So You Married a Feminist

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Dear Steven,

Thanks for the letter, and it sounds like quite a dilemma. You’ve been married for five years, and you have a good marriage, but for one sore spot. You didn’t put it to me this way, but that sore spot is the result of you gradually coming to realize (despite your intention in marrying) that you married a feminist. Or perhaps you might want to not put it so strongly and say that you married someone who is more than a little susceptible to feminist appeals, or perhaps someone who is gradually sliding toward feminism. In any case, you are worried about it.

You get along with her easily personality-wise, and she is a very diligent mom, and home-life is generally happy . . . unless some news story or controversy barges in (e.g. a #MeToo thing, or a wage gap news story, or a sex scandal in a church across town). When that happens you find yourself in inexplicable quarrels. You make it up afterwards, but why this keeps happening is a mystery to both of you. You make up “the quarrel part,” but you don’t really resolve what you know must be some deeper issues. Have I summarized all this fairly? She thinks you have periodic disagreements about “politics,” but you suspect that it runs a little deeper than that. You believe it runs way deeper than that.

This is actually an enormous subject, and so what I propose to do is give you some general categories to focus on in your prayers and in your study.

The first thing for you to learn is how to take responsibility before God for the whole thing. You can’t really complain about how she doesn’t respect the fact that you are the head when you don’t respect the fact that you are the head.

But we need to be careful here. We live in a “blame the male” era, a time when plain old vanilla masculinity is routinely described as “toxic masculinity.” In churches that mark things like Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day, the mothers are genuinely honored, while the occasion is often taken to urge the fathers to step it up. When Fathers’ Day is noted in many churches, it is used as an occasion to beat the men about the head and shoulders.

Taking responsibility is a very different thing than saying you are the one to blame. Because of the egalitarianism that underlies feminism, we have lost our covenantal categories. This means that we believe that when you sin, God looks at you, and when your wife sins, He looks at her. But who does He look at when something in the family is dislocated? He looks to the head, which would be you.

So the first thing you need to do, between you and God alone, is to take responsibility. As you pray, pray to God as His appointed representative of the Galligers, as the Galligers, and acknowledge to Him what is happening in your household. Acknowledge it, confess it, and lay it out before Him to deal with. Do this without any expectation that this will result in any breakthrough conversations with your wife within two days. Start to function in the presence of God as the head of your family vertically before attempting anything horizontally. Do this long enough that it becomes a habitual cast of mind for you.

Your model in this, as you take covenantal responsibility, would be Job. Remember that when his children were done with their feasting, Job took responsibility for them before the Lord, and it was good.

“And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually” (Job 1:5).

And Job was doing this, not because of anything done overtly, but rather for things that they might be doing in their hearts. How much more, when something is clearly wrong, should the head of the house be acknowledging it daily to God? And remember that you are taking responsibility before God, which is not the same thing as blaming her before God. Adam blamed his wife in God’s presence, and that was not a spiritual exercise (even though his wife had a share in the blame)

Second, you need to learn what feminism is at the heart. If this is a spiritual virus that his threatening your wife and family, and it is, then you need to study what is going on. This will help you learn about what you are taking responsibility for. This is not so that you can leave dog-eared copies of MGTOW rants against feminism lying around your house in order to alert your wife that something is up. The MGTOW reaction is a very carnal reaction to feminism, just as feminism was a reaction to various forms of masculine boorishness. If you look at MGTOW memes and feminist memes, you will see a lot of the same kind of impotent bitterness. Such seething resentments can often be very pointed, and sometimes very funny in dark ways, but they don’t ever fix anything. So I am talking about studying responsible writers, theologians, historians, and not the rants of bitter guys in basements.

