In discussions about sexual abuse, incest, and rape, there is a tendency to assume that those offering preventative solutions are blaming the victim for what happened rather than placing the responsibility on the offender. This can be hurtful to individuals who continue to experience the trauma and betrayal of the original incident. Too often, uninformed, although sometimes well meaning, people state or imply that, “They should just get over it.” Why can’t they? Because the missing component is justice. While it is true that we cannot change the past, as a culture, we can reestablish the Biblical means by which such situations are resolved, and Biblical sanctions are applied.
The sequence of events outlined in Genesis that led to man’s separation from God have personal as well as societal implications and ramifications. Not only do we experience the consequences of our own sin, we are also recipients of the fallout from the sins of others. However, God did not leave us without remedy: Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice repaired our breach with God. This is the beginning of our life in Christ. But what about the interactions that make up the rest of our lives? The law-word of God is the means by which we establish His Kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven in the midst of a sinful and perverse generation (Phil. 2:15). This remedy involves reinstating the protections of the family and sanctions for violations and assaults against it.
One of the Bible verses most quoted by R. J. Rushdoony is Proverbs 8:36: But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death. Each step taken away from God and down the path of humanism results eventually in death. Making use of the God-ordained provisions, sanctions, and remedies is the only way to resolve the devastating effects of sin—from the personal to the societal.
The Family—A God-ordained Protection
From the outset of human history, the institution of the family has been the primary area of dominion and calling, as well as protection and covering. It is in this setting that the foundations of a society are either built or destroyed. Men like Marx and Engels correctly identified the Biblical family as an obstacle to their utopian vision. They and their proponents knew, however, that a direct assault would not be as effective as a systematic chipping away would be.
The family has been under relentless attack for decades as humanists have tried to right wrongs they have attributed to the Biblical family. By failing to identify the wrongs as sin, many blame the Biblical family for a host of injustices in society and want to replace God’s definition of family with a new modern concoction. This will result in the death of the Biblical family and an unhealthy society. This attack is fervent because as R. J. Rushdoony notes,
In the Bible, the family is the most public of all institutions, and adultery, treason against the family, is punishable by death, whereas treason against the state is not mentioned. Sexual relations are thus strictly regulated by the Bible, because they are crucial aspects of the most social and “public” of all institutions. The idea that whatever two consenting adults may choose to do is irrelevant to other men and to society is antibiblical and revolutionary.1
Yet, this is the very message that permeates modern media, a message that made headway early on in the twentieth century when the motion picture industry and marketing interests joined forces with humanistic psychology to undermine the Biblical family. By promoting a battle between the sexes to advance an anti-Biblical ideology, they undermined the protections of family life. What were they attacking?
We cannot understand what Scripture has to say about marriage without an appreciation of the theological dimensions of marriage. This is set forth in Ephesians 5:21–33. The key is submission “in the fear of God,” and this duty of submission applies to husbands as to wives. The husband cannot expect submission “as unto the Lord” (Eph. 5:22) unless he himself is subject to the Lord. His authority is at all times conditioned by the word of God and by his prior obedience to the word of God. His authority is not an abstract fact: it is headship in a union which makes of the two one flesh (Eph. 5:31–32), and is patterned after the unity between Christ and the true church.2
Rather than depicting how men and women complemented each other to advance a dominion call in and through marriage, media highlighted women and men outside of their familial context. A woman’s capabilities and intelligence were pitted against a man’s, and a “battle between the sexes” was incited. Yet, that is not how God designed the unique relationship between man and wife.
An insight into the significance of this relationship can be had by looking briefly at the varying natures of men and women. The differences between them are such that a single cell from a human body is identifiable as to its sex. Feminists hold that sexual differences are a product of social conditioning; feminism is a form of radical environmentalism. The fact is that the differences are basic and have nothing to do with superiority or inferiority. In fact, on the average, “women equal or surpass men in all test areas not related to aggression and abstract reasoning.” As Christians, we would term what anthropologists classify as aggression as dominion. Man’s concern is with dominion, and hence with status. Man insists on striving for dominion and on giving dominion status to what he does. A woman is a cook, a man a chef. A woman is called a scrubwoman, the man calls his work a position as sanitary engineer, and so on. When men dominated the home, being a housewife had status; when men turned outward and left the home and children to women, being a housewife became demeaning, and women began to revolt against their status. The areas of life and activity abandoned by men to women’s dominion quickly lose status for men and women alike. Status is acquired by masculine dominion, and this fact governs every area.
