Thrice the brinded cat hath mew’d.
Thrice and once the hedge-pig whined.
Harpier cries ‘Tis time, ’tis time.
~ The witches of Macbeth
Speaking to women in his essay, “The Duty of the Hour” (1868), Robert Lewis Dabney writes:
There, in your homes, is your domain. There you rule with the sceptre of affection, and not our conquerors. We beseech you, wield that gentle empire in behalf of the principles, the patriotism, the religion, which we inherited from our mothers. Teach our ruder sex that only by a deathless love to these can woman’s dear love be deserved or won. Him who is true to these crown with your favor. Let the wretch who betrays them be exiled forever from the paradise of your arms. Then shall we be saved, saved from a degradation fouler than the grave. Be it yours to nurse with more than a vestal’s watchfulness the sacred flame of our virtue now so smothered. Your task is unobtrusive; it is performed in the privacy of home, and by the gentle touches of daily love. But it is the noblest work which mortal can perform, for it furnishes the polished stones with which the temple of our liberties must be repaired. Such is your work; the home and fireside are the scenes of your industry. But the materials which you shape are the souls of men, which are to compose the fabric of our church and state. The politician, the professional man, is but the cheap, rude, day laborer who moves and lifts the finished block to its place. You are the true artists, who endue it with fitness and beauty; and therefore yours is the nobler task.
In the South’s darkest hour, the greatest theologian this country has produced knew that a new day would dawn if women refused to marry men who were not true to our people, our principles, and our faith. But if they chose instead to follow Mary Wollstonecraft and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the nation would fall as the government had fallen.
When the family shall no longer have a head, and the great foundation for the subordination in children in the mother’s example is gone; when the mother shall have found another sphere than her home for her energies; when she shall have exchanged the sweet charities of domestic love and sympathy for the fierce passions of the hustings; when families shall be disrupted at the caprice of either party, and the children scattered as foundlings from their hearthstone – it requires no wisdom to see that a race of sons will be reared nearer akin to devils than to men. In the hands of such a bastard progeny, without discipline, without homes, without God, the last remains of social order will speedily perish, and society will be overwhelmed in savage anarchy.
Dabney accurately predicted that marriage, which is for the purpose of raising godly seed, would not survive the so-called “liberation” of women, and treating the sexes as equal and interchangeable would be far more devastating than the murder of the old republic.
The only relation between the sexes which will remain will be cohabitation continuing so long as the convenience or caprice of both parties may suggest; and this, with most, will amount to a vagrant concubinage.
This is not a problem that began in the 19th century. It’s as old as Genesis 3:16, but it began to encroach seriously on the European Christian mindset about nine centuries ago.
The courtly love associated with medieval chivalry had the effect of divinizing a knight’s mistress, so that earthly sexual urges were replaced with a pseudo-spiritual abasement and obedience to her wishes, transferring the worship of God to the worship of femininity, which was (and unfortunately still is) assumed to be more righteous than masculinity, thereby sanctifying acts of war. The troubadour poets of 11th-century France, inspired by Arabic sources, began the practice of celibate adultery and the love of women as an ennobling moral force. It’s no coincidence that Marian pilgrimages and French cathedrals dedicated to “Our Lady” began to explode in growth in the 12th century. The mystics Catherine of Siena in the 14th century, who claimed that Jesus gave his foreskin to her as a wedding ring, and Teresa of Ávila in the 15th century, used the concept of courtly love to express their devotion to Christ.[1. The English Order of the Garter and the Burgundian Order of the Golden Fleece were formed in the 14th and 15th centuries, respectively.] Even Francis of Assisi called himself “a knight for Lady Poverty.”
As Christians mainstreamed this devious philosophy, it came to be seen as the means of transforming marriage into the perfection of love by spiritualizing it. In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare shows how seeking “love” that is disconnected from family and familial obligations turns into a sociopathic horror that ends in death. In the prologue to Don Quixote, the stated purpose of the book is “to destroy the authority and influence that books of chivalry have in the world,” and in the text Don Quixote tells Sancho Panza, “Religión es la caballería” (“Chivalry is a religion”).
