“Empowered” is a power word for women (and for men frankly, but we’ll focus on women right now), so much so I hate to even try to redeem it. It is the feminist ideal which tempts women toward a man-centered confidence rather than living in Christ. It’s a seemingly invigorating idea that ends with God establishing the glory due Him by laying the sinner low, and yet we chase after it at the expense of our souls.
There seems to be a counterfeit for everything and Feminism is a counterfeit gospel promising to be the salvation of women. But the confidence it teaches isn’t rooted in faith, but in self. Many of us should reexamine the philosophies of self-confidence we’re following.
You don’t have to be a card carrying member of an elitist group, or one of the various, numerous shades of elitism, to be in the position Tim Challies outlines here, explaining how weak women are carried away captive by vain philosophies. We’re all born with a sinful self-interest.
For all have sinned; all are sinners by nature, by practice, and have come short of the glory of God – have failed of that which is the chief end of man. -Matthew Henry on Rom. 3:23
And what Challies is describing is not just the normal process of sin, chastisement, repentance, and a persevering and sanctifying growth in Christian graces. He outlines 2 Timothy 3:6-7 in a very understandable fashion: through spiritual weakness, a burden of guilt, sinful desires, a love for speculation, “They never appropriate the truth that can set them free from their guilt and never submit to the Spirit who can destroy their evil desires. They are weak or backslidden or perhaps lost altogether.”
Women are capable of intellectual knowledge to be sure, just as men are. What Challies makes clear for us is that logic and reason coupled with self-confidence (read pride) may seem as though it is sure footing by which we may find human flourishing, but in reality it leaves us utterly blind, even when things seem to be as clear as day to us. We tear down our own households. Our relationships suffer as we miss the fact that we’ve grown accustomed to thinking everything is a means to our own ends.
Feminism has shown us what Challies describes as, women who are not mental simpletons, but spiritual weaklings. Burdening themselves with guilt by pursuing sin with no strings attached.
We women make this mistake, as the article points out, by failing to persevere in Christian graces, in repentance, and sanctification, and by bucking godly headship.
Spiritual disciplines aren’t always fun, they can be tedious, they can be almost monotonous, they can be somewhat even boring but they pay great dividends. I suppose you could parallel it to a person who is in athletics. They go to the gym every day, they have to lift the weights, and do the same thing over and over and over again, but it’s worth it…The pursuit of spiritual disciplines, takes discipline. It doesn’t always seem to be the easy way or the pleasant way, but it produces great fruit…You and I, as we pursue spiritual disciplines in our lives are pursuing a harvest of righteousness and peace. – John H. Johnson, The Enduring Character of Love
Challies makes the gateway plain to see in his article. By God’s grace we can remain closed to false philosophies; feminism being one of them. Piper explains how this can be done, in part:
There is a way to apply [2 Cor. 10:5] to ourselves. We just have to get ourselves in the right place, and the place we belong in is the group whose opinions and thoughts Paul is trying to demolish. That is where we belong. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and we take every thought captive.
So when John Piper reads that or when Sarah reads it, I should say or she should say, “Ok, Paul. Here I am. Do your demolishing work on me. Do your captive-taking work on me. Destroy in my mind any false or proud thoughts that I have about God.” Which really means two things, I think, that Sarah and I and anybody else, any Christian, should do. One, we should listen to Paul and submit all our thoughts and ideas and feelings about God and about life to Paul’s teaching (as God’s apostle) for scrutiny. And if anything is out of sync with Paul’s teaching, we should let it be destroyed.
I have experienced this very painfully. If you put your mind and thoughts really at the disposal of the apostolic teaching and say, “Anything in my thinking that needs to be destroyed, destroy it,” that can utterly undo you. There have been seasons in my life where I have wept over the dismantling of what felt like really important structures in my brain, so I think that is the first thing we do. We listen to Paul. We submit everything we think — all of our ideas, all of our worldview, all of our viewpoints to God — and we say, “Paul, let your Word dismantle me if necessary.”
“We should ask the Holy Spirit to work, because Paul said we don’t fight with mere human fleshly arguments. Our ministry has power. So we should expose ourselves to that power. Verse 4 says, “The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but have divine power.” In other words, he is tearing down arguments and God-belittling ideas, but he is not doing it merely by argument.” -John Piper, How Do I Take My Thoughts Captive?
And yes, this does apply to men too, something unwed women should consider as deal-breaking criteria. The world is filled with elitist ideals and identities which men and women chase after. The desire for empowerment is not exclusive to women. It has left many a man undone and many a woman suffer when the sexes aren’t in harmony with God. We all rise and fall by measuring ourselves by ourselves, it’s time to leave it off all together.
Watch a man long enough and you’ll see his repeated failings, wanderings, and that he’s driven with the wind and tossed. Or you may see the steady sustaining incline outlining the perseverance grace presents. There’s a stark difference between the two.
Every christian makes mistakes but it’s what they do with them that makes the difference. Do they do despite to the Spirit of grace? Or do they find it an opportunity to grow in faith, hope, and love? Are chastisements something to be ignored? Or before the chastisement comes have they taken the initiative to humble themselves? Are authorities honored and their wisdom sought after? Or are they challenged and ignored? Is his wisdom the fruit of God’s handiwork or polished and refashioned self-centered humanistic lies?
Unfit men do try to creep in and we must be aware. Dependent and needy, they’re con-artists who get by with mental faculties and selfish aims, learning and mimicking, but who fail to exhibit the budding aroma of Christ.
Take away points,
Grow in Christian graces. The Puritans are a great help with this.
Know what true repentance is and live it out. It’s not good enough to change your ways, and hope people notice. Say your sorry. One of the greatest gifts you can give the people in your life is restitution for the sins committed against them. Don’t leave it up to them to sort it out. Build their faith in you by building your faith in God. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humility is always becoming.
Don’t make light of your sin, to your self, to others, to God. Everyone can spin a story. Most now-a-days can’t tell the difference between spin and reality. It’s our job to bring a sense of reality to a culture that known little of it. Eventually, when we’ve lied to our selves long enough, we cannot tell the difference either. But, we’ll never deceive God no matter how successful we’ve been deceiving others.
If you’ve been hurt, sort it out. Sometimes we’re burdened with guilt that is not ours. Silly women often enable sinful men. Break the cycle. There is help. If you’ve sinned and never faced it, you’re salvation is God and God alone.
Cultivate pure desires. Scripture makes it plain what we are to love and what we are to hate. Let it be your rule and guide.
What’s the difference between being humble and being a doormat?
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The Cure of Souls: Recovering the Biblical Doctrine of Confession
Putting off Procrastination