On the other hand, in the providence of God, women have been given excellence in areas other than dominion and abstract thought so that they might be able associates or helpmeets to man. A man’s thinking is abstract and wooden: he needs a woman’s broader scope of intelligence and abilities to flesh out his perspective, which tends to be too abstract and too much geared to dominion to be always realistic. As a result, only a very stupid husband exercises dominion without the counsel of his wife.3
In God’s economy, dominion is achieved through the combined efforts of the married couple. Since the goal and focus always was (and is) the Kingdom of God, unity gives power to the family.
It is this unity of action as one flesh, as a life in common, which gives power to the family as the central public institution. The man who acts as though his wife were only created to obey him denies the “one flesh” aspect of marriage and assumes the role of a bachelor exercising sexual and self-serving demands over a resident woman. Instead of a marriage, there is then simply cohabitation. It is the man’s will, not God’s public purpose concerning the family, which is then put into force.
On the other hand, there cannot be a divided dominion. If the husband rules at his job, and the wife at home, dominion is shattered; the man has abdicated, and his abdication will soon be apparent at work as well.4
From the outset of the film industry, storylines highlighted discontent between the sexes as a means to draw in an eager audience. Under the guise of entertainment, there was a subtle promotion of individualistic competition and a disharmony of interests among men and women rather than a harmony of interests. Slowly but surely, sexuality became the focal point—with women depicted as objects (often sexual) who needed to awaken to their second-class status and fight for their rights. Although subtle to the modern ear, innuendo and dialog promoted this view. The sexual revolutionaries knew they had a “captive audience” and wasted no time to work to unravel the family.
The sexual revolutionaries thus are people who prefer irresponsibility to a future. Irresponsibility rather than pleasure is their key note. First, there is true pleasure only in God’s appointed way, and, second, sexual revolutionaries are frenetic and pleasureless people whose basic motivation is a hatred of God, man, and of responsibility. Responsibility is not a private matter; it is always to someone or something; it is a social fact. Man’s basic and ultimate responsibility is always to God. By attempting to convert sexuality into a private, non-legal concern, the sexual revolutionary is trying thereby to remove sex from the area of responsibility. By so doing, he absolves himself from the charge of irresponsibility. He then transfers responsibility to the state and loudly proclaims himself a highly responsible citizen by clamoring for socialist action in one area after another.5
One of the huge ironies of this push in the media is the impact it had on the lives of the women used to promote the image of the fiercely independent woman, who did not need a family and who was in total control of every aspect of her life. A recent article describes what went on in Hollywood with some of its most famous female stars.
Accomplices in Their Own Demise
In the June 2016 issue of Vanity Fair, authors Marcie Bianco and Merryn Johns in their article, Classic Hollywood’s Secret: Studios Wanted Their Stars to Have Abortions,6 shed some light as to why Tinsel Town has been a strong advocate for abortion rights for women. As it turns out, abortion was (and still is) a solution for those who purposed to profit from glamorizing women and portraying them as sexy and available. To combat the results of promiscuity, written into the contracts of many of the “bombshells” of the 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s were “morality clauses” which guaranteed their willingness to end unintended pregnancies.
And so it became necessary for the studios to implement reformatory measures to prevent stars from destroying their value through scandal. In 1922, Will H. Hays Hays [sic] collaborated with studios to introduce mandatory “morality clauses” into stars’ contracts. Consequently, an unintended pregnancy would not only bring shame to these top box-office earners—it would violate studio policy. “[I]t was a common assumption that glamorous stars would not be popular if they had children,” writes Cari Beauchamp in her book on powerful women in Old Hollywood, Without Lying Down.
