Functionally, the series of posts to more specifically define feminism (Part 2 onwards) will end up blogging through the book The Feminist Gospel. It will present summaries I compiled from the book of certain basic ideas which I can see readily expressed in modern Churchianity, and then my commentary on those ideas. My commentary will be in red. The book as a whole is much more detailed in both religious and secular interests, and if you can locate it, I suggest it as a good read.
Having described that there are two camps of feminism which have the same end principles, this post will describe the first major principle of feminism which the two camps share. This is the assertion that each woman has the right to define the terms of her own existence irrespective of societal, moral, or Godly standards. Upholding this principle alone is enough in itself to make a person a feminist. As well, this principle alone has caused uncountable destruction both in society and within the Church. In my travels, the best statement that I’ve run into of this principle was written by a woman on Christianforums.com:
Being a woman is how I define it for myself and its AWESOME to be a woman!
Feminists of the 1960’s postulate that their perceived inability to define herself represented a lack of autonomy and therefore an inability to transcend and develop herself. (1) They further stated that the world was “defined and differentiated with reference to man and not to her” (2). They believed that to achieve this equality and liberation as they defined it, it would be required to destroy male superiority and refuse to succumb to traditional roles. (3) These were defined as the roles of “mother, wife, and sweetheart”(3), trapped in the realms of “kitchen, church, and children”. (1) It was further maintained that all forms of socialism that pulled women away from their families favored their liberation. (3) The feminist ideal was one where the State “assumed responsibility for maternal functions that burdened women and restricted their participation in the work force”. (3) They held the Soviet Union up as representative of the possibility of the attainment of their goals within larger society (3). They also held up economic and professional independence as the key to attaining equality with men. (4)
In secular feminism, we can see the drive to education, and career by women over family. We can also see the inherent hostility that most feminists have towards men, and women who choose to be SAHMs. It is also evident the roots that feminism has in socialism and Marxism. In the feminist world, freely available divorce is one tool to be removed from their perceived oppression.
Roots of Religious Feminism
Having defined the expression of this principle in secular society, it is time to turn attention to how it is expressed within the religious realm. To look to history in the 1960’s, the events described above were paralled by events within the church. We will see from the beginning that the grievances of women within Churchianity (some valid, most were not) were born out of the creation and administrations of the churches made and built by men. This means the fundamental cause of feminism within Churchianity is that the church of men was upheld over the Church created by Christ. (This is why the label “Churchianity” always appears with “feminism” when I make a post on feminism in the churches.)
In the 1950’s and 60’s, the religious feminists began vocalizing discontent with the different treatment they received within Catholicism. (5) This was due to the fact that “women were not participating in traditionally accepted activities of teaching, preaching, administration, and evangelism”. (5) The fact that women were not ordained into functioning as priests became an issue as well, since the division of clergy and laity fostered by Churchianity created the perception of the pastorate or “the ministry” as a professional occupation. (6) Given time and the influence of the secular march of feminists, other denominations began to concur with the observations of Dr. William Douglas who wrote (6):
Both Judaism and Christianity have incorporated the dominant patriarchal attitude and culture of their origins, and tended to maintain the culture’s superstitious attitude toward feminine “uncleanness” and “wickedness.” Though the Church believed in a “new Adam”, whereby the consequences of the Fall are set aside, it has been slow to accept the possibility of a “new Eve”, free from her companion, the serpent.
These things, along with the influence of the secular feminists, brought the religious feminists to “believe that women should be allowed to do everything that men could do, and in the same manner and with the same status as men” within the churches. (7) This was done by pursuing the ordination of women and the obliteration of structured roles in marriage. (8)
Of course, this was done within the bounds of Churchianity and without concern for God or Scripture.
As is required by the traditions of men, the feminists looked to Scripture to justify themselves instead of seeking to conform themselves to Scripture. They deemed the historical analysis of women as was presented by the early figures of Churchianity as defective, stated the Bible supports the full worth and equality of women, and pointed out the social customs of those times and argued that they should not influence modern Church practice. (8) They argued that there is no basis for role differentiation, and “concluded there is no basis for barring women from ordained ministry or supporting structured roles in marriage” (8). They stated that if women are created in God’s image just as men were, then women are equal to men and just as capable as men to exercise authority. (9) They presented the old state of things as a result of ignoring Bible passages supporting women’s equality and twisting others to serve their own interests (9).
The increasing involvement of women in theology as a result of their ordination brought many other changes, which served to differentiate and bring importance upon women. The thought was put forward by Valerie Saiving Goldstein that a theologians sexual identity has a bearing on their interpretation of the Bible (10). In other words, a male theologian’s views were considered unrepresentative of women, and therefore non-binding on women. (11) She also sought to redefine the principal sins of men and women. She asserted that to men, the principal sin is pride and grace is sacrificial love. In women, she asserted the exact opposite, that a woman’s principal sin is too much sacrificial love and not enough pride in themselves (or lack of self-esteem). (10)
It is not coincidental to note that we owe the existence of the Evangelical American Princess (as Bskillet81 terms it) to this theology. This is where Glenn Stanton got his ideas for his heresy as well.
