Truth for Today

More Truth for Today articles from past issues of the Presbyterian Standard are available online here.


Old Truths for a New Age (7)

Rev. Brian Garrard

Continued from the previous issue. In this installment Mr Garrard looks at 'Feminism' as an important feature of the New Age movement. He shows that this phenomenon, aiming as it does at blurring the distinctive roles of the sexes, represents a serious challenge to the proper order of society based upon the Bible. Even within the church this ungodly thinking is to be found today and we need to be on guard against it.

First published in the Presbyterian Standard, Issue 26, April-June 2002.

Topsy-Turvy World

The dictionary defines 'topsy-turvy' as: "With the top where the bottom should be, upside down; in(to) utter confusion or disorder."(1) This serves as a fair description of modern times, especially when we give consideration to the role and position of women in the modern world. One of the central tenets of the New Age movement is that of Feminism.

What is Feminism?

1. On the one hand, it is recognising the achievements of women and seeking to address their legitimate concerns.

2. Hand in hand with this is the desire for equal rights with men.

3. However, the movement has moved on a long way since the 60s and 70s. The more extreme (or perhaps not so extreme?) are desiring liberation from male, patriarchal dominance and a complete equality of person and opportunity.

4. This has caused a revolution in the family, with the complementary roles of father and mother, husband and wife, parents and children becoming blurred and confused. This so-called sexual revolution is attempting to bring about a transformation of society.

5. The results of this revolution are beginning to show themselves, with confusion and chaos in the minds of young and old. The absurdities of 'political correctness' are already in place, with the possibility of a 'police state' lurking in the background. This will be the only way to enforce these 'new' ideas.

Factors

What has brought about this social phenomenon? It is impossible to give a full discussion of all the factors here, but we should weigh up the following:

[i] An acceptance of humanistic and secular thinking in society as a whole.

[ii] The rise of the higher critical movement, in which the authority of God in the Bible has been rejected, plus evolutionary theory.

[iii] The age of Reason and Enlightenment dating back from the period of the French Revolution and the Rights of Man in the 18th century.

Religious Feminism

Secular feminism has its counterpart in the professing church. There are various strands that demand our attention.

Its source is undoubtedly demonic, as a clear study of the movement will demonstrate to the discerning eye. Liberal theology has been the channel through which religious feminism has flowed and we are in danger of seeing it overflow its banks and swamp much of the visible church.

Feminists have adopted the pagan concepts of High Priestesses and the female goddess. In so doing, they have rejected the God of the Bible as expressed in male terms.

Allied to all this, feminists believe that a female deity existed before Jehovah God and that this female goddess is the only one who should be worshipped. Almighty God is but an invention of the ruling patriarchal society.

All this is a complete reversal of the headship of man. Woman is reckoned to be not merely the equal of man but his superior.

Much of the Bible (and also the ancient set prayers) are being rewritten along feminist lines. To the lovers of the Word of God, this is a major and terrible departure from the eternal verities of the Bible. Indeed, we are left to conclude that feminism is not just an error or aberration, but heresy. What is our justification for saying this? In answer:

(a) It is an attack upon the very nature of the Trinity of the Godhead and the individual members of it. Such a belief is the very basis of the christian faith. To alter this is to radically change all that we hold dear and has been revealed in Scripture.

(b) The doctrine of the Bible's finality and sufficiency is also undermined, as are the very truths of the Gospel of redemption in and through Christ.

Why is the Present Thinking Unreasonable?

The christian who believes in the Bible is swimming very much against the tide of popular opinion. This is especially true of feminism.

1. It is against reason and nature. As we have said above, the origins of the movement are in the fallen mind of man and paganism. Here we see the "counsel of the ungodly" manifesting itself.

2. Feminism is an overturning of the natural order. By nature, man is better suited to lead in home, church and society, both physically and psychologically. Note the order in Genesis. Woman was made from man and her role was not be his slave or plaything, but a helper and assistant in his work and life (see Genesis 2:18). That has been the divine way. It is not that men are superior beings in every respect, while women are a useless appendage. Many women are more able than hosts of men, both in intellect, ability and character. This however, is not the point. Their lives and talents were meant to be dedicated towards the role of assisting the man in his God-assigned work of having dominion over the rest of the created order (see Genesis 1:28). Thus we affirm that the mad rush for women to be fighting in the armed forces, the police force, judging, preaching, administering the sacraments, attempting to be the heads of families and grasping at authority generally, is a "standing in the way of sinners" and gross folly (see Psalm 1:1).

