RadTrad Reader Posts an Article Which Goes To the Very Roots of the Feminist Errors So Prevalent in Our Traditional Communities.
No, A Christian Can’t be a Feminist
By: Khater Augustine
When speaking with fellow Catholic college students about my opposition to Feminism, I will often hear things like “Yes Khater, I agree with you. Third wave Feminism is awful!” Their agreement often turns to shock and horror when they find that not only do I oppose 3rdwave Feminism, but also 2ndand 1stwave Feminism. They ask, surprised “So you don’t think women should be able to vote?” This is the response one will get from most so called “conservatives” today. The embrace of Feminism is one of the more revolting aspects of our emasculated modern “conservatism” It is even more saddening that otherwise orthodox Christians have embraced this movement, a movement which the preeminent Southern Presbyterian theologian and political philosopher R.L Dabney in his tract entitled “Women’s Rights, Women” called “sheer infidelity” Feminism, or the “Women’s Rights Movement” as it was called in Dabney’s time is so opposed to Scripture, Tradition, and reality that one hardly knows where to begin with criticisms.
To have any real discussion on the errors of Feminism, we must first determine what Feminism is. There can be no exact definition of Feminism, because as a social and political movement, it will have varying definitions depending on the one defining it. We can however, get a fairly clear view of what its principles are. The modern idea of “waves” of Feminism is wrongheaded and shallow. It assumes that the three waves of Feminism were different movements with different goals and aims. Rev. Dabney saw, at the root of Feminism, two fundamental claims. First “that the legislation, at least of society, shall disregard all the natural distinctions of the sexes and award the same rights and franchises to both in every respect”: and second that “women while in the married state shall be released from every species of conjugal submission.” According to Dabney, these two claims would require “The assimilation of the garments of the two sexes, their competition in the same industries and professions, and their common access to the same amusements and recreations.” These are the principles of all the so called “waves” of Feminism. Feminism is the advocacy of legislation and cultural attitudes that disregard the differences between the sexes, remove women from their God-given roles as wives and mothers by encouraging them to enter the workforce, and eliminate the role of men as the heads of their wives, their households, and society. It makes little difference whether it’s Susan B. Anthony lobbying for women’s suffrage, or Lena Dunham lobbying for abortion and contraception. The objects of their lobbying may be different, but the goals are the same. The reason the “waves” are seen as different by moderns is because each wave was clearer about its radical intentions than the last. The first wave came toward the end of the 19th century, a time when American society was extremely conservative, and still relatively Christian. This being the case, the advocates of the “first wave” knew there were certain boundaries they could not cross, and so worked with what they had. First wave Feminism followed in the wake of Radicalism, which began as a Northern political movement for Abolition. What we call “1st wave” Feminism called for women’s suffrage, and the easing of divorce laws. By demanding women’s suffrage, it denied male headship over civil society, and called for a formal rejection of the indissolubility of marriage. The so called “second wave” of Feminism came during the 1960s: that disastrous decade that saw the end of prayer in public schools, the beginnings of the movement for legalized abortion, and the rise of modern Leftism in the United States. America was still at least a nominally Christian nation at the time, so this group still had certain limits. Second wave Feminism was much broader in its attack. It pushed for equality in the workplace, and the elimination of gender roles in the family. Second wave Feminism led, quite tragically, to the virtual end of all-male higher education in the United States. Third wave or what we might call “modern Feminism” has no limits or restraints. America is no longer even nominally Christian, and so there are no boundaries in the way of these “modern” Feminists... They lobby for abortion on demand, free condoms in public schools, and even the absolute end of masculinity. Anything that is slightly masculine must go. We see this at Harvard, where their Leftist administration is attempting to forcefully shut down harmless all-male social clubs that have been around for centuries, because they “exclude women.” Each “wave” is more radical than the last, and as this wave is much more radical than the first two, it is viewed as novel or crazy by most modern “conservatives.” As Dabney rightly puts it “What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution; to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition.”
