This post is the beginning of a new focus I’ll be taking with The Thistlette. I’m finally going to do what I’ve told myself I’m not intelligent, brave, and talented enough to do for years. Behold, the beginning of my Christian Feminist blog.
Since I finished grad school and have begun my midlife crisis in earnest, I’ve started to take stock of where I am spiritually and where I’ve been. I know I’m being asked to pursue social justice, gender equality, and Christianity in a more focused way. Which is why I’m creating The Thistlette and building the culture of Christians Feminism for other young men and women out there on the same path. If you’re one of those people who can’t see how I can call myself a Christian and a Feminist, read on.
I’m a Christian Feminist Because . . .
I Respect Christian Men
I started with this for a reason. I’d like to think that in the year 2016 the stigma around the word “Feminist” as being representative of men-hating, bra burners would have passed away, but I guess with people like Trump still being touted as legitimate leaders I shouldn’t be surprised. Being a Feminist does not mean that I disregard male leaders within the Church. Nor do I deny the excellence in leadership that they have provided throughout the years. But wait, if I respect male leadership so much then why am I making a fuss about Feminism?
Believe it or not, my respect for my brothers in Christ led me to Christian Feminism. By insisting on male leadership in the Church, we have put an unequal burden on our Christian brothers. Expecting all men to adhere to an impossible standard of masculine authority, stoicalness, and bravery is completely irrational. When we as Christian women expect these things from our brothers we deny them their human rights. We are denying their right to be sensitive, to be emotive, to be supporters and helpers. When we force men into headship based solely on gender we deny their unique and God given talents for other things. By insisting on male leadership we put the creative qualities of Christian men in a box and force a one-size-fits-all model of Christian masculinity on to them all.
I am a Christian Feminist because I believe God made people in his image as unique beings able to experience the full spectrum of human emotion and spiritual gifts outside or limiting gender roles perpetuated by culture.
I’ve Kissed Dating Goodbye and Lived to Tell About it
Show of hands for those courtship veterans who at some point in your life though Joshua Harris was bae that you would never hold hands with. I was once part of the movement of Christians who saw Complementarian Courtship as the way to a God honoring relationship. While I recognize that many Christians hold these ideals near and dear, I can say from personal experience how harmful they can be to your development. Besides the unnecessary pressure such thinking puts on any relationship in the first place (being a Christian doesn’t guarantee you a perfect love story), the submissive role it requires of young women during their formative years causes lasting damage.
God calls Christians of all genders to live out his plan for them in fearless confidence in his will. When we glorify the pursuit of an earthy relationship and the submission to a cultural system we deny women the pursuit of their individual rights and callings. A Christian relationship is an earthly representation of God’s love for his people. When God speaks of his love for us, he does not speak in words of totalitarian control, harsh servitude, or bleak denial. His love for us is gracious, affirming, and liberating. Any relationship grounded in him should show mutual respect, equal submission, and a desire to encourage, not control.I'm #ChristianFeminist b/c relationships should be life giving, not life limiting. Click To Tweet
I am a Christian Feminist because I believe that relationships should be life giving and reflective of Christ’s love, not stifling and reflective of a patriarchal culture. Also, I believe that a relationship and/or motherhood is not the highest calling for a Christian woman to achieve.
I Value Christian Women
While the Church might have you believe in the glorification of “biblical womanhood,” I do not buy into this one size fits all picture of Christian femininity either. There is equal beauty in a woman who chooses to be a stay-at-home mother as there is beauty in a women who chooses to not have children and pursue a career where she can honor God in her workplace. The idea of a gentle, supportive, soft-spoken, and nurturing Christian women is an excellent thing to aspire to when God has endowed you with this spirit. Just as the God of the Old Testament delighted in both the leadership of Deborah and the nurturing spirit of Ruth, he is also glorified in today’s Christian women who likewise possess a unique spectrum of qualities.
While many in the Church promote this idea of a “Proverbs 31 Woman” I wonder at how many have actually read the passage in context. This example we cite to encourage women to be gentle, nurturing, and supportive helpmeets describes a fictional woman who is involved in her community, owns and buys property, manages her own affairs, and glorifies God with all of her talents. When we tell Christian women there is only one way to be, what we imply is our cultural idea of what a Christian woman should look like. Women in the Bible and across all of time are not flat characters with limited qualities and abilities. They are multifaceted, image bearers of Christ that come in all sizes.I'm #ChristianFeminist b/c I value women & know God equipped them in the same ways as men. Click To Tweet
I Want to Lead Others to Christ
Christianity 101, right? As Christians we are called to make disciples of all nations. We should be living our lives in such a way that points towards God’s righteousness and salvation and not towards the prevailing cultural norms and things of this world. This is why I believe living out God’s own Feminist/Egalitarian teachings is important for Christians today. Culture teaches women and men how to perform their gender roles from birth.
Boys are told not to cry and girls are told they can’t be good at things like sports and math. These cultural ideas limit the spirits and abilities of God’s children every day. They also change over time. Men in the 1800’s wore high heels and makeup, baby boys used to go home in pink blankets — not blue. Gender norms as we know them today are relative, secular beliefs that are in constant flux. They should have no bearing on the inerrant and enduring truth of Christianity.
By showing the freedom that Christ offers his followers, we open up the Church to all people as God commands. I see women walk away from the Church when they hear that to be a good Christian they must submit to the men in leadership and trust their judgement, even when they believe it to be wrong. This is not Godly. The Bible teaches us to live in mutual submission to each other as servant hearted followers of Christ.
In the kingdom of God the last will be first and the first will be last. If we hold to that belief then how can we promote a patriarchal hierarchy within the Church? While the disciples squabbled for leadership, Jesus reprimanded them and reminded them of this truth of servant leadership. When we model this equality based lifestyle we even out the path that leads down the narrow way.I'm #ChristianFeminist b/c the path to salvation is narrow but on equal footing. Click To Tweet
I Believe God Means What He Says
Christ came to Earth as fully God and fully human to show that he shares in our struggle. He felt the full range of human emotion and experienced all that we experience here on Earth. Christ did not limit his humanness to stereotypically masculine experiences. He preached and he wept, he worked and he nurtured, he healed and he discipled. His teachings state that we are all one in Christ. He tore down the laws that limited our experience with God. And he made the way straight for all humans to seek him without need for any spiritual coverings.
This is the legacy of Christ on Earth. A man who touched women’s wounds (Mark 5:41), spoke to them as equals (John 4:1-45), benefitted from their stewardship (Luke 8:1-3), relied on their witness (John 20:11-18), showed appreciation for their gifts (Mark 14:1-11), and praised their discipleship (Luke 10:38-42). If we look at how Jesus lived on Earth, we see a person who never showed preference.
Our God is free of the cultural norms of this world. He created both male and female to have dominion on Earth and to be his image bearers. When we promote an Egalitarian/Christian Feminist lifestyle we are shining the message of Christ to a warped and fettered culture.
I am a Christian Feminist because I believe that in Christ there is no division, no hierarchy, and no slavery. Where the spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.
Thanks for sticking it out for this longer than average post. Leave me some comments on what you think about this subject. I am always curious to learn more about other people’s perspectives. Keep it respectful and thought provoking! If this topic interests you, stay tuned for more original content exploring the Christian life through the lens of Feminism.
Have an idea for a future topic? Suggest it in the comments!