August 25, 2008 by Stacy McDonald

The Real Women’s Liberation Movement: Christianity

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“Despite the anti-Christian prejudice evident in much of the feminist movement, it is to the teachings and example of Jesus Christ that women owe most of their freedoms. The advent of Christianity raised the dignity, freedom and rights of women to levels never before known in any other culture or religion. Indeed, as one historian put it: ‘The birth of Jesus was the turning point in the history of women.'”Dr. Peter Hammond

On our way home from church this evening, I glanced over at my tired husband who was driving our large crowd home. Today he delivered a sermon (The Christian Husband, Leading and Loving) that made me realize just how completely Jesus “set the captives free.” Yes, He set free the captives of addiction, of prostitution, of despair, of hopelessness. He broke the chains of perversion, hatred, and bitterness. He set us free of sin – the cruel master we so willingly served – and so desperately hated. Now we gladly—and thankfully—serve the King of Kings.

But, ironically, as women, He set us free in another way too. Many feminists rant about the oppression biblical teaching places upon women; but, Christianity is what freed us from that oppression! Why then would we want to place upon ourselves newly forged chains of egalitarianism? Chains that strip us of the very protection that Jesus intended us to have. While claiming freedom and equality, the irony of the deception is that they are heading for slavery!

Our God is a creative God. He has made us each so unique and, in His wisdom, given us such wonderful roles. His created order is a stunning choreographed work of artistic beauty. As husband and wife, we complete one another in amazing ways. Why do we continue to insist on questioning His work—and cheapening His masterpiece?

As a result of the teachings of Jesus Christ, women enjoy far better treatment than they have ever before known. But even today, in countries where Christianity has very little influence, women are treated as animals and slaves—sometimes even worse.

Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist countries are known for their shameful and degrading treatment of women. Not only is polygamy, “temporary marriage,” clitoral mutilation, foot binding, and female slavery still practiced in many of these countries, there is an attempt to revive the barbaric practice of “suttee” (the burning of widows) in India. To this day, there are reports of unpunished public beatings, abuse, rapes, and even murder against women.


A glimpse into the past, into Ancient Rome, reveals that sexual faithfulness in marriage was virtually unknown—at least for the man. (Roman lex Julia de Adulteriis) While a man could divorce his wife for her unfaithfulness, it was not considered wrong for a man to commit adultery, unless the act was committed with another man’s wife (property).

“Christianity greatly elevated the world’s sexual morality. By opposing adultery, fornication, homosexuality, child molestation, bestiality, and other sexual decadence, Christianity made a contribution to civilization that was unprecedented. It was the result of the tireless work of Christians that by the 5th Century the wife was able to divorce an adulterous husband, something which had never before occurred in the Ancient World.” (The History of Marriage, by Edward Westermarck

The decadence and wickedness of Ancient Rome was so vile that I won’t go into the details here, but you can get a clearer picture by reading Dr. Peter Hammond’s article, The Christian Liberation of Women.

Jesus came with shocking and scandalous commands! What must the people have thought! This rebel! This radical! How un-mainstream of Him! Can you imagine how offensive His message was to such a perverse people?

“Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.” (Colossians 3:19, NKJV)

“So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.” (Ephesians 5:28-29, NKJV)

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” (Ephesians 5:25, NKJV)

What? A man must love his wife and lay down his life for her? For her—a creature to be used for man’s base pleasure? Not only would a Roman Christian, immersed in Roman culture, have to give up all of his vile pleasures and practices, but he would have to change the way he treated his wife? Wow!

“As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love. For why should you, my son, be enraptured by an immoral woman, and be embraced in the arms of a seductress?” (Proverbs 5:19-20, NKJV)

So, not only does he have to love her and sacrifice for her, but he has to be faithful to her too? And enjoy it?

What if he doesn’t love her as Christ loves the church? What if he neglects her, abuses her, cheats on her, forgets her? Who would know? Poor guy – he’s just part of the culture.

“And this is the second thing you do: You cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and crying; so He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with goodwill from your hands.

Yet you say, “For what reason?” Because the Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant.

But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.” (Malachi 2:13-15, NKJV)

More than caring for us and being sexually faithful to us, our husbands are commanded to dwell with us in gentle understanding and to give us honor (1 Peter 3:7). Then they’re reminded that we are heirs together of the grace of life – and that ignoring this will hinder their prayers! Find THAT in the Qur’an!