These clauses may have extended to an actress’s right to marry. According to Petersen, rumor had it that “Blonde Bombshell” Jean Harlow couldn’t wed William Powell because “MGM had written a clause into her contract forbidding her to marry”—a wife couldn’t be a “bombshell,” after all. When Harlow became pregnant from the affair, she called MGM head of publicity Howard Strickling in a panic. Shortly thereafter, according to E.J. Fleming in The Fixers: Eddie Mannix, Howard Strickling and the MGM Publicity Machine, “Mrs. Jean Carpenter” entered Good Shepherd Hospital “to get some rest.” She was seen only by her private doctors and nurses in room 826, the same room she had occupied the year before for an “appendectomy.”7
The list of bankable stars mentioned in the article along with Jean Harlow, include Judy Garland, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Ava Gardner, Lana Turner, Dorothy Dandridge, and Jeanette McDonald. While these names are not on the tips of tongues today, they were in the Golden Age of Hollywood, when film was demonstrating its usefulness in changing the culture and the religious views of audiences. Ironically, the films of these decades portrayed women as being independent and in control of their lives, not living at the whims of men. While the scripts espoused otherwise, their actresses were being abused physically, mentally, and spiritually. One anonymous actress noted, “Abortions were our birth control.”8 Another commented about the famous Tallulah Bankhead, she got “abortions like other women got permanent waves.”9
Many of these women, not to mention other not-so-famous casualties, lived tragic lives, often attempting to cover their sins with alcohol or drugs, and finding it difficult to remain in any committed relationship. Some ended their guilt with suicide. In fact, the “rebels” of the day (from movie studios’ point of view) were those who refused to abort their unborn children, because they correctly saw abortion as murder.
Bianco and Johns came to an unusual conclusion—one that demonstrates how people are governed by their presuppositions. They concluded,
In the heyday of the Hollywood studio system, women were at their most desirable and their most powerful—but it still didn’t afford them the right to choose when it came to governing their bodies. Hollywood’s production codes extended to women’s reproduction. In the hundred years or so that have passed since the birth of American cinema, everything has changed—though, then again, perhaps nothing has.10
Instead of realizing that God designed women to be protected and covered in a covenanted marital relationship, the authors lament that the denial of accessible abortion was a great injustice. This is engrained in our culture, and now women who have fallen prey to empty words and manipulative seductions, are offered solutions that are not solutions at all.
I wonder if the rampant homosexuality and lesbianism of Hollywood are outworkings of the unatoned guilt (from both genders) for their bloodstained hands. I wonder how many see same sex relationships as a solution to the abortion problem. Maybe they have convinced themselves that it is better not to be in the position of killing another human again (Romans 1).
Return to Biblical Foundations
The Bible asks, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Apart from God and His law being known and applied, human beings will continue to place themselves under the curse of sin, rather than respond to the life-changing work of the Holy Spirit (Prov. 8:36). We must work for a time when the capital offenses mentioned at the outset of this essay, once again receive the God-ordained sanctions provided in Scripture for such treasonous acts. Only when the justice (righteousness) of God’s law is known and applied can individuals and families truly pursue the Kingdom of God. Nevertheless, an obvious question remains, what do we do until that day when the commandments of God are followed on a societal level?
The answer is to apply God’s law-word in your everyday life, on an individual and family level—right now! Teach God’s Word so that children know when they are being manipulated and groomed for abusive encounters. Teach them that they should have nothing to do with the deeds of darkness but expose them (Eph. 5:11). Instruct them that God will never pit one of His mandates against another, and that hiding a sin to protect others amount to being an accomplice to it. Teach them how the institution of the Biblical family is the protection and covering provided by God to create dominion-minded families.11
For those who have experienced, not only the effects of such sexual abuse, rape, or incest but also have received disdain from the church, God’s law demands them to break their silence of real (or imagined) guilt and shame. Regardless of what should or could have been done in hindsight, they can live out God’s promise that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28) by elevating God’s justice and law as the only true solution. And they must be vocal about it.
Social ills such as sexual abuse and abortion can only exist when the people of God allow these tactics of the enemies of God to destroy the Biblical family. When we refuse to sweep them under the rug and continue to unashamedly proclaim the supremacy of God’s law, the pulpits and the courthouses will have to take notice.
1. R. J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, Vol. 2, Law and Society (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, [1982, 1986] 2001), p. 249.
2. ibid. pp. 249–250.
3. ibid., p. 250
4. ibid., pp. 250–251.
5. ibid., p. 251.
11. See my books A House for God: Building a Kingdom-driven Family and Empowered: Developing Strong Women for Kingdom Service.
- Andrea G. Schwartz
Andrea Schwartz is Chalcedon’s family and Christian education advocate, and the author of eight books including: A House for God: Building a Kingdom-Driven Family, The Biblical Trustee Family: Understanding God’s Purpose for Your Household, Empowered: Developing Strong Women for Kingdom Service, Woman of the House: A Mother’s Role in Building a Christian Culture, and The Homeschool Life: Discovering God’s Way to Family-Based Education. She’s also the co-host of the Out of the Question podcast, the Chalcedon podcast, and has an active teaching schedule with women and high schooled students.. She can be reached at [email protected].