Now then, as we have given the principles of Feminism, and taken a brief look at its history, let us move on to the subject of this article: the incompatibility of Feminism and orthodox Christianity. We turn first to Holy Scripture, which is the very Word of God Almighty. We must say with Pope Leo XIII that “For all the books which the Church receives as sacred and canonical are written wholly and entirely, with all their parts, at the dictation of the Holy Ghost; and so far is it from being possible that any error can co-exist with inspiration, that inspiration not only is essentially incompatible with error but excludes and rejects it as absolutely and necessarily, as it is impossible that God Himself, the supreme Truth, can utter that which is not true. . . . It follows that those who maintain that an error is possible in any genuine passage of the sacred writings either pervert the Catholic notion of inspiration or make God the author of such error” No clear teaching of Scripture can be wrong or changed: except of course, in cases where the Old Law is replaced by the New Covenant. If this is the case, then it follows that all forms of Feminism are, as Dabney rightly called them “sheer infidelity”, because they impugn the authority and inerrancy of Scripture. The Scriptures speak in no uncertain terms regarding the role of women. As St. Paul states “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself it’s Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everythingto their husbands.”(Eph 5:22-24) Further he states “I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of every wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Cor 11:3-4) It may be argued that in the broader passage of this particular verse, Paul is discussing head coverings, but that does not nullify this statement, or make it any less authoritative. Finally, Paul says women ought to “love their husbands and children, be pure, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.”(Titus 2:3-5) These verses leave no room for question or doubt. The primary role of women is as wives and mothers, in submission to their husbands. Thus, Holy Scripture and Feminism are absolutely incompatible. Modernists may argue that these verses were “only for that time”, and that “we know better now.” As Leo points out, this is not the orthodox Christian approach to hermeneutics. Others may try to contextualize these verses to fit a modern, Feminist prospective. This is impossible to do and a heterodox practice besides. To impose modern categories of thought on clear teachings of Holy Scripture is to deny its infallibility. If St. Paul was wrong about all of this, on what basis can we say that he wasn’t wrong about homosexuality, fornication, and all of his other teachings? Either Scripture is the Word of God or it is not. If it is, then there is no room for debate among orthodox Christians on this issue. As Paul says in 1 Cor 2:6-7 “Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age, or of the rulers of this age who are doomed to pass away. But we import a secret and hidden wisdom of God. Which God decreed before the ages for our glory.” It is clear that the teachings of Paul in Scripture are not just for that age or time, but for all ages, because they come from God.
As faithful Catholics, Scripture is not our only guide. Dabney was no Catholic, but this is not merely a Protestant reading of the text. On the contrary, this is also the perennial teaching of the Church. In his commentaries on the letters of St. Paul, St. John Chrysostom commenting on St. Paul’s words, states ““Wives be subject to your husbands” he writes to wives: “That is, be subject for God’s sake, because this adorns you, Paul says, not them. For I mean not that subjection which is due to a master nor yet that alone which is of nature but that offered for God’s sake.” St. Augustine in his work “On Marriage and Concupiscence” writes “Nor can it be doubted, that it is more consonant with the order of nature that men should bear rule over women, than women over men. It is with this principle in view that the apostle says, ‘The head of the woman is the man;’ and, ‘Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands.’ So also the Apostle Peter writes: ‘Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.” St. Thomas says in his Summa Theologica “For the higher reason which is assigned to contemplation is compared to the lower reason which is assigned to action, and the husband is compared to his wife, who should be ruled by her husband, as Augustine says” Pope Leo XIII, in his encyclical Rerum Novarum states “Women, again, are not suited to certain trades; for a woman is by nature fitting for home work, and it is that which is best adapted at once to preserve her modesty, and to promote the good bringing up of children and the well-being of the family.” In Arcanum Divinae, Leo goes on to say “The husband is the chief of the family and the head of the wife. The woman, because she is flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone, must be subject to her husband and obey him; not, indeed, as a servant, but as a companion, so that her obedience shall be wanting in neither honor nor dignity. Since the husband represents Christ, and since the wife represents the Church, let there always be, both in him who commands and in her who obeys, a heaven-born love guiding both in their respective duties. For "the husband is the head of the wife; as Christ is the head of the Church. . . Therefore, as the Church is subject to Christ, so also let wives be to their husbands in all things." We see from these statements that the teaching of Scripture is backed by the authority of the Church’s preeminent theologians. It was only until after the Council that this understanding, fell out of favor with mainstream Catholic theology. Vatican II brought with it novelties and error, and the question of the role of women was no exception. John Paul II, perhaps the most ardent promoter of the Council, published a “Letter to Women” in which the traditional teaching of the Church on this point was ignored and replaced by an understanding that is indistinguishable from that of modern humanitarians. He writes “Thank you, women who work! You are present and active in every area of life-social, economic, cultural, artistic and political. In this way you make an indispensable contribution to the growth of a culture which unites reason and feeling, to a model of life ever open to the sense of "mystery", to the establishment of economic and political structures ever more worthy of humanity.” It’s hard to say what “economic and political structures even more worthy of humanity” are being referred to in this statement. We see here, as in so many other places, a clear contradiction between the understanding of the Church before and after the Council.
