By: Jonathan Harris
First, there was the prominent "Black, Lesbian, Feminist" poster which greeted every visitor as he or she walked up the stairs. Then, there was displayed a Bible in which Elizabeth Cady Stanton had cut out portions with which she had disagreement. Finally, there was a video equivocating abortion rights with women's rights. Some of you may know the location I am speaking of. That's right, the Woman's Rights National Historic Park in Seneca Falls, NY. I had the opportunity to visit there a couple days ago while seeing friends who go to school in the area. Most of you have at least probably heard of the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848 in which the woman's movement was first started on American soil. Perhaps less of you however understand exactly what took place in and surrounding the events which culminated at the Wesleyan Chapel where the convention was held. Would it shock you to find out that many of the attendees were avowed socialists, or that seances were thought to be taking place in and surrounding the event, or that local churches universally condemned what was taking place? I believe this is a portion of history in which we've all- including myself- been duped into thinking that a bunch of noble women stood up simply for the right to vote amidst the ugly sea of bigoted men. If the Lordship of Jesus Christ extends over every area of life, we must let it extend over history as well, and therefore reexamine whether the heroes of the history books are really heroes at all. Join me as I briefly relay my historical adventure through time and place which has brought me to lament what happened in Seneca Falls over 160 years ago.
Socialists in the Ranks
While the museum itself did not cover the socialist-feminist connection, the whole place reeked with its anti-capitalist stench. Feminism was not a new concept in the minds of mainland Europeans in 1848. Some of the more astute students will remember 1848 as the year in which socialist revolutions broke out across the whole continent. In fact, Elizabeth Cady Stanton herself is said to have given a speech at the convention in Seneca Falls in which she appealed to the socialists in Europe for help. Conveniently, she left this speech out of a history of the event. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott (both primary figures at the convention) met European feminist Anne Knight in London in 1840 at an anti-slavery event. Knight was the publisher of a the French newspaper, "The Voice of Women," a publication with decidedly socialist viewpoints and connections. In fact, we can observe some of the same terminology - such as "the cause"- being used by both the socialist revolutionaries such as Knight and the American feminists in reference to their "struggle." On her way to the Seneca Falls convention Lucretia Mott spoke with optimism about the socialist effort to take over Europe. In the book Red Republican's and Lincoln's Marxists, Al Benson Jr. points out, "The majority of feminists supported and otherwise aided those revolutions. . . Many observers of the American left have contended that what happened in Europe in 1848 had some influence on the gathering of American feminists at Seneca Falls, New York in 1848."
It is a well established fact that the failed 1848 revolutions across Europe culminated in the transformation of American society through the immigration of banished socialists. The ranks of the Union Army during the War Between the States swelled with socialists, and their dedication on the battlefield for Lincoln's cause gave them the connections they needed to gain Federal and State political positions. I would argue that they laid the groundwork for the "Progressive Era," and as most of you know, we haven't been able to get rid of progressives ever since.
Committed communists Mathilde Franziska Anneke, who was acquainted with both Marx and Engels, and fought - yes, literally she cut her hair and fought- in the socialist revolutions of 1848, started the first American feminist newspaper completely published by women in the 1850s. In addition, Anneke became good friends with the leading feminists of the day, lobbied in D.C. on behalf of woman's rights, and used as her reasoning "reason" alone. According to Anneka, "Reason, which we recognize as our highest and only law-giver, commands us to be free." It is no wonder her newspaper was accused of being a "freethinking" publication in addition to its radical views on gender. This is completely consistent with the secularism which motivated the 1848 revolutions, and the secular rationalism which dominated the woman's rights movement. Of course, man cannot merely kick God down the stairs without having something else to keep him on the top floor- something to give him legitimacy outside of himself. This is where Spiritualism comes in, which we'll examine shortly. Anneke eventually, with the assistance of Cecelia Kapp- a cousin of Forty Eighter (the name used for participants in the socialist revolutions) and professor at Vassar Friedrick Kapp- established a school in Milwaukee the year the War for Southern Independence ended. A interesting related tidbit is that Margaretta Meyer Schurz, wife of Forty Eighter Carl Shurz, established the first kindergarten in this country in 1856. It's fascinating to note that the Prussian government outlawed kindergartens two years after the socialist revolutions because of their reputation for indoctrinating young children into socialism. If you want to read something scary, look up how many socialist revolutionaries got involved in education in the years preceding 1848. It's shocking to think our system of learning has been under radical influence for so long.