The heart of feminism is egalitarianism, the view that all egos are equal at the center, and that external things like physiology are just accidental accoutrements or accessories. If you drill down deep enough, you get to the equality part—and that central ego is supposed to be absolute. If that (genderless) ego decides to swap out the external accessories, which might be spouse, or private parts, or the objective truth about the past, or feminine vocations, or other creational givens, it is assumed by egalitarians that the ego has the absolute right to do so. This is a radical error, but it lies at the heart of most of our current cultural confusions.

Now I am going to make some observations in the next few paragraphs that are politically incorrect, and some of them may even be illegal by this point. Men and women are different, and they are different all the way down. Men and women relate to God differently, they relate to one another differently, and they relate to the world differently. When God comes, He is going to judge the world with equity, which is not the same thing as assuming equality while he judges it. He will judge us as men and women, boys and girls, and not as interchangeable egos. He is going to judge us with equity, which means that He is going to evaluate us on the basis of what we did with the biology assigned to us, with the family assigned to us, with the calling assigned to us, and so on. And it will become clear to us all that the promise that we could become whatever we wanted to be was a false and lying promise.

These lying standards insist that men and women be treated the same, period. Scripture standards require that men and women be treated the same, depending.

So sometimes “double standards” would be examples of us disobeying what the Bible teaches us about justice. If we required two or three witnesses to convict a man of a crime, but just one witness to convict a woman of the same crime, this would be ungodly wickedness. If habeas corpus applied to men but not women, this would be an outrage.

But here are some different examples. This one is taken from the world, not from Scripture, but we can learn something about the world from it. Why, if a woman sleeps with a hundred men, is she slut-shamed, but if a man sleeps with a hundred women, he can get away with bragging about his “conquests”? Well, consider this factor. A key that opens a hundred locks can claim to be a master key. A lock that opens to a hundred keys can only claim to be pretty much worthless. And lest you think that I am somehow “approving” of the man in this instance, I actually include him among the fornicators who will not inherit the kingdom of heaven (1 Cor. 6:9). The point is not that his sin is praiseworthy and the immoral woman’s is not, but rather that their sins are radically different because they are radically different. But to say they are radically different is not to say one is blameworthy and the other not. He is a scoundrel, and she is a tramp—let us not praise either one, but let us not confuse them either.

Here is a difference that seems “unfair” to the men, also taken from the world. When a woman has a husband who strays, she can count on sympathy and commiseration from other women. When a man has a wife who is unfaithful to him, he can count on being the butt of the joke among the other men—he is the cuckold.

So assume that egalitarianism is false, and study to learn why and how it is false. Men and women are not interchangeable, and the lie that they are interchangeable has been the source of a great deal of heartache.

Third, you must learn how to distinguish your real sins from the fake ones, and resolve to really deal with the real ones. Refuse to deal with the fake ones—the sins against various feminist standards. But before that, make sure that you are dealing with the sins that God identifies as sins. Confess them to God (1 John 1:9), and then, as appropriate, to your wife and children. They must see you growing in grace. Deal with your annoyances, your unreasonable expectations, your quiet resentment over what has happened. Confess it and forsake it. Mortify what needs to be mortified. Make it impossible for your wife to think that “he is just unwilling to change.” She should see you changing all the time—but you are doing so in response to the Word of God. When you don’t budge in response to the dictates of feminism, it will not be possible for her to attribute that to you being stuck in your ways. She should see good things happening all the time, in other words.

And last, you must be praying that God would bring the whole thing down to a testing point. It must be brought to a head, but not by you. You want that testing point, the point where you make a decision and she learns to submit to it because you made it, to be manifestly a moment of God’s appointment. Going back to the first point, where you are taking responsibility before God, this moment should be one that you pray for from the beginning. Don’t expect it to come within a few days or weeks. You want her to see that a radical transformation is happening in you, and radical transformations need to be sustained over time before you entrust yourself to them. She wants to know that the ice is thick before she walks out onto it, and that is reasonable enough.

There are many other things I could say, and there are many ways in which what I have said could be misunderstood or twisted, but I trust you have gotten the gist. Let me know how it goes.

Cordially in Christ,