faith Feminism

Faith and Feminism: Perfect Companions

CC photo credit, The Kheel Center, Cornell University

For as long as I can remember, women have held a position of high responsibility and power. And for as long as I can remember, faith and its many iterations has been a present and equally powerful force. The two are intertwined in a way that I assumed we the people could plainly see.

I know it’s a surprise, but I was wrong.

I do not have a come-to-the-bra-burning story to tell, and my come-to-Jesus story is just as boring. I did not wake up one day, scales falling from my eyes, aware of new information. I simply figured we were all agreed on this. In fact, I was surprised to hear discourse in college and early post-college years about marrying faith and feminism, because my family had been doing it for decades.

The conversation was usually fairly short, and not a little shrill.

“How can you be a feminist and a Christian?” Some dolt would ask, assuming that our ideas of feminism matched.

“How can I not be?” I would reply. “And furthermore, why aren’t you?” It was a conversation killer, and I wasn’t exactly popular with the boys until I learned to (want to)moderate the shrill. That took a while.

My answer may be kinder and gentler, but the sentiment hasn’t changed. I believe that for every person, male or female, who believes that women are inferior because, “the Bible says so,” there is at least one example, from the Bible, about how women are exactly equal, in the eyes of God, to our male counterparts.

The women of Scripture are kind of badass. They owned businesses. They were queens, and rulers and prophetesses. They brought the story of Jesus to their households and became church starters. The women of the Bible broke the rules and walked with Jesus, sitting at his knee. They asked questions and got answers. They were accused by the world and redeemed by the only one who can. Some of them were loud, and some were quiet. Some have bit parts and some got the honor of a resurrection visit with Jesus. Some were even…wait for it…prostitutes.

The trouble might be that “the world” sees feminism as a threat. And in some ways, maybe it is. It might be that “the world” assumes that feminists are all about abortion and not wearing bras. And some of them are. But, the real trouble is that feminism is bigger than this.

If you believe that women are people, you, my dear friend, are a feminist. If you believe what Paul wrote, “In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female,” then, darling, you are a feminist. If you want your wife or sister or mother or aunt or daughter to have access to the same education, jobs and opportunities as your brother or father or uncle or son, then you, sweet cheeks, are a feminist.

I’m a person with lady parts. I am a person with lady parts who knows Jesus. It is the marriage of faith and feminism, a perfect union.

 

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10 Comment

  1. Yes! I am so tired of hearing “I’m not a feminist, but…” and then rattling off equal pay for equal work, women on sports teams, women in college, etc. etc. And I love your imagery of it being a perfect union between faith and feminism.

  2. This is great. Now that I’ve converted, I can’t believe I didn’t see it for all those years. It’s so obvious now that the two are intertwined and that faith should cause people to be feminists.

  3. LOVE this, Jennifer. It is tough that the label taken on so many negative connotations. Thank you for reminding us that at its root, feminism is completely and thoroughly biblical. Time to reclaim it.

  4. If you believe that women are people, you, my dear friend, are a feminist. If you believe what Paul wrote, “In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female,” then, darling, you are a feminist. If you want your wife or sister or mother or aunt or daughter to have access to the same education, jobs and opportunities as your brother or father or uncle or son, then you, sweet cheeks, are a feminist.

    Totally, totally agreed. Had the greatest talk with my kids about burkas and feminism last night (3 girls ages 9,7,6 and a boy, 4 1/2). (I attended a mosque for a month in college because I tried every mainstream religion for a minimum of 1 month prior to returning to Christianity in a very dark period of my young adulthood) Boy was that discussion fun!! (Incidentally, all brought on by the new Mumford & Sons album which is world fusion – there is a Buddhist folk song on there translated into English that sparked a conversation about world religions.) Oh my I’m rambling. So now, I’m in an egalitarian liturgical church and I’ve finally found my “home” church wise (the liturgy keeps me from running out of the church with my hair on fire because it keeps scripture twisting opportunities to a minimum, and the egalitarian is just, well, awesome). But I’m also a university professor and it is amazing the backlash against CHRISTIAN feminists on campus – now I’m faced with a new question. Not, “how can you be a Christian and a FEMINIST?” but “How can you be a feminist and a CHRISTIAN?” So, I’m working on good answers for that, in 140 characters or less. 🙂

    1. Oh, my friend, that is a tough place to be. Marginalized both coming and going. But kudos for staring down the haters, for putting up a hand of gentleness and strength and saying, this is who I am. Christian, woman, feminist and academician. You go!

  5. “If you believe that women are people, you, my dear friend, are a feminist. If you believe what Paul wrote, “In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female,” then, darling, you are a feminist.
    If you want your wife or sister or mother or aunt or daughter to have
    access to the same education, jobs and opportunities as your brother or
    father or uncle or son, then you, sweet cheeks, are a feminist.”

    Yes yes yes. Thank you for this.

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