There are some books coming out today that focus on the concept “biblical womanhood” written by a new breed of Christian women who call themselves Christian feminists. And there are some celebrity woman Bible teachers today who say that they live a life of biblical womanhood but their lives show something different. Biblical womanhood seems to be the next big fad, and that is for a reason. So let’s take a look at what the new Christian feminism is and what biblical womanhood is.
“A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” was the feminist motto of the 1970s. The implication was that women didn’t ‘need’ a man at all.
Readers of the blog already know that I am not a fan of feminism. I wrote an essay called “The Eternal Discontent of Feminists“, in which I looked at the hypocritical standard secular feminists themselves apply to other women who are perceived as not doing feminism right. That, more than anything, lets us know that feminism is not about equal rights for women, it is about satan’s sowing of discontent among women and causing a division away from the Godly roles He has set up.
I also wrote a three-part series on the rise of the “Feminist Theologians” who attack the notion that Jesus was really a male. I am not making this up.
Feminism has encroached into Christianity. I think most people are still slumbering because I haven’t seen a hue and cry against it. Granted, it is subtle, especially in the women who claim to be evangelical but life a feminist life.
There are now a number of popular Bible teachers/preachers who travel widely, filling arenas, marketing their books, selling their products, and leaving the husband at home to take care of the kids. These women have assumed the lead role in the marriage and are the main breadwinner, and the husband is the helpmeet, usually having set aside his career to work in his wife’s
corporation ministry. While these women call what they are doing “ministry,” I call it “feminism”.
As with so much in evangelical Christianity, the waters are increasingly muddied on what should be clear. What is biblical womanhood? In today’s world is it the Bible preaching, sometimes ordained woman, traveling cross country, her husband at home helping with the kids, often having quit his job to help his famous wife perform her ministry?
Or it is a woman with a terribly flawed view of the Bible who sits in a tent when she has per period as a practice for what it was like to be a woman of the Bible for one year?
Or it is a new feminist who is open to women being ordained, to preaching, and/or to acceptance of gays into leadership positions while touting the rising up of women from subjugated roles?
There is new crop of what I’ll call Christian secret feminists. They live a feminist life inside of Christianity but call it ministry. One woman who has much to answer for about this new role is Beth Moore. She was the one who broke new ground in how far a woman could go in attaining celebrity status, in workplace and homelife gender reversals, in being the main and sustained breadwinner of the family, and teaching in a church and in the world. Mrs Moore, while speaking conservative values cloaked in all the right Christianese, lives a very forward life. You will see more details on this below.
A spiritual daughter of Mrs Moore in this generation of new Christian secret feminists is Christine Caine. Mrs Caine’s language is less cloaked in her declarations of what women can or should see as their roles in Christian home and work life. Mrs Caine is an ordained minister and part of Hillsong Church in Australia.
For example, in an interview reassuring Pastor’s wives that despite Caine’s visible usurpation of the traditional husband-wife roles, that their stay-at-home role is still viable: “Predominantly I might teach a little bit and I step out into what would be the more classic leadership gift, so a lot of people say ‘I’m not that, so therefore I must not have a role to play…'”
It is no wonder that woman are confused when they see peers taking on the ‘classic leadership gift’. And that is one way they cloak their rebellion in Christianese: it is not a role or a job, it is a ‘gift’. Ultimately, women would not need reassurance from other women that their biblical role is still viable if they themselves were not setting it aside.
Christine continues in the interview by acknowledging that there are “women who are gentle and loving and nurturing”, and there are other “women who come along side and do a bit more “non-gentle prodding help people go to the next level.” But that in “no way diminishes your role.”
Really? Sure it does. It sets up women to be discontent. By justifying herself in the leadership role as a gift from God (and who can argue with that?) and acknowledging that there are ‘levels’ and women need to get to, but at the same time saying it is important to stay at home and be nurturing…she had completely confused any listener as to the clear guidelines of the notion of what Biblical womanhood is. She says one thing (and not too clearly, either) and does another.
Discernment tip: one way to detect if a person is in the Word is to see if what they say and what they do match up over time. If what they say and what they do are different, run away. Beth Moore is a good example of that, see below.
Mrs Caine’s reassurances use a neat scriptural twist. The way satan works with any woman’s objection to women taking on home or ministry leadership roles is to acknowledge that the women feel weak or unsure in them, but to get around it by assuring them that all they need to do is have courage to step out and let Jesus work through their weakness, citing 2 Corinthians 12:9. But the reason women feel hesitant about it in the first place is because this is not the definition of biblical womanhood. In Mrs Caine’s world of the new Christian secret feminist, a women needs courage, not meekness. Yet in the same breath she says women need to be weak… so is that the courage to be weak, or strength to be courageous, I’m confused.
I hope by now in using Mrs Caine’s example you’ll see how, once a women steps out of the biblical role assigned to her by God, satan sows confusion in their reasoning on why it is all right to rebel. A discerning person will really listen to what she is saying, listen to how she is saying it, and look at the life she is leading to make a decision on whether this teacher is someone to learn from.
In that same interview, Mrs Caine said, “The only way I was able to continue in my role is that my senior pastor’s wife stepped into her role and chose not to be threatened or intimidated because the giftings were different.”
