I was glad to get your letter. You needn’t apologize for feeling bewildered about what has been happening in Jan’s life and in your marriage since she became involved in the women’s movement. I think I can understand something of what you’re feeling. And having talked to other Christian husbands, I can assure you you’re not alone.
Many men share that sense of uneasiness (“What’s happening to us? What does it all mean? What changes will have to take place?”), hurt (“I tried my best to make her happy. Isn’t what I have to offer her enough?”), resentment (“Why can’t life go on as it always has? My wife used to seem perfectly content.”), even fear (“Maybe she’ll get so independent she won’t need me any more! Maybe she’ll even get ideas about leaving! Or maybe women will take over things, and we men will lose our masculinity.”).
On that last one, I’m reminded of a sentence in Gene Marine’s A Male Guide to Women’s Liberation (which I recommend, by the way; it’s an effort by a man to help other men understand what large numbers of women are concerned about today). Marine writes: “If the idea of free women makes us feel ‘unmanned,’ it is the fear, not the women, that unmans us.” He makes a good point. For the Christian, the idea of human freedom shouldn’t be threatening. Jesus described his mission in terms of freedom, saying he was sent “to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18). True, we can spiritualize that, or at least limit it, and say he came to free us from sin, guilt, the fear of death, and the bondage of the law—and simply let it go at that. But mind-boggling as such great theological truths are, I’m convinced there’s even more to the freedom Christ grants. He said he came that we might experience ...1
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