Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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An Undelivered Promise

Leslie Basham: Several decades ago feminists started making big promises, but according to Mary Kassian feminism hasn’t delivered.

Mary Kassian: There’s more frustration, more dissatisfaction because the dream promised fulfillment and satisfaction for women, but it hasn’t delivered.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, September 12th. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I have a lot of books recommended to me, and I love to read. But sometimes a book comes across your path that really makes a significant difference in the way that you think. After you read that book, you’re just not the same any more.

One such book came across my path several years ago. A book called The Feminist Mistake. It was recommended to me by a friend. I began to read this book, and as I did I found that my eyes were opened to some things I had never been aware of before. I found this book making a profound influence in my own understanding of what it means to be a woman and in my understanding of how we came to view womanhood in the way that we do today.

The book is by Mary Kassian who since that time has become a friend. I am so glad that Mary is with us today to talk about how this thing called feminism came to be. Mary, thanks for being with us on Revive Our Hearts. It is so good to be with you again.

Mary Kassian: I’m glad to be here, Nancy.

Nancy: I love your spirit. I love your heart. And I’ve gotten to know you as a woman of God. I am so thankful that you have written on this subject. You’re the author of a number of books. Your real heart is to help women have a more personal, intimate relationship with God.

But several years ago when you were still in your early twenties, you became aware that there was a development in the last half century that had influenced all of us as women. It’s something that we know today as feminism. Help us understand where did this come from? How did it get started? And how did we end up having the view of womanhood that we do today?

Mary: Well, the development of feminism is really interesting because it follows a very significant pattern. That’s important to be aware of. Now, when most people think about feminism, they think just about being for women or affirming the dignity and honor of women. That’s not what I think of when I think of feminism.

When I think of feminism, I think of a very distinct philosophy that had ideas that guided and directed that philosophy, and it developed over the course of years in a very specific way.

So feminism is a philosophy. It’s a theory. It’s a way of looking at life. It’s a way of looking at men and women. It’s a way of understanding who we are. And it’s a way of interpreting our worlds.

Nancy: Now, that way of thinking has really changed since the 1950s and 60s, and you traced how the seeds of that way of thinking really were planted in our culture. How did some of those seeds that today are just taken for granted just in the air we breathe and the way we think, it wasn’t always that way, how did some of this get started?

Mary: Well, in the 1950s there was woman named Betty Friedan who was asking questions about the role of women. She took a look at women and said women are staying in the home. They aren’t using their education. They have gone to college, but they are just housewives and mothers.

At her fifteen-year college reunion, she did a survey for the women of her class to ask them whether or not they were happy, whether or not they were fulfilled, whether or not their college education had helped them in their roles as wives and mothers.

She concluded that women were frustrated, that they were yearning for something more. They were dissatisfied. And they were not content in their roles as wives and mothers. The role was not bringing them the happiness that they thought it ought to be bringing them.

Betty Friedan concluded at that point and time that there was something missing in women’s lives. There was something that women needed. They needed something more in order to feel fulfilled.

Her conclusion was that women needed to go out into the workforce and that women needed to have the same privileges as men did, and that that would fulfill women. Women would feel fulfilled once they had the same privileges and the same power that men did.

Nancy: So she really wanted women to have a greater vision for their future and saw that what they were doing in their roles as wives and mothers and homemakers was not in her view sufficient to be fulfilling so she was really trying to give them a vision for something more, better, different from what they had.

Mary: That’s right. She wanted them to go out and join the workforce, to exercise their power, to have more money so that they could do more in life. And she really said that women’s whole role was encapsulated by a phrase, “kitchen, church, and home,” that women were involved in the kitchen; they were involved in the church, and they were involved in the home, but they were not involved in the workplace.

In order to be fulfilled, in order to find that something more, in order to find that happiness, women needed to have a serious career. Once they had a serious career and once they took their careers seriously, they would find that vacuum in their hearts would be filled, and they would be fulfilled.

Nancy: And of course, in order to do that meant that someone else was going to have to take care of the responsibilities that the women had been taking care of in the home. So along with this vision came a need for a realigning of those responsibilities.

Mary: That’s right, a realigning of those responsibilities. Also, at that time she began to take a look at why are we in this situation, why are women in the homes, stuck in the home, while men get all the fun and men get to go out and work, and men get to earn the income and men have the power? She concluded that the problem really stemmed back to the power of the male, that men had power, and women didn’t have power.

Nancy: That’s really a concept that was called . . .

Mary: It was called patriarchy.

Nancy: Which meant—men are dominant. They have the power. They have the control.

Mary: That’s right. It comes from two words, patre which is father and archy which means rules—so rule of the father. It’s because the fathers, it’s because the men have the power and authority in relationships, and men have the power and authority in the business world. They are in the money. They are the ones that go out and set the pace. It’s because of that that women are stuck in the house, unfulfilled.

