Russell and Duenes

Ban the Burqa or Lose “Liberal Society?”

with 6 comments

One of my commentors responded to the idea of a Burqa ban with this: “No liberal society can ban the Burqa.” To which my first thought was: Failure to ban the burqa will necessarily mean the end of “liberal society,” as that has been traditionally understood. I could be wrong, but here’s why I think so.

The practice of having women wear burqas seems to be based on an oppressive and unjust view of women, and of human beings generally. Women are created “in the image of God” as surely as men are, meant to glorify Christ and to stand accountable before Him. In this, both sexes are gloriously equal. But the doctrine that says that women must be entirely covered in public, and if they are not, men are not responsible for their sexual thoughts and actions toward them, does violence to the biblical teaching that men are responsible and accountable for their own thoughts and actions, regardless of what others do. Should women be modest? Absolutely! Does their immodesty excuse my sin of lust or adultery or worse? Certainly not! But where burqas are required, we see men justifying horrific acts against women based on the women’s lack of veiling. This hardly comports with a “liberal society.”

Allowing the burqa is also not something that comes in isolation. It comes as part of a suffocating and unbiblical “Sharia” law. Sharia Law and “liberal society” are on an unavoidable collision course. Now, I don’t care a whole lot about “liberal society,” but Sharia law would also be on a collision course with a society predicated on biblical theology, which is the type of society I would advocate. These cannot co-exist. To say, “We are a country and culture that values freedom of religion, so we will let Muslims do whatever they want in public spaces,” means the end of “freedom of religion,” particularly for women. Where burqa wearing is mandated, women are not free to go without burqas. That’s the point. Further, the Bible nowhere teaches that female sexuality is especially dangerous such that any exposure to women’s bodies whatsoever will produce uncontrollable lust in men. This is not an argument that male and female sexuality are identical, for clearly they are not. But women who are free in Christ will exercise that proper modesty and self-restraint in their presentation that pleases God. Freedom in Christ cannot mean that God has created female sexuality to be something so powerful and sin-inducing that she must cover every inch of her body and face. Jesus, a man of entire holiness and righteousness, was able to have his feet washed with a woman’s hair and consider it a commendable act. Jesus spoke with strange women and was not wrong to do so.

I’m not saying I understand all the issues here entirely, but I think we need to give serious consideration to these issues. I have zero confidence that those who stand for “liberal society” will prevail against the virile Sharia-yearning Muslims. The enforcement of burqas or veiling would only be the opening victory in the long, but inexorable, losing battle with Sharia. Only a society where the public institutions and churches recognize and live under Jesus as Lord over absolutely everything will there be a chance of staving off ruin. “Secular” and “Enlightenment Society” is running out of capital.


Written by Michael Duenes

August 3, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Posted in Duenes, Government, Islam

6 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Before I respond, I want to be sure I know what you are talking about. It seems (though I am willing to admit my error in understanding) that you are conflating the idea that society should not force women not to wear the burqa with the idea that society should force women to wear it. “Where burqa wearing is mandated, women are not free to go without burqas.” I completely agree with this. If individual women do not wish to wear one, they are free (in so far as the state force is concerned) not to. I am as against the state coercion that women wear one as I am state coercion that women not wear one. What women wear is up their own judgment, whether or not that judgment is influence by other non-state factors. Liberal society only uses state force to stop one from using force against others.

    Correct me if I am wrong in supposing that you conflated allowing women to wear one with forcing women to wear one.

    Joshua House

    August 3, 2010 at 9:40 pm

  2. I don’t believe I conflated them. Let me try to say it better. Here’s my thinking, but I’m really trying to work this out in my mind. If the state says that Muslim communities are free to enforce women wearing the burqa, then women in those communities who don’t want to wear one are not free. They are free, according to the state, to go without burqas, but such freedom will be squelched by their communities, on pain of violence or even death. You may say to me, “Well, when such women are assaulted for not wearing burqas, then the state will step in to punish the assaulters.” True enough (or maybe not. “Liberal” governments seem rather loathe to shut down Muslim aggression), but what woman wants to risk life and limb in the hopes that the state will punish her attackers? She may even be dead at that point. More likely, she will go along with the burqa wearing. I say this well-aware of the fact that there are countless Muslim women who WANT to wear the burqa. But I think there are also Mormons who want to marry multiple women, yet we don’t allow that. Do you think we should? Not all religious practices can be accommodated. Whether this one can is what I’m trying to wrestle with here.