Oh, I get it. Women are now complementarians to each other. It’s the height of irony that again, unwittingly, Mrs Caine acknowledges that these new ‘roles’ set up discontent and that she is glad that in her situation at least, the pastor’s wife wasn’t jealous of her fabulous gift. A good portion of the middle of the interview is Caine’s description of how women are to be complementarian of each other in church settings. One takes the wifely nurturing role so that the younger ones coming up can step out, so to speak. Now, female support between and among ministries is a good thing, and it is biblically commanded. (Titus 2:4) but the description in Titus is for elder women to teach the younger is in their biblically defined helpmeet role, not to be a helpmeet to other women who step out into classic male roles. It is another twist of using the Bible to justify what is not proper.
One last quote from Mrs Caine.
Mrs Caine said, “You don’t have to accept anybody else’s decision about what you should be, this is how you should act, well, you’re the Pastor’s wife, I mean that’s the worst thing, that you would bow down to what someone else thinks. But that you would take the challenge of saying, God, for my house, how can I best lead, and what does that look like?”
Do you see how the incremental attack by satan has moved from the more cloaked feminist language from Mrs Moore’s generation to the new crop who just plainly state it? I keep bringing this generational difference up because of the verse in Revelation 2 I will be looking at in the next part of this examination.
Priscilla Shirer is another of these new Christian secret feminists whose life is more forward than their spiritual mothers. I’ve posted this before but it bears repeating:
“The NY Times article notes that Mr Shirer spends much of the day negotiating Priscilla’s speaking invitations and her book contracts. In the afternoon it’s often Mr Shirer who collects the boys from school. Back home, Priscilla and Jerry divide chores and child care equally. “Jerry quit his job to run his wife’s ministry. Priscilla now accepts about 20 out of some 300 speaking invitations each year, and she publishes a stream of Bible studies, workbooks and corresponding DVDs intended for women to read and watch with their girlfriends from church. Jerry does his share of housework and child care so that Priscilla can study and write. He travels with his wife everywhere. Whenever possible, they take their sons along on her speaking trips, but they often deposit the boys with Jerry’s mother.”‘
If you delete the name Shirer and substitute Gloria Steinem, and change ministry to job you have a description of a life that any feminist would be proud of.
By now Beth Moore is one of the elders in this realm. Moore has been “on the ministry circuit” for 15 years. Thus, her rebellious example has been long in view for many women who have watched her since they were an impressionable teen. So is Sheryl Brady and Joyce Meyer. Those women were the trailblazers for women in male leadership ministry. Newcomers arriving on the scene such as Priscilla Shirer or Christine Caine have learned from the best of the Christian secret feminists. For example:
Beth Moore said to Christianity Today in 2010 that her man demanded a regular home life so she only travels every other Friday and comes right back home the next day.
“We walk the dogs together and eat out together all the time and lie on the floor with pillows and watch TV,” Moore says. “My man demanded attention and he got it, and my man demanded a normal home life and he got it.”
Aww, isn’t that nice. But it’s disingenuous in the extreme. The reality is that Mrs Moore is not only gone from home at least 20 times per year on her Living Proof tours, which is a lot if you have kids and a husband. Mrs Moore appears weekly on the Life Today television show, travels for weeks on book tours, where she expounds on the burning question all women in America are apparently asking, “How can women find validation without a man’s affirmation?” and which her book So Long, Insecurity apparently attempts to answer.
She also spends extended private time for weeks in a cabin by herself in Wyoming to write (as stated in the preface to “When Godly People Do Ungodly Things”). She is the President of her own company that in 2011 brought in 4.1 million dollars, with an excess after expenses of 1.3M, stated working hours of 40/week. If you think all she does is lay around on pillows gazing adoringly at her man then all I can say is look at what she does, not what she says. Beth Moore is a Christian secret feminist because for years she has lived that way, no matter what she tells Christianity Today.
It is no wonder women are confused when they see Beth Moore telling us that you can have it all, and still be a Christian woman, if you call it ministry. Enjoli.
Rachel Held Evans “is one of the better known Christian writers in mainline and progressive circles these days. Her new book examines what it would mean to live life as a woman according to the Biblical laws for a year. It’s in the vein of books like AJ Jacobs’ “The Year of Living Biblically” and other “human guinea pig” projects. The book is funny, thoughtful and empowering for women seeking to understand where they fit within a faith that has largely been controlled by men for centuries” writes Patheos.
Ms Evans says she is an accidental feminist, writing on her blog, “Most of all, if these critics knew me, they would know that it isn’t feminism that inspires me to advocate gender equality in the Church and in the world; it is the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
That seems to be another approach to justifying Christian feminism, “it was an accident”, or “God surprised me with this ministry” as Priscilla Shirer says, as if stating that since it was all out of their hands they are not nor will be morally and spiritually culpable on the Lord’s day of Judgment. And I can assure Mrs Evans that Jesus did not deliver the Gospel by His blood so she could use it to promote a different role for women than He has already ordained.
We have looked at some of today’s most popular Christian secret and open feminists, the old guard and the new pups coming up. I offered you some examples from their own statements of how their lives in reality more match the secular world’s view of a strong feminist woman rather than the biblical helpmeet.
In the next part I’ll look at two things, both biblical. One is the book of Revelation’s condemnation of the church at Thyatira and the spiritual adultery rampant there due to a false prophetess, and the other is the biblical role of women as outlined in Proverbs, Titus and other books.
The old saying from the 70s, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” was the feminist motto. Now the only difference for today’s Christian secret feminist is the logo on her purse.