Sunday, September 6, 2009

Part 4, Who or What is responsible for the destruction of the family? Imprisonment = Marriage?

Many church leaders declare that the break down of families began with the rise of feminism, specifically when women started going to work outside the home. As discussed in part 1, one reason is that when men and women who are not married to one another are in the workplace together, there is an increased temptation to sin. This is blamed on the women, instead of on the husbands whose hearts are not committed to loving their wives. Another reason for placing the blame on the women’s movement, is that if a woman did not make an income, she would be less likely to leave her husband simply because she would be financially unable to care for herself and her children. In other words, Christians with the “blame women’s liberation” viewpoint, want to imprison women and children in hostile and miserable environments for the sake of preserving “the family.”

Their viewpoint seems to be that as long is there is no separation or divorce; the family is intact and the marriage is not destroyed.

But is this true?

First, what makes a marriage? Is it not the keeping of the vows? Is it not the keeping of oneself for the other, to love and to cherish in sickness and in health, for better or for worse till death parts them? If this vow is not kept, the marriage covenant has been broken. If the offending party does not repent in both word and action, the marriage is destroyed. Even if the offending party “repents” in word and action, if he/she repeatedly returns to the sin, the marriage is still destroyed. Why? Because there has been a major betrayal and trust has been broken and the person who broke the trust is not doing what it takes to reestablish trust. In order for a marriage to work there MUST be trust—trust that the other party has his/her spouse’s best interest at heart, not just his/her own.

Many would contend that “for better or for worse” means that a wife must stay married no matter what her husband does to her. But that argument is taking those words out of their context. The earlier phrase “to love and to cherish” requires that “for worse” is not to be done by the hand of either spouse. The worse is to be from sources outside the couple’s control. (Abuse is not outside the perpetrator’s control.)

Some would contend that a wife who does not submit to her husband’s every command and wish is not “loving and cherishing” him, and that SHE is breaking up the marriage, yet forget that him making demands is neither loving nor cherishing and that by making those demands he has already broken the marriage vows.

So is it the wife in the workplace, whose income allows her freedom from a broken down marriage that is causing the breakdown of the marriage? No. It is the prior too-frequent and ongoing non-cherishing behavior that broke down the marriage. Divorce is admitting and resigning oneself to the reality of what has already occurred and is the status of the marriage. Divorce creates a safety zone for the harmed person(s), consequences for the offending spouse, and makes public and legal what is already the truth.

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel,"a story about a woman who grapples with her husband's demands that she submit--no matter what. Please visit


  1. Hi Waneta - just "threaded" my way to your blog through the eaandfaith blog via the Women in Minstry blog. Although domestic abuse isn't a major topic in my blog, marriage is and so I am finding this series quite interesting.

    At our church, we offer the "Men's Fraternity" series as part of our men's ministry. Men's Fraternity founder Robert Lewis gives a brief history lesson to his male listeners on his take on the breakdown of the family. He suggests that the initial breakdown in the family was actually the transition of men working outside the home at the onset of the industrial revolution. His next stop on the breakdown train was world war II - not because women took over for traditional "men's work" because the men were off at war but because the men upon returning from war were "hardened" (understandably) and became emotionally distant from their wives and children. He does identify "radical" feminism as a contributor to the breakdown of marriages but in no way does he believe that it was the movement of women into the work force, per se, that was feminism's blow. Instead, he suggests that it was the dismissal and even mocking of the necessity of men that was present in some feminist rhetoric that did the damage.

    You may also be interested to know that, on the other end of the spectrum, he calls traditional hierarchical patriarchy a "moral failure" on the part of humans, and in particular, of course, on the part of males.

    I agree with you that women in the work place as a generic reality is hardly a cause of marital breakdown. Certainly, as you suggest, some individual women and some individual men have faltered in this new paradigm. On the other hand, the contribution, and even the mere presence, of women in the workplace has had many positive impacts. Moreover, there is nothing biblical to suggest that women shouldn't work outside the home. Conversely, there is direct biblical support for those women who do work outside the home - even those who are married.

    To be sure, the absence of parents in the home can potentially have a detrimental effect on the raising of children. But blaming feminists in toto focuses the blame about 75 years too late. The reality is that the men abdicated first.

    All of this in the final analysis is a big red herring. We live in the reality where both parents working is often unavoidable. Feminism didn't cause the financial realities we face today as families. Rather than play the blame game, our efforts would best be served by learning what the bible can teach us about marriage in general and how to “make it work” within the reality we live. I think many who cling to patriarchy or are “feministophobes” would be surprised to learn that the bible clearly supports women working outside the home. I think they would be even more surprised to learn of the real damage to families that was inadvertently a result of the industrial revolution and two World wars – damage that falls directly in the laps of men. I would think our focus, if we were to focus on anything at all, should be not to keep women in the home but to get men back into it (both physically and emotionally).

  2. Awesome again Waneta! Keep it coming...So many need the truth to set them free.

  3. Gengwall, thanks for sharing a totally different perspective. Robert Lewis sounds like quite a thinker! I'll have to take some time to consider that more in depth. It looks to me like those who were pointing the finger at women forgot that three of their fingers were pointing back at themselves.

    "Instead, he suggests that it was the dismissal and even mocking of the necessity of men that was present in some feminist rhetoric that did the damage."

    I wonder if he realizes that virtually every woman who despises men had up close and personal horror and abuse experiences inflicted upon her by a man, and sometimes by man after man after man. Until men acknowledge this and take steps to deal with it and stop it, the hateful rhetoric of some feminists won't stop.

    Thanks D, for your encouragement!