Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Feminist Theology?

Leslie Basham: It’s Thursday, September 15th, and you’re listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Song:
“I am woman, hear me roar.
And I’ve been down there on the floor.
No one’s ever going to keep me down again. Oh, yes.”

Leslie Basham: Feminism isn’t just affecting views on work, home, and children; feminism is affecting the way we view God Himself.

Song:
If I have to, I can do anything.
I am strong. Strong.
I am invincible. Invincible.
I am woman.”*

Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Those words from Helen Reddy’s song in 1972 symbolized a massive revolution of earthquake proportions that was taking place about that time in our nation. Our guest this week is Mary Kassian who is helping us to understand some of what took place in that revolution that really has transformed all of society.

Mary is a wife. She’s a mom. She has a background in rehab medicine. When she was in her early twenties, she was challenged to think through what does the Bible really teach about womanhood, what it means to be a woman, what does culture say about that, and how are these two at odds with each other? So Mary, thank you for your help in opening up some of these areas for our understanding.

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

Nancy: Now, back to Helen Reddy’s song, how did that song encapsulate where women were in the early seventies, and where did that thinking lead us?

Mary: Well, we’ve been talking for the last few days about the whole development of feminist thought and feminism as a philosophy. It has impacted our thinking and really the thinking of our culture, the thinking of our world, and the way our children are educated. It’s a distinct philosophy. I’m not talking about the worth and the dignity and the value of women.

Nancy: Which the Scripture affirms.

Mary: The Scripture totally affirms that, and we ought to affirm that as well. But I’m talking about the feminism as a philosophy and as a movement. The Helen Reddy song, “I am Strong. I am Invincible. I am Woman,” was in the early seventies and that indicated a shift in women’s thinking because women initially thought that their differences were the source of weaknesses.

So they wanted to become just like men. They wanted to be out in the workforce like men. They wanted to overcome their differences, their biological differences.

Nancy: Eradicate them?

Mary: Really, really eradicate them. They were talking at that time, and it was really radical in the 1960s, that was of course when birth control came out. The birth control pill came out. They were talking at that point and time even, let’s eradicate the differences so that women do not need to be the child-bearers. They saw the differences as weaknesses. Well, that changed in the 1970s.

Nancy: Talk about women not being child-bearers—that is a little hard to change.

Mary: Yes, that is a little hard to change, but with medical technology, not beyond the realm of possibility in terms of some people’s thought. But in the 1970s, “I am Strong. I am Invincible. I am Woman,” the shift was to see women’s differences as source of pride and confidence.

Nancy: Rather than eradicating them, now we want to celebrate the differences.

Mary: We want to celebrate the differences in women. We, as women, want to begin to influence and affect our culture, our society, the way that we think based on our unique perspective as women. So the real shift there was that women’s experiences became the source of truth.

You could determine truth based on your experience as a woman. And women began to re-evaluate their experience as women and began to re-evaluate the world. Now, last time we talked about how we re-evaluated language, re-evaluated all different types of culture and education.

But women also began to take a look at what they believed about God. Now, when Helen Reddy had her acceptance speech for her Grammy Award for “I am Strong. I am Invincible. I am Woman,” she said, “I thank God because she made me a woman.”

Nancy: That was pretty radical.

Mary: That was hugely radical at that time. But in the feminist movement women began to say, “Yes, we need to re-evaluate our whole concept of God.” Because their saying was, “If God is male, then the male is god.” The reason we have a male god is because men have crafted and created this god in their own image. So we have a male god telling us what to do, telling us how to act as women. This is not acceptable.

Nancy: He’s then part of the problem, part of the reason we’re oppressed.

Mary: He is part of the problem. This actually brought feminism to its core roots because the whole impetus of feminism was finding out what would give women identity and worth and value and where they would find fulfillment. And so, I see it as a spiritual quest from the very beginning.

Nancy: Even though it seems that early on the focus was more political?

Mary: That’s right. It was political, but the impetus for it was, “Let’s do what will make us fulfilled as women. Let’s do what will bring us meaning, what will bring us value, what will bring us happiness. We want to find that missing piece.” And that was the whole impetus for the feminist movement. So I believe it was a spiritual movement right from the very beginning.

But at that time in the seventies, early eighties, it began to take a real spiritual twist. Spirituality became very important for feminists to address because they said in order to continue to push for political change they needed a spiritual source of strength.

And they began to re-evaluate, “Who is God?” They found that a male god was unacceptable. It was unacceptable to have a male god. So they began to look for other deities and other gods they could put their faith in. It seems rather strange, but they began looking at goddesses and the goddesses of the ancient world and of ancient past, not so much as things to worship but as symbols of female strength and female dignity and the female’s right to define spirituality.