In concluding to this short segment on the socialist-feminist connection, it really shouldn't surprise us that such a connection exists. As Mike Huckabee- in his critique of libertarianism- has long maintained, "Poverty and crime are the direct results of broken families and broken values of responsibility, work, marriage, and respect of others." In other words, there is a connection between social and economic issues. When the family drops the ball, the government is more than happy to come in and pick up the slack. I don't believe it's a coincidence that the free public education movement, radical abolitionism, feminism, centralization, and a rejection of orthodox Christianity (i.e. Calvinism) all seem to have escalated around the same time.
Spiritualism Without God
As stated previously, the woman's rights movement was very "rational" in nature, however, one cannot base a worldview on reason alone. Humans will either compartmentalize their own religious viewpoints and experiences- like we see with today's "New Age Movement"- or they will personalize reason and scientific laws into god-like entities (i.e. as noted in phrases such as "the wisdom of evolution"). In the case of the key figures at the Seneca Falls convention, a shared Spiritualism (i.e. practicing cult practices such channeling, etc.) itself seems to have quenched their inner desires. Radical Spirits by Ann Braude chronicles the connection between feminism and spiritualism in detail. According to Braude, individualism is what lead to the seances, cult practices, etc. that accompanied the women of 48. Braude quotes feminist Miss S. Hill as writing in a Spiritualist periodical:
Let every woman who feels imposed on her the chains of tyrant custom, resolve to break them, cost her what it may. How can we be our own sovereign as long as we allow others to think, feel, and act for us . . . Let man too, the slave of passion, of prejudice, and of ignorance, become his own sovereign.(underlined for emphasis)
The sovereignty of man directly opposes the concept of God's sovereignty. In fact, I would have to say that this one point explains the late 19th century social movements perfectly! Every single one of them, whether it's socialism, evolution, public education, feminism, and yes, even radical abolitionism, has its roots in this one concept: man is god. It's the same lie Satan has used from the beginning of time, and it has continued to usurp the position of our Lord from His rightful domain. It is no wonder that if you examine the figures behind such social movement you'll find Quakers, Spiritualists, Transcendentalists, Unitarians, and yes, at times certain sects of Arminianism (which can serve as a slippery slope towards this direction. Thus the Wesleyan Church being the meeting place for the convention itself.).
Regarding the Seneca Falls convention Braude states:
The American woman's rights movement drew its first breaths in an atmosphere alive with rumors of angels. . . Raps (i.e. supernaturally inspired sounds) reportedly rocked the same table where Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton penned the "Declaration of Sentiments" which formed the convention's agenda. The table stood in the parlor of progressive Quakers (and future spiritualists) Thomas and Mary Ann McClintolk. Raps were reported at Stanton's house as well.
The question then is, "What happens when the dictates of conscience collide with the Word of God?" This is where the "Woman's Bible" comes in. Elizabeth Cady Stanton's Bible was on display at the museum with a description which stated that it "justified Eve" while condemning Adam. The curator informed me that some parts were completely ripped out of the text, while others were merely clarified by Stanton herself in her parallel commentary. Obviously, we don't have to imagine what Stanton did with the verses describing the roles of both men and women. This heretical action on the part of Stanton makes sense in light of her statement, "The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of women's emancipation." Susan B. Anthony felt the same way. She said, "Out of the doctrine of original sin grew the crimes and miseries of asceticism, celibacy and witchcraft; women becoming the victim of all these delusions." It seems hypocritical for Anthony to condemn witchcraft when she herself became a Spiritualist. In 1854 She recorded in her diary in reference to a feminist and abolitionist meeting at Lucretia Mott's house that "Spiritualism as usual was the principle topic."
The National Woman's Rights Historical Park also had part of an exhibit dedicated to Sojourner Truth, who I always thought was a hero (though I couldn't remember why?). Apparently she herself received frightening visions which inspired her to get involved in woman's liberation. One more interesting fact related to spirituality that the museum informed me on was that the Women's Interfaith Institute of the Finger Lakes, which is located right next to the National Park which preserves the Wesleyan Chapel- where the convention was held- was, according to the curator, the building where the Wesleyan Chapel itself moved to in 1871. I find it ironic that a church in which the Bible was compromised in 1848 later became an "Interfaith Institute." The mission of the institute is- according to their flier- to focus on "women's empowerment. . . 'bringing peace to life' and . . . promoting pluralism, dialogue and understanding." Nowhere is the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be found.
