Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: As a college student, Jennifer Epperson concluded she would never get married.

Jennifer Epperson: What I saw was: A married woman has her identity swallowed up by the man. I think there was something intrinsically fearful in my soul of being disempowered because I was a woman.                                                                                                              
I think taking those stands and saying, “I will not . . . I will never . . .” were some type of insurance that my fearful soul was trying to put up, “No, don’t swallow me up. No, I don’t want to become insignificant.”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, September 4. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: Well, I’m delighted to introduce to our Revive Our Hearts listeners today, two very special women friends of mine—women who have challenged me with their thinking and their walk with the Lord.

We’re going to talk about some things that are important to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts as we consider the role of women as God intended it to be, and the role of women as the world portrays it.

I want you to meet my friends, beginning with Jennifer Epperson. Jennifer is the station manager of one of our station partners, WRMB out of Boynton Beach, Florida, part of the Moody Radio Group.

Jennifer, we love our partnership with the Moody stations across this country, and appreciate so much your ministry there at WRMB. Thank you, for joining us on Revive Our Hearts today.

Jennifer: Thank you so much for having me. I’m thrilled to be here with you.

Nancy: My other friend is someone that you’ve just met, but I have known for quite some time—Carolyn McCulley. Carolyn serves with Sovereign Grace Ministries, and is an author and a speaker.

Carolyn, you’ve been an important part of my life for a number of years, and I just thank you for coming to be a part of talking with our Revive Our Hearts listeners and sharing with us on Revive Our Hearts today.

Actually, you’ve been on the program with us before, and it’s good to welcome you back.

Carolyn McCulley: It’s always a pleasure to spend time with you.

Nancy: Jennifer, I think the genesis of this conversation we’re having today probably took place when I met you for the first time. One of the first things you said to me, I don’t even know if you remember this, but you said, “Please keep on doing programs about biblical womanhood and femininity and how that contrasts to the feminist ideal.”

You said, “We women need those kinds of programs,” and you identified with some of your own personal journey and some of the struggles you had had with early influences in your life.

We got into a conversation. I wish we could have recorded it then. Both of you women have been on a journey that did not have its roots in biblical thinking about what it means to be a woman.

Carolyn, you didn’t come to know the Lord until you were a young woman, so as a child and growing up in your teenage years, how did you first find yourself embracing some of what we call “feminist thinking” today?

Carolyn: I don’t ever remember making a choice. It was absorbed into my soul through osmosis! It was in the culture. It was in what I was reading. This is going to date me, but I can remember a tennis match with Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.

It was a battle of the sexes, and when she won, I came to school shrieking, “Yeah!” Like I had anything to do with it, but it was as if to say, “Yes! Women rock!” I was in grade school at the time, but it was this whole idea of competition and “besting” men. It was in my soul from the beginning.

Now, I am the oldest child, and I think that there is a tendency and a temptation toward bossiness anyway, as the oldest child, that also helped to fuel that and feed it. But I was always in competition with the neighborhood boys.

I had no concept of partnership or wanting to support or better another person. Not even out of the sense of humility—personal humility—not even in the male/female relationship. Before I knew it, there was that grid.

I was always competitive, and I always wanted to prove women’s worth. So I don’t remember making any conscious decision. Later on, as I went to college, I got a degree in journalism, but my minor, if you will, was women’s studies. I don’t even remember making the decision. I just floated into a class, and next thing you know, I was a teaching assistant and ended up with a certificate. I do like to joke with people that I am a certified feminist. I have the document. It’s on the wall.

Nancy: Card carrying.

Carolyn: Yes. The fact that I became a Christian later on is just God’s sense of humor.

Nancy: He was merciful and kind to you.

Carolyn: Yes.

Nancy: I want to talk about some of those women’s studies courses that both of you have experienced. But first, Jennifer, take us back to your growing-up experience. There were some aspects of your home life that really shaped your view of marriage and men and what you wanted to be as a woman.

Jennifer: Yes. My story was a little different from Carolyn’s in that I had a very godly mother. We were attending a church, a denomination that did not have a lot of solid, continual Bible teaching.

While I became a Christian at a very young age—I think I was about six—I was brought to Sunday school by my mom. I heard what the teacher said about Jesus, and I always believed it.

However, what I saw in my parent’s marriage angered me, and I think it was a righteous anger in a little girl’s soul. I saw my father—he didn’t physically abuse my mom, but emotionally he did, especially with his words.

