Feminism: Concerning Change of Names
By: Deji Yesufu
Permit me to begin this essay with a free advice: do not come to social media to learn an ideology; you are likely to learn the wrong one. Social media is a medium where all kinds of ideas reign and the more popular ones are either the controversial ones or the ones that bring money. Most people who own social media accounts have mostly on their list, friends and people who they do not know but who share similar ideologies with them. Therefore, rather than the social media being a place to learn anything, it is a place where people come to bolster whatever ideas they are nursing or which they advocate.
A few days ago I walked into the Facebook account owned by Bibian Chinenye Pius_Urum. She was discussing the matter of women keeping their maiden names even after they are married. I already knew the direction the discussion was going and then I made a comment that I thoughts would stir the hornet’s nest: I suggested that feminism was from hell and was Antichrist. Bibian made a screenshot of my comments and added laughing emojis to it, and then pasted it to her wall. Bibian has a Facebook following of close to 21,000 people and the reactions were expected. While she had pleaded that her “friends” do not insult me, the attack came down in torrents. Of the 104 comments the thread gathered, the only comment that was worth any substance where those of Omobolanle Adeyemo – who remarked that feminism was women’s means of freeing themselves from enslavement by the Church. I want to use the rest of this essay to shed light on my position on women changing their names and why I called feminism Antichrist. I do hope that my position will speak to the heart of a few women whom I trust God to give ears to hear.
When we consider the fact that our world is mostly patriarchal, you will understand the place and reaction of feminism. The plain truth is that the advantages and privileges that had been given to men in our society has been mostly abused by these same men. We live in a society where only the strong survives and women, who naturally are weak, have been taken advantage of and abused by men. So when the likes of Chinamanda Adichie and the rest began to champion feminism, they got a large following among Nigerian women – who for a long time have been oppressed by men folk. And there is no better place to express this than on the internet. This is how the social media environment that people like Bibian have built up came to be; and anyone who suggests anything besides this must be antediluvian and also a male chauvinist.
Having made that point, let me go quickly to the heart of the ideology that I possess that would dare to make me call feminism Antichrist. Before I do that, I need to make the point that I did not learn my ideas from the social media. By God’s Providence and through a period of no less than 22 years, I have built up a theological base that is wholly steeped in the Bible. Scripture informs my thinking and those I listen to and learn from are men that are wholesomely committed to a sufficient scripture. And I am convinced that the Bible does not support feminism; that is why Omobolanle will say that the Church (and the Bible that it leans on) enslaves women. At this point, we should ask: what does the Bible teach on this matter?
The Bible begins with an admonition to men. Men are commanded to love their wives. Men are commanded to provide for their families. Men are commanded to be submitted to the authority of Christ, before they can even begin to think or demand for their wives to be submitted to them. Feminism has arisen in our world, not because women suddenly discovered their rights and privileges, but because men have failed in their roles as husbands and fathers. A man who is not submitted to the authority of Jesus Christ cannot demand the submission of his wife. A man would not love his wife should not expect his wife to respect him. A man who would not keep the holy commands of God; a man who would not zip his trousers and keep his eyes single – separating from evil lusts and possessing his vessel in holiness – has no right to demand his wife to be faithful to him. A man who would not provide for his home, has lost his authority in that home. BUT… if per chance, via the grace that God provides, a man has been able to do all of the above, that man will possess some authority to speak to and against feminism in the land. This, I believe, is the position that I am coming from.
The Biblical command to women is this: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the Church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the Church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands” (Ephesians 5:22-24). This is not a suggestion for Christian women; it is a command. And I see a lot of women saying they can submit to their husbands on a lot of things but not on somethings. The command of the Bible is this: submit to your husband in EVERYTHING. If this sounds like enslavement to any woman, then you are either not ready to be married or not ready to be a Christian; or both. But if you will be a Christian woman and must serve Jesus Christ in marriage, you will have to submit to your husband in EVERYTHING.
This brings the discussion to the matter of name change. It is true there is no biblical command for women to bear their husbands names. There is indeed none. The tradition of a woman dropping her father’s name and bearing her husband’s name is an age old world custom that most cultures enacted to preserve the unity of a home. And here is something about tradition and customs: they can be good and they can be bad. Naturally, whatever tradition that exists in society that is good should be preserved. The ones that are bad should either be reformed or expunged entirely. The tradition of a woman bearing her husband’s name is an age old tradition that encourages unity in a home and submission from the woman. In my own thinking, whatever would promote unity in family should be preserved. But this is what the Bible says on the matter: a woman who would either keep her maiden name or take up her husband’s name should do so at her husband’s wishes alone. Therefore, if the matter of not changing your name is important to a woman, one of the things you want to be sure of is that the man you wish to marry agrees with you on this. If he does not, you are not compatible and you had better remain unmarried.
One of the greatest women writers that I read off Facebook is a woman called Bamidele Ademola-Olateju. The woman is truly liberated in her thinking and she is one of the greatest political commentators in this country. From her writing, you can see a woman that adores her husband. It was after connecting with the husband on Facebook that I realized that this woman does not only bear her husband’s name, she bears his first name also. Madam Bamidele’s husband is Ademola Olateju.
When my wife and I got married, we headed off for a week long honey moon. The first thing I did after arriving from the honey moon was to head straight to Tribune and change her name officially from her maiden name to my name – in a published paper. For me, I cared very little what she bore at the time; but my wife would not wait one month bearing her Dad’s name. Bearing her husband’s name was a thing of pride, honor and perhaps privilege for her. That a generation of women will rise and consider it a burden to bear a man’s name I consider a really worrisome matter and I trust God that I would do everything in man power to shield my daughter from such evil ideology.
What is really troubling about the “don’t-bear-hubby-name” group is their attack on all traditional institutions that uphold anything that will encourage unity in marriage and submission from the wife. And there is no other institution doing this more than the Christian Church. Again, the Bible does not teach a woman must bear her husband’s name but the Bible teaches a woman to submit to her husband. The Bible teaches that a man is the head of a home. The Bible encourages anything that would make for unity and singleness of purpose in the home; and I am convinced that the Bible would advocate a woman bearing her husband’s name. In fact, I am yet to find a Christian woman who espouses the ideas of jettisoning a husband’s name. I am yet to find a true born-again woman who is a feminist. This is why I consider feminism Antichrist and an idea from the pit of hell. Those words, I agree, are hard; but they are necessary words to draw attention to a movement leading many to perdition.