What I want to give you in this beginning article is a pair of glasses. I invite you to put on these spectacles and take a look through them to understand how to view Ladies Against Feminism, what we’re here for, what we’re not here for, and why we’re doing what we’re doing. I hope that you’ll be able to see my heart and the heart of all the varied ladies and gents who write for LAF. I hope that this post will help correct some misunderstandings and misapplications of LAF and set us on the road to understanding. I also hope it will start new visitors out on the right footing.
Skimmers Miss the Big Picture…
Reading a website like this is a bit like reading a book that is constantly edited. New chapters get added on and obsolete ones are pruned out. The table of contents is never stable. The index shifts from time to time. Even the illustrations aren’t static. In like manner, reactions to LAF reflect a diverse readership that includes the enthusiastic and the angry, the thoughtful and the confused. Some of the responses we receive leave us wondering if people have actually read any articles at all or are just reacting to one or two images or titles. I’ve heard from people who write, “This site is so shallow. All you have to offer women are pictures of old-fashioned ladies in quaint dresses; there’s no substance.” That’s a little like saying, “I flipped through this book and looked at a couple of illustrations, and I can tell the author has absolutely nothing to say.” We get other notes that say, “There is way too much on this site about modest clothing; you need to discuss more than just outward appearances” (realize, dear readers, that “Femininity & Modesty” is one of over a dozen categories on LAF and therefore doesn’t even constitute ten percent of the site’s content). Still more visitors write to say, “You are judging other people and setting up impossible standards for them to obey. That makes you Pharisees and hypocrites.” More on the legalism issue in a bit.
Now, I acknowledge there are some books many of us would put down after two or three chapters, deciding the text is poorly written, illogical, immoral, or whatever. But we usually give the author or editor the benefit of the doubt rather than tossing the book after a cursory glance at the table of contents or the illustrations. If you take time to actually read through a cross-section of articles on LAF (start with LAF’s Theme Articles and Reader Favorites), you’ll come to see that there is more to LAF than its pretty pictures. It’s also important to realize that LAF contains articles by a very diverse group of writers. This is not a place where one point of view reigns supreme. Obviously, we don’t just publish anything and everything. We are looking for a basic unity of theme and faithfulness to historical accuracy and the truth of God’s Word. But that doesn’t mean we have a committee of clones who work to update the site. LAF is an unmarried lady who writes about how to demonstrate hospitality in a tiny apartment. LAF is a 40-year-old pediatrician who longs to be home full-time and makes the most of the hours she does have with her family. LAF is a 17-year-old stay-at-home daughter who shows us what it is like to joyfully serve a large family. LAF is a 30-something childless woman who has grieved over infertility and reaches out to share God’s grace. LAF is a blind homemaker who teaches us that disabilities do not stand in the way of serving one another. LAF is the working mother striving to be there for her children and wondering how she can live Titus 2 in a double-income culture. LAF is a whole lot of mothers, daughters, grandmothers, aunts, and friends coming together to share their experiences and reach out to their sisters far and wide. No one comes in a spirit of perfectionism or elitism.
Superwoman Need Not Apply
And speaking of perfectionism, we also hear from people who are concerned that we are advocating works righteousness or legalism, and this is a serious issue I want to address in a thoughtful manner. This is extremely important to me, especially in the one-dimensional realm of the Internet, where it is very difficult to really know the people behind the posts (unless you also happen to live on the same street or go to the same church). The Internet has its benefits, but it also has many drawbacks. As I’ve written in the past, it is way too easy to get on someone’s website and feel like an instant failure. After all, here is Supermom in all her glory, dispensing wisdom and seemingly having it all together in her tidy online world. But that’s exactly the point. We don’t live in cyberspace, and not a single one of us is Supermom. Superwoman is a myth, and the sooner we can get that thought ingrained in our minds, the better. If all of my children had been born perfect, and if I was sinless and had no challenges at home, then I would have nothing to write about. I write about our challenges precisely because they are our challenges. I face piles of laundry just like you. I’ve got children who seem to have short-term memory loss when it comes to flushing the potty or putting their clothes in the hamper. I’ve had kitchen disasters that leave me staring in consternation into the fridge, thinking, “I sure hope there’s something edible in those leftover containers!” Bottom line: I’m a human being with a human spouse and human children. Some days seem to flow like a beautiful melody in our house; and then there are the days that we all wish we could rewind and do over. The good news is that those days do not leave us in despair, because we do not believe our works earn or keep God’s favor.
