By Jimmy Tuten, Jr.
Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) has been stalled somewhat by the lack of legislative approval nation wide. Radicals behind this movement have sought passage postponement until a more suitable time. This has brought about serious political overtones. However, conditions could change and passage of this insidious amendment, coming sooner than expected, could have devastating effects upon society and the church. In the August, 1978 issue of Reader’s Digest, “Six Political Reforms Most Americans Want” are discussed. On page 61, Reform 6, introduced by Senators James Abourezk (D., S.D.) and Mark Hatfield (R., Ore.) would allow Americans to initiate federal legislation when a group of voters equal to three percent of the number who voted in the last Presidential election sign a petition requesting such a vote. Although this procedure is new to the Federal Government, it is familiar to about half of the states in the Union. The threat of invoking this initiative could very well bring about the approval of ERA by a majority of 57 percent, including more men than women. By no means is ERA a dead or dying issue!
Why ERA? There are already statues on the books guaranteeing equal rights for women. They are protected by the following acts of Congress: The Equal Pay Act of 1963 as amended by the Higher Education Act of 1972; The Civil Rights Acts of 1964; the Equal Employment Opportunities Acts of 1972; Federal Minimum Wage Acts of 1974; Federal Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1972, and these make it impossible for ERA to afford further protection for women. If inequities exist, the problem lies in the enforcement of these laws. In view of this, how can organizations such as “The National Organization of Women” (known as NOW), pushing ERA have women’s best interest at heart? If passed ERA will bring more losses than gains and protective laws for females now in existence would be sacrificed.
Advocations of ERA
While space will not permit a listing of all items ERA is pushing for, attention will be given to what this writer considers the most important. They are:
(1) Unlimited, taxpayer-funded abortions on demand, free to all women.
(2) Homosexual and lesbian rights permitted resulting in marriage to persons of the same sex and the adoption of children. Along with this is the demand for special protective legislation preventing discrimination and allowing no restrictions against teaching positions and the holding of public office.
(3) Taxpayer supported child care centers where mothers can leave their children while they assert their so-called rights.
(4) Prison reforms where negative attitudes towards homosexuality would be eliminated among prisoners and staff.
After all this writer has read on the subject I will have to agree with Senator Sam Ervin: “I don’t know but one group of people in the United States the ERA would do any good for, that’s the homosexual.”
Alterations of Home and Society
Brother Stanley Paher, who has done some excellent writing in Vanguard on equal rights for women, has listed a number of quotations from radical women who wish to vastly alter home and society as we know it. The following citations from brother Paher’s material gives us a good idea of the ulterior motives of those who support ERA. Observe what has already been said:
On Marriage: Gloria Steinam in a speech in Houston said, “For the sake of those who wish to love in equal partnership, we have to abolish and reform the institution of legal marriage.” The Document, Declaration of Feminism says, “It is important for us to encourage women to leave their husbands and not live individually with men.”
On Children: “We really don’t know how to raise children . . . .The fact that children are raised in families means there is no equality . . . .In order to raise children with equality we must take them away from families and raise them. . .” (Dr. Mary Jo Bane, Wellsley College).
On God: Gloria Steinam (quoted above) is editor of Ms. Magazine. She says, “By the year 2000 we will, I hope, raise our children to believe in human potential, not God.
On Love: “We must detroy love . . . .Love promoted vulnerability, dependence, possessiveness, susceptibility to pain, and prevents the full development of women’s human potential by directing all her energies outward in the interest of others” (Women’s liberation, Notes from the Second Year).
On Sex: In The Document, Declaration of Feminism, it is said, “Liberated sexualtiy is freedom from oppressive sexual stereotyping. The freedom to choose heterosexualtity, homosexuality, bisexuality or asexuality, but not to be bound by them.”
ERA’s Effects on Society and Church
The effect on society and the church can be seen in that Women’s Lib, in the main, is an ungodly movement. There is a supreme lack of fear towards God and respect for His infallible Word. One witnesses in the movement absolute contempt for the Word of God. This cannot help but effect society and the church and is seen in ERA’s effect on the family, on the nation and on the church.
(1) Effect on the Family:The home is Divinely instituted and Divinely regulated. God never intended that the husband and wife be competitive, but that they live together in the capacity God ordained for them. One cannot read the Old Testament nor-the New without realizing that while functionally their roles are different, Man the head of the household, woman the homemaker, there is a spiritual equality (Gen. 3:16; 1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:22-24, etc.). The headship of man is a stewardship and not a privilege. The Bible teaches that the rights of the wife are protected. There is no greater function for a woman than to be a wife and mother. By no means is this an inferior function. As to their equality, God made them both in His image (Gen. 1:26-27). In Matthew 19:9, our Lord shows that the structure of the family is permanent with equal rights for the wife. Ephesians 5 is a beautiful display of functional differences cushioned with love and respect. As to children, it is the responsibility of parents to rear their offspring (Eph. 6:4; 1 Tim. 5:8).