Modernists and secularists argue that the traditional position of the Church somehow lessens the worth of women. A more accurate summation of our position is that God has given men and women different roles in society and that it is their obligation and duty to fulfill them. This is a view that is at odds, not just with Feminism, but with modern thinking as a whole. One of the fundamental errors of modernism is egalitarianism: the idea that all people are fundamentally equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities. This view is neither conservative nor Christian, nor it might be added, compatible with the laws of nature. We see a clear hierarchy in Paul: the subordination of wives to husbands, slaves to masters, and the church to Christ. This is clearly an anti-egalitarian structure. There are as Dabney puts it “superiors and inferiors” when it comes to civil society. If we say that men are to rule society, and if the house is a microcosm of a society, then it would not be rash to say that only men should be given the vote in a traditional Christian state. There are of course, distinctions that must be made. We live in a secular democratic society, and in our current situation, it is probably best to encourage conservative women to vote for the sake of the common good. It must also be made clear that while the role of women is as ideally wives and mothers, there are exceptions to this in our modern society. Modern Capitalism has made it very hard for a man to support a family on one wage, so there are times when a woman must work to make ends meet. However, if a man makes enough to shelter, feed, and clothe his family, the woman’s place is always in the home as wife and mother.
The greatest example of womanhood we get in Holy Scripture is that of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Blessed Virgin exemplifies all of the virtues of women mentioned by Paul to their fullest capacity. She must therefore be an example and a role model for all Christian women. When she is told that God has chosen her to be the mother of our Lord by the Angel Gabriel, she rejoices saying “All generations shall call me blessed.” We ought to note why she says this. She is called “blessed” not because she had a great career and made millions, which is what Feminism seeks for all women. She is called Blessed because God chose her to be a mother, and not just any mother, but the mother of our Lord. She is in this sense the Mother of God. The importance of motherhood for women cannot be overstated when discussing this. One of the great tragedies of modern popular Christianity is that in discussions of womanhood, Mary is almost never mentioned. We are instead given secular reasons for why Feminism is good or bad. To ignore the Blessed Virgin in this discussion would be a grave error on our part.
We might say that society is like a body. Feminism, then, is like a cancer to the body. Once the cancer has spread, there is little, if any hope of survival. Feminism is but one of the many cancers which are slowly killing Western society. Dabney accurately stated that this lust for egalitarianism, of which Feminism is a major part will “destroy Christianity and civilization in America.” The natural question that follows from all thinking people is, “What are we to do?” “How might we avoid our destruction?” To this question I can give no answer. When there is little hope of survival of the patient, a doctor will be honest, and tell the patient he is very likely to die. So I will say, that in my estimation, it is very likely that all of this innovation and toying around with infidelity will lead to the death of Western Civilization. All hope is not lost. The only thing that can save us now is the grace and mercy of God. Only a miracle would turn Feminists back to God and his clear teachings. We must pray daily for God’s grace and mercy on our society, and do whatever we can in our lives to be examples of Christian virtue and wisdom. The rest is up to God.