The Mischaracterization of Christian Feminism
Christian feminism gets a bad rap. How can one be both a feminist and a Christian? If you asked me that two years ago I would have looked at you funny and immediately begun to judge you and your theology.
Feminism means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. In conservative circles the idea abounds that feminists are godless, bra burning, baby killing man haters. I thought as much myself, that is until I actually began to talk with and read words from modern, Christian feminists.
After much reading, I feel Sarah Bessey defines it best in her book 'Jesus Feminist', "At the core, feminism simply consists of the radical idea that women are people too" "Feminism only means we champion the rights, responsibilities and glories of women as equal in importance- not greater than but certainly not less than, those of men and we refuse discrimination against women." By this definition I would presume to say that all Christians should be feminists if not in name at least in deed.
Jesus himself seems to have been quite the feminist. We see examples of Jesus elevating, respecting and interacting with many women during his earthly ministry. He loved and welcomed as equals prostitutes, possessed women, sick women, even young women, all of whom were marginalized in society. Jesus trusted a woman to be the first to preach the Gospel in a culture that dismissed a solitary woman's testimony in a court of law (1). Jesus relied on the financial support of women to fund his ministry (2). Jesus encouraged women to join in and listen to his theological teaching (3), again a cultural taboo, and even used women as positive characters in His parables (4). Jesus' first miracle, in fact, involved a woman influencing (leading) him to perform the wonder (5).
Jesus cherished, restored dignity to and defended women without patronizing them. He trusted, partnered with and honored women. He treated them as people too, people worth dying for, people worth rising for, people worthy of entrusting the world's most extraordinary message with.
Notes and Sources:
(1) John 20
(2) Luke 8
(3) Luke 10
(4) Luke 15, 20; Matthew 25
(5) John 2