Let’s get a definition of legalism out on the table to help us understand what we’re talking about here. Plain and simple, legalism is “any attempt to rely on self-effort to either attain or maintain our justification before God.” It’s the mistaken belief that being “right” will somehow make us righteous. That if we just get all our theological ducks in a row, cross all our t’s and dot our i’s, then God will be pleased with us and accept us as holy and good. But this is simply not the case. Our works can never earn the unmerited favor of God. Grace is a gift; it has no price tag. Saving us from our sins is totally the work of Christ and His atonement alone. We are not “more saved” if we then follow up our salvation with a particular set of good works. And let’s just get this point out as well: We are called to do good works! We are called to keep Christ’s commandments and delight in doing His will (John 14:15, I Cor. 7:19, I John 5:3).
There are two sides of this wagon, and falling off either one is just as erroneous. On the one side is legalism (of the pulling-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps brand). On the other side is lawlessness, which says, “I’m under grace, so I can do whatever I want and God will be pleased.” The church is thoroughly infected with both of these diseases today. You know why? Because you and I are infected with both of these diseases! It’s easy to point fingers and say, “Oh, they’re a bunch of legalists.” But, down in our hearts, if we’d just search them out, we’d find that we, too, are often legalists. All of us feel in one way or another that we can earn God’s favor by doing certain things or not doing others. We often hold other people to a standard under which we ourselves would chafe. Or we hold ourselves to an impossible standard and despair of ever being “good enough.” That’s when we need to get back into the Word and realize there isn’t a “good enough” outside of Christ’s perfect work on our behalf.
Then again, we’re all also guilty of embracing lawlessness at times. We come up with excuses to ignore God’s clear commands because they don’t personally suit us. “Oh, those commands are just cultural,” we’ll say. “God can’t mean us to follow them in our day and age.” We want to follow our own hearts, then “baptize” whatever our hearts tell us to do with phrases like, “I really feel the Lord is leading me to…” even if what we feel led to do directly contradicts Scripture. Instead of submitting ourselves to the Word, we invent a neo-mysticism that says our hearts and feelings are above God’s Word and can somehow lead us aright, even though Scripture warns us not to trust our hearts (Jer. 17:9). We pick and choose what we want to obey, justifying it in our hearts as we do so. That’s our sin nature, and we’re all infected with it. It’s no use pointing fingers at everyone else, because we all do this whether we’re willing to admit it or not. It’s the path of least resistance and is so easy to fall into (when we’re not busy being legalists, that is ;-)).
Sanctification is God’s design to make us more like Him over an entire lifetime. It doesn’t happen overnight, and sometimes we wonder if it’s happening at all. Then, when we look back at the past, we can often very clearly see how God has used circumstances, people, and His Word to mold us and transform us. But there is a very real temptation to see how far we’ve come and start raising the bar for other people. We look at others and doubt their salvation because they struggle with sins we overcame long ago; because they aren’t at the same place on Sanctification Road, we assume they really aren’t saved at all. This is not only foolishness, it is sinful disregard for Christ’s body. Christ didn’t set up a merit bar and force people to pass it before he’d fellowship with them. He “ate with tax collectors and sinners,” as the Pharisees pointed out. He couldn’t possibly be the Messiah, they thought, or He would have known such people were not fit companions. But Christ didn’t come for the well; He came for the sick. And all of us are sick. When the Pharisees boasted about their own keeping of man-made regulations and traditions, Christ showed them that they had missed the point, which is obedience to God’s commands out of a heart that loves and adores Him–not a heart that keeps a running tally of its own merits (which are non-existent). Loving your neighbor means you do not draw lines of fellowship so narrowly that you won’t admit anyone who is not as sanctified as you are into your home. There are probably as many examples of legalism as there are people on earth, so I don’t think there’s a need to belabor this point. If you’d like a succinct, helpful summary of legalism with concrete examples, please read the article at this link.
Where the Rubber Meets the Road
Finally, insofar as it applies to what we’re promoting (and not promoting) here on LAF, let’s just get a few misconceptions right out in the sunshine here and give them a good airing:
- There is no uniform for women in Scripture, and there is a lot of room for creativity and freedom within the commands to be modest, pure, and feminine. We cannot hold others to a man-made standard of dress. If we have personal convictions about clothing, they must be grounded in God’s Word, and we must treat others with charity and grace. Not everyone has reached the same conclusions that we have, and we don’t shun women based upon outward appearances. Jesus dined with prostitutes, calling them to holiness, so we can surely reach out to our neighbors with charity, even if we disagree with their standard of dress! There’s no such thing as a “Christian Taliban” when it comes to modest dress. (If you want to study this topic from Scripture, start with the following verses: Deut. 22:5, I Tim. 2:9, I Pet. 3:3-4, Proverbs 31:21-22, Gen. 24:22, and Isaiah 61:10.) Wearing dresses and being feminine cannot cover a haughty spirit and a holier-than-thou attitude.
