Marriage and raising children has been recognized as a bedrock institution since the beginning of time. Indeed, ancient civilizations, such as Egypt, had carefully-framed laws enforcing stipulating terms of agreement governing marriage.[i] The Romans also had laws penalizing adultery, not because they were opposed to immorality but because they recognized the importance of the family as the cornerstone of society.[ii] These laws didn’t stop licentious behavior or infractions against the marriage bond, but they did betray a tacit recognition for the importance of marriage.
In the books of Moses, marriage and family were strictly regulated, as were all conjugal relationships (Lev. 18). The seventh commandment forbidding adultery, being written on stone, signifies God’s high regard for marriage (Ex. 20:14). Marriage in Israel dictated the inheritance of property (Num. 36:5 - 9), carrying on family lineage (Deut 25: 5 - 6), perpetuating God’s covenant (Gen. 13:15 - 16; 17:9 - 12; 24:3 - 8), maintaining the priesthood (Lev. 21), and determining the lineage of the Messiah (Mt. 1:1 - 17).
Marriage was also deeply important for the transmission of the faith from the parents to their children. For instance, when making his covenant with Abraham, the Lord said:
“For I have known him, to the end that he may command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of Jehovah, to do righteousness and justice; to the end that Jehovah may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him” (Gen. 18:19 ASV).
Thus, one of the chief reasons God made his covenant with Abraham was because he knew that Abraham would govern his family in “the way[s] of Jehovah.” Similarly, Paul sets forth the qualifications for an “overseer” (elder) in the church in the following manner:
He must be] one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (but if a man knoweth not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God? (1 Tim 3:4 - 5 ASV).
To carry on the work in the church, elders like Abraham were to rule their homes well and raise up children in the faith. Implied in this qualification was the understanding candidate would have a God-fearing wife who supported his ministry and stood by his side in the governing of the home. The home and bond between men and women is a microcosm of Christ and the church. The man—being head of the home and having a submissive wife and orderly children—is not only a qualification for ministerial leadership, but also an analogy of how Christ relates to His people (Eph. 5:21 - 33).
When this sacred trust is broken, God is not pleased. God hates divorce and husbands who deal treacherously with their wives (Malachi 2:14 - 16). He designed marriage to be a blessing and the ideal institution for raising “godly offspring” (ESV). If there are any groups which God watches jealously, they are the widow and the fatherless. This is why James says, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27 KJV cf. Pro 23:10 -11). Anything which undermines marriage and puts women and children at a disadvantage is hated by the Lord.
When we look at the example of Godly women of the Bible—outside of the roles of prophet or midwife—we find them revered as mothers in Israel. The Hebrew midwives who refused to obey the command of Pharaoh to slay the Hebrew babies were not blessed with higher-ranking positions in society, nor given authority over men. Instead, they became mothers themselves (Ex. 1:22). Motherhood is so important that Solomon—who knew a thing or two about bad women—remarked that a good wife is more valuable than precious jewels and worthy of praise (Pro 31:10 - 31).
We find Sarah, Abraham’s wife and the mother of our faith, receiving exaltation not for wearing the pants or being an executive, but for being a dutiful, submissive wife and a mother to Isaac. The Bible does not say that Sarah is blessed because she called herself “Lord,” or equal to “Lord,” but that she called her husband “Lord.” This doesn’t mean Abraham was entitled to be a despot, but Sarah is praised for being submissive and embracing the role for which a woman is biologically designed—motherhood. Yet, today, the role of motherhood is maligned and successful women of the world are those who can do as men do.
In progressive liberal countries like the UK, the drive to get women out of the home and into the workforce has been successful. It was estimated in 2004 half the workforce is composed of women and 70% of married couples with children both spouses are working.[iii] This means children are not being raised by either parent. Notably, there is an increasing pressure in liberal culture to make men the “stay at home” parent, turning the Biblical model of childcare on its head. So far, men have mostly rejected this role. For example, in the U.S., 40% of homes with children under 18 years of age are either supported by a single parent mother or the mother as the sole financial provider.[iv] This is not because fathers have increasingly dealt treacherously with their wives, it is largely in response to feministic ideology.
Feminism teaches women that being single and working is hip and preferable to being married, subordinate, and depending on a husband. Unfortunately, these teachings have not worked out as expected. Even in the early years of extraditing women from the home, women noted that being free from marriage and children ended up in rampant promiscuity and bitterness[v]
Although some women are finding great success entering the workforce and not being burdened with complications of marriage or the strictures of caring for children, they are also finding that they end up alone.[vi] Successful women have a difficult time finding men because they do not want to marry someone less successful. Feminists never tell women that sacrificing their youth and fertility puts them at a massive disadvantage to men when they get older and try to find a spouse.[vii] Men can always marry younger and less successful women especially if they desire children. Older women often do not have that luxury. The feminist promises of sexual freedom, job equality, financial success, and avoidance of child-rearing are unfulfilling and hollow. For example, in 2009, researchers observed a paradox comparing women’s increased career opportunities and their happiness. Since the 1970s, women’s wages, careers, and participation in the workforce have all increased substantially, but their happiness and feelings of satisfaction have decreased.[viii] While many have found increased wealth, time to travel, material goods, and removal of long-term relationships with children, they have also found increased dissatisfaction with life. If gender equality in the workforce and economic opportunity were measures of happiness, women should be happier today, but they are not.