3. This scriptural view of things is being met with howls of protest and derision from the world generally. However, what is more disturbing is the strength of feeling against the Bible's teaching that is encountered in the church. Even the walls of evangelicalism are crumbling before the onslaught of militant feminism. The old picture of father as the head of the household and wife as the 'home-maker', mother, carer, etc as well as the assistant to her husband is in danger of being swept away (see Titus 2:4,5).

The Wisdom of the Divine Appointment

In 1 Corinthians 11:3 we read: "the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God." A divine principle governs our thinking here. "That principle is, that order and subordination pervade the whole universe, and is essential to its being."(2) Plainly stated: 

[i] Christ, in respect of his office as Mediator, is subordinate to God the Father. 

[ii] The male is subordinate to Christ. 

[iii] The woman is to submit to the headship of man upon the earth.

A word of caution is needed however. "The subordination of the woman to the man is something entirely different from that of the man to Christ; and that again is at an infinite degree more complete than the subordination of Christ to God."(3)

The Doctrine of Man's Headship in Scripture

Man had a priority in creation (Genesis 2:7). The woman was then made from the man (Genesis 2:21ff). The headship manifested there was reckoned to be gentle and kindly.

At the fall of man (Genesis 3), Eve was deceived by Satan acting through the serpent. Consequently, both she and Adam sinned. From then on, this headship became more definite (see Genesis 3:16). It is a headship that covers family, church and society.

Regrettably, man still in a state of sin does not always act as he should in respect to the woman. He either neglects to take the lead and care for the woman, or else treats her with extreme cruelty and callousness.

Objections

Objections are levelled at this Scriptural position on various grounds:

1. All these concepts were patriarchal. Times have changed and God has revealed new truths to us now. We answer and say: God's Word has not changed. The truths he gave those many years ago are still applicable today. There is no new revelation. Indeed, this is how all false religions and cults have started. A claim is made to fresh revelation from God and then chaos and dreadful error is the result.

2. The gospel has cancelled the headship of man. We are all now one in Christ. In answer we would say: Christ's redemption through his blood has not cancelled normal experiences. We still are born, live and die. We are ill and become weak and tired. There is need for proper order and behaviour. None are free to live as they please. Indeed, the gospel establishes all this. Note also the following: In 1 Timothy 2:12 we read that man is to preach and teach and that the woman is not "to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence." The reason is given in verses 13 & 14. Adam had priority in creation and was not deceived at the fall but the woman was. Such a prohibition is also seen in 1 Corinthians 14:34.

3. The Apostle Paul is often regarded as a 'woman hater'. This is far from the truth. Could the man who wrote Ephesians 5:22-33 or Philippians 4:3 be a true woman hater? We think not!

4. Incompetent men require women to take the lead. We reply: It is a great and terrible shame that many men fall into this category, but ought a sin be followed by a worse evil? Women should encourage and help weak men to become the leaders they were designed to be.

5. What about the women who were prophetesses in the Bible? Answer: They were raised up to meet the needs of the times. Men had become corrupted and as Calvin says, the women shamed the men. Nowhere do we read that they had authority over males. As such, they were exceptions which did not make the rule. There is enough in Scripture to see that women are forbidden to be heads over men. These difficult passages should always be interpreted in the light of clearer sections and not the other way around.

6. Man's headship is based upon a false assumption that God is male. Our reply: We do not believe that God is male. Neither is he female. When he is spoken of as male in Scripture, it is but an accommodation to our weak and finite minds. We are helped to see God in terms of power and strength and therefore, well able to save and deliver us. At the same time, God also describes himself here and there in the Bible, as a nursing mother etc.

Dangers and Blessings

The dangers of feminism:

(1) Chaos and the disintegration of society.

(2) God's stern disapproval of the rejection and overturning of the natural and divine order. 

Blessings:

(1) God will bless the nation, society, the church, our homes and families with good order and peace.

(2) Godly women, following the role that God ordained for them, do far more lasting good than high powered and motivated women in the workplace or positions of authority.

(3) God grant a return to biblical ways again. Who knows whether this might not bring about the longed-for revival?

(4) What better praise than that of Proverbs 31:28: "Her children arise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her."

(To be continued, D.V.)

Notes

1. Oxford Illustrated Dictionary, 1970 edition.

2. Charles Hodge, Commentary on 1 & 2 Corinthians. See page 206. 3. Ibid.