I saw the way that the males were treated in our family. It was definitely different than the females were treated. The females were expected to fulfill a certain role, and when there was an argument, it was, “Betty, just put the food on the table,” and basically, “Shut up.”

I grew up with that anger in my heart. When I got to college, I received a full scholarship at a very liberal woman’s college in Massachusetts and got into a psychology class. I started reading some of these studies that corroborated what I saw at home, and I thought, “This must be true.” Then I did make a conscious decision to move away from what I saw as traditional—not necessarily biblical—worldview and more towards a feminist worldview.

Nancy: In essence, you were really saying in your heart, “I don’t want to let men treat me the way that I’ve seen my dad treat my mom.” Is that where your thinking was going?

Jennifer: Nancy, I think when we’re young, we make vows. We make self-vows. “I will never let a man treat me this way. I will never let a man talk to me the way my dad talks to my mother.” Then it continues, as you learn more of the feminist indoctrination. “I will never take my husband’s last name.” So down the road you go without even realizing it.

Carolyn: I remember making a similar statement. Somewhere in my teens, I just informed my dad that I was never going to take a man’s last name. I thought he’d be honored because we had three girls, and so the family name essentially died with us, anyway.

I thought that it would make him happy, but he was kind of stunned and looked at me with a questioning look of, “Why not?” He didn’t react in anger, but more of hurt surprise, and I remember being really defensive. “Well, this is the name you gave me. Why would I change it?”

I was carrying this huge chip on my shoulder, and for no particular reason. I had a good upbringing, and I didn’t have anything in particular happen to me. That is why I think I just absorbed the offense in the culture and created this out of the pride in my own heart. My sinfulness created this chip that was on my shoulder and carried it around. I don’t even have a testimony like yours, Jennifer, of being egregiously sinned against.

Nancy: What was it that made you say, “I don’t want to take a man’s last name?”

Carolyn: I had no idea of interdependence—the concept of coming together with someone else, mutuality, that comes to create a goal bigger than yourself. It was just all about me.

I had no idea that I needed to participate in any sense of community, or that I would need to lay down my life for anyone else. It was just what people could do for me. I am—therefore, everyone needs to serve me.

Jennifer: I think Carolyn mentioned a very important word, and that’s the word identity. In the American culture, there are so many good things that we have. We have freedom; however, it has come to a point where identity is the be-all and the end-all.

Nancy: Right.

Jennifer: In my particular case, what I saw was: A married woman has her identity swallowed up by the man. I think there was something intrinsically fearful in my soul of being disempowered because I was a woman.

I think taking those stands and saying, “I will not . . . I will never . . .” were some type of insurance that my fearful soul was trying to put up, “No, don’t swallow me up. No, I don’t want to become insignificant.”

Nancy: How did you begin to think about men? You had this anger, this simmering resentment and defensiveness that began to affect the way you viewed men in general.

Jennifer: Yes, it did, and I think it really congealed my freshman year of college. The first thing that a freshman does is go to Freshman Orientation.

We had one appointment on the schedule where we were to show up at the science center auditorium, and we were to view a movie. I didn’t know what that movie was, but all of us—and we were all women, I want to remind people it was an all-women’s college—were ushered into this auditorium.

Then this documentary was put on with Rosie the Riveter. She was a female worker, usually a wife and a mother that worked at some of the steel factories during World War II to make tanks and ammunition and that sort of thing while the men were out doing battle in the war.

Rosie would not have been at work had it not have been for this war, but this journalist came in and asked these ladies once the war was over, “Well, now what will you do? Is it okay with you to go back home?”

Lady after lady was paraded before the camera with a kerchief on saying, “Oh yes, I’d just be so happy to go back home and give my job to a boy who really needs it.” Out from the auditorium somewhere, I don’t know who started it, maybe an upperclassman, maybe one of the professors that happened to be there. I don’t know. But this booing and hissing, “Boo! Boo!” It just caught fire across the auditorium.

I look at that and I say, “What was the purpose of that?” Looking back, I believe the purpose of it was to start deconstructing some of our traditional values. If you can make fun of them, you can have people break free of them.

Nancy: So the clear message was?

Jennifer: The clear message was that women who stay home providing for their children are losers. In order to answer your question, by the end of the year, after a psychology class and viewing this type of thing, I became a misandronist. A lot of people say, “What is that, a misandronist?” It’s a person who hates men.

Carolyn: Now, you and I are about the same age, which is to say, permanently 29, right? I later found in reading books by Mary Kassian and others was how our generation was very much a focused generation of guinea pigs with the concept of Women’s Studies in college.

