This book is more than an exposé of errors traditionally taught concerning gender roles, but a powerful revelation of the stand we must take against a doctrine that immobilizes over one half of the evangelical church due to gender role restrictions.
“Woman this is WAR!...,” takes a new look at old arguments traditionally used to keep men and women enslaved in illegitimate bondage based on sex, and just as the Bible did not condone the sin of slavery based on skin color, it also does not condone a slavery-like caste system based on gender. Jesus said we would know the truth and the truth would set us FREE. Andersen challenges Christian men and women to embrace and appreciate God-given gender differences without giving place to haughty spirits of superiority, degrading feelings of inferiority, hatred, prejudice, fear of one another’s differences, or the sinful need to either be in charge or to submit in an idolatrous manner
In her book, Out of the Cults and into the Church, Janis Hutchinson quoted Hoffer when she wrote, “Mass movements can rise and succeed without a belief in God . . . but never without a belief in a devil. This is because the strength of a mass movement is proportionate to the vividness and tangibility of its devil. When Hitler was asked whether he thought the Jew should be completely destroyed, he answered, ‘No . . . We have then to reinvent him.’ Hitler further explained that ‘It is essential to have a tangible enemy, not merely an abstract one.’” There is no doubt that the devil of the complementarian movement is the feminist. Fear, shame, and dire warnings of disaster are potent weapons which are used expertly by complementarian leaders in keeping men and women in line regarding gender roles. Where ridicule and derogatory labeling are not effective, extravagant promises of power, happiness, and freedom are made. All this bears a strong similarity to methods used by religious cults where the loyalties of autonomous adults are held in check through fear-mongering, promises of bliss/misery, disaster, or relative utopia.
Ridicule and shame tactics, along with mob violence, were primary weapons wielded by proponents of slavery against those who opposed the practice. Abolitionists were viewed as members of a radical sub-culture and were cruelly persecuted (by Christian and non-Christian alike) in both North and South. Abolitionists swam against a strong tide of public opinion in two areas: 1.) They raised awareness of the fact that slavery was wrong, and 2.) many of them, both males and females, advocated for “Woman’s Rights.” Before the civil war, being an abolitionist placed one decidedly outside the cultural mainstream and incurred serious social liabilities.
Angelina Grimké, because she could no longer endure Christian condoned slavery, voluntarily left the South at the age of twenty five. But because of her public stand against slavery, she soon found herself involuntarily exiled, forbidden, under pain of arrest or death, to return to her Southern home. Even in the North, “abolitionist!” was a label that subjected people to severe persecution. More than one abolitionist died at the hands of pro-slavery mobs.
Theodore Weld, husband of Angelina Grimké and advocate of women’s equality, braved fearful mob violence because of his abolitionist activities. He eventually became known as the most mobbed man in America, but none dared to label Weld as passive or wimp because he believed and practiced equality of the sexes both before and after his marriage. His courage was remarkable and widely acclaimed.
An eerie parallel to the nineteenth century slaveholder’s cry of “abolitionist!” is the twenty-first century evangelical cry of “feminist!” But in view of its historical context, should Christian women and men cower in fear of the label?
In 1931, the word “Feminism” was defined as; “The cult of advocating for women full equality with men in regard to political rights, working conditions, social standing, etc., propaganda on behalf of “woman’s rights.” The definition of feminism reflected the derisive attitudes of the males of the period, towards “woman’s rights” (women had no say in what was published).
The publishers of the Webster’s dictionaries were not unprejudiced when it came to women and their “place;” and through the language itself, managed to insert an enduring legacy of contempt with anything associated with feminism.
The word “feminist” did not begin to appear in American dictionaries
until the 1940s. Although, by that time, the definition of “feminism” had been slightly upgraded from cult and propaganda to “doctrine,” anything associated with the word was still tainted by the stigma of the early definition. The stigma remains strong among evangelical Christians today.