QUESTION:  My nineteen-year-old daughter has graduated high school and is attending the local college. She wants to get married and have children. My question is this: what is she supposed to do with her time? Does she pursue a degree? Get a job? We've prayed and so far are not getting much direction. We've raised her to believe her role is to be a wife and mother but what if that's not where she ends up or what if it's not for ten years? Does she stay at home with us? At what time does she strike out on her own? She is our oldest child so this is uncharted territory for us! Just as a side note we have gone the courtship route and she has not found anyone yet.

ANSWER:  A question like this requires a balancing act of tact and faith from my end. As an older never-married woman, I’m certainly glad I pursued an education as well as professional and personal interests. Though God has not (yet) answered my prayers for marriage and children, I have led an interesting, varied and full life serving others in the church and on the job. There are some who might say that these pursuits are the very reason for my current singleness, but this would be a hasty judgment – for these are the barest of details and certainly summarized without a knowledge of God’s completed plan for my life. So from the outset, let me say that I am glad not to have lived a number of years on hold, waiting for something that has not yet materialized. I also think there is a false dichotomy in thinking that something wholly different is required of single women than married women, but I’ll return to this point later.

A question like this also requires a bit of a history lesson, as young, unmarried women need to be wise about the age we live in and its influence over our worldviews even as Christians. When the first wave of feminism first arose in the mid-1800s during the suffrage movement, the stated aim of its leaders was to radically change the marriage relationship. When the second wave of feminism re-emerged in the early 1960s, the “trapped housewife” was once again the symbol of oppression. The leaders of both waves of feminism were outspoken in their critique of Christianity. By the time the third wave of feminism rolled around in the early 1990s, marriage had become just one of many lifestyle options and in the media women were exhibiting a hyper-sexuality that has become known as the “raunch culture.” This is the briefest sketch of feminism, but I present it so that we can understand some of its implications for your daughter today.

Now, before I expand on this thought, let me say that I’m not entirely dismissing some of the changes that arose during this time. I am grateful I can vote and own property, among other reforms. Neither am I entirely dismissing the sins these feminist leaders observed – in many cases, men were guilty of their charges of oppression, disregard, and mistreatment of women. But the solutions feminists proposed only compounded sin upon sin. Women’s liberation cannot come from pushing men away in anger. Our biggest problem is not the sins of others, as grievous as that sin can be. Our biggest problem is our own rebellion against a holy God, for we are all ensnared by sin and fall short of God’s righteous standard (Romans 3:23). Our greatest need is to be reconciled to God, for we cannot change these sin patterns without the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. Thus, Jesus Christ, our only mediator, is the true liberator for all women – not feminism.

So here we all are, 150 years after feminism began to profoundly affect our culture. We have the highest number of single adults ever recorded in our nation’s history, in the church and outside of it. We have nearly the same rate of divorce in the church as outside of it. And we have several generations of confused men who have been told their masculinity is the very reason for women’s oppression – exactly the opposite of what the Bible teaches about the complementarity of the sexes and the Christlike model of servant-leadership that men are to cultivate for the benefit of the church, their wives, and their families.