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Volume 8, Issue 3: Husbandry

Facing Out

Douglas Wilson

Lack of discernment in Christian circles concerning feminism today is pandemic. About the only assault against us which we are capable of understanding is the overt assault with a meat ax. If an organization were formed dedicated to "the abolition of marriage as we know it, and the execution of all available males," Christians with "traditional values" would mobilize and fight, sometimes effectively.

Then, about ten years later, the Christians would quietly adopt the central premise of their enemies and begin peddling this new innovation as "just what the church today needs." Compromise and unnecessary capitulation are whooped as though they are victory. Down is marketed as though it were up.
This is why a quiet adoption of feminism is happening in the, where else, mainstream masculine renewal movement. But it is also happening in the "neo-Amish" home-centered reaction to modernity. Each movement, in its own way, has made peace with feminism and is quietly advancing the heart of the feminist agenda. The central premise which has been adopted by both is that the feminine perspective, whatever it may happen to be, is normative. On the left side of the Christian mainstream, this happens when men are taught how to relate to other men the way women relate to one another. On the reactionary right, in the traditionalist reaction to modernity, we see the same pattern. The woman's perspective on the home and family is accepted as normative and binding on all members of the family. Because she is home-centered, so must everyone else be.
When women thought they belonged out in the workplace, off they went, and the men meekly went along with the experiment. Now many women have decided that the workplace is not for them (including even a few strident secular feminists), and so they decided to go home again. But among many traditionalist Christians, the women have decided that the men must come home too. And so the men have, meekly submitting once again. But as the men adopt the home-centered vision which God intended only for wives, they have in fact betrayed their wives. The problem, as always, is masculine abdication. In the very common vacuum of leadership, certain books setting forth this home-centered paradise are often circulated by women to women, and then discontented wives urge their husbands to "come on home."
But only biblical teaching is normative. The masculine perspective is not normative for marriage and family, and neither is the feminine perspective. God created men and women with different orientations, and He is the only one with the authority to make the assignments. The woman's assigned orientation is toward the home. The husband is supposed to lead his wife in this orientation and support her in it as she supports him. But as he loves her, he is not supposed to share her orientation.
In the teaching of the Bible, we see many examples of vocations which are lawful and which take a man outside the home. This is seen in the creation ordinance and in the apostle Paul's comment on it. Adam was created to tend the garden, and to exercise dominion over the earth. Eve was created to help him do this. In other words, her creation was subordinate to his, and her divinely appointed task was to help him fulfill his mission. In order to do this, women are instructed to be "discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed" (Tit. 2:5). She does this because she was created for him, and not the other way around. "Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man" (1 Cor. 11:9).
Numerous lawful vocations cannot be centered on the home. Nevertheless, men employed in such callings need a home in order for them to serve God effectively. For example, Cornelius was a soldier (Acts 10:1-2) and a devout, holy man. Erastus was a city treasurer (Rom. 16:23) and a Christian brother. The excellent woman in Proverbs 31 is the manager of the home; she is not afraid of snow for her household (v. 21). This would not be the case if her husband were at home, supervising her work, or following her to the supermarket, telling her what can of beans to buy. He is where he is supposed to be, away from home, sitting in the gates with the elders of the city (v. 23).
This is not directed at men who may have an office at home or who may share in the work of home education. But those men who have accepted the home-centered vision deserve the strongest rebuke -- not because of their traditionalist masculinity, but for just the opposite problem, that of effeminate abdication. Of course we must never praise those men who spend so much time away from home that they give their children one mother and no father. But reaction is no solution at all. Neither should we praise those men who go home to try to give their children two mothers. This is nothing less than the cleaned-up traditionalist version of Heather and her two mommies.
The problem is much greater than one of a simple mistake. The errors here are wrapped in so many confusions that apart from a remarkable intervention of God's grace, the Christian home in our nation will fall beyond recovery. What calls itself "masculine" today, isn't.
Suppose the ladies started recovering their femininity by chewing tobacco?

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