Thursday, June 21, 2012

Women, Stop Submitting to Men

Russ Moore, Dean of Theology, Southern Seminary - 12/5/11

Those of us who hold to so-called “traditional gender roles” are often assumed to believe that women should submit to men. This isn’t true.

Indeed, a primary problem in our culture and in our churches isn’t that women aren’t submissive enough to men, but instead that they are far too submissive.

First of all, it just isn’t so that women are called to submit while men are not. In Scripture, every creature is called to submit, often in different ways and at different times. Children are to submit to their parents, although this is certainly a different sort of submission than that envisioned for marriage. Church members are to submit to faithful pastors (Heb. 13:17). All of us are to submit to the governing authorities (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:13-17). Of course, we are all to submit, as creatures, to our God (Jas. 4:7).

And, yes, wives are called to submit to their husbands (Eph. 5:22; 1 Pet. 3:1-6). But that’s just the point. In the Bible, it is not that women, generally, are to submit to men, generally. Instead, “wives” are to submit “to your own husbands” (1 Pet. 3:1).

Too often in our culture, women and girls are pressured to submit to men, as a category. This is the reason so many women, even feminist women, are consumed with what men, in general, think of them. This is the reason a woman’s value in our society, too often, is defined in terms of sexual attractiveness and availability. Is it any wonder that so many of our girls and women are destroyed by a predatory patriarchy that demeans the dignity and glory of what it means to be a woman?

Submitting to men in general renders it impossible to submit to one’s “own husband.” Submission to one’s husband means faithfulness to him, and to him alone, which means saying “no” to other suitors.

Submission to a right authority always means a corresponding refusal to submit to a false authority. Eve’s submission to the Serpent’s word meant she refused to submit to God’s. On the other hand, Mary’s submission to God’s word about the child within her meant she refused to submit to Herod’s. God repeatedly charges his Bride, the people of Israel, with a refusal to submit to him because they have submitted to the advances of other lovers. The freedom of the gospel means, the apostle tells us, that we “do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1)
Despite the promise of female empowerment in the present age, the sexual revolution has given us the reverse. Is it really an advance for women that the average high-school male has seen images of women sexually exploited and humiliated on the Internet? Is it really empowerment to have more and more women economically at the mercy of men who freely abandon them and their children, often with little legal recourse?

Is this really a “pro-woman” culture when restaurant chains enable men to pay to ogle women in tight T-shirts while they gobble down chicken wings? How likely is it that a woman with the attractiveness of Henry Kissinger will obtain power or celebrity status in American culture? What about the girl in your community pressured to perform oral sex on a boyfriend, what is this but a patriarchy brutal enough for a Bronze Age warlord?

In the church it is little better. Too many of our girls and young women are tyrannized by the expectation to look a certain way, to weigh a certain amount, in order to gain the attention of “guys.”

Additionally, too many predatory men have crept in among us, all too willing to exploit young women by pretending to be “spiritual leaders” (2 Tim. 3:1-9; 2 Pet. 2). Do not be deceived: a man who will use spiritual categories for carnal purposes is a man who cannot be trusted with fidelity, with provision, with protection, with the fatherhood of children. The same is true for a man who will not guard the moral sanctity of a woman not, or not yet, his wife.

We have empowered this pagan patriarchy. Fathers assume their responsibility to daughters in this regard starts and stops in walking a bride down an aisle at the end of the process. Pastors refuse to identify and call out spiritually impostors before it’s too late. And through it all we expect our girls and women to be submissive to men in general, rather than to one man in particular.

Women, sexual and emotional purity means a refusal to submit to “men,” in order to submit to your own husband, even one whose name and face you do not yet know. Your closeness with your husband, present or future, means a distance from every man who isn’t, or who possibly might not be, him.

Your beauty is found not in external (and fleeting) youth and “attractiveness” but in the “hidden person of the heart” which “in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Pet. 3:3-4). And it will be beautiful in the sight of a man who is propelled by the Spirit of this God.