    But my larger point is to raise the question: At which point do we decide to draw a line in the sand against creeping Sharia? For to never draw such a line is to already concede the loss of a free society. Sharia-compliant Islam does not brook anything like democracy or freedom. Just look at the countries where it is enforced.



    August 3, 2010 at 10:56 pm

  3. Ok, I understand your community argument better. However, I would contend that “community coercion” exists in many other spheres. Young men face community coercion in modern society as they are often pushed to act less like men and more like push-overs. I would like to think that the principled young Muslim women would stand up against the ostracization that will surely follow (as it follows Mormon defectors).

    Speaking of Mormons, I wouldn’t “let” them marry because I don’t think marriage should be a question for the state at all. I also wouldn’t let the state sanction heterosexual marriages. I would, however tolerate private polygamy.

    Lastly, my line for any law is this: If an action isn’t harming me personally, I can’t initiate force to stop it. If it does violate an individual right, the state can initiate force to stop it. Such is (should be?) the principle of all liberal, individualist democracies.

    Of course, I’m not a huge fan of government at all, and I’m not ignorant to the fact that the masses will inevitably vote to do horrendous things (perhaps even enforce the niqab/burqa).

    Joshua House

    August 4, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    • Well, Josh, all I can say is that I think your radical libertarianism will need some honing as you go along. Further, I would like to see your thinking spring from a biblical foundation and epistemology. Radical, individual autonomy is not part of the human equation. Can’t be! Just to take your example, you say you would tolerate private polygamy. Guess what? It won’t be private for long. That’s because it will inevitably lead to questions pertaining to ownership, custody, divorce, alimony and the like. These are public issues. Of course what we have to wrestle with is when and how the state should bring civil law into things, but if you’re going to be in line with the Bible, which I think you as a Christian ought to be, then you need to become a “fan of government,” since government is graciously given to us for God’s purposes (see Romans 13:1-8 and parallells). Governments overstep their bounds and dishonor Christ, but the Bible surely is not anti-government.



      August 4, 2010 at 9:56 pm

  4. “If the state says that Muslim communities are free to enforce women wearing the burqa…”

    Who has said that?

    It’s illegal for one individual to force someone else to wear something they don’t want to, isn’t it?

    They may say you have to wear a burka to go to the mosque, but you don’t have to go if you don’t want to. Just like some Christian churches say women have to wear a dress in their church. If they want to wear pants, they are free to go to another church.

    If women are being forced to wear anything, that should be illegal.

    That said, it should be legal for an airline to prevent them from boarding a plane with a burka, or any other attire the airline doesn’t think is safe. If they don’t like it, they can fly another plane, or use another form of transportation.

    The airline is not going to arbitrarily make up rules for acceptable attire, because they’d be arbitrarily restricting their pool of customers, which is very bad for the bottom line…


    August 9, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    • I understand your point, and while it is perfectly true that it no one may be able to compel a woman to wear a burqa by force of law, Muslim communities force women de facto to wear it. Perhaps you’ve not been paying too much attention to how well “western” countries like France, England, Sweden, Switzerland, etc have been able to handle Muslim communities through their legal systems. Not well at all. Thus we have Switzerland banning minarets and France banning head coverings of any kind. We’ve even got Syria trying to ban the burqa. Why are they doing this if they can just punish the wrongdoers who are trying to force women to dress like this?

      It’s all fine for us to say, “Well, the women are free to choose and they can choose not to wear them, no matter what their Muslim communities say.” But the world doesn’t work that way. When once you allow the practice, then the practice becomes, in actual practice, compulsory, unless women choose to risk being ostracized, beaten, disowned, raped, or perhaps killed by people who have no interest in assimilating to “western” ideas and customs. I doubt the solution is to call in the cops every time this happens to a woman in these communities when once it is engrained. Saying “women don’t have to go to mosque if they don’t want to,” is like saying, in that milieu, “Women don’t have to be accepted by their families, don’t have to have standing in their communities, don’t have to avoid being shamed and punished for their “crime” if they don’t want to.” Because they will forfeit all of these things and more should they “choose” not to wear the burqa.



      August 9, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: