The Problem of Accidental Feminism (Part 1 of 8)

In her revolutionary 1963 book The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan wrote about “the problem that has no name.”[1] She describes widespread unhappiness among suburban housewives who expressed a lack of fulfillment in their traditionally feminine roles in the home. Over fifty years later, a new problem among Christian evangelical women has emerged. This time, the problem does have a name, The Accidental Feminist.[2] In her 2015 book, Courtney Reissig describes the evolution of the feminist movement and how its values have crept into the thinking and practice of the church. She argues that many Christian women today are confused about their identity and role.[3]

This is a troubling reality in the evangelical church today.  Owen Strachan, president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood observes:

This is 2015. Families are struggling. As one would expect, many young men and young   women lack a road map   a script   for their lives. When you’re in this confusing and confused state, you don’t have answers to the most basic questions about your life. This is true of your fundamental identity, which includes your manhood or womanhood.[4]

This lack of clarity on gender roles has been evident in my own experience, which includes growing up in the church, leading women’s discipleship, and being a pastor’s wife. The majority of younger women who I have interacted within the church lack a proper understanding of biblical womanhood, identity in Christ, and a mature knowledge of Scriptures. The adoption of cultural values and a frightful lack of discernment is a widespread and growing concern. We are seeing the emergence of a generation of accidental feminists.

There is much exploration needed to determine the causes, impacts, and solutions this problem. The following series of posts will consider the following: how young women have developed this problem; the need for a biblical theology of womanhood and discipleship; a brief survey on what has been contributed to address this problem; observations on the present state of practice in Canada; and suggested field research that could be conducted to test these perceptions. My hope is to explore these topics in greater depth in order to use the Scriptures to help churches define and implement a plan for the intentional discipleship of women, considering the roles of elders, older women, and younger women.

_________________________________________________________________

[1] Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2001), 63.

[2] Courtney Reissig, The Accidental Feminist: Restoring Our Delight in God’s Good Design (Wheaton: Crossway,2015).

[3] Ibid, 15.

[4] Owen Strachan, “How Does the Gospel Shape Manhood and Womanhood?” in Designed for Joy: How the Gospel Impacts Men and Women, Identity and Practice, eds. Jonathan Parnell and Owen Strachan (Wheaton: Crossway, 2015), 12.

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