FEMINISM AND PROMISCUITY:ARE THEY INSEPARABLE?

A new enormously popular TV show in the African country of Senegal (“Mistress to a  Married Man”)  says YES!

On August 22, the NEW YORK TIMES ran a front page story about this “Sex in the City”-like TV series currently so popular in the predominately Muslim country  of Senegal. The lead character has an affair with a married man and brazenly says she will have sex with whomever she pleases. The NEW YORK TIMES story celebrates her promiscuity as part of a larger movement of women’s liberation in male dominated societies around the world.

There certainly is still a great need for a feminist movement of women’s liberation in many parts of the world, perhaps especially in majority Muslim countries.  But must that include what the lead character in the Senegal TV series says: “Everyone is free to do what they want with their own sexuality.” 

Both Christian and Muslim teaching would say NO!

I write about the Senegal story because it reflects so much of what has happened in  Western culture. In the 60s, many secular feminists insisted that sexual promiscuity was an  essential part of their feminism. 

 That I believe was and is a tragic mistake.

I am a feminist, a biblical feminist. Jesus radically challenged the male prejudice and discrimination of his day. For first century Jews, it was a disgrace for a woman to appear in public with a man. One prominent  rabbi said it was better to burn a copy of the Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible) than to give it to a woman.  Women were not allowed to testify in court( their minds were considered too  feeble to get the facts straight).

Jesus traveled publicly with women. He taught them theology. Jesus even  gave the first resurrection appearance to women. (Google the materials of Christians for Biblical Equality for  much more detail—especially their DISCOVERING BIBLICAL EQUALITY {IVP].)

But Jesus never thought that asserting the equal dignity of women meant embracing sexual promiscuity. At the end of the story of the woman taken in adultery( John 7:53 to 8:11) Jesus gently tells her not to sin anymore.

It is  absolutely essential to insist that traditional Christian sexual morality is fully compatible with asserting and living the full dignity and equality of women. The fact that some radical feminists have equated feminism and promiscuity has contributed to a mistaken rejection even of biblical feminism by many conservative Christians. The same thing is now  leading many Muslims to reject feminism. For the sake of both truth and the full embrace of the dignity and equality of women, we must reject the widespread secular idea that promiscuity is an essential part of feminism.

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