In July of 1991 Dean wrote this letter to local journalist Susan S., a feminist in the style of Ellen Goodman and an ardent defender of abortion rights. She did not reply.
I have pondered your article Pro-choice People Can Boycott Too (Press Democrat, 6/30) long and hard–not because I was persuaded by the arguments, but because I wanted to understand the hidden roots of your anger and the nature of the energy that so binds you to your cause. Here are a few thoughts for you to consider.
It seems to me that much anger is rooted in fear. A circumstance crosses our path, and if it appears at all threatening it will evoke anger–a sometimes useful emotion for carrying us beyond our fears and into the battle.
I have also found that one’s worldview determines, to a significant extent, which events will be perceived as threatening. Mary Magdalene, for example, doubtless greeted the reports of Christ’s resurrection with unspeakable joy, while the Pharisees, who plotted his death, trembled in their phylacteries and raged against his followers.
One of them, a brilliant lawyer named Saul of Tarsus, viewing the Nazarenes through the lens of his Judaism, saw them as a virulent cult. In seeking to wipe them out he felt sure he was doing a favor to God and man. It was not until he met the risen Nazarene himself that he realized he was “kicking against the goads”–hindering the purposes of God and injuring his own soul, to boot!
So it is, Susan, in the abortion war: Everything depends on your worldview. If you embrace the popular evolutionism of our time–whether materialistic or pantheistic–then pro-life men will be seen as clever (or deluded) ideologues, opposing the spiritual liberation of women for secretly sexual ends. The legislators in Louisiana, Guam, Pennsylvania and Utah will look like neanderthal, woman-hating thugs, ganging up on your sisters with legal clubs, enchaining them with “traditional values”, and dragging them back into a sexual stone age.
If, on the other hand, you embrace a theistic and specifically Christian world-view, then pro-life men will be perceived as servants and instruments of the living God, bucking the tide of a hostile culture in trying to fulfill their God-given role as protector and nurturer of women. Pro-life legislators will be seen as agents of a strong and caring heavenly Father, who declares in Scripture that he is on the side of the poor and weak, and who desires to shelter all women–whether little ones in the womb, or older ones in crisis who, like deer in a panic, are all too likely to bolt to their destruction on the highways of a wicked world.
“Gimme a break!” I can hear you say. “Human history is a grim saga of sexual struggle, in which men use their strength, not to nurture but to exploit women.” That is all too true, but only partly true–and here is where it pays to choose your worldview carefully.
Christians understand that in the beginning God created man as “head” over the woman, a servant-leader of a purposeful team called the family that would strive to glorify Him in the earth. But they also understand that disobedience and sin entered the picture. The struggle between the sexes is traceable, not to an evolutionary climb from animalism, but to the power of sin in the human heart. So a Christian worldview can well explain the evils–in both men and women–that we see around us.
But more than this, the Christian worldview also explains a curious phenomenon that radical feminists would like to ignore: the phenomenon of men striving to regain their role as servant-leaders in the family and in society at large. This comes as no surprise to believers in a God who is active in human affairs, even to the extent of giving his Son, so that through him both sexes might find forgiveness and the inward strength to reach again for the heights.
Right now, here in Santa Rosa, California, real people are trying to do this very thing. Men are striving to become servant-leaders of their wives and children. Women are striving to become helpers of their men and nurturers of their children. Ask them, the women especially. They will tell you it’s hard, but that it works. The truth is, in all this dark world, which groans beneath the din of competing ideologies and worldviews, there is no greater charter of sexual liberty than the New Testament. It alone shows us the way home.
And what is the moral of this story? I guess, Susan, it’s expressed well enough in the words of Jesus as he looked down on the city where he was about to die. “Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you. How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Mt. 23:37)
Do you hear the longing in that voice? It is the voice of a strong and caring heavenly Father, the one who created you, the one who alone knows the path of fulfillment for your life, and who desires what is truly best for you.
He calls to you and your feminist sisters everywhere, urging you to forsake a worldview that misinterprets reality, that isolates you from your brothers, that engenders fear and strife, and that leaves behind a ghastly wake of death and destruction. He commands that you stop “kicking against the goads” like Saul did, and find, beneath His wings, not only another, truer way of looking at the world, but a new life, tough but secure, as his beloved daughter.
Yes, in part this would mean teaming up with very imperfect Christian men, even submitting to their leadership, even receiving help from some struggling legislators in Louisiana. Does that seem like a bitter pill? No doubt. But far worse, I think, is the secret fear and loneliness of doing it on your own, and seeing, sooner or later, the horrible fruitage of your mistake.
I conclude with some words from a lovely, haunting hymn that we often sing in the churches. Christ, calling us all, says, “Come home, come home, ye who are weary come home.” This is the Father’s word to you, Susan. It’s hard out there–hard for you, hard for your sisters (big and small), hard for your brothers (I’m willing, if you are), and hard for your God.
Maybe it’s time to come home.