How We Hear Mixed Messages From Christians and Feminists
Christians and secular feminists have long been portrayed in the media as mortal enemies locked in deadly conflict on the field of battle. The reality is that these groups represent two very different worldviews so it is no wonder that their values and interests often clash.
Nevertheless, a remarkable event occurred 1979. Both feminists and Christians participated in a march in New York City against pornography, seeing it as harmful to men and women. For a moment, their interests aligned, and they joined forces in order to stand against an industry that exploited and objectified people.
The message was clear: Pornography harms people.
Fast forward to the present, and feminists and Christians are seemingly at odds on an issue that should actually unite them: The value of people.
As a follower of Christ, I have been concerned regarding a message that some confessed believers have been sending lately to the lost world regarding the value of women. At the same time, a current manifestation of the feminist movement has left me a bit disturbed about its message regarding the value of men.
Since I am a believer and do not consider myself a feminist, it would be easy for me to point out the mixed messages from the feminist front while sweeping under the rug what’s happening in certain Christian circles. However, Jesus’ counsel in Matthew 7:3-5 is rolling around in my head. You know—the passage about the hypocrisy of pointing out a speck in another’s eye while there’s a log in my own. So instead of just highlighting some current missteps of feminism, let’s consider both groups for a moment.
Christians and The Value of Women
In October 2016, The Washington Post released a 2005 video of a conversation President Trump had with Billy Bush, a television host with Access Hollywood. The conversation was vulgar. The way President Trump talked about women was demeaning, lecherous, and objectifying.
The response to that video was overwhelming and immediate. Feminist groups, rightly so, lambasted President Trump for his comments. Other people jumped to his defense, dismissing his comments as “locker room talk.” In fact, at first President Trump dismissed his comments as well, saying other people had said worse. He later issued a statement apologizing, simply saying he was wrong.
Before you think this is a politically-motivated, polemical post and move on, stick with me a few more paragraphs.
No matter who you voted for in the election, Christians have a responsibility to pray for our leaders (1 Tim 2:1-2). President Trump is the leader of the United States, and as such, I believe we should pray for him regularly.
However, that does not mean we dismiss President Trump’s comments as no big deal, “boys being boys,” or simple locker room banter. When Christians do that, we are sending a mixed message and hindering our witness to the lost world. The Bible is clear about every man and woman being created in the image of God (Gen 1:27). Scripture tells us to put away obscene (Col 3:8) and unwholesome, corrupting talk (Eph 4:29).
The way President Trump spoke about women in that 2005 video was sinful. For a Christian to paint the comments any other way simply ignores clear biblical teaching. And, it communicates to men and women that it is okay to talk about women in that manner if you are joking or in private. It is not okay. It is never okay to talk about another human being that way. Not ever.
The New York Times just posted an Op-Ed piece pointing out the hypocrisy of some evangelical Christians when it comes to President Trump, those willing to overlook or even defend his moral failings simply because he represents their political interests. I voted for him, but that doesn’t mean I endorse his behavior when it falls outside the boundaries of Scripture.
On the one hand, Christians can recognize and deeply grieve the President’s demeaning talk about women. On the other hand, that should not prevent our thanksgiving to God for the appointment of just judges and other noble acts. We should continue to pray that our president would arrive at biblical values on all problems including the position of women.
Fellow Christians, we must learn the difference between forgiving sin and dismissing sin.
We can and should offer forgiveness for anyone who sins. Aren’t you glad Jesus does that for us when we confess our sins (1 John 1:9)? Yet, we should never dismiss sin or call it anything other than what it is: sin.
Christians can’t hold both to the Bible’s teaching about the worth and value of women and prohibitions against vulgar talk while at the same time dismissing or defending President Trump’s comments. To do so harms our ability to stand for truth in contemporary culture.
Feminists and the Value of Men
While some Christians are sending a mixed message about the value of women, some within the feminist movement are sending mixed messages about the value of men.
You can’t decry sexist and belittling statements from a man and then applaud the same type of talk and behavior in a woman, saying it demonstrates her empowerment. It is hypocritical.
Comedian Amy Schumer has been lauded as a body-positive feminist and received UK Glamour’s Trailblazer of the Year award in 2015. It has been said that she empowers women in the filthiest ways possible (regularly describing men and their body parts in ways very similar to the way President Trump was describing women in that video). Her comedy has “a feminist bent.” Why is it when Schumer objectifies men it is called comedy? Should we really be laughing any time a person is treated as an object?
This past summer, the May 29 edition of Time magazine noted a growing trend in movies—peak bad behavior in women. Movies such as Rough Night, Girls Trip, and Fun Mom Dinner showed women behaving badly. While I haven’t seen these movies, reviews have called the movies subversive and feminist for overturning gender stereotypes. Why celebrate raunchy, Animal House behavior in a woman if that same behavior would offend you if a man did it?
When women behave just as badly as men, why is it called empowerment or entertainment? As Time.com has noted, “The word [empowerment] has taken on a kind of ubiquitous vacuousness, with virtually any act performed enthusiastically by a woman…now officially designated as empowering.”
When feminists celebrate “locker room behavior” in women yet are offended by it when men do the very same things, it is hypocritical. This communicates to men and women that it is okay to talk about men in that manner if you are joking or in private. It is not okay. It is never okay to talk about another human being that way. Not ever.
The Bottom Line
Can we just shoot straight? Can we just call bad behavior what it is? Let’s put agendas aside and be honest. When a person (male or female) talks about grabbing another person by his or her private parts and groping him or her, it’s wrong. No matter the setting or intent, it is wrong.
Just as when Christians and feminists united over pornography seeing it as harmful to people, can we unite over the fact that speaking or acting in a way that objectifies another person is wrong?
Fellow Christians, let’s not hinder our ability to stand for truth today by ignoring the logs in our own eyes. God loves men and women. Every human being was knit together by Him. Let’s make sure the way we talk about people and act towards them communicates just how much God values them.
 I have written briefly about my own journey with feminism in The Christian Homemaker’s Handbook, pp. 37-54. See https://www.amazon.com/Christian-Homemakers-Handbook-Pat-Ennis/dp/143352838X. In addition, you can check out this article where I discuss why I find it troubling to call oneself both a Christian and a feminist: http://biblicalwoman.com/the-puzzling-case-of-maternal-feminism/