Nancy: So at this point now we’re seeing another shift. It’s not just that women are equal with men and that their differences are to be celebrated, but actually that we as women are god, and we began to worship ourselves.

Mary: That’s right. It moved from naming ourselves to naming the world around us and then to naming God. We are going to define who God is. And one feminist lady said, “I found god in myself, and I love her fiercely.” That was what women began to look at saying, “Our unique differences, we are able to give birth, we are able to create life within our wombs. This is just reflective of mother earth, mother nature, and we have a connection there that men do not have.” So they began to see themselves really as goddesses or as divine.

Nancy: . . . and all powerful.

Mary: And all powerful. Now, the average feminist woman wouldn’t say, “I am god.” But the average feminist woman would say, “I find my source of meaning and strength within myself. I find my source of power within myself. My source of power taps into the power of the universe.” So it took a real New Age turn that women saw themselves as being part of the elemental force of the universe and tapping into that power. For many, the goddess became the symbol of that.

Now, lest you think that this is just way out for radicals, this is practiced—really. Women are taught this in colleges. They are taught this in the business world. You go to many, many business conferences for women and women will be taught perhaps to set aside a little altar or a little personal, private space of their own where they go to center themselves in the morning, where they go to quiet themselves and often it will be set up, flowers and mirror.

Women look into the mirror and they speak to themselves, and they find that source of strength for the day, their purpose for the day, and their source of meaning for the day by reaching down deep within and connecting with that divinity or that power that is within.

So it’s not a way out, radical concept. It’s being really mainstreamed. In the business world and in our educational systems, women are being taught that their own experience is a legitimate source of truth and that they are able to find truth within themselves.

Nancy: You know in order to do that, in order to come to those kinds of conclusions, they’ve really had to reject the authority of Scripture, the absolute right of a sovereign God as He’s revealed in Scripture to control and to run our lives.

So ultimately it’s a movement rooted in rebellion, in throwing off authority. It’s easy for us perhaps to point out these radicals, these extremists, these ones that we would consider extreme and to say, “That’s not the way I think. That’s not the way I live.”

Yet I wonder how many of us as Christian women, I mean, conservative, Christian women, are really in somewhat the same sense perhaps running our own lives.

Mary: We’ve all been affected by this philosophy. I’ve been affected by this philosophy. The philosophy of feminism has fed into the whole post-modern mindset which says, “My experience overrides an ultimate authority.”

So I think often we come to the Bible and we read passages with which we are not comfortable and we go, “Oh well, that was for then, and this is now. That just doesn’t feel right to me.” So we, in a sense, set ourselves up as the authority, rather than being under the authority of the Word of God.

Nancy: You know, John Paul Sartre, who was one of the philosophers who had an enormous influence on some of the early feminists, made a statement. He said, “A finite point without an infinite reference point is meaningless.” I think we come back to realize that as women we are finite. We’re a finite point.

If we are our own source of reference, if our own experience is what runs our lives and directs our lives, if we’re not subject to an infinite reference point, that is, the authority of a wise and sovereign and loving God as He has revealed Himself in the Scripture, if we are not subject to Him, then our lives do become meaningless.

So our search for meaning as women is found, not in ourselves, not in our own experience, but in the Word of God and in the God of His Word. That’s what gives our lives purpose and meaning and value.

Leslie Basham: Here at Revive Our Hearts we want to help you find that kind of purpose. We have a lot of resources at our website, ReviveOurHearts.com, to help you grow as a woman of God. You can also visit ReviveOurHearts.com to order The Feminist Mistake. It’s the book that Mary Kassian and Nancy Leigh DeMoss have been talking about.

If you’re new to the issue that Nancy and Mary were talking about today, you’ll be surprised at what you read. There’s such a push within feminist circles toward witchcraft and goddess worship. There’s a push within the evangelical world to change our view of God. The Feminist Mistake will open your eyes to these things and help you guard against this kind of thinking.

You can order it by calling 1-800-569-5959. How should the information we heard today affect structures of leadership in the home and in the church? We’ll consider that tomorrow.

When someone attacks the nature of God, as some feminists do, our best response is to focus on who God really is and to worship Him. Nancy’s going to help us do just that.

Nancy: In the last book of the Bible, we read of the vision the Apostle John had of the throne room of heaven. We read of the fact that the One who sits on that throne is the source of all life and all power. When the God of the heaven and the God of the universe revealed Himself, Scripture says that those that were around the throne fell down in submission, worship, and humility before that God.

Here’s what they said, Revelation 4:11, “Worthy are you, Our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” All power and glory and honor belongs, not to women, not to men, not to any created thing, but only to God the Creator. He alone is worthy to receive all of our praise and worship for all honor and power belong to Him.

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

*Helen Reddy, “I Am Woman,” Helen Reddy’s Greatest Hits (and more), 1975, BMI.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.