As an effect of sin, humans are deeply driven toward autonomy, preferring to live independent of God's authority instead of within the Shelter of his Divine sovereignty. This is the temptation to which Eve would surrender. Instead of a life dependent on God, she evaluated on the basis of her self-appointed authority that the fruit of the forbidden tree was beautiful and an acceptable source for knowledge and sustenance. God was no longer necessary in her new view of the world because she chose instead to believe the twisted words of the serpent, that she could "be like God" (Gen 3: 5). She quickly dismissed the distinction between herself, the created, and the Creator.
When faced with difficult life circumstances, we are called to submit to God's wisdom and authority and recognize our own insufficiency. It is true that scripture does not provide explicit answers for each and every situation, so while God's normative method of self-disclosure is not through audible voice, studying God's word is necessary to develop a biblical worldview that will enable Godly reflection in the absence of obvious solutions. Trusting God in the mid of any degree of crisis is probably one of the greatest challenges to living the Christian life.
Popular culture argues, on the other hand, that God, if he even exists, is irrelevant to just about everything. Religion, and specifically evangelical Christianity, is regarded as bigoted and narrow-minded, outside the scope of logic and reason. Christian truth claims are viewed as merely private values, but the "promise" of scientific progress and "hope" through human reason-with little room for ethical reflection-are believed to be neutral sources of information, and thenfore, the source of truth for everyone. This way of thinking is dominant in the area of women's issues and is wielding great influence on the lives of women inside and outside of the church.
When biblical and theological reflection on women's issues is tolerated, it is usually through a theology of liberty known as feminist theology. This theology seeks primarily to free women from the oppression of what they describe as patriarchalism, referring to male headship or authority that demands unquestioned female submission. In this context, feminist theology argues that women are not really free due to an imbalance of power. This experience then becomes the interpretive grid to understand Revelation, rather than revelation interpreting experience
Locating the meaning of scripture in one's own experience is the equivalent of dethroning God, taking his seat, and wearing his crown. It is an approach that fails to recognize God's authority over his entire creation, the exact problem Eve encountered as she replaced the revealed word of God with her own rationalizations. Our experiences can only describe how we live, they certainly do not prescribe how to live. Yet, this is not a matter of cold hard facts about the nature of God. God is the source of all that is true, he transcends all that is in the earth, yet he cares deeply about it and is closer than it may seem. Scriptures reveals that our experiences do matter to God, he cares deeply about the problems we face and solutions we find.
At the core of "women's issues" is a long list of topics that matter to women. The list includes access to abortion, conception and discrimination, careers, gender equity in the workplace, end-of-life health care, domestic violence and human trafficking. All issues of great significance to the every day lives of women, yet for the most part, not a part of the evangelical discussion within the walls of the church. Of course, there is a strong Christian voice in defense of the unborn and for the moral status of the embryo-and this voice needs to continue its bold proclamation. As well, there is an appropriate voice reacting against the ideology of secular feminism, a voice that rightly shows how this worldview fails women spiritually and in all other practical ways. What has been lacking, however, is a proactive voice intentional educating women on these and related issues, a voice that teachers women to think through complicated life issues from a Christian worldview. Organizations like the National Organization for Women, the Feminist Majority, and NARAL have been declared by the dominant culture to be the source for addressing women's issues and equipping women to live triumphantly in this "patriarchal" society. The Christian community is quick to provide a response to these organizations and issues, but little education has been directed to the women in the pew, women of all ages, ethnicities and economic levels who have been or are potentially swayed by the seductive gospel of unfettered "women's rights."
It is erroneous to believe that with the assurance of salvation comes the instant ability to effectively reason through issues and achieve resolutions that are auspicious to God. The status of "born again" is not a guarantee that a young woman will not consider an abortion, because the dominant culture may have convinced her that the embryo is not really her child or that this is not actually a spiritual issue. A financially-strapped college student may have little knowledge of what is involved in selling her eggs, as an act of good-will to an infertile couple or for research purposes. She may not understand that this egg, when fertilized, is her biological child. What she has been told by the college "women's center" is that the egg is nothing more than tissue and a fertilized egg (an embryo) is nothing more than a "clump of cells." To top all that off, she probably has not been fully informed about the health risks in undergoing such a procedure.
A young married couple in the congregation may struggle with infertility and is willing to pursue the use of reproductive technologies to solve their heart-wrench crisis. After three years of treatment, they may have 2 children, but four more children are in cryopreservation at the fertility clinic because the most economic route for their family was to have many embryos fertilized at one time. Still, there are other women who are entering into the Christian community, ashamed to talk to anyone about the abusive relationship that they are in, fearing judgment, blame, and ridicule.
Right or wrong, women in the church are no less immune to the ideas of culture than are women outside of the church. When they hear "women's issues" or "women's rights," their attention is easily drawn toward these prominent voices as their message has completely planned the culture we live in. There is no natural inclination toward a voice in the church, because that voice is difficult to locate. The fact is, women's issues are, indeed, women's issues, and the church is in a strategic and unique position to address them.
A Barna research study has recently reported that 60% of all who attend church are women, and around 25% of those attend church without their husbands. One reaction to this study was to point out the obvious, that few men are coming to church. Why? The church has been "feminized." The music, the paint, the activities-they simply are not masculine enough, so men are staying home. As a result, some have decided that the solution is to de-feminize the church. Plan manly hunting trips, sports activities, and offer more of the older hymns that are obviously more masculine than the praise songs.
The motivation to have more men as members of the body of Christ is right and good, yet strangely, misguided. Please allow me to explain. God is pleased by the fact that so many women are attending church, giving freely of themselves financially, engaged in ministry activity, and so on. Women are present and eager to hear what the Lord has to teach them and how to apply it to their lives.
Young women, who are the next generation of mothers and leaders of all types, are there too, but often not very comfortable with the women's ministry of their mothers and grandsmothers. Granted, few women's ministries are addressing "women's issues" proactively, but the young women are entering into youth group and college groups with little contextual opportunity to inquire or learn about these issues that will play a significant role in their lives far into the future. The church has a real opportunity to challenges the ideas of a culture fixated on being a god unto themselves by reaching the women the culture seeks to influence. That 60% of the church is contracted of women should be considered as a call to a particular ministry; we can see positively that the glass is half full!
As women continue to be the primary caregivers of children and parents while also being a witness to great technological advancement, time must be invested in developing women to reflect on all of life through the lenses of faith. Grandmothers who believe that their grandchildren would have been better off aborted rather than going through the foster care system before arriving at her doorstep is not representative of a consistently applied Christian ethic, and yet this is the reality of a real woman who has professed faith in Christ for many years.
The desire for love, companionship, or children can drive any woman to solutions that do not necessarily cohere with godly wisdom, especially when the voices that he was assisting her in thinking about these issues have primarily belonged to secular feminism. The feminist movement in the early 20th century began with the noble pursuit to obtain for women the right to vote and to gain a substantive voice in society. Little of this noble effort remains in secular feminism, known today chiefly for its fight for unfettered reproductive freedoms. Secular feminism has been a lone voice for women in academies and in popular culture for the better part of the last 100 years. In a real sense, they have been women mentoring other women. For women in the church, now is the time to speak godly wisdom into issues that all women face. As a matter of discipleship and evangelism, we have an opportunity to show how dependence on God is not only the path to true wisdom, but also to righteousness.