The Taleban in Pakistan is threatening to blow up local girls’ schools unless parents pull their daughters out of them and the schools shut down. Of course, terrorism is depraved at heart and any manifestation of it is sickening. But to threaten death to scores of children — that’s an abhorrent low. It’s frightening to think that a human being could be brought to the point of justifying the slaughter of little girls.
But one of the reasons this story agitated me so much is the manifestation it betrays of Satan’s vendetta against women. Now I am no feminist. I abhor the idea of “affirmative action” (which is one of the biggest misnomers ever). I don’t walk through life with a chip on my shoulder, assuming that most men are sexist jerks and that the world in general is out to get me and all other women. I am grateful for the amount of liberty and honor that is granted to women by this culture and the vast majority of the people in it.
I qualify all that only because I want you to hear my heart in what I have to say.
Through history, women as a people group have been largely oppressed. Many cultures viewed wives and daughters as property. Many have found it permissible to beat one’s wife. Many have given the woman no choice in who she has to marry or when she marries him. Many cultures have outlawed, or at least scorned, the education of women. Extremist Islamic communities have been known to stone a girl to death for being forcibly and horribly raped. Many of these also mandate that women be heavily veiled, viewing them as seductive temptresses who will lead men to evil by their beauty.
Yet we cannot point the finger at Eastern cultures only; ancient Greek society, to which our Western world largely owes its culture, disdained women with great vigor. Certain overtones of that have lived on even into our supposedly enlightened age–the common joking phrase which, speaking of women, declares “you can’t live with them, and you can’t live without them” has sometimes been attributed to ancient Greece. The word hysterical comes directly from a Greek term which attributes this disorder to women, who were perceived to be far more prone to such emotional disruptions and irrationality than were men. In Greek legend, evil was loosed on the world by a woman (Pandora). In another Greek legend, women were said to have actually been put on earth as a punishment for men, who had previously lived blissfully all-male lives.
A few decades back, Western women got sick of this and began making their own way in the world. But as many as weren’t submitted to the Holy Spirit flew off into the opposite ditch in their own sense of “liberation”. “Nobody can tell me what to do.” “I don’t need men.” “Women can do anything men can do, and maybe even do it better.” Women put their foot down, refusing to be looked at as weak, ignorant sex objects any longer. While that sounds noble, some forty or fifty years later, vast numbers of women have put themselves right back in the pit they think they were liberated from. Now, though, instead of being stereotyped as powerless sex objects, women are marketing themselves to men as such. In some sort of sado-masochistic sense of power, these women are selling their bodies and souls to all kinds of men in the name of being powerful and free to do what they want. From an objective standpoint, it is ludicrous. But the mystery of iniquity has a way of blinding people from seeing their own bondage. Through supposed liberation, women are back in the pit of needing to appear ditzy, sexy, and useful to a man to prove that they are worth something as a human being.
I am not seeking to point fingers in saying these things, but I am trying to call attention to how universal this spirit is and how gross it is. I know that all of you reading will be on board with me in this (excepting perhaps the one-off web surfer). But I feel like the Lord has been moving upon me lately to call this what it is. This kind of attitude is not only the result of people in a fallen society being cruel to each other. The pattern is far too consistent and severe to be such. I believe that this is a satanic attack against women that has been raging through the centuries.
What sparked this demonic influence? There are two main factors that I see, dating back to the first man and woman to ever walk the earth.
1) The fallenness of humanity. When God said that Eve’s husband would rule over her, I do not believe that was a divine decree of what correct order would now be. I believe it was the Lord stating the blunt facts of what would happen in this ruined environment where sin was now running rampant through humanity. Sin is rooted deeply in pride, in the assertion of one’s own rights and desires over another. The fall of the first two human beings marked the beginnings of fallen husbands domineering their fallen wives, and fallen men in general domineering fallen women. The enemy has had a heyday with this, able to stir up sinful men with relatively little convincing on his part (I’m assuming). Praise God for the Cross and the way He has delivered us from this cycle.
2) However, I believe Genesis 3 shows us the root of the satanic rage against women–God’s words to Satan in verse 15. The serpent had just deceived Eve, and in response, the Lord promised a deliverer, a Seed from the woman who would crush the devil’s head. The very one deceived was the one to whom God gave the promise of redemption. The woman whom the serpent prevailed upon would become the source of his destruction.