It is no wonder to me, after understanding the preceding material, that local pastors universally opposed the gathering in 1848. Women themselves were taking a position of authority that, according to the Bible, did not belong to them. In addition, the many heretical attendees and rumors of spiritual activities didn't help much in gaining approval from true believers. One of the most prominent quotes as you enter the main exhibit in the museum reads, "To render home happy is woman's peculiar province. Home is her world." This was the battle cry of woman's emancipation. This idea that woman should be independent from men has lead to where we are today in the feminist movement. No matter how much they fight it, women still have been designed by God in a certain fashion, and to go against it is to live a life of frustration. This is why recent statistics have proven that women are less happy now then they were forty years ago. They still have a sex-drive so they become lesbians, or have relations with men but remain independent of their responsibilities to care for the by-product of that relationship culminating in abortions. They still have a maternal nature, but have less than ideal venues in which to use it, or don't even use it all in deference to their career. As I've stated in a previous blog, Rev. R. L. Dabney predicted this exact outcome in the 1870s. Women are now more abused and less satisfied yet have more independence than ever before! Another displayed quote was from Rheta Childe Dorr who stated, "Woman's place is in the Home but Home is not contained within the four walls ... Home is the community." In reaction to these criticisms of traditional (Biblical) roles at the convention, the "women of Philadelphia" wrote in the September 26, 1848 edition of the Philadelphia Public Ledger:
A woman is nobody. A wife is everything . A pretty girl is equal to 10,000 men and a mother is, next to God, all powerful. The ladies of Philadelphia, therefore…are resolved to maintain their rights as wives, belles, virgins and mothers and not as women.
I find this to be a thoroughly adequate response to the woman's liberation movement. As Christians, God has given us responsibilities and it is in those duties of obedience that we obtain rights. In fact, that's what our founders believed a right was. It wasn't an autonomous granting of freedom to go do whatever you want. It is a responsibility we have between ourselves and God that government shouldn't take away. The right to vote, from a Biblical perspective, is a masculine right, not because it's some privilege men get to take part in for their own pleasure. Rather it's a responsibility that belongs to men as those who are accountable to God for a society. This is why in ancient Israel men were the leaders, and when a woman did lead (note: female leadership in government is not a sin.) such as Debra, it was a "shame" to the men present because she was showing their inadequacy. This is why in the church, the position of "Shepperd" belongs solely to men. In a democracy, where everyone participates in the leadership of government, should it not still be the man that takes on that responsibility? We can see clearly what's happened now that man has given this responsibility up to women. Ultimately, every other responsibility has likewise gone to her, and she is overburdened. Women rule the homes where men have figuratively left. The American dad is no longer respected, but rather trashed as merely a "television watcher," "glutton," and "hobbyist." Unfortunately, he deserves it. I enjoy the quote, "A mother is, next to God, all powerful." It is so true that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. This is why in the Bible, typically the name of the mother is mentioned and given more space than that of the father in the genealogies of kings. The mother has the influence! The Bible does recognize there are certain men and woman who possess the gift of "singleness" but this is a "gift," not a generality, and the desires for a spouse are not present in such cases. The problem we have today is that women want to have the best of both worlds, theirs and men's. This is a complete contradiction of not only biology, but God Himself.
Declaration, which itself is a mock of the Declaration of Independence, starts in absurdity by implicitly chiding the founders for their wording, "all men are created equal." Obviously "men" here refers to "mankind" in general and not to masculinity (Note: The Biblical position is that men and women are equal in value and separate in their complementary roles). Nonetheless, the Declaration goes on to say, "The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her." (You can even hear the Marxist class warfare tone). After this statement comes the long chain of abuses men have enacted on women among which are the following (Note: this is not extensive):
He has made her, if married, in the eye of the law, civilly dead. (That's a very low view of marriage. The Scripture states the "two become one flesh." This is an effort to make the two remain two.)
He has taken from her all right in property, even to the wages she earns. (I will concede there may be some legitimacy in this, though I have not studied the topic enough to really know to what extent it's true.)
