“Equal Rights?”

Let us Christian women consider the craving some women have for equal rights with men. We shall limit ourselves to the subject of equal rights, so strongly advocated by the women’s lib. movement.

Women are crying for equal rights.

It stands to reason that if women want equal rights with men they must be equal to men. Is there such a thing as equality between men and women? Don’t the women advocating equal rights really advocate identical rights, even though the term “equal” does not have to mean “identical”?

Don’t women seem to insist on having jobs or positions that are identical to those of men? If so, does it not follow that, if they crave for identical jobs all along the line, they must have qualifications equal to or superior to the qualifications men have for the job, whatever the job in question? Moreover, would their having equal qualifications alone determine their right to equal rights?

The question is not whether women have the right to equal pay for equal work (to that they should have a right). But the question is, do women have a right to equal rights? There is no such thing as equality to begin with. Let that be clear. God did not make people equal. “Equality is not a part of God’s providence, and it is not a rule to be practiced in the order He has instituted; diversity is a fact to be recognized and the rule to be followed. Liberty itself must take account of inequality.” (J. Murray, Principles of Conduct).

There is no equality among women, let alone between men and women. If diversity among women is the spice or life, how much more is diversity between man and woman the spice of life. In proportion as the diversity between man and woman is ignored or is attempted to be wiped out, the reverence of man for woman, and the respect of woman for man will also likely be wiped out.

The recognition of the distinction between man and woman must be re-emphasized in a day when it is fading away. We believe that distinction should be clearly observable. Instead, woman is making herself look more and more like mall, and man is making himself look more and more like woman, so much so that at times it is almost impossible to tell the difference. There is something wrong in a society where you can’t distinguish between some fellows and girls.

Doesn’t the Bible clearly indicate that it is wrong for men and women to look alike? May we ignore such passages as Deuteronomy 22:5 and I Corinthians 14, 15? Who is to blame for the present situation? Couldn’t we women be at least in part to blame? Didn’t some women introduce boyish haircuts a half century ago? (I recall how some U. of M. women students told me how attractive 1 would look with a boyish haircut. Why didn’t 1 fall for such flattery?) Didn’t women introduce the masculine custom of wearing pants? And what about equal tights? When the girls paraded their tight fitting sweaters, the boys began to parade their tight fitting pants.

Can it be that because girls wear their hair unusually long, and hanging loosely about the shoulders, the boys began to wear theirs unusually long even as far down as the shoulders? Along with the wearing of mannish clothes goes the assuming of mannish postures. Thus, looking the part and acting the part, women find themselves ready to enter fields of labor formerly reserved for men only. Whatever our reactions may be, we have to admit that the Bible says enough about this to let us know that God does not want men and women to look alike. God made us male and female, a distinction never lost sight of in the Scriptures.

If women want equal rights, they must figure on losing their unequal privileges. If they enter what was always man’s sphere, men will no longer treat them as women. The men will then feel free to treat them as they treat each other. Give the women a lift? Why? If she wants this job, let her do all the phases of work we do. Give a woman his seat? Why should he do that to “masculine females” as a writer on feminism calls them. Use restraint of speech and action in her presence? Why shouldn’t she get used to the atmosphere into which she insists on being admitted. Excuse her from military service? If she wants equal rights she must consistently assume the same responsibilities the men have.

Don’t you see how a woman’s insistence on equal rights will likely tend to degenerate the men among whom she labors, as well as it will harden her to the habits of men, and rob her of being the woman God wants her to be. Will it not amount to a new enslavement?

To insist on equality is to insist on something God doesn’t provide. In the home God has vested the husband with authority over the wife and family. In the church God has reserved official functions for the men, demanding that the women keep silence. If man is the glory of Christ, and the woman is the glory of the man, and Christ is the glory of God, then isn’t anyone the glory of the someone to whom one is subordinate?

For us Christian women the question is not what rights do I want and do I claim to have a right to, but what rights does God give me as a woman? My concepts of “rights” is right only when it agrees with God’s will. If my concept violates God’s thinking on the matter, I am wrong. In weighing the matter of equal rights we must be guided not by what we think but by what God thinks.

We as women may not rebel against God’s ordained place for us in life. Let us not want equal rights where God does not want us to have them. Let us not even want them when they are lawful but when it is not expedient to demand them. We never fulfill all the demands that fall upon us in the areas properly ours; so we shouldn’t even desire those improperly ours. Don’t think that subordination implies inferiority. You know that Jonathan was not inferior to his father Saul, but he was subordinate to him. Many a wife may be superior to her husband, but that does not excuse her from being subordinate to him. Our greatest glory is not in insisting on equal rights, but rather in taking that place in life which God has ordained for us.

Let men be in authority wherever God wants them to be. Let them retain the jobs for which our Maker peculiarly fitted them physically and psychologically. Let them continue to realize that there are areas in which they have to function and in which they have no right to expect the weaker sex (weaker physically and psychologically) to function. Let us not make them feel (and they will, if we insist on equal rights) that women must fight, that women must lay cement, lay rails, till the fields, operate huge machinery, collect garbage, dig wells, dig ditches, deliver heavy freight, and drop bombs, etc., etc. Let not the men be made to feel that former courtesies heaped on women are outre; that practicing the “ladies first” proprieties is showing inequality, and must therefore be junked. Let us not de-man the men nor de-feminize the women! Yet the Equal Rights Amendment is opening the door to exactly this sort of thing, this sort of an equalizing process that will rob us of all that true womanhood stands for in the Christian tradition.