Thus, the framework for feminism was erected. The path from there to here is fascinating to trace. It began with Christian men, superior over home, church, and state, seeking to baptize their efforts in allegedly unsullied womanhood, as though this was a blessing from God himself. Christians replaced procreation with romance as the template for marriage. A happy home became the evidence of a man’s faithful obedience to God, and an unhappy home became the evidence of his disobedience to God. God’s law was replaced with a woman’s feelings. It’s important to realize that women demanded social and political equality with men after it had long been established in many churches, contrary to what Christians had always believed, that women are the judges of their husbands, and society is obliged to accept their judgment. This was helped along by men’s natural desire to protect, defend, and support women, and due to their own ignorance, the Bible became less of a guide to them than consensus.
Feminism infected the North during the 19th century and worked its way south. Today, distinct sexual roles are considered by the average urbanite to be as valid as a belief in alchemy. At the movies, leather-clad, cross-dressing women with perfect hair easily defeat seasoned warriors. We witness now the comedy of drag queens being banned from sodomite pride parades for fear of offending “transsexuals”! Soon, female scholarships and business subsidies will be treated as a binary assault on civil rights.
Unfaithful churches have this foul wind in their sails and are fanatically equalizing sexual roles, having long since abdicated authority in the home and civil realm. Christian leaders patronize the masses, preaching that wives are moral barometers for their hapless husbands. The mania to ordain women is now matched only by that of inventing racial sins committed by departed white men and proudly and loudly repenting of them.
The boundaries of race, nation, and sex are being obliterated in the name of “love,” defined not as our Christian ancestors defined love but as the Communist Party, Democratic National Committee, and Anti-Defamation League want it defined. And just as unrequited lust was considered ennobling by French medievals, “gay” Christians (but not pedophiles?) are honored members of godless churches today, so long as they don’t act upon their desires. And if they do, well, don’t-ask-don’t-tell.
Chivalry subordinates marriage to romance by teaching that women are inherently moral and the arbiters of manners, and that the wife is superior to her husband. Chivalry requires that after a man pursues a woman[2. Yet the only two books of the Bible that are named after women, Ruth and Esther, are about women who pursued their husbands.] and she judges his merit as a husband, his virtue must continue to be judged by his wife’s emotional state after marriage. This leads to cuckoldry, frivorce, and a host of ills.
Sexual insubordination is incompatible with Christian patriarchal headship.[3. “Yet consider now, whether women are not quite past sense and reason when they want to rule over men. In a word, it is madness. For, were men made for women? It is true that today men are as channels through which God causes His grace to stream down upon women. For, from whence does labor come? From where do all the most excellent things and highly-esteemed things come? To be sure, it all comes from the men’s side. So God is well pleased for men to serve the good of women, as experience shows. Yet St. Paul has an eye here to the beginning of the creation, where it was said that it was not good for the man to be alone and that he needed someone at hand who would always be ready to help. Since God was thinking of the man, it certainly follows that the woman is only an accessory. And why? Because she was only created for the sake of man, and she must, therefore, direct her whole life toward him. She must confess, ‘I am not supposed to be without direction here, not knowing my purpose and station. Rather, I am obliged by God, if I am married, to serve my husband, and render him honor and reverence. And, if I am not married, I am bound to walk in all soberness and modesty, cognizant that men have the higher rank, and that they must rule, and that the woman who disregards this forgets the law of nature and perverts what should be observed as God commands.’” (Men, Women, and Order in the Church: Three Sermons by John Calvin [Dallas: Presbyterian Heritage, 1992], pp. 35-36)] As R.L. Dabney writes, “The rival interests and desires of two equal wills are inconsistent with domestic union, government, or peace.”
The next article in the series begins with the reason why women are not to teach or have authority over men.