Merriam-Webster 2017 Word of the Year: Feminism. Defined as “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes,” feminism has become a hot-button topic in today’s culture. People are wondering, “What is feminism? What do feminists stand for? Should I be a feminist? We ask ourselves theses questions, but often times we fail to ask the most important one of all- is it compatible with God’s word? In order to stand strong in a culture-defined world, we must become men and women defined by God. Today we will explore the origin of feminism, the ramifications of feminism in our culture today, and God’s plan for us as men and women.Whether you are single, married, divorced, or widowed, your relationships have been profoundly affected by feminism. It’s not just that a few laws were revised regarding marriage. The fallout from feminism can be seen in the HPV vaccine your preteen daughter’s school board insists she have right now to the gift registry your coworker announced because her boyfriend just moved in with her. There’s nothing wrong with vaccines or gifts but the underlying assumption is that marriage and sexual fidelity no longer matter. Like the Bible says in Judges 21:25, when there is no king- no ultimate authority- everyone does what is right in his or her own eyes.Ever since the entrance of sin into the world, we have seen many appalling distortions of God’s plan for gender: domestic abuse, sexual violence, and other evils. In the past, some have even quoted Bible passages to justify their actions. Historically, women have been viewed as a subclass. The feminist movement arose in answer to these horrific wrongs. American women owe an incalculable debt to the suffragettes who came before and fought long and hard to gain equality for women in the eyes of the law. The traditional, humanistic feminism that was initiated more than 150 years ago had a specific agenda, demanding for women the same rights before the law that men enjoyed. The suffrage had to be won, and the laws regarding property, marriage, divorce, and child custody had to be made equitable. Old mainstream feminism concentrated on legal reform. When addressing the New York State Legislature in 1854, Elizabeth Cady Stanton said “We ask for no better laws than those you have made for yourselves. We need no other protection than that which your present laws secure to you.” In seeking specific and achievable ends, these suffragettes brought about many needed changes.More than forty years after the so-called “women’s liberation”, pundits claim that we now live in a post-feminist culture. Whenever a concept so thoroughly permeates a culture, it is hard to step back and notice it at work. Feminism has profoundly altered our culture’s concept of what it means to be a woman. It promised to give women equality and freedom from injustices, but it sought answers in the wrong places. Slowly feminist ideology has redefined manhood, womanhood, and even personhood contrary to God’s word. Feminism has become yet another one of those distortions of God’s plan for gender. Feminism today is radically different at its core. We live in a culture of hyper aggressive female sexuality, which is arguably the worst ever in recorded history. Those who promote this view often publish books and magazine articles with vulgar titles and references, stating that they are “reclaiming” these words for feminism.Though our culture has discarded the idea of God and his absolute authority, that hardly gets him out of the picture. In fact, the hubris of creatures trying to oust their Creator only highlights the real problem. For the first time in its history, Western civilization is confronted with the need to define the meaning of the terms “marriage” and “family”. The current cultural crisis we see before us is merely symptomatic of a deeper spiritual crisis within the roots of our societal values. It should come as no surprise that the divine foundations of marriage and family have come under attack in recent years. Ultimately, we are involved in an eternal battle that pits God against Satan, with marriage and the family serving as a key arena in which spiritual and cultural battles are fought. Feminism is a contemporary manifestation of this timeless spiritual battle. In past eras, other dominant sins- such as chauvinism and polygamy- marred God’s design for marriage and family. But today it’s important that we clearly understand that the change in our culture is evidence of a spiritual crisis more than a cultural crisis. For Christians in our present age, the definitions, practices, and contours of femininity are where the battles rage. What does it mean to be a woman and not a man? What is the importance of bearing children? How should we handle our sexuality? What’s the purpose of being a wife? There are many competing answers out there. Since a Christian worldview is founded on God as truth, it reveals an accurate picture of the nature of humankind and of human gender and sexuality. God created man and woman as two inherently different persons. He established marriage as the union of one man and one woman for the purpose of revealing the nature of our triune God and the relationship between Christ and His church. Masculinity and femininity are not merely social constructs. They are characteristics of God, reflected in His creations and embodied uniquely, though not uniformly, in men and women. Gender, marriage, and sexuality are all designed to help us understand God and how he relates to us. God desires a relationship so personal, so intimate, and so completely unified that he created two gender and human sexuality to express it. Embracing a true Biblical vision of gendered difference doesn’t mean succumbing to male dominance or denying women’s gifts. It means living out a reality where men and women live in concert, not competition, and together reflect the glory of God.In Ephesians, we see a very clear picture of what God intends for our homes. When men are taught that they will be held accountable for the spiritual vitality and fruitfulness of their families, they understand that leadership is meant to direct their families toward Christ. Leadership is not about fulfilling a position for one’s own glory, but for serving God’s purposes. Without that spiritual reference point, our culture interprets leadership as a self-glorifying position and then objects to women being called to support it. Those who know Christ must not make the same faulty assumption. The wife’s submission to her husband gets placed in the context of a marriage in which her husband is called to be like Christ- laying down his life on her behalf, putting her first, serving her, and always loving her in the same sacrificial manner in which Christ loves the church. It is a reflection of God’s love. Feminism has profoundly altered our culture’s concept of what it means to be a woman. We must understand the origin of feminism to recognize the ramifications of it throughout our culture, and to realize that it does not measure up to God’s standards. In order to stand strong in a culture-defined world, we must become men and women defined by God. What’s desperately needed now is a feminism that tenaciously upholds God’s design for womanhood and resists the lies of of our culture and the corrosive effects of sin. We need a generation of women who cherish their femininity and embrace their unique place in the world. After all, we can’t expect anyone to respect and honor the beauty of womanhood if we don’t value it ourselves. Only when we do can we redeem what’s been perverted and lost and “shine among them like stars” in a “warped and crooked generation.”

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