Friday, October 30, 2020

How Feminist Mysticism Almost Sank My Life: And How the Bible SAVED Me!

Looking at the world through a Biblical lens is not really something I used to do. For the majority of my young adult life (and now parenthood), I considered myself to be a happy feminist with economically conservative values but liberal social leanings. I was perfectly content with this, and I espoused quite cheerily the teachings of feminist mysticism from books like Women Who Run with the Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Books and belief systems like this gave me something to believe in, which was this: as a woman, I had every right to obtain access to the same things that men did, and beyond that, women had an almost mystical spiritual ability to tap into the inspiration of the universe (I mean, I think it was the universe, but I'm still not sure what exactly I believed), and that God loved me because I was worthy, enough, and a perfect creation in His sight. Some of what I believed was valid. Some of it, as I will explain, was not. 

I, like many young women in my generation, fell prey to a blend of new age humanism and self-indulgence, which is really little more than the worship of self. My first mistake was in believing that I was enough, that I was worthy of God's love. The hallmark truth of Christianity itself explicitly renounces this in multiple places throughout the Bible. In John 15:5, Jesus says, "I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I am in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing." Clearly, we are not enough without Jesus. Here's another one, in John 14:6: "Jesus answered, 'I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Again, we can't get to heaven by ourselves. Why is that? Because we are NOT worthy or enough or perfect. We are the very opposite of those things. I see a lot of female preachers especially reiterate phrases like this: "Friend, you are enough." OR, "Friend, you are worthy of God's love." 

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a lie from Satan. We are NOT enough. If we were enough, if we were worthy, Jesus would not have had to die on the cross for our sins. If you base your entire theological foundation on this one single lie, it will misdirect your entire life of faith. Self-love is a topic of popularity in the media, and especially in circles of Christian authors and speakers these days. As you probably know, Allie Beth Stuckey, podcast host of Relatable, recently published a book specifically on this topic called, You're Not Enough (And That's Okay), and it is a very excellent explanation that goes into great detail to further explain the theological pitfalls of self-love culture. I highly recommend it (and her podcast). You can get it HERE.

Self-love is not Biblical. Self-love can become a big sin. Here's why: There is a difference between recognizing that man has been made in the image of God, and that we have been made wonderfully, but the next step is to ask ourselves why. Why was man created? Quite simply, man was created by God to bring Him glory. Our purpose in life is not to practice a selfish love of self-obsession, but rather to show love toward one another, and in doing so, we glorify the one who made us. Look at this verse from Philippians 2:3: "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves." Interesting, isn't it? The Bible doesn't say, "Love yourself first unconditionally, then get out there and love other people." No, quite the opposite, in fact. We are supposed to love others more than ourselves. 

This can be a difficult concept for a secular world to grasp. As for me, I experienced many years of disappointment and frustration as a fledgling Christian. First off, I didn't understand what man's purpose was. I thought my purpose was to try and figure out how to be happy and live a good life. The idea of "bringing glory to God" was not something I had even remotely understood or grasped. Many Christian pastors and authors were telling me that I was this wonderful, amazing, beautiful, worthy human being whom God was going to bless immensely, and I kept waiting for it to happen. I didn't understand why, if I was so wonderful, I felt so miserable? In fact, the more I was told to love myself, the less I did. The unhappier I became with myself, and the angrier I became with God. Why am I so unhappy? I lamented. Why doesn't God love me as much as he loves other people? If I'm so worthy and wonderful, why does my life SUCK? Come on, don't lie. We've all had these thoughts. I struggled with them for years! Yet this type of preaching from Christian authors and speakers that promote the essential worship of one's self before being able to love others is fallacious at best and heretical at worst.   

Our hearts cannot be trusted to love correctly. We are sinful, fallen creatures (Psalm 51:5, Eccl. 7:20, 1 John 1:8, etc), and if we are left to our own devices, we will try to love in all the wrong ways. Jeremiah 17:9 says that, "The heart is more deceitful than all else, and is desperately sick, who can understand it?" Why would we trust our human concept of love, when clearly, human love has a bad track record? Humankind, in their blind blood lust and hatred, crucified Jesus Himself, spitting upon Him and mocking Him as he died (John 19:18). Obviously, human hearts cannot be trusted. 

Feminist mysticism is what I call the pit of despair that I fell into. It was a deep, confusing pit full of problems but no solutions. Are you unhappy? Love yourself more. Are you frustrated with life? Go out and do things for YOU. It's all about you, baby. You only live life once, right? The issue with this logic is that all of the problems of life have literally one posed answer: just do whatever you want, and most importantly, love yourself. Now, most Christian pastors or authors whom I read at that time would have agreed that the former part of that statement is wrong, but they might be okay with the latter. After all, aren't we supposed to love ourselves? The answer is that we were created to glorify God above all, to love Christ, and to love others. Interestingly enough, loving Christ and loving others fulfills the first purpose of life, which is bringing glory to God.

Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do." In fact, if you just do a simple Google search to find "Bible Verses about Self-Love," what you will see are Bible verses that talk about Christ's love for us, our love for Christ, and our commandment to love each other. Funny, isn't it? No Bible verses about "Girl, love yourself, you're a gem." This is NOT to say that we are not beautifully and wonderfully made in the image of God (Psalm 139:14), or that we should wallow in self-deprecating thoughts. Rather, it is clear in Scripture that our purpose in life is to point others to Christ, and how do we do that? By bringing glory to God and showing love to all. 

That being said, it is important to note that in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, self-love is listed as one of the things that will signal the last days: "But realize this, in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power..." Okay, so that's a pretty big list of the bad things that will be going on in the last days - and I have often made the argument that every single one of these sins have been going on in every culture in the world for centuries - but there is a case to be made that we live in a quintessentially American culture that propagates the elevation of one's self to an almost godlike level. When the self becomes the sole focus of your life, you then find yourself in a situation where truth becomes subjective. Your truth is what you want it to be, rather than what God says it is. This is a dangerous place to reside, casting to the dogs objective definitions of truth and justice and everything else that comprises what we might call the "human moral compass." 

This is the situation where I found myself when I was in the pit of feminist mysticism. I found myself instinctively flinching at some of the things going on in the world, but without the Bible as my foundation, I couldn't explain why I felt certain things were wrong. I was very confused, and I realized that if I wanted to be strong or credible in my beliefs, I had to not only know what they were, but I needed to understand them indefinitely. I have always been a hard working, goal-oriented girl who has enjoyed going toe to toe with my male counterparts in the military thriller publishing genre, and I've been proud of that. The issue is that I allowed myself to become swept up in a secular, godless religion of feminism that elevated women and what we want in this temporal, human world over what God's will was - and as a Christian, God's will is the ONLY thing that matters! Am I saying that women shouldn't work or have equal rights? Absolutely not! I'm saying that the feminist viewpoints that I was holding onto so tightly were not compatible with the Word of God, which focuses on putting OTHERS first, rather than MYSELF. Unfortunately, a lot of feminism today elevates ourselves as women so highly that we forget who made us in the first place. 

In the Bible, women are repeatedly given a place of honor as diligent workers for Christ as well as helpers for our counterparts (men). 1 Timothy 3:11 says, "In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything." I often see people denigrating the Bible, claiming that it treats women as subhuman. I ascribed to this belief for many years, bitter and angry about a woman's place in the Biblical world...but such claims are simply not true. The verse above is just ONE example of how highly valued women are in the eyes of God (by his Grace, remember, not ours alone). And if you want to talk about equality, check this verse out: "For as a woman came from man, so also a man is born of woman. But everything comes from God" (1 Corinthians 11:12). Jesus Christ is the great equalizer, to put it mildly.

Oh, you're wondering about the verses in the Bible that speak to women submitting to their husbands? Does that raise your hackles up? Because let me tell you, it raised mine for a long time - so much so that I avoided reading the Bible because I was irritated by the idea of having to "submit" to anyone, much less any male human! In the Bible, wives are told to submit to their husbands, but wait. THERE'S MORE. "Submit to one another out of a reverence for Christ" (Ephesians 5:21). Scripture often and boldly attests to an equal and loving relationship between a husband and a wife. Paul tells husbands to "love" their wives and he tells wives to "respect" their husbands (Ephesians 5:33). This is a relationship built on mutual love, respect, and submission - and submission does not mean that you bow down and kiss the floor when your husband enters the house. It means that you respect your partner enough to hear him/her out and have a discussion where you can come to a loving agreement on an issue. Sounds like a normal, healthy relationship to me. (There are a lot more details to this, too, but I'll try condense for the sake of my speed-readers)

My personal misunderstanding of basic Biblical foundational principles was the weak point in my life that drove me to fall for broad, brush-stroke phrases like, "You're worthy of God's love," because I didn't understand that I wasn't worthy. In trying to hard to MAKE myself worthy, my constant human failures became even more glaring, and in turn, I became even more upset with myself and my life. Furthermore, I turned to feminist ideology to fill the void in my life to make myself feel empowered and uplifted, when the reality is...all I needed was Christ. 

