By: Nick Kennicott
The new Prime Minister of England, Boris Johnson, has been harshly criticized for an op-ed he wrote last year about his support for the rights of Muslim women to wear burkas, even though he found them to be “oppressive and ridiculous.” He wrote that he finds it “absolutely ridiculous” that anyone “should choose to go around looking like letter boxes” and also compared the look to a bank robber. His point was made squarely on the side of religious liberty, even though he thinks the practice is repugnant. But, in all too predictable fashion, Johnson’s political colleagues have jumped to now condemn his comments because he is the new PM, calling on him to “apologise” (their bad spelling, not mine), and like good lemmings, repeated the typical talking points about Islamophobia and other such intersectional hullabaloo. Apparently, bank robbers and mailboxes are yet to complain that they were unjustly compared to burka wearing disciples of a psychopathic pedophile. We will keep you updated as the story develops.
Very few critics of Johnson have actually stopped to address whether or not what he wrote is actually true. My specific critique of Johnson’s comments are related to what I think is an ill-conceived comparison to the wrong object. Burka-clad Muslim women look far more like the ghosts on Pac-Man than the letterboxes on street corners, and most bank robbers only cover their faces with a mask, not their entire bodies with a single sheet. Perhaps the esteemed PM is not well versed in 80’s video game characters or proper heist attire; two great shortcomings in his otherwise well-informed understanding.
Despite what the woke feminists of the West want you think, Christianity has always insisted on a high view of women that does not seek to conceal their natural beauty, but to celebrate God’s kindness in gifting his created world with their unique gifts and attributes. Alongside man, God created woman in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:27), gave her the powerful and important role of childbearing, provided her with opportunities to prosper herself and her family (Proverbs 31:24), and used and continues to use many women in remarkable ways throughout the history of redemption (e.g. Deborah, Rehab, Hannah, Anna, Mary, Rhoda, and Phoebe). What the world has always assumed should be the role of women, the Lord has countered with striking clarity regarding their value and importance. While there are plenty of misogynistic nincompoops who claim their authoritarian dictatorship over women is complementarianism, the Bible has responded that while the roles of men and women may differ, in Christ there is no superiority, but “there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
It never ceases to amaze me that the same people who want to claim that Christianity is oppressive toward women for all our wanting to honor, protect, and provide for them are often the ones who will claim everything I have written thus far is Islamophobic and intolerant. Perhaps if the truly faithful Muslim men who insist that their teenage wives wear burkas were to put leashes around their necks to lead them around, we might hear some outcry; however, it is more likely that we would be castigated as being species-centric for insisting that pet accessories should not be utilized on human beings. Let us not forget that Muslim women in many countries are barred from driving, voting, working—and yes, showing more than their eyes in public—but Christians with all their talk of godly wives being “far more precious than jewels” are the real villains in the eyes of many critics. Whether or not the story of the woman caught in adultery is in the original autographs of Scripture or not is a matter of debate, but the fact that it is even conceivably part of the Christian tradition while women are being stoned to death and beheaded under Islamic tyranny is a striking juxtaposition. Only in the West–built on a foundation of Christian principles–have Muslim women been given the opportunity to hold federal office from where they are given the platform to grandstand about how bad they have it and how intolerant we all are while just a quick flight across the ocean, those same women could be thrown off the roof of a building for expressing any opinion at all.
I have spent a lot of time in Muslim countries and former Western cities like London that have streets full of burka-clad women and their deranged husbands. Call me a feminist, but the longer I see it, the angrier I am that women are forced to hide behind bed sheets because their husbands have some insane notion that women should be seen as nothing more than sexual objects, and as such, must be veiled from men who cannot otherwise control their animalistic impulses. I am a Calvinist to the core and have no disillusioned thoughts that maybe human depravity isn’t all that bad, but I also think the Lord has provided ample common grace to allow even the vilest of sinners to refrain from sexually assaulting everyone they find attractive. Instead of punishing women for what deranged men might do, perhaps a civilized society might consider punishing people for actual crimes that are committed. If your religion leads you to believe that women should be preemptively punished because it is impossible for a man to keep his pants on in public, you might want to reconsider your root convictions.
Rational thoughts about the equal rights of all people are pretty easy to come by, despite what woke, “enlightened”
progressives regressives want us to think. While women should be given the absolute freedom to wear whatever they want to wear in public, it is highly unlikely that given the choice most Muslim women would freely choose to slip into the ridiculous, horrible, offensive item of clothing that is one of the most visibly identifiable objects of slavery in modern history.
Lest I be chastised for not giving a shout out to the moderate Muslims of the world, I readily recognize that even they do not escape being called Islamophobic. Some Muslim women have dared to make the claim that the fashion equivalent of clubbing a woman over the head and dragging her by the hair to a cave is not a favorable or even particularly Islamic practice. Whether or not one might agree with them is beside the point, I just want to insist that we all have at least a wry smile or a short chuckle at the fact that white
progressives regressives are calling Muslim women Islamophobic. Very rich, indeed.
The burka debate speaks to the bigger issue of our day that we have forgotten that living in a free society means we get to have debates and disagree. We are not supposed to say anything bad about Islam these days, especially if we are Christians. We are supposed to nod along obediently, even if we know the reality is that forcing young women to cover themselves is completely contrary to what God has designed. Political correctness is killing the West, and is starting to do its number on the church as well. If Christians will not say the obvious about burkas and the value of women and the oppression of Islam, what will be next? Boris Johnson is no friend of Christianity, but when he is right, we should say so.