The Promise Keepers - Dominating or Respectful of Women?

By: Carolyn C. Gargaro

"DOMINATION! These men are trying to keep women in their place and will undermine the equality of women!"

This is what I often hear when some women talk about the Promise Keepers. In my opinion though, the Promise Keepers are far from a bunch of men trying to control women.

I will first quote Naomi Wolfe, a feminist author,

"I think Patricia Ireland is premature in condemning them (the Promise Keepers) before we know more. It seems to a be a knee jerk reflex of the left that when they hear "God" they often break out in a sweat. There is a lot of room for spiritual awakening among men, and only a spiritual awakening among men will lead men to embrace women's equality. It takes a lot of dignity and inner motivation, to look at someone you have been able to control and treat them as an equal human being. I'd like to see them fulfill Jesus' vision and Jesus was the initial feminist I think in the Judeo Christian tradition and I think he saw everyone as equal and everyone is equally valuable." - Naomi Wolfe, 10/19/97 on "Meet the Press"
I used this quote from Naomi Wolfe to show that others besides little "right-wing fanatics" like myself are not quick to jump all over the Promise Keepers. If the Promise Keepers were hurting women's independence, wouldn't Naomi Wolfe speak out against it?

Many tend to think that the Promise Keepers want to dominate women, but that's not what they are doing. It's a case of men finally living up to their responsibilities. Women have been asking men to take responsibility, and when they do, they are called dominant, which confuses me.

The typical response I often get to the above statement is "Well! You're just a weak woman who wants a man to take care of her!" I'm not a female who is dependent on men - I'm 27, single, have a full-time job and a part-time job, as well as a high level of education. This doesn't make me "special" but I highly doubt that I would be considered a "needy" or "dependent" woman. Just thought I'd clear that up.

Male dominance is WRONG but as one who has researched the views of the Promise Keepers, and who watched the whole 1997 rally on C-span (to make sure that they were NOT promoting male dominance) there was nothing to indicate that they were trying to control women.

Many people also seem to have a problem because the Promise Keepers is an "all male" organization.

So? Don't we have all female organizations? Also, the Promise Keepers have no political affiliation. They are Christian, but I would gather that people should not have a problem with that. After all, we do have religious freedom in the U.S., don't we? Perhaps there is a higher number of conservatives than liberals in the group, but, what are we to do - have quotas? I'm pretty sure there are plenty of groups which contain a higher percentage of liberals, but do not have a political affiliation.

Promise Keepers are for equality and responsibility. They are following the Christian belief (and they never say that everyone has to be Christian - this is for those who are and are comfortable with being Christian) that when they refer to "head of household" they actually mean that they are SERVING their wife, that they would give their life for their wife. They are 100% against domestic violence, and as one who watched the rally, I saw MANY blacks and Hispanics and Native Americans, yet the media often portrays the group as racist. They are actually very popular among minorities and are promoting racial harmony.

Now, some will debate theology, saying that the Promise Keepers are not interpreting the Bible correctly. That is an area I won't be touching upon, since I am not educated in that area enough to make a sufficient and accurate analysis. My purpose here isn't to debate Biblical interpretation, or whether the Promise Keepers are interpreting the Bible correctly.

As I am often told by pro-choice feminists "If you don't like abortion, don't have one!" Well, to these same people, I will say "If you don't like the Promise Keepers, don't marry one."

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This article is copyright © 1997-1998 Carolyn C. Gargaro. All rights reserved. It may not be reproduced with out specific consent of the author.