One of the things that spins our culture in circles is the relationship between the sexes in marriages. In the popular culture, there are phrases like the battle of the sexes or the fifty-fifty split, which attempt to either parody the roles in the former example or redefine them in the latter. Time published an article back in 2012 that pointed out the shortcomings with the fifty-fifty split concept. It is an intriguing admission by a secular writer, Judith Warner, who bases her thoughts upon research done by Andrea Doucet, a Canadian academic and sociologist. According to a report put out by the Pew Research Center, there is a growing trend within U.S. marriages where husbands have taken a backseat to their wives as the main breadwinner.
The Pew Report goes into great detail about the socioeconomic and educational factors that have contributed to this shift. I recommend it to my readers for further study. My point is simply to highlight the irony of Judith Warner’s musings in her Time article in light of the Pew Report’s findings. It seems that the notion of the fifty-fifty split, in order to promote gender equality within marriages, potentially jeopardizes the women who have assumed the bread-winning role in the home. What seemed to be a valuable social ethic for leveling the playing field may turn out to be a double-edged sword for gender equality. It remains to be seen if this is really something to pay attention to over time, or if it lacks any real significance.
Either way, Ms. Warner’s article gives the impression that the search is on for new social ethics to employ in order to buttress secularism’s vision of gender equality. Here comes a layperson’s observation in the form of a question. Given the blurriness of gender identity and roles in our culture today, how do its leading ethicists, politicians, academics, and so forth express any practical vision for the future about a subject they deem inherently vague? If something is unclear by its very nature, then attempts to make it clear border on the ridiculous. If I want to promote a certain ethic, then the onus is on me to define it with precision. This means that I need to draw lines, set parameters, or fence things off. The simple act of presenting the social ethic violates our present culture’s distaste for emphasizing distinctions or differences.
When it comes to discussing gender identity and roles, the only ethic is that there is no ethic. It is also true that the ethic that no one really wants is the Christian one. What this means is that one worldview has been rejected for another one, which is another way of saying that a distinction has been drawn between two worldviews. This has led one worldview to be found wanting in the eyes of our society and culture. Webster’s dictionary defines the term worldview as the way someone thinks about the world. When today’s leading policy and culture-makers promote the view of anything-goes gender identity, it is a tacit admission that this aspect of humanity is innately vague. It seems to me that this reveals a worldview, but a troubling one.
I am reminded of the following scripture: “…Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6b, ESV).
If a nation embraces a worldview that reveals blindness about basic, truths about humanity, then what can we expect of its future? It encourages me to see a writer such as Judith Warner discuss the faults of the fifty-fifty concept of gender roles. The Pew Report’s findings feed my glimmer of hope that our culture and society might be seeing the light about marriage and gender identity; however, the sobering point to remember is that the fifty-fifty concept did not spring up out of nothing. It grew out of the soil to promote gender equality, which begs the question about the worldview operating behind it. Like I pointed out earlier, our culture and society sees gender identity as incapable of being defined with any certainty. Anyone can describe himself or herself however he or she sees fit. There are no rules, except the rule that there are no rules.
I leave my readers with another verse to ponder:
“You shall not do according to all that we are doing here today, everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes, for you have not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance that the Lord your God is giving you” (Deuteronomy 12:8-9, ESV).