Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Woman Finds True Fulfillment

Leslie Basham: Mary Kassian says God’s instructions are pleasant and desirable.

Mary Kassian: Our problem is, we come and try to present a whole list of do’s and don’ts. We don’t capture women’s hearts for the beauty of the vision of what womanhood is all about, and it’s our only hope for wholeness to understand that our whole purpose is to live for the glory of God.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, May 1, 2014.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Yesterday we heard part one of a message from my friend Mary Kassian. It was fascinating for me to hear her describe the roots of feminism early in the twentieth century. 

Mary gave this message at True Woman '08—the first national women’s conference hosted by Revive Our Hearts. 

That really was the beginning of what is becoming a True Woman movement—one that’s still gaining momentum as women around the world are embracing God’s calling on their lives and trying to spread this message to others. 

That movement is going to be propelled even more this year at True Woman '14. Mary will be one of the speakers, October 9–11 in Indianapolis. 

Let’s hear part two of this classic True Woman message from Mary Kassian called, “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!” 

Mary: In the late 1950s, an American political activist and journalist, Betty Friedan, interviewed dozens of other women and concluded that a discrepancy existed between what society told women would make them happy and fulfilled and how happy and fulfilled they actually felt.

In her resulting book, published in 1963, Friedan argued that women were trying to conform to a male-dictated image of womanhood, the feminine mystique, but that doing so left them with vague feelings of dissatisfaction. Here’s the underlying presupposition behind Betty Friedan’s ideas and the ideas of feminism as a whole. We women need and can trust no other authority than our own personal truth. We need and can trust no other authority than our own personal truth.

Alvin Toffler, the author of Future Shock called The Feminine Mystique the book that pulled the trigger on history. Indeed, once woman accepted this very basic premise of needing and trusting no other authority except her own, personal truth, she set her foot on a path that would take her, and ultimately the whole of society, in a direction diametrically opposed to the heart and the purposes and the ways of God.

Simone de Beauvoir’s and Betty Friedan’s writings gained popularity amongst North American women. Evidently many women were experiencing feelings of frustration and discontentment, and many eagerly yearned for the "something more" proffered by these feminists.

A problem had been exposed, and feminists were convinced that it was the problem. They hadn’t yet found a word to adequately describe it, but that came quite quickly. In the 1960s, late 60s, feminist author Kate Millett used the term patriarchy to describe the problem without a name.

Now patriarchy derives its origin from two Greek words, pater, meaning “father,” and archi, meaning “rule.” Patriarchy was to be understood as the rule of the father. Feminists argued that patriarchy is what caused all the heartache of woman. Patriarchy, the condition of having male in a leadership, authority role is what caused woman’s heartache and heartbreak.

It wasn’t just an abstract concept of men having more power and authority than women. It was woven throughout our entire society’s family and social and political and religious structures. It was laced throughout our social etiquette and our customs, our rituals, our traditions and laws, our entire system of education and division of labor, and all of these things were responsible for keeping men in a dominant position.

Patriarchy was seen as the ultimate cause of woman’s discontent, and only the demise and the deconstruction of all patriarchal structures would lead to her freedom. Only when woman broke free from the traditional, male-defined, Judeo-Christian roles and rules would she find meaning and fulfillment, and thus, the trigger was pulled.

In the first phase of feminism, women claimed the right to name themselves. Their goal was to shed the differences that made women weak and vulnerable to become more like men. They began to dress like men and smoke and drink and swear like men and to claim sexual freedom and participation in the work force.

Newly established feminist groups like NOW, the National Organization for Women, began public lobbies and demonstrations in order to further the feminist agenda, which consisted of these points:

  • Full self-determination—woman needed to decide who she was and needed to have the legal right to act independently of her husband.
  • Freedom from biology—that prompted feminists at that time to lobby for birth control, for legalized abortion, state daycare, reproductive technologies, such as test tube babies, anything that took the burden of bearing and caring for children off of a woman’s shoulders and put it more on society as a whole.
  • Economic independence—pay equity, equal pay for work of equal value, changes to financial practices, total and equal integration, affirmative action.

Women began to seek these things with passion and fervor—sexual freedom, changes in adultery and decency laws. Feminists picketed outside New York Times building in opposition to the male-segregated help wanted ads. They organized a splashy protest of the Miss America contest. But although the awareness of a woman’s movement was spreading, allegiance to the feminist perspective was not yet widespread, and feminist theorists concluded at that time that woman as a whole needed education.

They needed enlightenment. They didn’t get it. They didn’t know how bad their situation really was. They didn’t know how bad men really were and how repressed they were to be just seeking happiness in motherhood and childbearing and being wives.

They needed a tool to show women and how to educate women how oppressed they really were, and inadvertently, quite inadvertently, they unearthed one.