The restless feminists pushing ERA are dissatisifed with the position which God has given them. They cannot cope with womanhood and burden us with their frustrations. Notice some of the effects of the feminist movement on the structure and soundness of the family relationship: (a) Equalized Social Security The goal is to have each husband whose wife is not employed outside of the house pay double Social Security taxes on the assumed earnings of the wife as a homemaker. It does not take a matbernatician to figure out what this would involve and that it would result in no increase in benfits for the wife since she already draws benefits from her husband’s salary. What would happen is the forcing of more wives and mothers into the already overcrowded job market. More women would have to find jobs outside of the home just to pay the taxes required. (b) Childcare Facilities. Claming sex discrimination for mothers expected to care for children, government funded childcare facilities are demanded so that a mother, either part-time or full-time, can have access to these facilities in order to pursue professional, educational and personal goals. This is to be universally available to all regardless of income. The result is getting as many children out of the home as possible and making them the wards of the state! It would become no longer the responsibility of the parents to care for children, but the state. (c) Shorter Work Weeks. Since jobs are not so widely available that all women could work if they wanted to, shorter work weeks to a suggested 30 hour week would result in the ability to hire more people. Look what this does to the fellow who is accepting his God-given role as bread winner for his family. He is barely getting by on a 40 hour work week with all the over-time he can get. A 30 hour week would force his wife out of the home (where she is happily content) into the job market. Is this woman’s best interest at heart? (d) Repeal abortion Laws. This is an anti-family resolution showing that Women’s Lib and abortion go hand in hand. The basis for such repeal is sex discrimination because it refers to one sex only. It is also argued that to be equal to men, women must have the right not to bear children. What we must realize, as some law scholars maintain, is that if ERA is passed it will do away with the right of hospitals and medical personal to refuse abortions on grounds of conscience. (e) Homosexual and lesbian rights. This is in direct conflict with what the Bible teaches about the family pattern and is a sin against the natural use of the body (Rom. 1:24-25).
(2) Effect on the Nation: While there are differences of opinion over various ramifications of obedience to civil government (Rom. 13:1-4; 1 Pet. 2:17), Christians recognize that “higher powers” are ordained of God and have enjoyed freedom of worship. If and when laws are passed that put Christians in a position of choosing to obey God rather than man, persecution is the next logical step. ERA is a precarious threat to freedoms .and guarantees now enjoyed. We cannot deal with all the admendments proposed and defeated as a result of ERA. However, observe two or three serious matters: (a) An amendment has been introduced insuring that crimes such as rape continue to be crimes under the law. Since such is enforced only against males, it is likely that it would be declared unconstitutional under the terms of ERA. (b) An effort to guarantee privacy of public restroom facilities was argued against by supporters of ERA. (c) Laws prohibiting homosexual mariages will be ruled unconstitiutional. Not only will this deteriorate the moral climate of our nation, it will destroy the family structure. People living together in homosexual marriages would qualify for joint income tax and homestead benefits. They will be allowed to adopt children. Such couples already have suits pending which if passed in their favor, would grant them rights to teach in public schools. Even private schools could not refuse them. If ERA passes, the Supreme Court would likely be forced to rule all state and local laws involving such unconstitional. (d) Laws obligating the husband to support his wife and children would be ruled unconstitutional. Women would no longer have the legal right to be full-time wives and mothers in their own homes, for such would be invalidated by ERA. Under this system wives would have equal responsibility for support of family. She would be responsible for her husband’s debts even as he is responsible for the wife’s. It would no longer be a crime for the husband to abandon his wife. Imagine the tremendous hardships imposed on a wife of 20 or 30 years, with children to support, having been abandoned to have to find a job. Suppose a separation or divorce has been in existence for some time and the man has been paying child support. Would it be retroactive? Could the husband go to court and sue the wife for support already paid? It is certainly possible! (e) In case of war women will certainly to subject to the draft and be placed along side men in combat. Before you rule this an impossibility, you had better look a little closer at ERA.
(3) Effect on the Church: Can one possibly imagine the confusion and turmoil of “Christian” women caught up in Women’s Lib asserting their rights in violation of the principles and teaching of 1 Cor. 14:34-35 and 1 Tim. 2:11. Our contributions would no longer be tax exempt and churches would have to pay taxes. Do not be lured into thinking that because churches of Christ are independent and autonomous that they are outside the law. The State could rule the church a denomination. Then there would be no end to what we might be forced to do in violation of our conscience and the Bible. It would be God or Caesar, brethern. What would it be?
ERA ignores and minimizes the seriousness of all sin. Not understanding that it was God who inspired Paul to write what he did in such passages as 1 Cor. 14:34, etc., they shout “male chauvinism”! Erring in trying to equate equality with absolute identity, Biblical teachings on distinctive roles are ignored and the basic makeup of sexes is completely overlooked. Men and women are far more different than similar.
Is ERA really needed? Is it the only way to remove recognized discrimination? Friends, the Equal Rights Amendment is not clear and concise in its meaning and can only lead to endless litigation in addition to known results.
Let the Women libbers have their rights, but let us not let them, spell it out for all women who have rights too. Christians and citizens must take positive steps to prevent creeping feminism from further influence destructive in nature and the undermining of God-ordained relationships. The movement ignores the natural order of things and is contrary to what the Bible teaches. God help us! But, we must first help ourselves.
Truth Magazine XXII: 44, pp. 712-714
November 9, 1978