Women are Angry: And They Should Be
This past year has been an interesting one for women. It began more than 14 months ago when, on January 21, 2017, millions of women gathered in cities all across America for the 2017 Women’s March. They couldn’t believe that Donald Trump, a crude, serial adulterer who regularly degraded women, had been elected president of the United States when the first truly viable female presidential candidate, who seemed like “shoe-in,” had lost.
The frustration and anger of women only continued through the year and was inflamed throughout the fall when, in October 2017, more than 80 women made accusations of sexual abuse against film producer Harvey Weinstein. This set off a flood of allegations by women across the country against men who had used their positions of power to coerce women into having sex. This became a movement called #metoo. This frustration was possibly best voiced by Oprah Winfrey who, at the 2018 Golden Globes, gave a rousing speech saying, “For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of men. But their time is up. Their time is up.”
The timing of all of this is interesting as it was 100 years ago when two brave women – Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony – fought tirelessly to give women the right to vote; a right that many American women didn’t have until 1920 when the 19th Amendment was passed, and a right that black American women didn’t fully have until 1965, just over 50 years ago.
Women are angry, and they should be. Women have been abused and underappreciated by men from the very beginning of time. In the Garden of Eden, Adam was called on by God to care for the Garden and protect his wife, but of course, rather than keeping Eve safe, he allowed the serpent to come into the Garden and deceive Eve while he stood lazily by. He later blamed Eve for his sin, and women have been blamed for the sins of men ever since. Women are angry, and they should be.
What is interesting about all of this is that we are more than 100 years into the feminist movement now. There have been sweeping changes and advances for women in the marketplace and in the home and yet, the frustration seems to be at an all-time high. I would argue that the reason for this is that the feminist movement has not only led to stronger women (something for which we should be grateful), but also to weaker men.
It has been well noted that women are outpacing men in many normal adult categories. For example, women are dramatically outpacing men in college enrollment (57% to 43%), a trend that has basically reversed from a generation ago. Studies show that women mature faster than men. Women are more committed to the family than men. In so many factors that measure strength and maturity, men are falling dramatically behind.
Claire Cain Miller wrote in a recent New York Times article entitled How to Raise a Feminist Son, “We’re now more likely to tell our daughters they can be anything they want to be — an astronaut and a mother, a tomboy and a girlie girl. But we don’t do the same for our sons.” She argues that if we want to create an equitable society, one in which everyone can thrive, we need to also give boys more choices. She quotes Gloria Steinem who says “I’m glad we’ve begun to raise our daughters more like our sons, but it will never work until we raise our sons more like our daughters.” The article goes on to encourage parents to use the same tactics with their sons in parenting as they use with their daughters. In other words, feminism has created a world that encourages women to be like men, and a world where men are encouraged to be like women who are trying to be more like men.
Don’t you see the confusion and the problem here? Alongside the rise of the feminist movement, we have also seen the sexual revolution, which has removed the fidelity and bounds of the marriage bed, the rise of the pornography industry, which dehumanizes both women and men, and more recently, the devaluation of the beauty of gender.
The problem is not gender. I think both men and women should be offended at this notion. To desire a genderless world, or a world with no gender distinction, is like desiring a world without sunsets or blossoming flowers; it is to remove color and beauty from the world. The distinctions between men and women are right and good and beautiful. The problem is not gender, but a secular worldview that measures value by position and income. It says, "If you are wealthy, you are valuable. If you have a high position, you are valuable." In this secular world, if you are “just a housewife,” you aren’t as valuable because your position is commonplace and worth little. Or, if you are a man who isn’t willing to sacrifice family, faith and friendship for the good of the company then you could never become a partner or chief officer. Again, this is a broken world that has confused wealth and position with value and worth.
In God’s economy we don’t work to become valuable; we realize that we already are valuable as people made in the image of God. Work, provision and wealth are still important, but these things are not ultimate. If you (men and women) can ever break free from this illusionary and secular narrative and begin to see the world as God sees it, you will also be able to break free from a lot of stress, anger and confusion.
Thus, in this moment of sexual assault, gender confusion, weak men and angry women, let me offer a few biblical solutions for men and women – or for true masculinity and femininity.
The answer is not for us to become more like strong women. The answer, according to God’s Word, is just for us to be men as God designed. Let me offer you just three words to meditate on and apply to your life as it relates to a true masculinity.
Leadership – If you are a man, God has called you to be a leader. He has called you to be a leader for your wife and a leader for your children. The Bible says that the husband is the head of the home, which means it is the husband or the father who will have to give an account for his home one day before God. It is the husband who is to set the pace of the home, to set the character of the home. Men, don’t neglect this amazing responsibility and calling. We live in a world that sells immaturity and pleasure to men, rather than honor, integrity and dignity. While there is certainly a place for pleasure in this life, it is not a mark of manhood. It is the one who is consistent, reliable and honorable who wins the day, leads his family well and ultimately pleases the Lord. Leadership in the home and in society does not mean that a man is domineering; leadership means responsibility, and a man is responsible for the well-being of his household. This is part of God’s good order that has been forgotten and lost. And if Western Civilization is to stand, this order must be restored.
