This has been bugging me for a while, but I’ve had trouble putting it into words until lately. Everyone knows that male chauvinism is a bad thing; putting women down just because they’re women isn’t good. Duh. But in our zeal to not be chauvinistic against women, our culture has swung to the other extreme; lionizing women and denigrating men. This can be seen in looking at the values of our society today. As a culture, we value inclusivity, empathy, harmony, compassion, and inoffensiveness as some of our chief virtues. All of these are predominantly feminine traits. Women are more empathetic than men, and place much higher value on harmony and inclusion. Obviously, these aren’t inherently bad things; they have their place. However, they have replaced, to our detriment, masculine values like strength, courage, achievement, ambition, and fortitude. These used to be held up as the standard for men to be considered manly, while the feminine virtues (empathy, etc.) were the standard by which a woman was considered to be a lady. So long as the expectations were applied to the proper sex, everyone benefited.
Male chauvinists were the men who got so tied up in the masculine virtues that they thought they should be applied to women as well. When women couldn’t be as manly as men (because they’re women, duh) a chauvinist would see them as inferior. Obviously, this is stupid and bad. The response of our culture, however, has been even more stupid and more bad. (That tends to happen when you don’t use the Bible.) As a culture we have embraced the feminine virtues as if they were the only virtues. This results in a female chauvinist culture. If you look long enough, you’ll see it. People who dare express an opinion that could offend someone (like saying men aren’t women) are attacked by Twitter mobs for being ‘offensive’ and it only gets worse if they don’t apologize. Excluding people, for any reason at all, is one of the worst things you can do now; just ask the Boy Scouts, who now allow girls to join what used to be a boys-only organization. The Girl Scouts, of course, didn’t start letting boys join.
If you watch enough TV you’ve probably seen it too. It’s not funny when men are violent towards women (and it shouldn’t be), but it’s a great joke or ‘empowering’ when women are senselessly violent towards men. Indeed, women are generally given a pass in situations where men wouldn’t be. Why is this okay? I think it is because, since our society has placed an inordinate value on feminine virtue, to the exclusion of masculine virtue, and men cannot be as feminine as women (because we’re not women, duh). This naturally makes women the sole exemplars of virtue, when only feminine virtues are allowable.
I’ve even seen this in my own church, which is by no means a liberal whacko-fest. Mothers’ Day had a whole segment of the service set aside to honoring women (including those who had never been mothers) with gifts and talking about how special they are. Fathers’ Day, on the other hand, got one mention at the beginning of the service and that was it. This is not an uncommon thing in the church at large. Mothers are constantly held up as exemplars of Godliness, while fathers lauded for being supportive when they’re given more than a cursory acknowledgement. One would think that, as a single guy, I don’t have a dog in this fight; after all, I’m not a father (and I’m sure as heck not a mother). One would be wrong.
Being a Godly husband and father is the most important thing that a Christian man can do. The Apostle Paul said very clearly in 1 Timothy 3:4 that a man cannot be an elder if he does not manage his own household well. It is a man’s greatest responsibility and highest honor to lead his wife and children. By treating a man’s highest calling as if it were insignificant in comparison to that of a woman we communicate, albeit unintentionally, that men are not as valuable as women. Furthermore, we imply that men are not really intended to be strong leaders, but rather mere domestic partners fawning over their betters. That is unbiblical in the extreme.
Furthermore, the sins to which men are more susceptible are preached against constantly, while the faults more prevalent to women are lightly touched on when they are taught at all. It is not at all popular to teach about wives submitting to their husbands (which is a command from God, so not doing it is a sin), while sermons about men respecting their wives (which you should) are almost guaranteed to be well received in most churches. This sends much the same message; that men are more sinful than women. It is female chauvinism in the church.
In fairness, I am 100% certain that the elders in my church don’t believe that women are better than men. I am likewise certain that the vast majority of pastors believe likewise, that men and women are equally made in the image of God and that one is not better than the other in any way. That said, there is still danger if we continue inadvertently supporting female chauvinism.
When God designed men, He gave us a particular role and a specific set of capabilities, inclinations, and desires so that we would be uniquely suited to fill that role. Likewise, when He designed women, He created them with a different and complementary set of capabilities, inclinations, and desires, to fill a complementary role to men. Genesis 2:18 describes Eve as a helper suitable to Adam. In no way does this make her somehow inferior or superior to him, but rather his equal and, after a fashion, opposite.
Although this perfect relationship was marred by the Fall, men and women still have unique, equally important roles to play. Men and women, while equal in value, are not interchangeable. Our society bears witness of this in the catastrophe of fatherless families, and the immense damage caused by a lack of fathers. This is the danger of overemphasizing either sex’s role in the family. When you don’t do things God’s way, stuff breaks, usually in catastrophic fashion. It is important that we teach that both are valuable, necessary and unique, as only the Bible does, otherwise we risk overreacting in the other direction, resulting in an overreaction back in the opposite direction and the pendulum of overreaction will just keep swinging. This will require conscious effort to ensure that we address the sins of men and women, while likewise honoring godly mother and fathers in equal measure. This will not always be popular. We will be called misogynists for saying wives should submit to their husbands. We will be accused of mansplaining. People will say we’re not ‘woke’. Nevertheless, only the Bible has the answer to the problem of female (or male) chauvinism, and it is the church’s duty to bring that message to the world, so that in seeing God’s wisdom in designing marriage they might give glory to Him, repent, and be saved.
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