To be, or not to be, a feminist

I love Sarah Bessey’s book, Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women. In it, she says, “Jesus loves us on our own terms. He treats us as equals to the men around him; he listens, he does not belittle; he honors us; he challenges us; he teaches us; he includes us–calls us beloved….  Scripture affirms and celebrates women.” She writes a compelling argument for being a Christian feminist.

I agree with Sarah Bessey! And in a secular sense, I agree with equal pay, equal rights, freedom from sexual harassment and abuse, freedom from gender discrimination, the abolition of sex trafficking etc. I especially believe women are equal in the Kingdom and that they are not limited in the role they can play in the body of Christ.

But there’s something about the word “feminist” that has always bothered me. The term “feminism,” especially in a secular sense, can represent things I don’t particularly want to be associated with–like abortion and the whole gender/marriage debate. Feminists are often portrayed as putting down men, or at the very least, not needing them.

So it was with great interest that I learned during a lengthy car journey, that the highly talented musician/singer, Laurie Thornton, who was driving the car, had studied Arab feminist (an oxymoron?) literature in college. We had a fascinating conversation, and she expounded on an idea that made great sense of what makes me cautious about feminism.

Here’s what she said: the problem is that most people believe there’s a finite amount of authority available. (I’m not sure about the word authority here, but I don’t know what other word to use. Bear with me–it will make sense.) The only way that one gender can have more authority is if the other gender has less. So if men are the ones to have authority, then women, by definition, have to have less. In feminism, often the reverse is seen to be true. If women have authority, it comes at the expense of men. There’s only one pie–the question is how is it shared?

But our God isn’t like that. There isn’t a finite supply of authority. He can create more.  The pie is infinite. If women are to have authority, it doesn’t need to be at the expense of men. God will give them an authority of their own without diminishing that of men.

It’s the difference between having a bucket of water and a hose. We treat authority as though there’s only a bucket of water available. In reality, God has a hose and there’s plenty for everyone.

Feminism

Photo Credit: AP Photographie  via Compfight cc

My apologies that the link to the printable version of A Simple Guide to the Challenging Scriptures for Women didn’t work in the last post. That is now fixed.

7 thoughts on “To be, or not to be, a feminist”

  1. Good point. Maybe it’s a reflection of trying to make God in our own image – limited and finite – instead of understanding the Father’s generous and superabundant provision in our lives.

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  2. the whole deal is that God himself is the only authority and we-male or female are the recipients of his authority–all this debate about which one receives the most authority is based on who gets the blame for allowing sin into the human race–they blame the woman because she first ate the fruit–but adam was right there with her and I think he is to blame more than her–anyway all is now fixed in Christ–and I do not care who preaches Christ to me just so long as its Christ.

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  3. I am sickened by the whole debate about authority, whether men or women.
    Authority is NOT the issue. It is time we let go of it and got on with what God calls us to do. If we truly bear God’s authority, then true saints will know it!
    People want or believe they should have authority so that they have the power to tell others what to do. In eating from that tree, they miss the truth of the Spirit by a million miles.
    Remember what Jesus, a man given all authority by God said, to those close to him after the majority had walked out because of his hard sayings?
    “Will you also leave?” I suspect most of you completely missed those few words.
    To me, that is one of the most profound questions Jesus asks, and it exposes the complete wrong thinking that we see in the church authority system.
    In that simple question we see Jesus illustrating the complete freedom he gave people to either walk away, or walk with him. Jesus was taking no prisoners, in complete contrast, he was seeking lovers who desired him for who he was and for the Spirit that he exuded.

    The same was true in the Garden of Eden. After warning him of the consequences, God gave Adam total freedom to disobey him. For a true love relationship to exist, that freedom must be given.

    Men primarily desire authority so that they can control other men or women. In the church, they want to do this on behalf of God, despite that being the opposite of what God is seeking.
    That is why there is so much guilt, manipulation and control in churches. That is why people don’t know the complete freedom they have in Christ, because they never experience that freedom in church. Those in authority seek members of their flock, although they cloak it as being Christ’s flock.

    I am sure the following will offend many, but gaining a badge of authority effectively means you are now the source of what is right or wrong. You have become the arbiter of truth. That’s why people come and ask you, the one with the badge. To them, you are the law. Rather than seek the spirit, they seek you as its far easier.
    From many leaders this easily turns into self belief. Because you have the badge, you have an anointing that others don’t have. So like all state workers and public servants, it is easier to wield that strong arm than let people walk in freedom.
    If we truly walked in the authority that Christ alone gives, we would be silent about it, and not arguing over who should have it or not have it.

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    1. That’s the reason I didn’t like the word “authority” in this discussion. But it was the one we used in our conversation. And I couldn’t think of a better alternative. I think most people who have a traditional view of leadership think of this in terms of authority, and that there is only a limited amount. In actuality, leadership is about laying down our lives, dying to our own ambitions and allowing others to “tread on us” in order to achieve what God wants for them.

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  4. Welcome back, Felicity!

    In greater Christiandom, the authority debate is just another distraction that the enemy uses to direct attention away from Christ. It’s another thing that cripples His Body from expressing Him, experiencing Him, and living out His authority on the earth as humans were meant to do. Unfortunately, it’s apparently a topic that still needs to come up. It’s very unfortunate.

    I think the issue of feminism and who has power/authority distracts from the real “issue” at hand, which is Christ’s absolute headship. (Though I’m not saying that’s what Felicity is doing here.) I think many forget, or have never realized just how Other the Kingdom is from our human systems. Christ is the ONLY one who possesses actual authority, and we are all participants in the out-working of that.

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