Last night, my wife Barbara spent the evening with five female students of Five Aspects of Woman, led by the wife of a couple who minister with an international evangelism/discipleship organization on the campus of my (and my wife’s) alma mater. Four of them were single seniors on campus, one was a 30-something married next door neighbor. We were in town to visit my daughter and son-in-law, and my wife took the opportunity to check in with this study, partly to encourage the facilitator, partly to refresh our “from the field” information.
When she left the meeting, she reported being encouraged more than she had for a long time. As we discussed the reasons why, we came up with the following factors, some of them surfacing in her time with these young women, others emerging from similar conversations my wife has had with young women who appropriate the Biblical model of femininity into their lives:
Survivors of feminism: in North America, the public school systems both public and private have pursued a social engineering agenda unprecedented in western civilization: to inculcate, indoctrinate, and enforce upon the students’ worldview the notion that there is no inherent difference between males and females. We are seeing the third full generation of children reared under this doctrinaire framework, and we are also seeing the first of the bitter fruits beginning to ripen in the culture.
And yet …
Here are these young women, a minority of young women to be sure, but still … their femininity is still intact, intact in the sense that they do not identify themselves as inherently identical to males in social, psychological, and spiritual perspectives. Moreover, they acknowledge a fair understanding of the feminist ethos imposed on them since birth; yet, they have also succeeded wanting something for themselves that comports with who they knew themselves to be: females, who are different from males, whose happiness and productivity is to be found in their created natures rather than the socially engineered identities of secular or religious feminism.
Clear-sighted about the past: It’s been a long known notion that worldliness in the Church follows the culture by about 25 to 30 years. Students of secular feminism can see this “lag” in evangelical feminism, still mired in the power politics and “justice issues” of the past couple of generations. We have found that when young Christian women actually escape the indoctrination of the culture, they do so because of compelling evidence from their feminist grandmothers, mothers, and aunts, whose lives turned out to be painfully messy in ways that the youngsters connect with the feminist dogma their natural female mentors have pursued all their lives. Childlessness, divorce, often serial divorce, lonely singleness, and the defeminizing effects of careerism — these young women have seen it in their female elders, and they want something better.
Hopeful for the future: Attending to the pain of the previous generations of women who followed the feminist dreams, these young women are ready to take up again the classical feminine identity, the “feminine mystique” scorned by Friedan, demonized by Millet, and lampooned by Greer back in the middle of the previous century, all the more so when they perceive the Biblical roots of classical femininity. Their re-embrace of classical femininity will not change things in the culture in the immediate future, but these women literally bear the future in their wombs. As wives and mothers, they hold the key to reshaping and reclaiming a culture of sexual sanity 50 to 100 years into the future.
First of all, because feminism – including its religious versions – promotes death. Whether one aborts one’s children, or simply refuses to conceive them, secular and religious feminists are keen to avoid multiplying and filling the earth with their kind. Over time, feminism dies, because feminists both male and female do not reporduce. On the other hand, fecundity is one of the most fundamental marks of femininity.
Second, the re-emergence of classical femininity provides an increasingly stark contrast between the life-time outcomes of those emeshed in the sexual chaos of feminism and the happy sanity of classical femininity. Today’s refugees from egalitarianism give serious consideration to Biblical femininity mostly because they are seeking a viable alternative to what they observe does not work. Tomorrow’s refugees will have an easier time, for the alternative will be “out there” for immediate observation, and unlike the spiritual sterility of feminism.
None of the young women in the class were pregnant in a biological sense (though the facilitator is). All of them, however, were pregnant in a spiritual sense, holding within themselves the prospect of replanting Biblical Christianity back into their culture. It’s a work that bears its best fruit two and three generations in the future.