Feminists in New York discovered that if they gathered women together in small groups and got all those women talking about their hurts and grievances against men, then all the women in the group would begin to get upset with men, even those women who didn’t have any hurts and grievances themselves, and then their anger could be directed into action. They could be empowered to rebel against the authority of the males in their homes and also in society as a whole and change the rules of the game, and this technique was called consciousness-raising.

It wasn’t new. Consciousness-raising was actually a political technique used by the revolutionary army of Mao Tse-tung. His slogan was, “Speak bitterness to recall bitterness. Speak pain to recall pain.” Together, the women found the strength to act and to confront their situation and the resolve to be active in forcing change, and that is how Mao Tse-tung got his revolution.

In the fall of 1968, feminist leader, Kathie Sarachild, organized a guide and a manifesto to consciousness-raising and presented it to the first Women’s Liberation Conference held in Chicago forty years ago.

Consciousness-raising encouraged women to change their beliefs and behaviors, to make demands in their relationships, to support the woman’s movement, and to become politically active. Some of you will remember an old commercial for hair products that went, “And she told two friends, and she told two friends, and she told two friends.” The commercial started with a picture of one woman and then added the pictures of the two women that she had told and then the women that they had told, and soon the screen is full of hundreds upon hundreds of pictures of women, and that’s exactly how feminism spread.

There were only about 200 women at the first National Women’s Conference in Chicago in 1968, forty years ago. But with the help of consciousness-raising, women across the continent began to claim the right to name and define themselves. By 1970, 20,000 women marched proudly down New York’s Fifth Avenue identifying themselves as part of the Women’s Lib Movement. Betty Friedan summed up the tenor of the movement when she blazed, “There is no way any man, woman, or child is ever going to escape the nature of our revolution.”

The feminist movement began to shift in mindset at this time. Women began to see themselves as a sex class and as a distinct class of people that needed liberation, that needed freedom, and that needed freedom from oppression. The first phase of the movement viewed women’s differences as weaknesses. The second phase viewed their differences as a source of pride and confidence. I remember that song. I sang it as a young girl.

I am strong.
I am invincible.
I am woman.
Hear me roar in numbers too big to ignore.

Women turned their attention at that time from naming themselves to naming the world. History was just arbitrary. It was all the rules and all the ideas that men had made. It was his-story, and it was time for that to change. So woman took it into her own hands to change that from economics to politics, psychology, linguistics, relationships, religion. Women needed to change that which had been construed for male advantage.

Women began to institute women’s programs in colleges and universities. Prior to 1969, there were no women’s studies courses. By the end of the 70s, the number of women’s studies courses had mushroomed to over 30,000 across the United States. Educators modified gradeschool curriculum, continuing education courses, and courses at technical schools.

This was the golden age of feminism. At the opening of the decade, there were very few women who would call themselves feminists, but by the end of that decade, feminism had dispersed—the ideology had dispersed to affect almost every member of society. Many women had claimed the feminist right to name self and to name the world, and soon, both in secular and religious circles, they started to claim another right that logically followed, and that was the right to name God.

When Helen Reddy accepted the Grammy Award for I Am Woman song, she said, “I’d like to thank god because she made everything possible.” Betty Friedan, earlier that same year, had predicted that the great debate of the next decade would be, is God He?

Feminists had named themselves and their world, and in the final phase, they began to turn their attention to naming God. They concluded that if God is male, then the male is God, so of course God isn’t He. Well then, who or what is God? According to feminism, women decide, and ultimately, that means that they themselves are God—follows logically.

The feminist metaphysic teaches that each woman contains divinity within her own being. New Age philosophy, Wicca, goddess worship are all expressions of this feminist spirituality. Have you ever wondered how and why advertisers named their new women’s shaver after a goddess and market their product as being able to provide stubble-free legs worthy of the goddess in you?

The fundamental premise of feminism is that women need and can trust no other authority than our own personal truth, and that was a really quick fly-over of just where we’ve come from in the last forty, fifty years.

It was a philosophical quake that shook underground. The implications of that have come back over society in wave after wave after wave, and the carnage in young women’s lives, in older women’s lives, the carnage is unbelievable. We are so broken.

We have been taught that we ought not to bow and submit to any external power, but that’s not the message of the Bible. God created us. He created us male and female, and that’s not inconsequential. That means something.

The Bible informs us that there was an essential difference in the manner and the purpose of the creation of the two sexes. The New Testament reiterates that there are basic differences between men and women that are to be honored as part of God’s design.

By refusing to honor these differences or by defiantly shaking our fists at God and saying, “It cannot be so!” we define or we claim the right to name for ourselves. We take authority into our own hands. Naming is a right which belongs to God. It is God who made the earth and created mankind upon it. We have no right to question the wisdom of His directives for our behavior.

