Don’t Believe Culture’s Lies about Men and Women

Don’t Believe Culture’s Lies about Men and Women

Don’t mistake Butterfield’s confidence for pride. Her heart throughout the book proclaims this message (my paraphrase): “God the sovereign creator brilliantly and beautifully designed men and women. We should obey what he tells us. We should live according to his design. We shouldn’t believe lies.” That assertiveness may strike some people as arrogant since it goes against the grain of worldly thinking, but worldly thinking goes against the grain of reality. Christians should not be embarrassed of anything that is true, especially anything that God has revealed in Scripture: “This book is for Christians not embarrassed by the Bible and its teaching on women’s roles and callings. An unbreakable biblical logic connects God’s design for men and women, God’s standards for sexual behavior, and the Bible’s teaching on sex roles in the family, church, and world” (p. xx).

Rosaria Butterfield used to be a lesbian activist who lived with a woman partner while serving as a tenured professor of English and women’s studies at Syracuse University in New York. Now she is a Christian who is married to a Presbyterian pastor and who invests her time as a homeschool mom and grandmother and as a hospitable neighbor in North Carolina. (When she wrote this book, her four adopted children spanned ages sixteen to thirty-four.) The title of her new book specifies what she is warning against: Five Lies of Our Anti-Christian Age (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2023).

Butterfield’s Thesis

Here is one way to summarize Butterfield’s thesis: Don’t believe our culture’s lies about God’s design for men and women. She presents five lies and explains, “What all these lies have in common is they don’t think that God had a plan and purpose when he created men and women” (p. 290). At the root of the lies is what she calls “our nation’s reigning idol, a formidable monolith represented by the letters LGBTQ and the symbol +” (p. xxi; cf. p. 91).

Lie #1: Homosexuality Is Normal

The lie: The way you feel defines who you are. For example, if you are a female who feels sexually attracted only to women, then you are a lesbian. You have a homosexual orientation that is immutable. That is your core truth. That is your identity. And it is an identity that is good and normal.

According to “gay Christians,” a person’s homosexual orientation is morally neutral—like being blind or deaf. It’s not a sin that you should repent of. The church should not just welcome but empathetically approve of “sexual minorities.” When people sin in heterosexual and homosexual ways, the nature of the sexual sin is equally fallen.

The truth: Our sinful feelings do not determine our core identity. Those with homosexual desires are responsible to mortify their sinful desires. “The normalization of homosexuality is the central controlling narrative of our anti-Christian age” (p. 33). “Sexual orientation, a secular concept, began in the nineteenth century. You will not find the concept of sexual orientation in the Bible” (p. 67). “It all comes down to this: Do you trust your feelings, or do you trust the word of God?” (p. 98). We should have sympathy for those enslaved to sexual sin, but we should not empathize with the sin itself.

The identity narrative makes sense in our culture because people have swallowed the lie of intersectionality—the idea that the world consists of power struggles between oppressors (e.g., white, male, heterosexual, Christian, fit, free) and the oppressed (e.g., person of color, female, LGBTQ+, non-Christian, overweight, incarcerated). “Today, failing to affirm LGBTQ+ rights is considered an act of harm. … Today, even in the church, it seems, accepting someone without approving her is to reject her” (p. 59). Harm is now psychological, not material. The way to accrue social status is to claim an intersection of victim statuses. This creates a community that is “fractured, victim-minded, angry, and inconsolable”; it is “identity politics on steroids” and devoid of “a biblical category of sin” (p. 61). “The victimized identities that emerge from intersectionality are perpetually immature and in constant need of therapy and affirmation” (p. 62).

When people sin in heterosexual and homosexual ways, the nature of the sexual sin is not equally fallen: “The heterosexual pattern is natural even if a particular practice is sinful, as in adultery. If a man and a woman are committing fornication but they come to Christ and repent of their sin, they could someday get married and live in God’s obedience and blessing. But if a man and a man in a homosexual relationship come to Christ, they would need to break up in order to live in obedience and blessing. … Homosexual sin is a violation against both God’s pattern of creation and the moral law of God, while heterosexual sin violates the moral law of God exclusively” (p. 304). The hermeneutic that justifies women pastors is the same hermeneutic that justifies LGBTQ+. “Egalitarianism is the highway to LGBTQ+ church leadership” (p. 75).

Lie #2: Being a Spiritual Person Is Kinder Than Being a Biblical Christian

The lie: A spiritual person finds true spirituality inside himself or herself. Everything shares in a single divine power. Distinctions and hierarchies are abusive and violent.