- Homemaking is not about showing off or “having it all together.” You aren’t less of a homemaker if you don’t grind your own flour, grow your own vegetables, sew all of your family’s clothes, teach your children five foreign languages, paint watercolors, play the harp, plan a year’s worth of menus at a time, head up the local organic food co-op, or send birthday cards to every person on both sides of your family (including second cousins twice removed!). There are various gifts, talents, and abilities in the Body, and the hand would be foolhardy to say to the eye, “Why don’t you get busy planting seeds with the rest of the fingers?” Thank God for the gifts He has given you, cultivate the ones you find in reach, and encourage and praise others for the gifts God has given them. It will never profit me to be jealous of a sister who has an eye for photography, but it will profit me very much to keep her phone number handy when it’s time for the annual family portrait!
- Being a godly wife has nothing to do with being a doormat. Anyone who believes otherwise hasn’t been reading this site or the Scriptures. The godly wife is called to be a visionary steward; a thinker; a do-er of difficult things; a lover of excellence; a light to her children; and a shoulder-to-shoulder partner with her husband, walking the same path with zest and commitment. Gifts will vary, but a husband who values his wife will always see the incredible benefit of having a comrade-in-arms as his closest companion through life. With their complementary roles, the visionary husband and wife don’t walk in opposite directions with differing agendas. They unite their hearts and minds and work toward the same goals, each in their own God-ordained sphere. This isn’t a fairy tale, pie-in-the-sky idea; it’s what has driven successful marriages, families, and cultures for centuries. Doormats need not apply. A wife’s submission has nothing to do with being inferior or unintelligent. Every person on earth has to submit to someone or some thing. Try having everyone do otherwise, and you’ll get anarchy on a massive scale. Men submit to their authorities. Women submit to theirs. What’s the big deal? If you’re opposed to submission, then try disobeying all traffic lights tomorrow and see where it gets you. Biblical submission is not about tyrannical overlords forcing their underlings to kow-tow. It is all about Christ and His Bride, and that picture is one of beauty, love, tenderness, protection, and mutual honor.
- Godly husbands do not treat their wives like children, browbeat them, or abuse them in any way. We’ve heard about websites whose authors claim it is a good thing to keep women in line by treating them as lesser beings. Scripture is clear: as you do to others, you are asking it to be done to you. Real men treat women like queens and co-heirs–not as chattel or children. LAF has nothing to do with anyone who promotes belittling or abusing women in any way. End of story.
- You are not a better Christian if you have a dozen children. Children are a blessing and a heritage from God. We love them. We thank God for each one. But we don’t use them as rungs of a ladder to stand over the heads of our fellow believers. God is in control, and He may choose to withhold the gift of children from the godliest people we know. Conversely, He may give many children to parents who squander their heritage and reap the whirlwind. None of us has an eye into the mind of the Almighty, and anyone who thinks he stands should take care, lest he fall (I Cor. 10:12).
- Biblical womanhood is not a “white thing.” When we get letters that claim this, we can only shake our heads. Scripture clearly teaches we are all of “one blood”–the only race is the human race (Acts 17:26). To say emulating the godly standards of Scripture is “white” is insulting to people of all colors. You are not a better Christian if you are white. To believe so is to deny our common heritage in Eden. LAF has black, Hispanic, and Asian writers, but we don’t screen people for skin color or keep a quota system. We’re all sisters.
- Scripture does not forbid the education of women. It never ceases to amaze us hear how people put words into our mouths that we have never uttered. LAF is not against excellent, well-rounded education for all women. We believe that God commands all Christians to love Him with their minds as well as with their hearts and souls. What is open to debate is the conclusion that a brick-and-mortar campus is the only place to receive a true “higher” education. Yes, I have a B.A. from a college and graduated with honors. No, that degree has in no way contributed to my success in running a home business or educating my children. I credit all my success to my parents, who home educated me for eight years and gave me the tools I needed to start and manage a sewing business long before I ever had a college degree. Is college inherently evil? Nope. Can good things come out of a college education? Indeed. But is college the sole place to equip the mind for a successful adult life? We’d like to challenge that stereotype (for men as well as women). Many of the greatest success stories in the business world come from people who either dropped out of or never attended college. Research demonstrates that there is no correlation between parents having college degrees and the success of homeschooling students. Parents with high school diplomas produce the same results as parents with college degrees. Again, this is not an argument for ignorance! The point here is that a fantastic education is available for anyone who has a desire to learn, a love of reading, and a willingness to study and think. And with today’s distance learning options, we think the model of horrifically expensive brick-and-mortar institutions will eventually fall by the wayside, victims of their own unwillingness or inability to keep up with the freedom of on-demand, student-directed and mentor-driven study. Should women be smart? You bet! Today’s little girls will both become and shape tomorrow’s parents, entrepreneurs, doers, and thinkers. We here at LAF invest just as much time and thought into the education of our girls as we do our boys. Anyone who says we are training our girls to be tomorrow’s doormats is, once again, not asking us and not reading what we write.