He has so framed the laws of divorce, as to what shall be the proper causes, and in case of separation, to whom the guardianship of the children shall be given, as to be wholly regardless of the happiness of women--the law, in all cases, going upon a false supposition of the supremacy of man, and giving all power into his hands. (Study the results of "No-Fault" Divorce and you'll soon find that colonial divorce laws actually protected the women from abuse! This may be the most ridiculous charge of all.)
He has monopolized nearly all the profitable employments, and from those she is permitted to follow, she receives but a scanty remuneration. He closes against her all the avenues to wealth and distinction which he considers most honorable to himself. As a teacher of theology, medicine, or law, she is not known. (They may have a point with the "medicine," if this is true. However, both theology and law are in the Biblical category of men's responsibility)
He has denied her the facilities for obtaining a thorough education, all colleges being closed against her. (I'm all for educated women, but there were plenty of good reasons for universities at the time to bar women from entrance. First of all, I believe all colleges would have been private and therefore the right to bar someone from entrance is up to the institution itself. Secondly, mixing genders in a classroom situation does tend to reduce concentration. Thirdly, the careers college trains you for-especially at that time in which most were started for divinity training- are mostly the domain of men. Fourthly, there was no law I know of stating a group of women couldn't start their own school. Fifthly, women were expected to know the basic skills of wife-hood and mother hood which is what occupied their time during the typical man's college years. Sixthly, it's not the government's place to require private institutions to accept certain groups or individuals. Perhaps this complaint can best be understood by remembering the socialist connection.)
He allows her in church, as well as state, but a subordinate position, claiming apostolic authority for her exclusion from the ministry, and, with some exceptions, from any public participation in the affairs of the church. (That's what the Bible teaches.)
He has created a false public sentiment by giving to the world a different code of morals for men and women, by which moral delinquencies which exclude women from society, are not only tolerated, but deemed of little account in man. (Yes, women are held to a higher standard generally because they are the bedrock of society. They are more important for the purity of a culture. If feminists want to gripe about a double standard they should work on holding the men higher, not on loosening the rules so they can slump to a masculine level.)
As you can see, there may have been a couple good points made, but the most of the charges are blatantly anti-Biblical and the motive for them is downright blasphemous. We need to be careful when we look back into history and authorize the title of "hero" to be given to those who were not heroic at all. Hero means standing up for what's right, not merely standing up for what you believe in (a postmodern cliche). The Women's Rights National Historic Park blatantly furthers the ideas of abortion, education quotas, specialized women and minority classes, lesbianism, and complete autonomy. One of the videos has buttons beneath it in which you can vote for which side of an issue you're on. I voted that continuing the women's liberation movement today is unnecessary. I was immediately greeted on the screen with a feminist looking female who stated, "I worry about your opinion." My first thought was, "I worry about where my tax dollars are going." One of the exhibits was on clothing. In the center of the exhibit there was very prominently quoted this statement, "My basic principle of dressing is that I refuse to be identified by my appearance. It is a way of saying I will not accept my place, my role, my slot." Unfortunately, for the woman who stated this, her "place" is recognized right away as being a rebellious feminist when she wears men's clothing.
In conclusion, we need to have Christ as central when examining anything and everything, including history. We must not take what the culture says for granted. Remember, they have no authority by which to make moral decisions at all. We do. As politically incorrect as our opinions may be, they are the right ones because they reflect the person of Jesus Christ and his relationship with us as the church, the submissive Bride of Christ. We must stand for what's right even when evil is taken for granted. When society strays from the Biblical model and grants us freedom to do the same we must self-impose God's standard. It may be hard, it may be unpopular, we may receive persecution for it, but we will be upholding God's standard by calling what He calls good "good." "Woe to them who call good evil and evil good."
Note : None of the preceding material should be construed to mean that my position is that in our society women shouldn't vote, or at times take on positions of leadership. My position, and I believe the Word of God's position, is that when such things happen it is to the shame of the men in society. Therefore, while the reforms spoken of above should have generally never taken place, we are currently living in a culture in which the men should be shamed, and it is therefore perfectly legitimate for a woman to vote with a clean conscience. And if there ever comes a time when men seek to regain their rightful responsibilities which they've cast onto those to whom it did not belong, my hope is that all Christian women would vote to allow men the exclusive responsibility of voting. (However, this can only happen after men have proven themselves able leaders in the home.) So as it stands currently, women should vote, it is right to vote, they have a responsibility to vote, and it is not a sin to vote.