Nancy: So as Betty Friedan and others in that era began to talk about the differences between men and women, how did they view those differences?

Mary: They began to view differences as weaknesses. They said that because women were the child-bearers, that’s why women get stuck in the home and that really was something that kept women in a subservient role because women had to stay home and nurse the babies, women had to look after the kids, and so women’s ability to bear children was seen as something that kept her in that state of servanthood towards men. So women’s differences were regarded as weaknesses.

So right back in the late fifties and early sixties, at the very beginning of the feminist movement, the differences of women, the things that made women uniquely women, were regarded as weaknesses, things to be overcome.

And Betty Freidan suggested that these differences ought to be overcome, that women ought to try to become just like men, that women ought to go out into the workforce like men, that women ought to have power like men, and that all these differences that made a woman uniquely female, that those differences would be overcome.

Really the thing, if you are old enough to remember it, from that era that really characterized it was the whole “burn the bra” marches. They brought out garbage cans and tossed in the bras and tossed in the false eyelashes and wigs and dresses, and women wanted to get rid of everything that made them uniquely women and wanted to become like men. Everything that made a woman uniquely woman was regarded as a weakness, and she wanted to overcome that.

Nancy: This really, if you think about it, is an exercise in futility because nothing can change the reality that God made women and men uniquely different from one another, that there are massive differences. Now there are some similarities—both are created in the image of God. In the Scriptures, if we go back to our authority, we realize that God created male and female with differences that rather than being denied or discarded, really need to be cherished.

Mary: That’s right.

Nancy: So, Mary, as we think back to the yearnings that people like Betty Friedan saw in the hearts of women, from a biblical perspective what was it that she was really seeing? What was she identifying? And how would God look at that yearning in the hearts of women?

Mary: I think she was identifying something very real and something that we can identify even in the hearts of women today. I’ve often thought if we were to take Betty Friedan’s survey, if we were to take her questions and present them to women today, what would women today say now that we’ve come so far in terms of changing the role of women, now that we have the earning power that men have, now that culture as a whole has given women sexual freedom.

Nancy: Are they more satisfied?

Mary: Are they more satisfied?

Nancy: And as you’ve talked with women, what does your experience tell you?

Mary: I don’t think so. I think, if anything, there’s more frustration, more dissatisfaction because the dream promised fulfillment and satisfaction for women, but it hasn’t delivered.

Nancy: And why is that?

Mary: Because our satisfaction only comes in Christ, in a relationship with Jesus. That’s where satisfaction and fulfillment come from for women and for men. Until we know Christ and until we become who he wants us to be and until we find our identity in him, we will be dissatisfied.

Leslie: That’s Mary Kassian talking with Nancy Leigh DeMoss about true fulfillment. Nancy will be right back to pray with us.

The word feminist gets thrown around in our culture all the time, but if you truly want to understand this phenomenon, you need to get a copy of Mary’s book. It’s called The Feminist Mistake. Mary will take you back through history to show how feminism developed. She’ll also take you through church history to show how attitudes toward women have changed there.

You’ll really understand this important issue after reading The Feminist Mistake. You can order by calling 1-800-569-5959. You can also order by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com. We’ve recently redesigned our website and think you’ll find it easier to use and more helpful than ever.

If you like what you see on our website, would you help us keep it going by making a donation? You can do it quickly and easily at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Now, here’s Nancy to wrap up our discussion on feminism.

Nancy: What began in the late fifties and early sixties as a small group of radical extremists promoting a new viewpoint of feminism has become something that is now generally accepted in the norm in our culture. Over the next few days we’re going to continue our conversation with Mary Kassian and examine how that revolution took place.

As we go back and look at some of the historical roots of the development of feminist philosophy, I think you will begin to experience as I did in reading her book for the first time a vision of what God could do in our day if there were some Christian women who would begin to think more biblically and take back the ground that has been taken from us as women over the last forty or fifty years. So would you just join me as I pray and ask the Lord to bring about that kind of counter-revolution in our day?

Oh Lord, we recognize that in these last decades there has been a concerted effort to turn women from an understanding of how You created us and what You intended for our lives. In so doing women have been tossed into a greater cause for dissatisfaction, discontent and families have been broken and women’s lives have been in so many ways destroyed.

But Lord, I pray that You would give us as Christian women understanding of the times, understanding of Your heart and Your Word and Your ways that we might be able in our generation to reflect to the world the beauty and the wonder and the goodness of what it means to be a true woman of God.

I pray that our lives would create hunger and longing and appetite in the hearts of the women around us to be the women that You want us to be. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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About the Speaker

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love …

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