It started shortly before we hit our college years, and it was a very focused outreach to hit the next generation. After the consciousness-raising groups of the 60s were reaching to suburban women, they said, “We now need to get their daughters in college.”

As I sat in those classes and I was presented with clear pictures of sin—feminism does see sin clearly, in some cases—but the result of or the solution of it is to say, “Men are the oppressors.”

They have no concept, there’s no framework for understanding sin, so there’s no concept for grace, or redemption, or mutuality, or anything that transcends the identity of self. We were taught very specifically that men were the problem. Whether or not you had experienced that, like I had not, you absorbed that.

Then you wonder if you were trying to date why it didn’t work out. There you are, angry at men, and men see that. They sense it and they run. Now there were a number of women in the Women’s Studies program I was involved in who would not even spell “women” as we would traditionally—it was “womyn.”

Jennifer: I remember that.

Carolyn: They didn’t even want to have “men” in the word. I wasn’t that far. I didn’t want to be one of the “womyn” because I actually did like men. But most of them in that department were lesbians, so that was the natural outcropping of thinking. You’re going to create a woman-centered world. You’re going to push men to the perimeter.

Jennifer: In the 80s when you and I were in college, we were taught very much that males and females were the same, and it didn’t take long until the brain studies coming along in the 90s showed that differentiation between the way males and females thought.

Wow. That kind of blew the box. But now they’ve even adapted a little bit to that, that this is legitimate forms of thinking, and it is. That’s the way God has made us, but there was no accounting for that at that time.

Carolyn: It is funny how science has caught up to find that there are more than just the biological differences. There are differences in our brains. There are differences in our chromosomes. There are all kinds of differences, and there was no recognition of those differences. We had to wear outfits like men and get dressed, do you remember those?

Jennifer: The shoulder pads of the 80s, yes!

Carolyn: The big floppy box ties. We were trying to minimize our femininity. What most people don’t realize is that feminism has a thought process and a philosophy that’s older than the 1960s.

It actually goes back into the 1850s. The first wave of feminism recognized some sins in marriage, and it was trying from the very start to reshape some marriage laws, some customs. They were also aimed at getting the vote.

Now, when I speak to women about this, I’m clear on saying, “I’m not unhappy with some of the reforms that came about. I’m glad I can work as a single woman. I’m glad I can own property. I’m glad I can vote.”

But those were happy byproducts of that movement despite the aim—because from the start, it was aimed at God. It was designed to renounce God’s authority over the design of marriage, and the earliest founders were trying to create new Bibles, to get rid of the masculine theology that they saw.

That came to a close with the beginnings of World War I and II in America, but it continued in Europe. After everything settled out and sorted out, along came Betty Friedan in 1963.

In 1963 she took all these socialist ideas that were popular in Europe and reconvened them for the American consciousness, the American experience, and came out with the book, The Feminine Mystique, where she talked about the “trapped housewife syndrome.”

Most people think that feminism is something that happened in the 60s and 70s. In fact, I remember thinking that, too, and being in grade school when Title IX came around and thinking, “Yeah. Feminism. It’s done. We have our rights. What is everybody so upset about?” I had no idea that I was still in the eye of the storm.

Nancy: The Feminine Mystique really was a seminal book that, while many of our listeners may not have read it, it was a book that was promoting a philosophy that was extremely popular on the college campuses about the time you two were going through those Women’s Studies programs.

I know, Jennifer, you unearthed here one of the textbooks you had in college that was shaping your thinking, being birthed out of Betty Friedan’s, The Feminine Mystique.

What are some of the things—as you have it open in front of you, and I see a lot of highlighting there. Pink highlighting. Why did you use pink?

Jennifer: I should have used a yellow marker! I was thinking about coming to these microphones for Revive Our Hearts. I wanted to revisit the young woman that I was at age 17 when I left West Warwick High School and Rhode Island and went off to college.

There was a book that played a significant role in my thinking during my freshman psychology class, and the title of it is, The Longest War. Even the title gives it away. The Longest War: Sex Differences in Perspective, by feminist psychologist, Carol Travis.

Carolyn, you just mentioned the “housewife syndrome.” I have, actually, the book open to the subtitle, “Why wives wilt and husbands thrive: the housewife syndrome.” I have a sentence highlighted here.

“Marriage exerts its most negative effects on women whose sole identity is wife and mother. These women are subject to the housewife syndrome.” I have it here highlighted in pink.

My 17-year-old mind was just sucking this stuff up. As I turn the pages, it’s loaded with comments that I’ve made in the margins. It didn’t take into account the Christian worldview of sin.