- Women in the work force are not the objects of our debate on this site. We are not here to sit in judgment over individual circumstances. All women are welcome here. We know that not everyone working a job outside the home is a feminist. And those who do embrace feminism are still individuals and not a vast faceless entity. Our desire is to share the truth about the roots and causes of feminism and the effects it has had on society and culture. Some of us writing for LAF were once feminists ourselves. This site is not called “Ladies Against Feminists.” Any feminist visiting this site would be welcome around our dinner tables.
- LAF is not a replacement for the local church. This brings us right back around full circle to my qualms about the Internet. There is absolutely no replacement for relationships with flesh-and-blood humans. There is no replacement for the fellowship of the Body on the local level and the communion of the saints. Think of LAF as an ongoing letter of encouragement; don’t think of it as a substitute for church. One of the terrible problems with the Internet is that it can cause us to hold local assemblies of believers to an impossible standard of cyber-perfection. Someone goes to church and is quickly disillusioned when she finds that everyone else there is also a sinner. Once again, that’s exactly the point. You are going to meet very godly, wonderful people in this life, but you are never going to meet perfectly sinless people until Heaven. Offer to others the same grace and charity you would wish them to extend to you. Don’t build pedestals; build ties of friendship and patience. In the long run, you will find yourself all the richer for it.
I’m sure there’s more I could say to help lay aside misconceptions and misunderstandings, but I hope this list will at least show you my heart and the heart of others who write for this site. Our desire here is not just to refute feminism but to encourage visionary homemaking and offer resources to bless and build up our sisters all over the world. It’s not about perfectionism; it’s about belonging to the One Who is Perfect. It’s about helping each other and serving each other–not about competing with each other or one-upping each other. It’s about acknowledging that we can’t do it all and never will, even as we strive for excellence. It’s about thanking God for our limitations, because they force us to rely on each other instead of trying to draw on our own strength.
If we ever come across as conceited or legalistic, please forgive us and remember that electrons on the screen cannot compare to a personal heart-to-heart. All the “smilies” in the world cannot take the place of a real cup of tea and a warm hug in person. Any time you feel like you aren’t measuring up to some imaginary LAF yard stick, please come back here and refresh your memory. We’re all fallen human beings. We’re all in need of grace. We’re all on a long road of sanctification and in need of patience and kindness. Thank you for bearing with us and extending grace to us. It is our prayer that we can encourage each other to be ever more faithful to the One Who has called us out of darkness. When we stumble and fail to do that, we hope you’ll reach out a firm hand to help us back up again.
And for our readers who don’t share our beliefs, we hope you’ll take the time to read, think, and inquire. You’re welcome here. Always will be.
P.S. – We are aware that there are blogs and websites out there that slam LAF and take great delight in spreading misinformation, gossip, and rumor about what we stand for. We’ve gotten notes from people who say they’ve read that our husbands don’t allow us out of the house by ourselves, that they pick out all our clothes, order us around like waitresses, etc. Frankly, these rumors are so ridiculous that they don’t even deserve refutation. [Can anyone honestly believe that godly husbands keep their wives on a leash? I sure hope people are more discerning than that!] Concerned readers often ask if we plan to do anything about gossip-mongers and slanderers. The long and the short of it is that we do not read these sites or seek them out. We aren’t Googling them or watching them or paying attention to them. They are in clear violation of Matthew 18 and all biblical principles for confrontation and restoration. If anyone has a problem with LAF or any individual who writes for us, that person needs to contact the individual privately to attempt to settle the matter. It is utterly dishonorable to air someone else’s shortcomings to the entire world when no attempt has been made to speak with the individual personally or discover if the question at issue is even legitimate. If you aren’t willing to go to someone privately when they offend you but are perfectly willing to vilify that person or group or church online, then there is something seriously wrong with your own life. We have to be firm here. This is not something to play around with or brush aside. Those who slander, gossip, stir up contention, plant jealousy, and refuse to deal biblically with disputes are people Scripture commands believers to stay away from (Rom. 16:17-19; 2 Tim 2:16). And if you hear a rumor about LAF, please do us the honor of checking the source instead of spreading the hearsay. Thank you!
“[S]peak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.” ~ Titus 3:2-8