Gender Equality and the Emperor’s New Clothes

Posted on February 26, 2013 · Posted in Authority, Culture, Worldview

Hans Christian Anderson’s tale of the Emperor’s New Clothes was written almost 200 years ago. It remains a classic reminder of the vanity and gullibility of people who live for the praise and approval of others. In the tale, two shrewd and enterprising weavers manage to convince the Emperor that only those who were worthy would be able to see the stunning new set of clothes they had designed for him. Anyone who could not see these clothes was deemed to be unfit or stupid. As the king was “dressed” by the weavers in his new clothes he did not want to be seen as unfit or stupid.  He went along with the weaver’s scheme that he was indeed wearing new clothes. As you know, the only thing the Emperor was wearing was his birthday suit.

 

In the story the villagers and members of the court suffered from the same malady as the Emperor. They were too fearful of the opinion of others to state what was painfully  obvious. Finally, a young child not yet skilled in the art of appeasing others, blurted out the naked truth.  

 

Unfortunately, the insight of Anderson’s fable is lost on our politically correct culture. Believing that the genders of male and female are equal is as preposterous as believing that the Emperor was wearing new clothes. Genesis 1 & 2 are clear that God created man to be male and female with distinctly unequal responsibilities. That male and female are not equal could not be anymore obvious. The assertion of self-serving people, no matter how strongly it is stated, does not make the assertion true.

 

Men and women are each strikingly unique. They are not equal. It is derogatory to both genders and to the Creator of genders to say the genders are equal. Like those of the Emperor’s court and the villagers, we have become afraid to state what is obvious. Men and women are not equal. In the passionate quest for equality, it is now culturally correct for women to swear, brawl, give up their families, be sexually exploitive in relationships, ruthlessly climb the corporate ladder, etc., so that they can be just like men. This is called equality. What these things should be called is sin. 

 

Men and women are different by design.  Even when they do the same things the wonderful difference is still there. The quest for equality blurs the ability know one’s identity. Being a male and being a female is a distinct and undeniable part of what defines each person and what it means to be human.  Once this distinction is lost chaos results. In its attempt to discard God and his rule, culture has encouraged us for decades to ignore what is obvious and  to see men and women as equal. To that I would ask, how is this equality thing working out for us?

 

Our culture, and sadly much of the church, believes we have moved beyond the purposes of God in the creation mandate (Genesis 1:26-28). The reality that God designed men and women to uniquely combine through families to subdue the earth for his glory is regarded as nothing more than a male chauvinist myth. 

 

To our shame, it is true that many in the church have undervalued the role and contribution of women. Sadly, many have been influenced by tribal barbarism and Victorian, romantic fantasy with regard to the value of women. But this is a testimony to the stupidity of not trusting God’s word rather than an argument for gender equality. 

 

We are fearfully and wonderfully made by God’s design – male and female. To claim otherwise is to dawn the transparent clothing of Anderson’s weak willed emperor. God has something better for men and women than equality. What he offers is the ability to be wholly male and wholly female in the pursuit of his glory.


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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.