Once I understood that I wasn't enough to earn a place of respect and honor in the eyes of the Lord, I was able to free myself from the burden of constantly trying to figure out how to be perfect. Instead, I was able to accept Christ's free gift of eternal salvation and experience the grace and peace that His love showered down on me. In HIM, I am made worthy. In HIM, I am whole and enough. This chronological order is very important. Before Christ, I was nothing. After Him? I am saved! In addition, I suddenly understood that a lot of things I believed about the Bible were false. For example, the Bible is not sexist. Not even close. The Bible is a beautiful demonstration of the equality and stunning creation of man and woman, made in the likeness and image of God, and His incredible love for us, demonstrated on the cross. God highly values the role of women in society. We were literally created to work, and our work is so important. In Genesis chapter 2, the Bible says, "The LORD God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." And my favorite: "And God blessed them. And God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth" (Genesis 1:28).  Notice here that both man and woman are commanded to work together, side by side, to be fruitful, to fill the earth, and to have dominion over it. How beautiful and cool is that? If anything, the Bible is a testament to how much he equally loves both men and women, so much that he died for us ALL on the cross. It's not like he just died for the men, okay? He died for us women, too. And we all, men and women alike, desperately need his grace. 

So, you might be wondering how I came to this conclusion that I was buying into a secular mindset. Truth be told, I didn't even realize I was until I started doing one simple thing: reading the Bible for myself, rather than relying on snippets and taglines from books or social media posts. I had a lot of doubts in my head, doubting the legitimacy of televised sermons or questioning the published books by female Christian authors who were quick to elevate the feminine mystique above the actual text of the Scripture itself. I realized, grimly, that I was elevating myself and my humanistic and selfish desires over everything else, and that suddenly alarmed me. 

I was also looking at my daughter several times a week and thinking, "What kind of a mother do I want to be? What do I want to model for her, in terms of what being a woman in today's world means?" That really hit hard for me. I didn't want to set an example for her that could cause her damage or harm later in life. So I started reading and digging and researching and deliberately trying to find reasons to support the literal religion of female empowerment that was driving my entire life. And here's the thing: I couldn't find any reasons. In fact, the more I read the Bible, the more I discovered that I was the one who was wrong. Pro tip: if you set out on a mission to try to discover why God is wrong, He will set you straight so quick, it will make your mind spin. So, let me save you the trouble. Just take His word for it, and that word can be found in the Bible. 

In conclusion, I want to say a few things. First, I still believe in good old-fashioned girl power. I'm proud to be a woman and I love being a mom, and I'm thrilled beyond measure to have a little girl to raise (Girl Club is the best club, no boys allowed! **just kidding, calm down**). I believe that women can work just as hard, accomplish just as much, and are just as important as men. This is intrinsically backed up by the Bible in countless places (way more than I listed in this article). That being said, my faith was previously in the superficiality of feminism rather than Christ, and that was a sin. There were also elements of feminism that I realized directly contradicted the Bible and the word of God, and I couldn't come up with a way to excuse those issues. And I still won't. Why? Because truth isn't subjective. Truth is objective, and it is defined (for me, as a Christian), by God, and so is every other moral issue on this planet. God wrote the rule book. He created us. He gets to decide. I don't. 

I'm not writing this as a slam against women who get up and excited about feminism and everything it stands for. I'm just saying: if you are a Christian woman, you should examine closely what you are clinging to, and make sure it aligns with the Bible. It is absolutely possible to advocate for basic human rights for females without also ascribing to non-biblical viewpoints. We take our marching orders from Jesus, not from politicians or celebrities or corporations who deluge our social media feeds with colorful anthems and slogans. As a woman who owns her own business and is highly independent in pretty much every aspect of my life, I have absolutely no problem with submitting myself to the will of the creator of the universe because, hey, HE MADE ME. 

I encourage you to research, to pray, to read the Bible, and to listen to that still, small voice that may be nudging you toward digging deeper and discovering more about what Jesus Christ is all about. 

I'll close with these verses:
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. - James 1:5 

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. - James 3:17

Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become "fools" so that you may become wise. 
- 1 Corinthians 3:18

The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin. - Proverbs 10:8

A Few More Resources For You: 

The Keys to Spiritual Growth by John Macarthur 
This is an excellent book that explains the key tenants of what it means to be a Christian, and what our purpose is as humans. 

Eve in Exile by Rebekah Merkle
In this book, the roots of the feminist movement are examined, and it is absolutely fascinating! The author also discusses what a woman's role should be, and how Christian women can relate to feminism today. 

You're Not Enough (And That's Okay) by Allie Beth Stuckey 
I mentioned this book above and have previously reviewed it on Writing Belle. This is a good place to start understanding the toxicity of self-love culture if you are interested in that! 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Get fictional - it's fun! Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to see you again soon!