In the second half of the nineteenth century a theological shift began to take place in America. In contrast to The Second Great Awakening that ushered in a new age of Protestantism largely influenced by Puritan and Calvinistic beliefs, this age was characterized by subjective internal experience. In many ways, this thinking mirrored what some theologians and historians describe as the Democratic mood or spirit of the country. Revivalistic Arminianism, promulgated by Charles Finney, supplanted Reformation thinking and objective biblical truth was trumped by subjective experience. Part of the fallout of this development was that virtue, which once found its origin in Scripture, would now be shaped by feelings and driven by self-absorption.
What does this have to do with women? Everything. When the emphasis shifted from God to man, secularism, as Susan Hunt explains, “slithered its way into the hearts of women through the messages of feminism.”1
Listen as Susan Hunt gives us more insight and provides snippets of conversations with Christian women. To my shame, I can hear echoes of myself in these voices.
“Modernity has taken its toll on womanhood, and the new woman has displaced the true woman. It is not a pretty picture. The defection is not just among non-Christian women. Consider these conversations I have had with women who Sunday after Sunday sit on the pews of evangelical churches”
My husband left me. My unmarried daughter is pregnant. I have always tried to serve God, and what has it gotten me? I don’t deserve this.
I have never been happy in this marriage. It just isn’t working. I know God doesn’t want me to be unhappy. I guess it was never meant to be.
My church doesn’t meet my needs. No one reaches out to me, and I don’t like the pastor. He preaches from the Bible, but his sermons are boring. I see no reason to keep going.
My husband doesn’t understand me. He is absorbed with his career. I know divorce is wrong, but there’s got to be more to life than this. I want to have some fun! I am going to start thinking about myself and do things for me. I’ll just let him live his life, and I’ll live mine.
We had looked forward to our retirement. We planned to travel and even go on some mission trips. Now my husband’s mother has had a stroke, and we have to care for her. It just doesn’t seem fair.
Jeff is pressuring me to move in with him. I know it’s probably not right, but I’m thirty-five years old and single. I want a husband and a baby. I’m afraid if I don’t agree, he’ll leave. We do love each other, and he says he is a Christian. It can’t be that wrong, and surely once I am pregnant he will want to get married.
My husband has been unemployed for six months. He has been able to do some part-time work to pay the bills, but I feel overwhelmed with the financial pressure. I resent my friends who have no financial problems, and I can’t understand why God doesn’t do something.
My childhood was so painful. There is no way I can forgive those who hurt me. I am often depressed, and no one seems to understand how hard it is for me.
“This is the voice of the new woman in the body of the Christian woman. This is unrestrained, immature selfism. I don’t mean to stand in judgement of others. What is so terrifying is that too often this is my voice.”2
May God grant us the grace to not deviate from the Truth of God’s Word, the standard whereby all things are, and will be judged. May Scripture be the lens that we view all the providences and hard circumstances of our life. May He raise up a new generation of true women, ready to sacrifice pleasure and comfort for duty and Truth. Amen.
1. Hunt, Susan, (1997) The True Woman: The Beauty and Strength of a Godly Woman, (50) Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
2. Ibid, (50-51)