The truth: There are two realities—God and not-God (i.e., the Creator and creation). And there are two kinds of people—those who love the triune God and those who defy him. It is not kind to be a person who misleads others to defy the Creator by living contrary to reality.

Lie #3: Feminism Is Good for the World and the Church

The lie: The traditional biblical view about God’s design for men and women is wrong. Male headship is a result of the fall. The Bible does not require a wife to submit to her husband, nor does the Bible forbid women from serving as pastors or elders. The traditional view results in sexual abuse. Any male-female sexual relationship that rejects sameness (i.e., interchangeability) and calls a wife to submit to her husband is foundational to rape culture.

The truth: The traditional biblical view about God’s design for men and women is true, good, and beautiful.

  • “A godly woman who is the wife of a godly man is receptive, teachable, and life-giving, her beauty increasing with her age because her Christian character is being more and more sanctified. … At its most basic distinction, God created men for strength, women for nurturance, and both for the other, her submission yielding to his headship creating the harmony of mutual work and worship of God. The simplicity, beauty, and perfection of the creation ordinance may be marred by sin but not by the designer’s perfect plan” (p. 158).
  • “A helpmate is not a doormat. She is smart and strong and knows how to think and advise her husband when called upon. While she may also have a job or career that contributes to the household, being a helpmate means that the husband’s vocation comes first” (p. 172).
  • “A godly woman is not called to universal submission. She is called to submit to her husband, elders, and civil authorities” (p. 161).
  • “A Christian’s best defense against abuse of all authority is membership in a biblically faithful church” (p. 162).
  • “When feminism is the interpretative tool for reading Scripture, the powerful, supernatural word of God shrinks into an easily manipulated tool of sociology, revealing power plays and oppressors and offering no hope beyond its creation of new possibilities and new words to express one’s never-ending hurt” (p. 177).
  • “Feminism’s war against patriarchy isn’t its only problem. By denying the centrality of the creation ordinance in defining woman and her glory, feminism insults women. Worse still, feminism can’t offer the protections against violence that it promises. In fact, feminism has become a place of such confusion that it cannot define what a woman is without offending the LGBTQ+ movement—especially the T part (transgenderism)” (p. 189).

Lie #4: Transgenderism Is Normal

The lie: Your sex is gender-fluid. The biological sex you are born as does not necessarily correspond to your gender. It is normal for a person recognized as a male at birth to later realize that he is actually a woman trapped in a man’s body. How you feel is the real you. There are more than just two sexes (the traditional gender binary is wrong), and there are even more genders. If your child is transitioning, you must comply or else you will be guilty of that child’s suicide: “Would you rather have a dead daughter or a living son?”

The truth: God created mankind as either male or female. There are only two sexes—male and female. God designed males to be masculine, and God designed females to be feminine. It is sinful for a man to be effeminate or for a woman to be masculine.

Tragically, transgenderism has become “the cool and cutting-edge expression of individuality” (p. 198). The question “Would you rather have a dead daughter or a living son?” is manipulative. The solution to a sinful desire—in this case, the sin of envy—is to put that sinful desire to death. The solution is not to enable your child’s sinful desires by pumping the body with hormones that do irreparable damage and by mutilating healthy body parts (“to lance off breasts and purge ovaries in the name of emancipation” [p. 199]).​​ “Love holds people to the impartial, objective, and safe standard of God’s truth, not the malleability of sinful desires and the posturing of sinful people” (p. 204).

Lie #5: Modesty Is an Outdated Burden That Serves Male Dominance and Holds Women Back

The lie: It is oppressive to call women to dress and act differently than men. If a woman dresses provocatively and entices a man to sinfully lust after her, then that is not the concern of the woman at all; it is solely the man’s problem. If a woman wants to exhibit her body or to express herself loudly and freely in an “unladylike” way, then male oppression shouldn’t hold her back.

The truth: “A godly woman is a modest woman” (p. 267). Butterfield approvingly quotes how Martha Peace and Kent Keller define modesty and immodesty:

  • modesty: “an inner attitude of the heart motivated by a love for God that seeks His glory through purity and humility; it often reveals itself in words, actions, expressions, and clothes”
  • immodesty: “an attitude of the heart that expresses itself with inappropriate words, actions, expressions and/or clothes that are flirtatious, manipulative, revealing, or suggestive of sensuality or pride”

Butterfield asserts, “No Christian woman wants to be seen in the eyes of God as a ‘provoking object.’ Women, don’t minimize the seriousness to your own soul if Satan uses you as a tool for any reason” (p. 278).

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