If present anti-Christian trends continue one could see a return to the previous pagan abuses of women. Those advocating pornography, sexual permissiveness, homosexual “marriages”, legalized prostitution, lowered age of consent and the decriminalization of adultery are not offering us progress but only a return to pre-Christian paganisms.Dr. Peter Hammond



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26 Responses to “The Real Women’s Liberation Movement: Christianity”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Dear Stacy,

    Thank you for posting this gentle reminder of our rolls as godly women. I have noticed , in my 20+ years of marriage, that those women who honor their husbands as God has instructed in His Word are the most content and happy. I remember my mother telling me a few days before I
    married , “Remember to allow your husband to be the head of your home.”

    As wives, we have a choice, to place our husbands mentally and emotionally as the head of our homes, or to try to take authority of this role. Those women who do this, I have observed, are unhappy and unsatisfied as wives. Their homes such that the husbands have often “given up” on being the head of the home and have taken a back seat to their wives.

    What is so wonderful is that at any time, we can return to God’s plan, and place our husbands in their rightful place. Yes, the husband may be in shock for awhile. LOL But God’s way is always the best!

    Thanks for posting , Stacy!

    God bless,
    Ruth, PA

  2. Amanda says:

    I have really enjoyed the frank honesty and directness of your blog lately. I have been studying apologetics, and see so many of the Truths of the Bible laid out so nicely here. I think you are on the right track! I think your information is essential and vital to this culture. I pray the mainstream would read it!
    Thanks for all you do.

    God bless-
    Amanda

  3. yoshi3329 says:

    Amazing article Mrs. MacDonald, on my blog I also blogged about this, not as in depth as you did though.

    http://www.adlynmorrison.blogspot.com/

  4. Eirini says:

    I just wanted to comment that I do agree with you that history bears out that Christianity HAS marked a real and drastic change in the treatment of women.

    Our Lord of compassion cetainly showed us (women)great love and respect which was totally unusual treatment for that time.

    I think we take for granted so many of the freedoms and dignities that we now have as women, assuming that these have always been women’s lot. We forget (or just never heard about) a time when it was not so and Who it was that put these changes into place.

  5. AnneK says:

    Hi Stacy, Can you please provide a credible link where you read about the attempt to revive Sati? I googled it, and nothing came up in any credible newspapers-only in a geocities website. I might be wrong of course, but I just wanted to make sure.

    No offense meant, but I find it rather ironic that the post is against feminism and egalitarianism and yet, the reason why the lot of women is MUCH better in India than it was in the past is because of the work of the feminists. While the patriarchal system in India never cared about women, the feminists stood up against the social evils and gave the women voice. I could write a lot more, but I do not want to hog your blog space, so I will stop.

    By the way, I am a Christian from India living in the US.

    Thanks!
    Annie

  6. Step says:

    Again, a wonderful post! I’ve come a long way in my (almost) 14 years of marriage, but how blessed I feel knowing that my husband is the head of our home. The true liberation is in following God’s perfect plan.

  7. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Annie,

    Welcome to my blog. I have read about the attempt to revive this wicked custom in other places (I’m thinking perhaps it was a missionary magazine I received in the mail), but I also read the following quote in “Christian Action: For Reformation and Revival.”

    “This legal ban on suttee (known as Carey’s Edict) is still in effect today, although since the 1990’s there have been numerous attempts to revive the custom with open glorification of suttee widow burning and instances of teenage widows being cremated on their husband’s funeral pyres.”

    My post isn’t just about India. It’s about the treatment of women in general – now and during ancient times. We have Jesus to thank – He used His Church to bring about lasting change – not feminism. Feminists would not have even had a voice if Christianity hadn’t influenced society’s treatment of women – they would have been killed.

  8. Thursday's Child says:

    Excellent post, Stacy. However perhaps it would be a good idea to make distinctions between different types of feminists.

    The early feminists, such as Susan B. Anthony, were pro-life and wanted conditions for women to improve. (Even so-called “Christian” men can be abusive and cruel to their wives.) They worked to ensure that women had the right to cast their ballot for those who would represent them along with their husbands.

    It’s women like these who make me proud to be a woman, rather than pining away wanting what the men have.

  9. Fruitful Vine Lady says:

    Wonderful post, Stacy. I am just now reading a book by the Puritan, John Angell James, called Female Piety A young woman’s friend and guide. He talks about this same issue that it is Christ and Christianity that women have to thank for the treatment they receive today. Even the Hebrew patriarchs practiced polygamy, which was not good for women (obviously). It’s a wonderful book. Thanks for your post!

  10. AnneK says:

    Hi Stacy, Thank you for your response. I agree with your point about Christianity. Real change can only be brought through Jesus Christ. And no one/nothing else. Period.