Secularism Comes Into Religion
Mary Daly’s work, The Church and the Second Sex, marked the entrance of the secular principles mentioned in the third paragraph into Churchianity(12), as well as the most influential and damaging to the Church. She charged Churchianity with the same things that the secular feminists argued. She stated the churches were responsible for the state of women in society by supporting the moves of society against women (13), and encouraging passivity of women by distracting them from their present condition to a promise of an afterlife (14). She also charged Churchianity with teaching the inferiority of women (14), as well as the sexual control of women by casting her body as sinful (15). Daly noted the double-standard of sexual morality that existed, where men suffered no disgrace for promiscuity, while the woman faced extreme penalties. (15) Daly also maintained as the secular feminists do that women are oppressed to “perpetuate the family and keep the patrimony intact”. (15) These modes of oppression were identified as Churchianity’s opposition to abortion and contraception. (15)
We can easily insert no-fault divorce into this category as well, since it has been championed by the secular feminists and has been readily accepted by Churchianity at large. The double-standard exists as covered in other places because of the men, but also because the women allow the men this access. While I agree this is a valid issue where the standard of fornication is not applied evenly, throwing out the standard (God and Scripture) as Mary Daly suggests is not the right answer.
Theologically, Daly challenged the understanding of the nature of God, as well as the nature of the Bible in her attempts to harmonize feminism and religion. (16, 17) Daly challenged the assertion that God is male (16), as well as the concepts of divine omnipotence, immutability, and providence. (17) She also objected to a “changeless God”, who in the face of man was “despairing and helpless”. (17) “She reasoned that humans would wonder why they should commit themselves to improving their condition or trying to bring about social justice if such a God existed.” (17) Daly believed that such a God prevented women from seeing change. (17) She also viewed images of God as jealous and vengeful as a justification for patriarchal oppression rather than legitimate qualities of God. (17)
Daly places herself in opposition of the Gospel here, as well as redefining who God is. The idea of the Gospel is that man is “despairing and helpless” to change his/her own moral plight and needs a Savior in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Also, God’s qualities that she assails are the very ones that guarantee salvation, and enables us to have faith to depend on Him. A God that changes is an undependable God who is not worthy of placing one’s soul into trust.
With the Bible, Daly brought her opposition of a “changeless God” to it. (17) She contended that a static view of Scripture was not open to development or social change, and called it damaging to healthy human development. (18) Daly claimed the Bible demonstrated the unfortunate condition of women, and claimed it would be dubious to construct an idea of “the feminine nature” or of “Gods’ plan for women” from Biblical texts. (18) Daly’s solution was to discard the static worldview and consider divine relevation a dynamic event that responds to changes in culture and reflects contemporary experience. (18) Daly believed that women had as much a right to dictate theology as Apostle Paul did in his day. (18)
This is the declaration which has been carried into much of the rest of Churchianity today that states that Scripture is an advisement and not a commandment. This is the source of much of the modern philosophy to lean on one’s experiences, thoughts, and interpretations of society at large equally or more than Scripture. It gives free license to people to pick and choose the Scriptures they like, feel applicable to them, and what they desire to follow. A true disciple of Christ submits himself or herself wholeheartedly over to the teachings of Jesus the Christ. The saved person in Jesus follows after God. The lost person in the world and flesh follows what is right in his own eyes. Without a shadow of a doubt, the acceptance of Mary Daly’s theology into the wider churches has been one of the more destructive influences of the last century.
The Liberation of Women
Feminist thought in Churchianity eventually led them to see a need to replace the current theology entirely. (19) They fastened on duplicating Peruvian Gustavo Gutierrez’s book, “A Theology of Liberation”, which saw the job of the Church and the Christian message as creating freedom from oppression. (20) This involved destruction of the oppressive political and economic system and all distinctions of the poor and rich are abolished. (20) This was to be done by Christians through political and social praxis (action). (21) Liberation theologians believe that socialism constitutes the highest real value of life, and to say otherwise reduces the gospel message to nothing. (21)
Feminists adapted this theology to them. They believed that sex discrimination is the root of all forms of oppression, and that liberating women would end poverty, racial discrimination, ecological destruction, and war. (22) They argued that it would usher in a new era of world peace and begin the birth of a new humanity. (22) Their picture and goal of their theology was pictured in Romans 8:22-23 (22):
For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
Liberation theology chooses to define liberation and freedom as the entire goal of the Bible, and is presented as a theology for the liberation of women when it comes to feminism. (23) The problem comes in the definitions of liberation and freedom. (23) This is left up to the individuals who defined it and not Scripture, but it was designated that all Biblical interpretation needs to align with their vision for the liberation of women. (23) They also claim that the Bible supports social and political action for the goal of the liberation of women. (23)
Liberation theology completely scraps the Gospel and replaces it with another goal. The application of the Scripture that they base themselves on is wholly faulty (it speaks to the state between accepting Christ and being glorified in Him – the whole relevant section is Romans 8:18-30). The redemption and liberation that we need from Christ is over sin and the decay of this world, NOT anything that is in this world and of this world.
In total, feminism represents the liberation of the individual woman from the authority of anyone, rightful or not. This includes the removal of a religious feminist from the authority of God. In removing herself from the authority of God, she also removes herself from faith before God. This person was never saved (salvation implies laying down of arms or hostility against God and His ways).
(1) The Feminist Gospel by Mary Kassian p 18 (2) ibid page 16. (3) ibid page 19.
(4) ibid page 20. (5) ibid page 25. (6) ibid page 26. (7) ibid page 27. (8) ibid page 28.
(9) ibid page 30. (10) ibid page 32. (11) ibid page 33. (12) ibid page 35. (13) ibid page 36.
(14) ibid page 37. (15) ibid page 38. (16) ibid page 39. (17) ibid page 40. (18) ibid page 41.
(19) ibid page 51. (20) ibid page 52. (21) ibid page 53. (22) ibid page 54. (23) ibid page 58.