But even with my conservative (dad is the head of the household) upbringing, it is incredible how much “feminism” leaked into the mind through culture’s teaching. Because of that I am thankful for Carolyn McCulley’s book Radical Womanhood because I have had to learn the delicate balance between historical perspectives, what culture tells me, and the truth that the Bible presents about women.
The Bible is authoritative and tells the truth about womanhood. Carolyn McCulley writes about that truth.
Carolyn McCulley is a former feminist who now embraces the distinctions between men and women. McCulley is an author, freelance writer, conference speaker, and blogger. She is also employed by Sovereign Grace Ministries, where she is a film producer.
This book is important because it gives a Biblical diagnosis and critique of feminism. McCulley shows that the root problem for women is sin. I love that she acknowledges that women do in fact have a problem, but that it is not men.
I love how Gospel centered this book is. McCulley points out, “God does not ignore sin or tolerate injustice. He poured all the righteous anger for our sins on His Son so that we could receive forgiveness.”
After being a feminist for most of her adult life McCulley wrote the book she wishes someone would have given her when she first came to know the Lord. With a unique voice, McCulley can empathetically reach out to women. She has felt the personal affects of feminism. But through an amazing encounter with the Lord, her life and thinking was reshaped by the Bible.
In her book, McCulley offers valuable historic work and testimonies. She addresses everything from a woman’s psyche to what would make submission seem less impossible for women. She shows that
God uses the “Bible and the church to renew my mind” (p. 25). And shows that the idea of servant-leadership is male ”leadership that was not for self-glory but for the benefit of another” (p. 25).
And while many feminist want to point a finger at other people as the problem in their life, McCulley shows that men are not the problem.The real problem is our own sin nature (James 4:1-3), the lure of this present world (1 John 2:15-17), and spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6:12).
McCulley challenges women to let Biblical wisdom shape their thinking. She said, ”Right thinking leads to right living” (44). As James 3:13-18 points out that where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. Women must remember that men are not the problem any more than women are (Gen. 1:26-27). God calls mankind (male and female) good in Genesis. And as Genesis 3 shows sin is the problem to which Jesus is the only true answer and wisdom for women.
McCulley quickly gets to the heart of the issue in addressing sin, but lingers long enough to share how we got where we are today. By sharing leading feminists stores like Stanton,Beauvoir, and Friedan she shows that these women saw problems, but came up with faulty solutions that stood against the Bible.
These faulty solutions not only attacked God at his word, asking like the serpent in the Garden, “Did God really say…?” but they also attacked the family. Feminism attacks marriage by labeling men as the problem women have. “It has a way of dissuading women from marrying men” (p.53). Also in the third-wave of feminism, Gloria Steinem, fought for equal partnership in marriage. She was about “total equality.” This wave of feminism was not just trying “to reform an institution; they were looking to alter it beyond recognition” (p. 55). This was an open door to homosexual marriages.
Feminism tries to redefine the family, and by doing so it dishonor God. Feminists challenge God’s authority and definition of his creation (p.56). And their underlying assumption that marriage and sexual fidelity no longer matters is dishonoring to God’s word (p.57). In so many ways our society is living like Judges 21:25, everyone is doing what is right in their own eyes. This is important because marriage and the intimacy seen in a sexual unity point us to Christ and the Church- making this a direct attack on God.
McCulley fights for people to work within their proper roles because male “Leadership is not about filling a position for one’s own glory but for serving God’s gospel purposes” (p. 84). As she points our, leadership is meant to direct others to Christ, and build God’s kingdom. And wives are caller to be helpers. She can help her husband think clearly and encourage him to act confidently to see the Gospel spread.
The home is the place to start the work of opporating within God given roles. McCulley shows from Proverbs 14:1 that the, ”The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” And as Proverbs 31:27 reminds us, “She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” She is in contrast to the harlot of Proverbs 7:10-12 who never stays home.
McCulley explains through history the attack on the family, but also addresses the attack on life itself. She shows that Jesus treats children totally different and calls them gifts.
Another way that families are attacked in by the raunch culture that is so prevalent. She addresses the hookup generation and God’s design for sex. She shows that true liberation isn’t being a raunchy woman, but rather staying within God’s design for marriage and sexual relations.
Finally she presents the church as a place that is present to help equip all the saints for the work of ministry (Eph. 4:12). In that safe environment men and women can both learn to lead with servants hearts and submit out of reverence to God.
The book is so helpful in understanding the history of feminism, and how we got to where we are today, but more importantly showing how Christ is our hope. He is the solution to our problem. I would recommend this book to anyone who has grappled with our culture’s dominant assumptions about marriage, motherhood, sexuality, and what it means to be a woman.