    But the fact still remains that feminists helped eliminate/reduce dowry, women “accidentally” dying in fires in their husband’s homes, helped them get equal education and a ton of other things. I don’t know if you knew about this, but feminists there fight for the right for women to give birth to baby girls. They helped make a rule that hospitals are not allowed to do ultrasounds for finiding out gender. Unfortunately, in lot of villages, they still kill off female babies.

    I am not saying feminists are the reason for all good for women. Far from that. Especially considering radical feminism. I am just trying to give credit where it is due. And I do not think Sati will ever be reinstated. The fundamentalists will talk about such stuff, but it will never come to pass in an educated nation.

    Thank you for your time and space in your blog. Blessings to your family!

    Annie

  11. Stacy McDonald says:

    Thursday’s Child,

    You are right – the early feminists would have little in common with (and I think would be shocked by) the radical feminists of today. And I beleive the reason feminism even got started is because so many men (and women) were forsaking the Scriptures.

    Like my husband said in his sermon yesterday, men were confusing authority with superiority.

    When we forsake God’s ways, and man’s ways prevail, society quickly degrades.

    My prayer is that we will repent and turn to the Lord. I pray that as we begin to glorify God in our marriages and families, that the church will be strengthened and our land will be healed.

    Feminism was a bandaid that carried it’s own germs and caused a new infection in our land. Jesus is the great Healer.

  12. Mary says:

    Thank you for the wonderful post!

    I love your blog’s new look by the way!

  13. Lisa Winton says:

    In the movie version of ‘A Man Called Peter’, Catherine Marshall gives a brief speech with many of the same points you are making here. That has always been one of my favorite parts of the movie. Thanks for sharing, Stacy.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I have dealt with a few marriages in my life and I have seen that not one of them comes out good when the woman takes head of the house. The one’s I have seen have been forced by the woman, and as well let go by the man.

    It just goes down hill from there, the man usually gives up because if he has nothing to lead, what is he going to do. Just go to work, because the majority of men do work they enjoy right *shakes head no*.

  15. Mrs. Rabe says:

    Stacy,
    That was a very powerful post. I am going to post a link to this post from my blog.

    Thank you for your boldness!

    Deanna

  16. Kelly says:

    Wonderful post!!!!

  17. Jennifer says:

    Stacy, thank you for this excellent article. If only everyone knew the freedom of Christ: women would know the freedom from sexual slavery and men would know the freedom of not being obsessed with authority and shouldering it all themselves.

    Thursday, thank YOU for pointing out the difference between feminists. In the time of Susan B. Anthony, women were ridiculed even by “Christian” men and wanted equal respect. Even today, there’s abuse of women even in some circles who claim to follow Christ, yet exhort husbands to strike their wives with hands, belts or other implements if they are not pleased with them. I find that the happiest marriages occur when neither spouse tries to head everything in the house or is forced to take a backseat.

  18. Jennifer says:

    Btw, Stacy, I hope you got my email. I’ve been meaning to tell you that I’m sorry I’ve missed your lovely teas and gatherings for ladies! I live down in Florida and attendence has been impossible, but I would have loved to come with my mother; she’s a home-wife and caretaker, while I’m preparing to be one someday :)

  19. Jasmine says:

    Mrs. McDonald,

    Thank you very much for this timely, well-written, and extensively-researched reminder!

  20. Jules says:

    “If present anti-Christian trends continue one could see a return to the previous pagan abuses of women. Those advocating pornography, sexual permissiveness, homosexual “marriages”, legalized prostitution, lowered age of consent and the decriminalization of adultery are not offering us progress but only a return to pre-Christian paganisms. – Dr. Peter Hammond”

    An eye-opening post. In my country same-sex “marriages” have already been legalised and I tremble when I think of where it will end. I suggest that we are already seeing a return to pagan abuses of women.

    Thanks for having the courage to write about something so controversial.

  21. Miss Emily says:

    I’m going to respectfully disagree. While Christianity saved us from a lot of abuses that other women take, I can see how other people think it puts us in bondage. I personally would never want to be a stay at home mom. If other people want to, that’s awesome. I’m not judging. I have no problem with anyone who wants to do that. But to be pressured to do that feels like oppression. My Christian parents have been very happy in their equal roles and their marriage has survived much. I’ve learned a lot from them. I’m thrilled to have my career as a teacher, and if I do get married someday, it will be with someone who will include me in all of the decision making. AFter all, a marriage takes 2 people.

