearing things like the above article, I am sorely tempted to gasp and exclaim, wide-eyed, something dripping with snark and sarcasm such as "What?! No, it can't be! Who would ever have thought this?! Well, I mean, who other than the untold thousands of stay-at-home wives and moms out there who've been saying it for years, right? Other than those kooky fringe people, who would have thought it?"
Sarcasm aside, though, I think there's a different approach that Christians need to be taking to this.
In this particular case, there's really no getting around the "told-you-so" factor, whether we're being sarcastic about it or not. If we're going to engage people in conversation about this at all, we're going to have to, at the very least, acknowledge the fact that conservative Christians have been telling people to live this way all along.
But, rather than be snarky about it, I propose we use it to present and uphold the validity of scripture and God's outline for living. Because the fact is, the Bible has been saying this from the very beginning. It presents a blueprint for meaningful, cooperative, peaceful, and selfless living that sounds remarkably like this seemingly "new" discovery of a more fulfilling way of life.
Let me ask a question: How many of us have heard the argument that "the Bible may have been relevant for a certain time period, or a particular culture, but its ideas don't work in a modern society or with our culture"? Sadly, even many Christians have discounted parts of scripture because they don't believe that those parts are still "relevant".
But, to quote pastor and writer Scott Brown, "God's ways are trans-cultural. They transcend culture." What these "New Feminists" are actually discovering, whether they realize it or not, is that God's ways still work. They're still relevant, even today, even in modern "post-Christian" culture.
This is an incredible opportunity for Christians to present the gospel to people who may have been completely closed off to it before. If the Bible is right about the best way to find fulfillment and contentment in your life, even millenia after being written, might it not be worth listening to in other areas of life as well? Might we not consider giving it a bit more credence, rather than simply writing it off as outdated mythology?
If we can engage people in conversation about this topic, we will have an opportunity to open the scriptures to them, counting on God's promise that His word will not return void. As the culture shifts and we are able to once again discuss an idea like that of women staying at home without automatically being written off as fringe lunatics, those of us who are keeping head up and eyes open will, I believe, find abundant opportunities to give account of the hope that is in us.
Yes, it can be terribly infuriating, like a cliche scenario out of a sitcom - one character offers an idea to the other, who mocks it and declares that it will never work, but a moment later comes back and presents Character 1's idea as his own. Traditional Feminism couldn't offer what women were truly searching for, so when women found their desires answered somewhere else, Feminism had to sweep in and take the credit for it by changing their tune and touting it as a "new discovery". It's far easier than taking their medicine and admitting that they were wrong.
The secular world is still going to have the instinctive desire to reject God's word, because they are lost. The notion of their "new discovery" being borrowed from the Bible is going to be very offensive to them. That's just the way the cookie crumbles.
But that doesn't change the truth of it, or change what we have to do as Christians. We must take advantage of this opportunity to help people understand that every real truth comes from God. The Bible has the answers - and it's had them for a lot longer than the feminist movement has been around. What is considered a "revolutionary idea" in secular culture is old news to those who believe the Bible.
So, should you happen to come upon a discussion on the topic of New Feminism, I hope you'll graciously weigh in with a bit of Biblical truth on what is, essentially, the same subject... the only difference being that ours is the original version. ; )