This was not autocratic, self-glorifying leadership. This was leadership to serve God's purposes for the benefit of others. Submission. Servant-leadership. Until that point in my life, these were foreign concepts to me. But before that Easter Sunday in South Africa, so was the third concept: sin. Though I was familiar with the word, it was one I applied to other people. Until I heard the gospel, I didn't see sin very clearly in myself. If I saw weaknesses, shortcomings, or failures in myself, I was good at blaming other people for them or minimizing them in me. I was blind to the sins of envy, anger, self-righteousness, judgment, greed, and pride that coursed through my daily actions.

The word I did know how to apply to myself was "self." I was all about myself and maximizing my own comfort, opportunity, and pleasure.

God's Wisdom for Women

Slowly it began to dawn on me that the Bible was not presenting just a new set of rules for successful relationships or a peaceful life. It was presenting an entirely new game—with radically different goals for victory. Winning was living a life that glorified God. Winning was growing in humility. Winning was trusting God and serving others. Winning was cultivating the fruit of the Spirit: peace, love, joy, patience, faithfulness, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22).Winning was growing in Christ-likeness.

All my previous feminist philosophies resulted in merely kicking at the darkness, expecting it would bleed daylight. But Scripture says that it is by God's light that we see light (Psalms 36:9). The light of God's Word showed me truth. What I thought was right and true didn't hold up to Scripture. Human observation and psychology could only point out the problem—proud women spar with men they deem to be weaker and not worthy of respect—but offered no credible solution to the tension between the sexes.

I didn't need to reconcile my pantheon of inner goddesses. I needed to repent of my sin.

As do men.

The kicker is that feminism is partially right. Men do sin. They can diminish women's accomplishments and limit women's freedoms for self-centered reasons. Some men sexually assault women. Some men abuse their wives and children. Many men degrade women through pornography. Feminism didn't rise up because of fabricated offenses. As one theologian said, it is understandable, humanly speaking, why this movement did emerge:

"When you realize that men have subjugated women for thousands of years, you can only wonder how it took so long for the feminist movement to form. It is unfortunately rare to find a marriage in which the husband recognizes that he bears the responsibility of headship and exercises it in humility and love rather than force and authoritarianism. While I too am against so much of what the feminist movement advocates, I understand why it has emerged. I believe that if Christian men had been the servant leaders in the home, rather than conceited chauvinists, the feminist movement would have died a quick and easy death. If men had sought ways to see the gifts and talents of their wives developed and utilized rather than taking a beautiful person and making her into little more than a personal slave, if men had not twisted this doctrine of headship, we would not have the current problems between men and women in our society. . . . I am tired of hearing that feminists are responsible for the breakdown of the family. We need to put the responsibility where it belongs—on the heads of homes."

I agree, but as this book is for women and not men, I'll leave it to the guys to challenge each other. My concern is what we've absorbed from our culture about being women. Feminism (like most other "isms") points a finger at other people for the problems of life. But I learned that Scripture tells us that other people are not the real problem. Our sinful nature (James 4:1), spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6:12), and the lure of this present world (1 John 2:15) are our real problems. But for me—and many women in this present age—the definition, practices, and contours of femininity are where the battles rage. What does it mean to be a woman and not a man? What is the significance of our ability to bear children? How should we handle our sexuality? Should we structure our careers just like men do? What's the purpose of being a wife?