Sacrifice – The kind of leadership that men are called to is a sacrificial kind of leadership. Men are to lead as Christ does, willing to give his life for the people he loves. Christ is the head of the church, but he lays down his life for the church. Men are called to be leaders, but we are called to sacrificial – or hard – leadership. Men are the ones who are quick to do the hard thing that nobody else wants to do. Passivity is not masculinity.
Understanding – Husbands in particular are called to live with our wives in an understanding way (1 Peter 3), and men in general are called to seek to understand women. That same passage urges men to treat women in a delicate way, caring for them as someone who is precious and valuable. Simply put, rather than exploiting women, men are called to seek to understand women, listen to them, and honor them. My fear in this moment of #metoo frustration is that men will only further ostracize women, fearing them as “too fragile” or “too risky.” Rather, men should have a posture of understanding, valuing and certainly, one of self-control.
As a part of God’s design, being a woman is an amazing and wonderful gift. There are privileges that women share that a man could never and should never have. Your femininity in God’s design is just as important as a man’s masculinity, and it should never be devalued or diluted by secularism. So, as you think about what it means to be a woman, meditate on these three words with me.
Value – In this secular moment women have been given a raw deal. The world is asking women to be a chief officer in the workplace and a super wife and mother at home. Often times a woman’s husband is asking her to do virtually everything at home because “that is her job,” but also expects her to “help out with the family finances.” As mentioned previously, many women are more committed to the family than men, leaving 25% percent of the children being raised in America today fatherless. All of these burdens are falling on women, and in a secular world where value is determined by position and wealth women feel like they either have to do it all or else they feel like they are a failure.
Women, the answer for you is not to become like men, its ok to say no to the cultural narrative. You are not valuable because of your position and wealth; you are valuable because you have been made perfectly and uniquely in the image of God. Strength, success, and legacy are not where value or worth ultimately come from.
Men and women both have been made fully in the image of God and the full expression of God’s image in humanity requires both masculinity and femininity. There are gifts that you have as a woman that your husband will never have and in particular, there is a nurturing component of femininity that your children desperately need. While it is certainly not wrong for a woman to work outside of the home, this is a very challenging thing to manage alongside raising children and especially young children. Understand that your work in a professional context is not where your value ultimately comes from and that your work in raising your children is one of the most valuable things you could ever do. Simply put, there is a lot of pressure on women to “do it all” and you shouldn’t allow the pressure of a false and secular narrative to lead you away from your heart’s desires.
Submission – Women certainly aren’t called to submit to men in all circumstances. Obviously, many women are in leadership positions in the workplace and in the community, and in those environments, men should humbly and obediently respect that order. But women are called to submit to their husbands. Remember, value is not determined by role; that is a secular ideal. Men and women are equal in value even if they may be different in role. In the home, men are called to be the head of the household and women are called to submit (see Ephesians 5). Talent, skill, education level, income level and so on do not determine the order of the home. This is an order that God set in place from the very beginning of time, and when it is honored it leads to a flourishing and happy household. Submission doesn’t mean that women are run over by their husbands; it means that women respect the position of leadership that God has given to their husbands. Remember, husbands are called to lead in a sacrificial and understanding way, and husbands will give an account to the Almighty Judge of the Universe on the health and well-being of their families.
Discernment – There are many good things coming out of the #metoo movement. I am so glad that real sexual predators are being exposed and removed. I am glad that women who have truly been victims are feeling empowered to speak out and seek justice. But my fear in the #metoo movement is that all women will begin to find themselves in a victim posture. My fear is that the narrative of #metoo will lead women to unwisely distrust all men. My fear is that this kind of collective reaction will lead to men distrusting all women for fear of potential accusations. So, I want to urge men and women alike, but especially women, to use discernment as they think through their roles in the community and workplace. If you are a young woman, seek the counsel of older, more seasoned women who can help you navigate these tumultuous times. Beware of the course of this world, real maturity is coming up above the winds of the day and seeking to know what is really true and right.
Our goal should be real justice, real honor for one another and real honesty. I urge women to not get trapped in a narrative or posture of victimhood. There are still great cultural ills, there are real victims, but there has also been great progress. Where there has been wrong, let’s boldly correct it. Where there has been progress, let’s reward it. A posture of correction, restoration, and healing is what honors the Lord, and is what will lead to real progress.
Women are angry, and they should be. But the answer isn’t a world without gender distinction; the answer is not just something simple like pay-equality; the answer is not to raise feminist sons; and the answer is not position, power or wealth. The answer is order, design and beauty. Order and design as God intended in his beautiful and right creation of the world.
There is a godly masculinity and a godly femininity that are good and right, and when understood, these have always led to human flourishing. It is in this order that we find true value and harmony. It is in this order where we find what is truly beautiful and whole. And where we fail, the Christian message speaks of a gracious God who was willing to send his own son, Jesus, to meet us in our weakest place, in our most self-serving place, in our most perverted place, in order to justify us, and ultimately to restore us to what is right and good. Western Civilization was built on this order and (as we see in this present moment) we are still in need of restoration. But let’s not abandon the good order that God has set in place for a secular order of chasing the winds of the day. There is no stability, order or peace in that.
To agree with Oprah, the time for lies, deception, and exploitation is up, but let’s not look toward broken, secular answers to solve a broken, secular problem. This will only lead to anger for all us. Look to God and to his order, and to his restoration. Only in this is anger truly healed and the world made truly whole.