  22. Beth M. says:

    Emily –

    Allowing the husband to be the head of the household does NOT mean that the wife is not involved in making decisions. In fact, a stay-at-home wife and mother usually makes many (even most) of the day-to-day decisions without her husband's input, such as what to make for dinner, what to buy at the grocery store, what time to put the babies down for their naps, how & when to discipline children, etc. Although the husband may make the major decisions in some of these areas, such as whether or not to spank, the wife makes the day-to-day decisions which result.

    Even in major decisions, the Christian husband does not just decide on whatever he wants without his wife's input. Part of loving his wife (as instructed in the Bible) is to put her good before his own. In a major decision that will affect the whole family, the husband should discuss the options with his wife (possibly with children as well if they are old enough to understand and will be affected by the decision). Together husband and wife consider all options and the advantages and disadvantages of each. In many cases, they will be agreed on the best course. When they disagree, the husband makes the final choice about what is best for the family. He also bears the responsibility for whatever consequences result – good or bad.

    The husband and wife have roles in the family which are equal, but different. The husband is the head – he makes the major decisions for the family, provides the income to support the family (ideally), and is the spiritual leader as well. The wife is the helper – organizing and maintaining the home, taking care of the children, encouraging and supporting her husband in his work, helping him make good decisions by discussing things calmly, and supporting his decisions.

    If the Christian wife is in bondage to her husband, then the Christian husband is also in bondage to his wife. His duties and responsibilities to care for and protect his family are huge!

    As a stay-at-home wife and mother, I feel more free than ever before in my life. I love my daughter and cannot even imagine the pain that would be caused by leaving her in someone else's care while I went to work. While I enjoyed the years I spent as a teacher before my daughter was born, and certainly appreciated the income, none of that is worth the sacrifice of not being able to take care of my daughter. I am grateful for the financial security my husband provides, which allows me to stay home and spend my time taking care of and teaching my daughter, cooking, cleaning, and sewing. For the first time in my life, I have the freedom to devote time to some of my hobbies, such as painting, sewing, baking, and web design. Nor have I truly abandoned my career as a teacher – I've simply changed students! Rather than teaching math to large classes of unruly high schoolers, I am teaching my daughter to talk, to obey, and to do things for herself. In the years to come, I will teach her to read and write, and many other things.

    Nothing could make me happier than being a stay-at-home wife and mother!

  23. deb says:

    Interesting article.

  24. Caer Clan says:

    Dear Stacy, Even though the focus of your post is on the freedom Christianity has brought to women, you brought out a KEY point that Christendom is missing today in general. Marriage is a picture of Christ and His Bride. Christ does the initiating. He does the sacrificing and takes leading action (which is the definition of initiative). He lays down His life to redeem His Bride, and then continues in that mode by washing her with the water of the Word and nurturing and caring for her. The Bride responds to all of His initiative with grateful love, praise, honor, and worship.

    We as Christians need to emulate this in our marriages. It isn’t us wives saying we are going to “let” our husbands lead. Or husbands saying that they are accomplishing being like Christ because they put food on the table. Our job is to pray for more and more grace so that we CAN be a beautiful picture of Christ and His Bride to our children and everyone around us, including our disintegrating culture.

    As you outlined the marriages of the Romans, who for centuries were part of a Christian Empire, it sounded too much like American Christian marriages, even within the conservative homeschooling movement. May God grant all of us more and more poignant reminders that we have a long way to go before we are even close to being accurate pictures of Christ and His Bride.
    —-Queen Lucy

  25. Anonymous says:

    I have always held you in the greatest esteem. Thank you for being the Woman of God that you are. It’s not always easy to be what God calls us to be. Believe me, having gone through the things I have in the last six years since Tom died, really clarifies that for me. And sometimes we don’t really understand what we have until it’s gone. It is such a privalage to have a husband who is willing to take on the responsibility, and an honor to serve those men who do. God bless you for your amazing ministry over the years. I am priviliged to have know you for so long. I may not have contacted you much during those long six years, but I have followed your family with joy and sometimes, I hate to say, jealousy. I missed having that wonderful life, that covering that married women have. Again thank for you for the encouragement you didn’t even know you were giving me. May God bless the beautiful work you are doing!

    In Christ’s love,

    Jeanette DeLoach

  26. sockphobia says:

    Just from what I've read of your blog in general, I have a question to ask you. This question isn't specifically about this post, nor am I trying to have a debate with you. My question is: Is a woman's only place in the home? I am a Christian, but I know what God is calling me to do in my life; besides from loving my friends, family and my future husband, I know He wants me to pursue in a creative professional career. Sure it's my dream, but I know it's what God has called me to do. So, is that wrong? Is it wrong that this is what God has called me to do? I just want to understand your point on the matter.

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