In some nations like Japan, the promises of workforce equality have led to declining birthrate and looming demographic and economic problems. Researchers have found the main reason for the declining birthrate in Japan is directly related to the number of women in the workforce. As more women enter the workforce, they observe that “…family-work conflict intensifies and women delay marriage and childbirth or remain childless.”[ix] The small window of opportunity for women often closes before some women realize what they have missed out on, and now, an entire country and culture will suffer the consequences.
Pushing women’s equality in the workforce and inverting male/female roles has also hurt the Black community in America. In the 1970s, publications targeting a black audience denigrated the idea of traditional marriage as rudiments of a post-slave culture and promoted the idea that marriage was a transitory institution regulated only by what individuals get out of it.[x] So strong is this ideology that when a Houston, TX-based OB/GYN Dr. Natalie Carroll, who is also black, began to promote a pro-marriage movement called “No Wedding, No Womb!” she was attacked by black women for being “shallow, anti-feminist,” and “a conservative tool.”[xi] While there are many factors involved, there is no debate that the current 72% illegitimacy rate among the American Black population has decimated the community.[xii] Former Assistant Secretary of Labor Patrick Moynihan, in the 1960s, under President Lyndon Johnson, published a book, after years of research, on the Black community and determined that the rise of fatherless homes and illegitimacy would impose a “crushing burden” on black men and women.[xiii]
But this bit of history has taken place once before. During the French Revolution, the spirit of “Fraternity, Equality,” and “Liberty” worked to make marriage a mere social contract for which parties could enter and exit at will. According to Sir Walter Scott, these policies toward marriage could not have been a better scheme invented by “fiends” to destroy “whatever is venerable, graceful, or permanent in domestic life” while at the same time, afflicting future generations and dissolving the glue which binds society.[xiv]
While the church is not openly opposing marriage, they are making policy to put women in positions which are biblically mandated for men. This not only undermines the order set forth in the writings of Paul, it also weakens the home. It is to women that a special promise is given concerning their role in the home—that they will “be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control” (1 Tim. 2:15 NKJV). No man can claim that promise, it was designed for women. In other words, motherhood—if done properly—would save mother and child. It would seem, now with the destruction of the home clearly due to the baleful effects of feminism upon marriage and child-rearing, that the church would strive to raise up more Jochebeds (God-fearing mothers) than Jezebels (co-regents ruling over the church).
We have seen the awful effects of putting women in the position of men and making them the breadwinner of the home. Why do we need to wait around to see the fallout from putting them in ecclesiastical leadership, when the Bible clearly points to another direction? If we do not heed biblical counsel, can we expect less bitterness which is already experienced by the world for following the philosophy of feminism? The Bible says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap,” (Gal. 6:7 NKJV). We can rest assured our “sowing the wind,” will lead to “reap[ing] the whirlwind” (Hosea 8:7 NKJV). It is time for us, at the cost of appearing as unreasoning, politically incorrect, and retrograde, to stand upon the Word of God and run our church accordingly. The world has already given us an example of what its philosophy does to the home and children, and God hates it (Malachi 2:14 - 16).
[i] Bob Brier and A. Hoyt Hobbs, Daily Life of the Ancient Egyptians (Westport CT: Greenwood Press, 2008), 78 - 9.
[ii] George Long, “ADULTER’IUM,” found in A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquites, edited by William Smith (London: John Murray, 1875), 16 - 17.
[iii] TomBeardshaw, “From Beer to Paternity,” Third Way 27, No. 6 (Summer 2004), 19 - 20.
[iv] Catherine Rampell, “U.S. Women on the Rise as Family Breadwinner,” New York Times, May 29, 2013, Accessed October 10, 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/30/business/economy/women-as-family-breadwinner-on-the-rise-study-says.html
[v] Catherine Breslin, “Waking Up From The Dream of Women’s Lib,” New York Magazine, February 26, 1973, 31 - 38.
[vi] Patricia Morrisoroe, “Forever Single,” New York Magazine, August 20, 1984, 24 - 31.
[viii] Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers,"The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association 1, No. 2, (August 2009),190 - 225.
[ix] Olga Garnova, “Japan and its birth rate: the beginning of the end or just a new beginning,” The Japan Times, February 10, 2016.
[x] Monroe Anderson, “The Marriage Game,” Ebony, October 1972,145 - 146, 148 - 150, 152.
[xi] Jesse Washington, “Blacks Struggle with 72 percent unwed mothers rate” NBCNEWS.com, November 11, 2010, Accessed October 12, 2016. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/39993685/ns/health-womens_health/t/blacks-struggle-percent-unwed-mothers-rate/#.V_40XI5D7Zk
[xii] Walter E. Williams, “The True Black Tragedy,” Townhall, May 20, 2015, townhall.com, Accessed October 12, 2016, http://townhall.com/columnists/walterewilliams/2015/05/20/the-true-black-tragedy-n2000459
[xiv] Sir Walter Scott, The Life of Napoleon Bonaparte (Paris: A. and W. Galignani, 1828), 1:14