"Anytime a husband starts to doubt himself as a man or feels that his manhood has been violated by a woman's expression of strength . . . it's her responsibility to figure out a way to adjust." -- John Piper
Feminism claims that at the heart of its goal is equality among men and women, however, when we trace the history of feminism (starting with the Garden of Eden) we see that it is not a matter of equality at all, but rather, it is a matter of usurping control. While some may see the unbiblical philosophy behind feminism and instead opt in favor of egalitarianism, it must be noted that egalitarianism is equally unbiblical.
An egalitarian view promotes the idea that we are all equal. The egalitarian philosophy therefore concludes that there should be no distinction between men and women other than their biological differences. Egalitarianism, although seemingly benign on the surface, is definitely malignant because God did not appoint women to exist as co-leaders with men. Just as a body has only one head, God has only appointed men to take on the leadership role.
One egalitarian argument is that men feel threatened by gifted women because they're insecure and should just get over it. They say that it's not really about the Bible, but that it is more a matter of feelings and emotions. The position is that because complementarians (those who support the traditionally biblical gender roles) are insecure men who feel threatened by strong women, they continue to make male leadership an issue when it is not (Grudem, 2004).
As explained in earlier posts, masculinity and femininity cannot easily be defined, but rather, there is an innate sense of knowing and distinguishing one from the other. In his book, Evangelical Feminism & Biblical Truth, Grudem (2004) quotes author Sarah Sumner, who criticizes the work of John Piper as follows:
Anytime a husband starts to doubt himself as a man or feels that his manhood has been violated by a woman's expression of strength, Piper says it's her responsibility to figure out a way to adjust . . . My question has to do with why a man's "God-given sense of responsibility and leadership" [quoting Piper] is so fragile and susceptible to offense. A few months ago I explained to five church leaders Piper's definition of biblical manhood . . . all five men . . . responded to me saying, "You know what? We like this definition. And you know why? Because . . . it makes us feel secure. It feels so good to be told what it means to be a man," (Sumner as quoted in Grudem, p. 394).
Sumner's point is that Piper's definition is flawed because it is based on an emotional sense of masculinity, rather than a clearly intellectualized definition. Yet we challenge Sumner to come up with such a definition. If the difference between being a man or a woman rests solely on biology, why chose the genitalia to be the defining characteristic? Why not choose some other identifier, such as eye color? Imagine if we lived in a world that taught us: "Brown eyes make you male, and any other color makes you female. Should you feel threatened by a blue-eyed person being bigger and stronger than you, well, that's just a matter of your feelings and emotions. Blue or green-eyed people should not have to "hold back" in order to keep the brown eyed people from being offended." Truly, biblical masculinity is more than biological. It is a "sense" as John Piper put it. It can only be experienced through feelings.
The reason why a man feels insecure when his leadership has been usurped by a woman is simple: he is insecure! If masculinity is his very essence, then in a sense his very identity, his very self, becomes threatened. Anything that is in danger of being stolen is insecure. If your wallet is hanging out of your back pocket, it is not secure. If you don't lock your doors, your house is not secure. If you trust your heart to someone who possesses no integrity, it is not secure. Of course men are insecure. How else is a man supposed to feel if his leadership role is up for grabs?
Contrary to Sumner's arguments, feelings are often justified. Just ask anyone who has been robbed how insecure they feel after that robbery has taken place. "The Man Song" is a sad but true commentary on how many men feel in the context of their own marriages, the one institution created by God to be the most secure human relationship on earth. Despite the constant chorus: "He's the man! He's the man!" We "sense" that there is someone else in this song who is shoplifting this man's role. And I say shoplifting as opposed to "stealing" because shoplifting is a very specific form of stealing, performed by some of the most gutsy, narcissistic, self-entitled people who don't really need the item that they're stealing, but rather, are most often just stealing for sport.
Women who usurp a man's leadership are shoplifting manhood. They do not need it, but rather, are engaging in an unnecessary competition for the sake of competition. A man's sense of masculinity is so easy to steal. Is your husband falling asleep every night next to a thief? If you are stealing from the men in your life, repent and ask forgiveness from them today. Then start going in the right direction: pay them the respect they are due.
Grudem, W. (2004). Evangelical feminism and biblical truth. Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah.