Problems and Prospects of 20th-Century Women
CONSUELO is from Puerto Rico and has been married for nine years. Regarding the problems faced by a modern woman, she believes that the world has yet to come up with better advice than what is found in the Bible.
For example, on the subject of equal wages, she says: “Probably wages should be equal when a man’s and a woman’s qualifications are similar and they both work hard at their jobs. I can understand why some women feel bitter. But I look at things differently.
“To me, the wages I earn are not the most important thing in life. I can see working for one of two reasons: either I need the money, or I am doing something I feel is worthwhile. In the first case, if I was earning enough for my needs, then I would be satisfied. The Bible warns: ‘Those who are determined to be rich fall into temptation and a snare.’—1 Timothy 6:9.
“If you compare yourself with others, you will always find someone better off than you are. In many cases, men do earn more than women. But then, American women earn more than both men and women in most other lands. It makes for a peaceful mind if you compare yourself with those worse off than you, rather than with those better off.
“On the other hand, if I were to do a job I thought was worthwhile in itself, then money would not be so very important.”
Don’t Be a Victim
Regarding the so-called sexual revolution, Christian women realize that, in truth, this victimizes women. Popular entertainment and other propaganda lead men to think that women want to be immoral, and these cause women to feel that they have to be immoral in order to appear normal.
But a Christian knows the boundaries. The Bible tells us: “This is what God wills . . . that you abstain from fornication.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3) A woman following this advice may have to learn to say No. But she will avoid the heartbreaking problems caused by promiscuity. And she will be pleasing God.
What about the problem of sexual harassment at work? Often, Christian conduct can make a difference here, as Connie found out.
Connie is a young woman, married for five years, who used to work in a large office. But she avoided the problem of sexual harassment, and she explains how: “A lot has to do with the way you carry yourself. If you keep your relationship with the men on a business level—having a sense of humor, perhaps, but not for that kind of joke—most of them will respect you.
“I found that some of the girls in the office would be overfamiliar with the men, would share off-color jokes and look at magazines of questionable taste. While the men appeared to enjoy the familiarity, they would lose their respect for these girls. Myself, whenever I heard unclean jokes or bad language, I would walk away. After a while, they seemed to respect me for the stand I made, and did not bother me.”
What Connie was doing, in effect, was applying the Bible’s counsel: “Let fornication and uncleanness . . . not even be mentioned among you, just as it befits holy people.” (Ephesians 5:3) And it was a protection to her. Of course, this will not deter the most determined of the harassers. Consuelo knew one girl who had to leave a firm because of the way one of the men was acting toward her. This was a wise move, following the Bible counsel: “Flee from fornication.”—1 Corinthians 6:18.
Husbands and Housework
On the matter of the husband’s helping in the home, Gladys, who has raised a family, feels this is often a matter of training. Before the war, when many women did not go out to work, in many homes it seemed only natural for women to do all the housework. Their sons grew up to expect this, and that is probably why a lot of men today feel strange doing housework. But the situation has changed. “It certainly would be nice,” says Gladys, “when both husband and wife work, for men to do their share in the home. I suppose that it is up to mothers now to train their sons to work in the home just as they train their daughters.
“I think a young couple should be able to talk about this problem and work things out properly. Surely, a mature man who ‘loves his wife as he does himself’ could not conscientiously relax in an armchair while his already tired wife was working around the house—unless she preferred it that way.”—Ephesians 5:33.
The Problem of Happiness
Regarding the question of career or family, Gladys feels that Christian principles can help here too. She has pursued a career and raised a daughter, and she says: “It is a matter of balance. I made sure my daughter did not suffer because of my career, but, equally, I felt that what I was doing was important. So I had the motivation to keep on with my career.”
“One thing I will say,” she goes on, “each person has to make her own decision about this. She has to answer the question: ‘What do I really want to do with my life?’ The desire for motherhood is strong in most women, and it is a beautiful and essential part of our humanity. If a girl sacrifices her opportunity for this, it should be for a good reason.”
The Bible shows that a woman, or a man, must be accomplishing something constructive in order to be truly happy. (Acts 20:35; Ecclesiastes 2:8, 10, 11) Parenthood can satisfy that need. And so can some careers.
Consuelo says: “My career is in the Christian ministry and I feel I am truly accomplishing something. Girls who choose such a ‘giving’ career instead of motherhood find many rewards that more than compensate. But each one should choose for herself. And if she has chosen for the right reasons, she will not be disturbed by what others say.”
To Improve the Situation
Hence, by applying Bible principles, many of the problems women have to face today can be handled. But is it enough just to “handle” the problems? Isn’t there something more that women should do about them?
Connie commented: “I don’t believe that what is happening on earth today is God’s will for mankind. I feel it is God’s will that women should be treated better than they often are. But God has shown that his way to deal with the problem is by means of his kingdom. That is why we pray: ‘Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.’ (Matthew 6:9) I feel that the best way a Christian woman can help is by using her energy in working toward the fulfillment of that prayer.
“One way to do this is by educating people about God’s will. I know that Jehovah’s Witnesses are preaching about God’s kingdom all around the world, and they are teaching men that their wives are not inferior creatures. Because of this, traditional ideas that lead to women’s being oppressed are being corrected in many families.”
Gladys agrees: “Yes, men are being trained to treat their wives in a Christian way. Truly Christian men do not abandon their families. Nor do they gamble and drink their money away or refuse to help in ‘woman’s work’ when necessary. Men learn this when they respond to the educational work of Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
While individuals may change, however, we cannot force radical change on the world—much as we may wish we could. The problems are too deeply rooted. Nevertheless, the Bible says: “The world is passing away and so is its desire.” (1 John 2:17) And with it will pass away all its prejudices and injustices.
Also, the Bible offers a more lasting solution: “There are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.” (2 Peter 3:13) This new system is very close. And hundreds of thousands of women realize that it is the true solution to women’s problems in this 20th century.
In the following article, we would like to tell you the experiences of just one of those hundreds of thousands of women.
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Does the Bible work against the interests of women?
Some people think so because the Bible teaches the headship of man over the woman, particularly in the family and congregation arrangement. However, consider what else it says:
• “Husbands continue loving your wives, just as the Christ also loved the congregation.” (Ephesians 5:25)
• “Husbands ought to be loving their wives as their own bodies.” (Ephesians 5:28)
• “You husbands, continue dwelling in like manner with [your wives] according to knowledge, assigning them honor.” (1 Peter 3:7)
• “The form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation.” (James 1:27)