It didn’t take into account God’s Word. All I was doing was going by a study that someone had done, and anyone who’s taken debate courses before knows that you can take one study and argue positive one day and negative the next day.

Then also, empirical evidence—sometimes what you see isn’t always the reality of things, but God’s Word gives us that whole spectrum of truth. So without understanding that what was going on in my home was sinful, I just saw, “If I don’t stand up for myself, this is what’s going to happen to me.” I felt driven in that direction.

Nancy: Really, what both of you were experiencing in those years was similar in many respects to what Eve experienced in Genesis chapter three in the garden of Eden when the serpent, Satan himself, came and said to the woman, “Has God really said . . .” and put a wedge between her and Adam where God had intended for there to be perfect oneness and unity.

With the introduction of sin came conflict in the marriage, conflict within the woman’s heart, within the man’s heart, and between them and their children. Here we are today.

The entrance of sin in the world is what we find at the root and the heart of these issues in every generation. What we’re trying to do on Revive Our Hearts is to bring women today back to the authority of Scripture, to the Word of God, and to the Gospel, which is what redeems us—man or woman—from that sinful condition we fell into back in the garden of Eden.

Well, we're going to have to stop this conversation and pick it up again tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts. I know our listeners are going to be encouraged, Carolyn and Jennifer, as you share more of the journey, the pilgrimage, that God has had you on to revamp and to renew and transform your thinking and to redeem you from that destructive path that the enemy had put you on.

So join us tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts as we continue this conversation with Carolyn McCulley and Jennifer Epperson.

Leslie: Maybe you can relate to Jennifer and Carolyn’s stories. Perhaps you’ve grown up hearing the same kind of feminist ideology that affected them. Would you consider an alternative way of thinking? During this series we’d love to recommend a book called Does Christianity Squash Women? by Rebecca Jones.

Like our conversation today, this book takes a provocative look at the Bible and femininity. You’ll examine the development of women’s issues through the Bible and then consider their implications for present day Christian living.

What you will discover is not a box of confinement, but rather a fulfilling path to freedom and purpose. We’d like to offer today’s talk between Nancy and Jennifer Epperson and Carolyn McCulley, along with Does Christianity Squash Women? for a donation of any amount.

Call toll free 1-800-569-5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com. When you visit ReviveOurHearts.com, share your thoughts on today’s program and find out what other women have to say.

You can add your comments to our Daily Listener Blog. Today’s topic is bound to provoke an interesting discussion. ReviveOurHearts.com is a valuable resource packed with biblical material for women.

I’m so thankful God has provided this website and the Revive Our Hearts radio program, and Nancy is, too.

Nancy: Well, this first week of September always is a time for me of special memories. It was six years ago this week, that Revive Our Hearts first went on the air.

What a journey this has been! What a joy it’s been to see God calling women to freedom and fullness and fruitfulness in Christ. I wish you could read the emails that I receive day after day from women, sharing how God has transformed their lives by the truth of His Word as they’ve practically applied it in their home life, their church life, in the workplace, and in their other relationships.

I am very conscious that that is not just the fruit of my ministry. This is not Nancy Leigh DeMoss Ministries. This is the fruit of a host of friends who undergird this ministry with their prayers and their financial support. That is why we’ve developed the Revive Our Hearts Ministry Partner team. This special group of listeners is involved in this ministry in three key ways.

First, they intercede. They pray for revival among the hearts of women and for the ministry of Revive Our Hearts, and then they interact. They help us get the message out into the hearts and lives of other women in a variety of ways that we have available.

Then, they invest by becoming monthly financial supporters of this ministry. I am so thankful for the team of individuals that God has raised up to partner with us in this ministry over these past six years.

This month we’re asking the Lord to raise up several hundred new partners to join us in this ministry. When you sign up for the Ministry Partner team, you’ll receive a monthly resource that will help encourage you in your walk with the Lord.

Then, you’ll get a complimentary registration to one Revive Our Hearts conference per year. When you sign up to become a Ministry Partner, we’ll keep you updated on what’s happening in the ministry and how you can pray for us.

Most of all, as a Ministry Partner, you’ll have the joy of knowing that God is using you as an instrument to touch the hearts and homes of thousands of women all across this country.

Leslie: To sign up and become a ministry partner, visit ReviveOurHearts.com. All the information Nancy just mentioned is there.

Well, at one time in their lives, Jennifer Epperson and Carolyn McCulley could make men very nervous. Hear why, tomorrow, when they join us again for Revive Our Hearts.

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

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