(Photo by Lisa Zoe on Unsplash)
Our world is one of rhetoric, and urges us to pick a side and fight. Amid all the flying words and verbal thrashings, it’s hard to keep track of what’s truly behind the issues about which we fight. Feminism, stereotyping, race relations, virtually everything that can be defended has been subsequently blown way out of proportion by both the proponents and opponents of every view.
I’ve done quite a bit of thinking about these issues since I’ve been at school, surrounded by strong-willed, intelligent individuals who fall on all degrees of the spectrum of belief. I agree with some and disagree with others, but I respect the journeys they’ve taken to get to their conclusions, even if their conclusions differ vastly from my own.
One of these issues that I’m in the middle of, and one that I’ve written quite a bit about here, is feminism. This post isn’t about feminism, but it will use it as an example of a larger point.
In mainstream feminism, what’s the word you hear thrown around most derisively and furiously? Odds are, it’s the word “patriarchy.” The patriarchy refers to the fact that for most of human history, men have run society. For the majority of recorded history, men have run government, businesses, societal circles, and virtually any other institution you can think of. Recently, women have been making their way into these circles of influence, breaking “glass ceilings” and “fighting the patriarchy,” to use some buzzwords.
So the patriarchy is 110% evil and should be destroyed in any and all forms, correct?
Okay, first off: the patriarchy, in its ultimate form, the one usually referred to by mainstream feminists, is bad. Women should have a hand in affairs in all of society. After all…they live in it. Kind of makes sense they should have a hand in it.
But what if the patriarchy has its origins in a fundamental fact of life? Is it possible it didn’t simply spring out of nothing, but instead has its base roots in something true? Have we ever seen anything simply happen out of thin air?
Satan, in and of himself, has no power to create. All he can do is corrupt what God has already created. Sin is, in essence, the perversion and exaggeration of the good things God has created. Gluttony is our natural pleasure for eating taken to a sinful degree. Lust is our natural sex drive blown far out of proportion.
The patriarchy is a natural difference between men and women blown way, way out of proportion.
Before you attack me, let me explain. I am in no way saying men as a whole are at all more skilled, intelligent, or capable of leadership than women are as a whole. But men are, on the whole, stronger than women. Men, on average, will outperform women in physical tasks, and it’s no secret that men and women think very differently. Their priorities are different, and the way they process and take in the world around them is different. There are always exceptions of course, but on the whole, that’s generally how it is.
On the other hand, women are more perceptive, caring, rational, and nurturing than men. In certain senses, women are stronger than men. When a child is hurt, he doesn’t run to Dad, he runs to Mom. Women will read emotions better than men, and will be able to make decisions based on those perceptions better than men.
“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” –1 Peter 3:7
Notice that the Bible never equates “weaker” with “inferior.” In no way are women inferior to men. However, when it comes to leadership, there is a tendency for men to be stronger leaders, be it in the home or elsewhere.
Perhaps the patriarchy is a natural balance blown out of control to the exclusion of women from all aspects of society.
Thus explains my main issue with mainstream feminism: it pushes for the abolition of any form of this natural order, throwing something that God has established out of the window.
I know this sentiment can be and will be easily misconstrued as chauvinism, especially because I’m a man and haven’t experienced the inequality weighed against women. But let me explain a bit more about what I’m really saying. I’m not saying men should dominate women. I’m not saying they alone should run society. This natural order of things in no way means men should dominate. In fact, it means quite the opposite; everything should be in balance. God’s systems always have balance.
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” –Ephesians 5:25-28
We hear many sermons on how wives should submit to their husbands, but we don’t hear much about this verse. Husbands should love their wives as Christ loves the church. Since when has Christ forced His will upon us? Since when has He completely ignored our voices and dragged us along to do what He wants? Since when has He dominated us? As C.S. Lewis puts it, as Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters, “Merely to override a human will (as His felt presence in any but the faintest and most mitigated degree would certainly do) would be for [God] useless. He cannot ravish. He can only woo.”
Husbands should not dominate. They should not rule with an iron fist. They should guide. Lead. Leaders are self-sacrificial. They blaze trails in ways those they are leading cannot. They lay themselves down for those they are sworn to protect. They hear their voices and cherish them. They lead not because they are superior, but because they are able and called to do so.
In much the same way, women must use their own strengths to work in the partnership of marriage. They should care for their children, see things their husbands cannot, advise, and guide.
Marriage, when it is in balance, is the ultimate example of cooperation and partnership. Men as the pathfinder, women as the helpmeet. Each has his or her own strengths that will be put to use in their journey together.
When, as is the case with everything the enemy touches, it is blown out of proportion, we see the patriarchy fought against so harshly by feminists. We see a man dominate a wife and a wife be run roughshod over so that her voice is no longer heard and she has no influence on her life. This is sinful. It is selfishness and gluttony.
This natural balance says nothing about women’s role in society. They can and should have voices in government, in the workplace, and in the church. But their voice will be very different than men’s. It will have a naturally more emotional and empathetic tone. Their perspective will, as a rule, be different. It has a definite and vital place, but it is NOT the same as men’s.
Ignoring any sense of gender role ignores a fundamental law of the way God has created men and women. And whenever humankind tries to make one of God’s systems our own, the enemy easily infiltrates and perverts.
Like I said, this post isn’t supposed to be about feminism, but instead, it’s about the way the enemy works and tricks us into fighting God Himself. Even stereotypes, be it racial, sexual, or political, have truthful roots. Stereotypes are, like all sin, truthful roots grown out of proportion. As a writer, I do not want stereotypical characters. But I must draw from natural truths about certain groups of people. My task is to determine what is true, and what has been manufactured by the enemy’s work in this world.
Once again, sin, most of the time, is perverted truth. We will come up against outright falsehood, but Satan knows that lies sound much more convincing with a little truth sprinkled in.
The enemy cannot create anything by his own power, and so he must use what God has created against humanity. He uses our desire for food to create gluttony. He uses our desire for God to create idolatry. He uses our desire for rest after work to create sloth. Virtually any issue you may find yourself fighting against has real truth at its root, but has been perverted and grown to an extreme degree.
This is why so many online discussions go wrong; we stop fighting against the spirit of perversion and start fighting the people. That’s what Satan wants us to do: lose sight of the real enemy. Every issue has a spirit behind it. If we keep our focus on the enemy: the spirit, and remind ourselves that the person with whom we are arguing is not our true enemy.
And above all, seek the truthful root in all issues. Seek the truth, not abolition. If you cannot find a truthful root in Scripture at the heart of an issue, then you can consider abolition and complete removal. But I think if we seek the natural balance God has set up in all things, we’ll see that most of the things we seek to destroy need, not destruction, but re-balancing.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.”