If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you probably have realised that I am a Christian. If you have stumbled across Countercultural. CounterCouture for the first time, surprise! This apparently means, according to a wealth of popular culture, that I have signed up to a belief system that oppresses women in favour of men. On paper this hardly makes sense for an opinionated person like me (opinionated evidence can be found here, here and here) who values her independence to follow such a belief system. Yet I continue to follow the teachings of this, supposedly patriarchal, book and believe it. Is this possible for someone who also shares much in common with modern feminism (here)?
Well, I’ve been doing a little bit of reading to try and figure out whether I can be a Biblical Christian and support feminism or not. I started off my reading with these four articles:
- What does the Bible say about feminism? Should a Christian be a feminist?
- Christian women: feminism is not your friend
However, in a world where Christianity has been (mis)labelled as of a male-led society, saying that Jesus was a feminist serves as a way to open up the debate. It has definitely encouraged me to read some of my best-loved passages anew and look at other passages I don’t know as well. Take, for example, Proverbs 31. A passage I have routinely been disinterested in because (and here I am guilty of pic’n’mix theology) I am fed up of the married-good-wife-mother line that the church is so good at encouraging. Yet Vicky Beeching has made me want to read it again, with her description of the Proverbs 31 woman as a career woman, a strong wife and mother and a role model. Most definitely not someone who could be describe as quiet or sitting at home patiently waiting for her husband.
If I were to use an example from records of Jesus’ life, I could suggest Mary and Martha or the prostitute who washed his feet. However, the one I would like to use comes from Luke 8, which Sarah Bessey brought to my attention.
Soon afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. He took his twelve disciples with him, along with some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases. Among them were Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons; Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s business manager; Susanna; and many others who were contributing from their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples.
From these various examples, I hope I have demonstrated that Jesus was most definitely not interested in keeping women oppressed. If anything, He was willing to support and protect them against those who wanted to oppress women. None of this contradicts the teachings we have from the Gospels, where Jesus’ main concern is explaining who He is and that only He is the way to forgiveness and heaven. Every bit of teaching to every person builds on that core message. (Sorry but that whole thing about goodwill to all men is only half the picture.) Thus the feminism that I agree with is not at odds with the Gospel I believe in.
Unfortunately, there is a strong branch of feminism that does not agree with the Gospel. This strong willed group of women have been termed ‘man-haters’ and are amongst those who would have you believe that Christianity still attempts to oppress women.* Unfortunately, this group often come across as arrogant and demanding, which has led many people to condemn all of feminism. As I hope I have shown, we should not condemn all feminists as they do not all fall into this group. Rather, we should understand that in a fallen world everything is tainted by sin. This is what has happened, as something that started off supporting equality and respect has being turned into something oppressive.
Effectively, feminism and Christianity actually share many similar characteristics in regards to equality for all. However, both have been manipulated into oppressive beliefs. It is time for women and men to study their Bibles and take feminism back to where it started. In the teachings of the man who was the Son of God. Only through Him will everything be as it was meant to be.
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