Many people, Christians and feminists particularly, are perplexed by the mystery that is Christian feminism. How on earth can you take two seemingly contradicting ideas and fuse them together?
Well, as a Christian and a womanist (a black feminist, in a nutshell), I think I should explain.
The problem lies with perception – who Christians perceive feminists to be and who feminists perceive Christians to be. We have a habit of stuffing people with a common denominator into one very small and narrow box, without acknowledging that each is an individual. Then the media magnifies this box, and it’s inhabitants, and screams “SEE! THEY’RE ALL THE SAME”. So what happens is people only see the Westboro Baptist Christians, or the FEMEN feminists and assume anybody who prescribes to either of those titles – Christian or feminist – must all be alike. This is obviously flawed, and is partly why mainstream feminism fails in some places but that’s another topic for another day.
As a Christian I see my life as a ministry of Jesus Christ, everything I do should reflect Christ in someway. From the things I say, to what I eat, to how I treat my neighbour, and although I’m not all there yet, I like to believe I’m on my way. Christ’s key message was love, love God, love your neighbour, love yourself. There are no terms and conditions nor exceptions to that message, it is what it is and it is challenging.
The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes
The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
I need anyone reading this to pay particularly close attention to the bolded words.
I could get into the number of different reasons as to why people have a problem with this hybrid, but to keep things short most of it is down to a misinterpretation of scripture (a lot of people don’t understand submission), as well as the myth that feminism’s sole purpose is to break up the family/home.
The truth is though, how can you be Christian and not feminist? We are commanded to love our neighbour as we love ourselves and if that were true then I’d have to assume that many Christians do not love themselves. In a world where women are being blamed for their own rape (“no doesn’t always mean no”), 1.2million women experiencing domestic violence in the UK (2012), less than 25% of the both houses of parliament are women, and a host of all other issues; you have to wonder where is the love? These issues filter into the church too, just a couple of weeks ago a woman in church told me that sometimes a girl ‘asks’ to be raped, and Christian husbands do beat & abuse their Christian wives. How can we not do something about this? How can we spread the love of Christ but not even pay attention to those that are suffering?
God & his people are forever delivering the oppressed, what about us though?
Fear has a lot to do with it, we’re scared that being a feminist somehow does against Christianity, and there are some branches of feminism that do. However, just as Christianity has it’s different denominations (we’re not all Westboro Baptist Church-esque), feminism too has its different branches. You do have a choice as to what schools of thought you prescribe to, for example I consider myself a womanist because mainstream feminism does not acknowledge the plight/issues/struggles that women of colour face. I am not a political lesbian. I do not hate men, in any capacity. I do believe that wives should submit to their husbands, and husbands should love their wives as Christ loves the church.
Biblically speaking, the woman in Proverbs 31, i.e. God’s mould for His daughters, fits the feminist agenda, and she had more rights than a lot of women do today. Even Jesus’ act in saving the adulteress from the stoning (John 8:1-11) was a feminist act, the husband she slept with wasn’t going to be stoned, only she – that’s social injustice & Jesus addressed that.
Admittedly things are better for women than they were in 1912 but they’re still not where they should be. This post is mainly a call to Christians to critically look at themselves, at the Bible, and the world, and challenge themselves into loving.