Egalitarianism. It’s not about egos or eagles. The root word is French—and it’s about equality. The technical definition of egalitarianism is the belief of humanity being equal—racial equality, gender equality, equality of the poor and rich, the peasants and the patricians. Good stuff. Who wouldn’t want to be an egalitarian?
But I want to talk about Christian egalitarianism, specifically Christian gender egalitarianism. (Isms. Wow.) At its core, egalitarianism is innocent—yes, we’re all equal in God’s sight; absolutely, there is “neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female” for we are Christ’s. Absolutely. If affirming that means being an egalitarian, then I’m all for it.
It’s trickier than that, though, because when we talk about equality, we’re dealing with slippery terms. What’s equal? What’s fair? Who defines both? When it comes to race, the Bible is unequivocally clear that all are descendants of Adam. We get his sin and his image, regardless of skin color or place of birth. We’re equal before God, and the difference is not in our worth.
The Bible is equally clear about gender. It’s just gotten muddied up by well-intentioned Christians who apply “equality” with such a broad brush that it blurs distinctions. I know it’s PC to just accept egalitarianism and try to tweak it to fit in with the Bible. It’s so much easier to get along through life without squishing toes.
But the fact is, egalitarianism defines my life—or what I should be. It deals with who I am as a girl. It talks about my inherent worth. It sets my goals. It colors how men view me. I have been so deeply affected by egalitarianism; and it’s stepped on my toes long enough.
We better get it right.
Equality. Define it. An egalitarian defines equality as equal in standing and calling. To wit, God doesn’t degrade women for being women and reward men for being men: they’re equal. He loves womanhood and He loves manhood for what they are. But then egalitarianism blurs what “woman” means, what “man” means. It takes manhood and womanhood out of a moral context. And that leaves women defining what woman is and men defining what man is. If you ain’t happy with it, tough.
Now I don’t think it’s true that all egalitarians are hardcore feminists. All feminists are egalitarians, to be sure, but egalitarians in general don’t have any opinion on roles. Feminism, if you can believe it, puts manhood and womanhood in a moral context—or, well, a context where women are belittled for staying home, loving family and sacrificing for their man and men are belittled, period. Feminism takes a stand on who women are and should be. It’s opposite, complementarianism, also takes a stand—a radically different stand, I must say, but both are stands nonetheless. Egalitarianism floats its boat through the middle—“Sure, honey, work if you like, stay home if you like, be whatever you like. Doesn’t matter to me.”
But folks, it does matter. It matters so much.
See, women need vision. (Caveat: Everyone needs vision. And you can’t buy it at Walmart.) We need purpose. We need to know who we are, why we are and where we’re going. Especially in the marriage relationship, we need to know what makes us woman and what makes men men—and then we can go from there.
Girls, think about this for a moment. We’ve been indoctrinated with a brand of “equality” to the point where we don’t even know who we are. Have you ever wondered why you were made female? Have you ever wondered if that made a difference? Would you be the same, would you have the same goals and purpose if you were male? Egalitarians say no. God says yes. He said it was very good—both male and female, completing each other to form Mankind.
And if God says something is good...do I need to even point this out?
I appreciate egalitarianism in its effort of encouraging equality, of encouraging equal worth for both sexes. But when “equal worth’’ means giving up our worth and molding us into a genderless person, when it means denying the intrinsic design of our different bodies and natures—that’s where I take issue.
We’re okay with talking about differences in the sexes and all that good stuff, but we’re not willing to define the difference. We’re too afraid of putting women in boxes. We’re too afraid that God’s Word is too politically incorrect for the twenty-first century.
I don’t believe in a God of boxes—just a God of principle. The circumstances change, but the principles, never. We’ve really got to stop pretending that God created a free-for-all in the gender department and then blesses whoever has the most heart and passion and talent. What God creates, He governs. And that’s good.
Egalitarianism? It’s time you got a backbone.
(And that’s called complementarianism. *wink*)