God spoke through Isaiah,

Woe to him who quarrels with his maker, to him who is but a potsherd [that’s a broken piece of pottery] among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, “What are you making?” Does your work say, “He has no hands”? Concerning things to come, do you question Me about my children, or do you give me orders about the work of My hands? It is I who made the earth and created mankind upon it” (Isa. 45:10–12).

Paul repeats the admonition in Romans.

But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to Him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me this way?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? (Rom. 9:20–21).

The Creator fashioned the two sexes differently, and this is a fact that we dare not overlook or trivialize. In 1 Corinthians 11:9, 12, we are told that, “The man did not come from the woman, but the woman from the man. Neither was man created for woman but woman for man.”

Furthermore, “The woman is not independent of man. Nor is man independent of woman. For as the woman came from man, so also man is born of woman, but everything comes from God.” It's very unpopular to read these Scriptures nowadays, isn’t it? Very unpopular.

But I am crazy enough to believe that God knew what He was doing, and what He was doing was good. Indeed, it was very good.

Our identity as male and female is important. As John Piper says, “It speaks to the glory of God.” Who I am as a woman and who I am in relationship to my husband, how I relate—people should look and say, “Wow! I see Jesus.”

Women, I believe that God’s instructions for us in His Word are not only right, they are also good and pleasant and desirable. Our problem is, we come and try to present a whole list of do’s and don’ts. We don’t capture women’s heart for the beauty of the vision of what womanhood is all about, and it’s our only hope for wholeness to understand that our whole purpose is to live for the glory of God.

So what’s the answer to the question feminism posed almost fifty years ago? It was a spiritual question, the whole question of, “Well, what’s going to bring women happiness and fulfillment and joy in life?”  Do we reel the clock back, go back to the 1950s? Is it true that woman will only find satisfaction when she’s the mom and a wife and has a station wagon and a white picket fence? Is that true? That’s not true.

There is no man on the face of this earth that is going to fill your needs and desires. We need to turn that desire to the right target. We were created with needs and desires in order to point us and to draw us and to lure us and entice us and make us fall in love with Him to whom those desires point. That is true.

It was forty years ago that 200 women gathered in Chicago at the first National Women’s Convention. There were only 200, and at that time, they instituted a program of consciousness-raising, of speaking bitterness, of being angry and rebellious.

Forty years later, and here I stand before an army that God has called. An army that knows it is not by might, not by power. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. They have divine power to demolish strongholds and bring evil to its knees.

The Lord isn’t so concerned about whether or not we’re married, whether we’re single. Those things, ultimately, are an outworking of His plan and purposes in our life. What He is concerned about is that we have hearts that say yes to Him and that love Him and that are willing to be crazy enough to say, “What He has made is beautiful,” and crazy enough to say, “Selfless living, sacrificial living, laying down my life in emulation of the Christ I love is worth it!”

In that, and only in that, am I going to figure out the path to happiness and fulfillment. So women, what are you going to say yes to because we have been inundated with images. Every day it’s in our face. What it is, the world’s solution to our happiness, the world’s solution to that problem, that yearning, that discontentment.

Christ is the solution, Christ alone. I want to stand before you, and I pray that you will stand as a woman who says, “Yes, yes, Lord, may it be so.”

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Amen. That’s Mary Kassian pointing us to Christ. So beautifully, so eloquently reminding us that Christ and Christ alone is the solution to the deepest problems and longings of our hearts.

Well, needless to say, Mary’s message at True Woman ’08 touched a deep place in the hearts of women who were in that auditorium that day. I believe it’s touched a deep place in many hearts of those who have been listening today.

In fact, if you’re in a setting where you can do so, I would encourage you just right now to take a few moments to stop and ponder, to respond to the Lord and to say, “Yes, Lord, I want to find my deepest satisfaction and contentment and fulfillment in You. And I want to be a woman who points other women to do the same.” 

Livinging out that commitment is a daily process. But sometimes I find it’s helpful to pull away from the busyness and the routine of everyday life and take some concentrated time to focus on God’s calling for your life.  

The  upcoming True Woman Conference will give you that opportunity. We'll be hearing from in-depth Bible teachers like Mary Kassian who will take us to the Word and show us how it applies to our lives. You’ll have time to reflect on what God is doing during this season of life. You’ll have time to prayerfully respond and repent and celebrate and worship and to be encouraged along with other women who are seeking God in the same way.

True Woman is coming to Indianapolis this October 9–11, and I hope you’ll plan on joining us.  For all the details, visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: Thanks Nancy. God is up to some incredible things around the world, speaking to individual women about practical issues in their life. Tomorrow you’ll hear about some of what He’s doing. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

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

"I Am Woman," Helen Reddy, Helen Reddy's Greatest Hits (And More), 1975 BMI.

 

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