Sisters, you owe no submission to Hollywood or to Madison Avenue, or to those who listen to them. Your worth and dignity cannot be defined by them. Stop comparing yourselves to supermodels and porn stars. Stop loathing your body, or your age. Stop feeling inferior to vaporous glamor. You are beautiful.

Sisters, there is no biblical category for “boyfriend” or “lover,” and you owe such designation no submission. In fact, to be submissive to your future husband you must stand back and evaluate, with rigid scrutiny, “Is this the one who is to come, or is there another?” That requires an emotional and physical distance until there is a lifelong covenant made, until you stand before one who is your “own husband.”

Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands as unto the Lord. Yes and Amen. But, women, stop submitting to men.

Male Call

by Janie B. Cheaney - World Magazine - 11.5.11

The cultural decline of men is a problem for us all
Illustration by Krieg Barrie
"Most of us [men] were raised by women," reflects the iconic Tyler Durden in the movie Fight Club. "I'm wondering if another woman is really the answer we need." Around the time that he was born, a significant number of women were deciding that men weren't the answer—which led to large numbers of Tyler's generation being brought up without fathers. And that leads to the oft-remarked phenomenon of the couch-potato man-child, thumbs twitching over his PlayStation. It's a disturbing trend, especially to social observers like William Bennett.

Bennett's latest book, patterned on his classic Book of Virtues, is titled The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood. It's obviously intended as a guide to pre-men, a selection of instructional and inspirational passages. "Why Men Are in Trouble," an opinion piece for CNN, explains why he wrote it: "For the first time in history, women are better-educated, more ambitious and arguably more successful than men. ... We celebrate the ascension of women but what will we do about what appears to be the very real decline of the other sex?"

Maybe it's not a total decline; in some cases, young men are simply taking longer to mature. I know several who dragged their feet after high school, drifting through jobs or college majors, but finally snapped into a responsible mode after marrying. The average age for marriage is five to seven years later than it was 50 years ago, but is not dissimilar from other periods in history. The real problem is that (a) too many men aren't marrying at all, but they are (b) fathering children, who (c) grow up with no understanding of either (a) or (b), thus perpetuating the cycle.

Who's to blame? Feminism is an obvious target, with its ideal of the independent woman who doesn't need to be taken care of. Also single mothers who capitulate to their sons, girlfriends who don't insist on marriage before sex, and young men themselves, who find plenty of excuses to feed their slacker tendencies. Bennett cites "a culture which is agnostic about what it wants men to be." His book sets out to correct that agnosticism with a "clear and achievable notion of manhood." He would surely agree, though, that with no father or mentor to offer a book to a restless boy, the boy is more likely to plug himself into the latest electronic distraction. (And girls outpace boys in reading skills by 16 percentage points, anyway).

The root of the problem, like so much else, goes back to the Garden. The man neglected his leadership role, allowing the woman to make a bad decision, which broke their bond with God and set their relationship at odds. Mutual dependence ever since—men for protecting, women for domesticating—held a rough approximation of the creation order together by force. Until now, that is. Now we're dependent on the grid instead of each other. Anyone can fake independence, as long as the infrastructure holds up and the checks keep coming.

But even though we're not so obviously dependent, men and women are still connected. What God joins together is impossible to sever totally. Men need high expectations, worthy goals, respect. Women need security, approval, love. Each needs what the other can give, but if we refuse to support each other with our positives, we'll drag each other down with our negatives. If men and women don't mutually pledge their strengths, they will default to their weaknesses. The harder a woman pushes, the faster a man retreats. The more a man forfeits, the more a woman takes on. He gets lazy, she gets bitter. He turns violent, she becomes passive.

Fight Club ends with a symbolic collapse of civilization, but an actual collapse of civilization is not out of the question. Some men (especially Christian men) are waking up to their responsibility. May God wake up more and more. It's not just their wives and sons and daughters who need them; we all do.