Don’t get me wrong; Satan has unique attacks against men as well. Women are not his only targets, nor are men his only instruments. But with the vein of my recent studies in the Word, I am clearly seeing the insidious evil that would seek to take out the daughters, sisters, wives, and mothers in this earth. Satan has great enegry about seeing these women out on the streets, selling themselves to the highest bidder, or else shut up and squirreled away somewhere properly isolated and muzzled, so that they neglect the call of the Lord on their lives.
I’m sure it’s easy to see this post connected with my recent writings about women in ministry. But let me be clear that I am not accusing churches which disallow women from ministry of being fueled by demonic energy. Many — and I believe most — are sincere people who are striving to live in accordance with biblical commands. But I believe that seeing this demonic attack for what it is should motivate us all to take a step back and take a good hard look at our cultural treatment and ideas about women, and how that has impacted our theology. The Bible is always right in what it says about women. Society is basically always wrong, because demons have pretty entrenched footholds in it.
Another reason I bring this up at all is because I have felt a growing urgency in my heart to resist passivity on this. When I started my recent studies, I felt a little silly about it. After all, I’m in a context where women are allowed — even encouraged and commissioned — to minister in whatever their gifting is. I feel confident enough for my own sake that it’s okay for me to teach and preach. None of my guy friends have any problems with my calling. My dad and brother are behind me 100%. I have no bone to pick with anyone. Why should I invest time studying this? Won’t that make me look like some kind of feminist kook who is looking to start a fight?
But at the end of the day, I knew better than to resist pursuing things that make my heart feel alive in the Lord. So, weird as it was, I went for it. I’ve gone through three books on the egalitarian position, which I have enjoyed and agreed with to differing degrees. Recently, I started studying a book from an opposing viewpoint. I am familiar with this author from a few other books he’s written (which are fantastic, by the way), and I respect him as a theologian, but I take pretty serious issue with his stance on this point.
Now the last thing I want to do in my study is debate just for the sake of debating. I don’t want to become argumentative and self-defensive, and I certainly don’t want offense to grow in my heart towards my brother.
So as I was studying this book, I would occasionally feel myself getting stirred up. I was writing responses that were longer than the text I was responding to, and writing with a good deal of energy at that. Every now and again I would put the brakes on, pause, and ask the Lord to guard my heart and help me not stray into pride and offense. I am still committed to praying those two points. However, I was in error in one pretty significant matter. I was seeking to study this in a good, detached, scholarly way. After all, you can’t let your subjective opinions get in the way of your objective research. I needed to be a neutral third party and keep all this information at a safe arm’s length from my emotions.
It was then that the Lord interrupted me. To put it briefly, I realized that it was folly for me to try and be dispassionate about it if that’ s not how He feels.
The question confronted me and caught me off guard. Do I really believe God cares about whether or not certain women step out in the leadership He has called them to? Do I believe it is an issue dear to His heart? Does He feel grieved when His beloved daughters are attacked? …The answer has to be yes. Then do I really have any moral ground to be stoic about it? …The answer has to be no.
Likewise — and getting back to the title of this post — if I really believe that Satan has an agenda against women, I can’t treat the issue like it’s no big deal. I can’t decide to shrug off the thousands of women in the U.S. who feel like second-class citizens in the Kingdom while the enemy is tipping his hand by threatening little girls in Pakistan. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood (complementarian theologians), but against powers and principalities (demonic lies that persuade women it is wrong for them to obey the call of God on their lives). So I by no means want to sin in my heart against fellow believers. But all the same, I should not passively tolerate what I believe to be the enemy’s agenda, even if it doesn’t directly affect me any more.
I hope this is tying together enough to make sense. I am growing in the conviction that I can’t be passive about this as if it’s merely a quaint cultural quirk. I can’t choose emotional detachment over the deliverance of women from the influence of demonic lies. And I would ask you to consider this issue as a matter worthy of prayer. This may not be your life mandate (it probably isn’t), but I feel as if this is an issue we don’t want to go neutral with. It’s not life or death in my country, but it is in other places in the world. Satan hates women. He hates how God wants to use them and he hates how God sent a deliverer through Eve. And we need to care about that and hold it in prayer.
I know there are a thousand other issues of which we can say the same, but this is the one I feel the Lord highlighting to me at the moment. 🙂 So for whoever it may concern, I present it before you as well.