I want to spend this week bouncing around a topic that is close to my heart. However you want to call it, be it feminism, biblical manhood and womanhood, equal rights, gender issues, egalitarianism or complementarianism,the issue of where women fit into the church and society is an important one for me. Today I’m writing about the reasoning behind my feminist beliefs.
If you know me for any length of time, you’ll soon discover that I am a feminist and strongly opinionated about it. That’s why I was thrilled that George Fox was hosting Rachel Held Evans, author of A Year of Biblical Womanhood last week for chapel.
Basically, Held Evans spent a whole year taking everything the bible had to say on women completely literally. This included (but is definitely not limited to) sleeping in a tent on her front lawn when she was on her period, sitting on the corner of her roof as penitence for being contentious, taking Prov. 31 literally (all the sewing and the cooking and the cleaning, oh my!), calling her husband Master and “praising him at the city gate”, which involved holding a sign praising her husband at the entrance to Dayton, Tennessee where they live.
I haven’t read her book yet (although it’s first on my list for the summer, post-grad) but I’ve read her blog and have never felt more connected to a community of Christian feminists. Her insight into the biblical context for different passages, her encouragement of women to further explore their callings and passions and her snarky take on the church make me a huge fan.
She had a few points that stood out to me, but one in particular: the bible is a conversation starter, not a conversation ender.
In high school my biggest struggle was all about figuring out what I was supposed to do and who I was supposed to be and what my life would look like once I left the halls of education. I battled with being a woman of God, what my role in society was supposed to be and the struggle consumed me for a good three years, causing me to question my passions and talents and if they were worth any value at all. I thought the bible was the be-all-end-all of what a Christian should be and that if I didn’t follow it “just so”, then I wasn’t a true Christian, was far from God, and had the chance of going to hell.
But as I left home, and had a relationship that caused everything I believed in to be questioned and tested, and started to come into my own beliefs and opinions, I realized exactly what Rachel said: the bible is not the end of a conversation. It’s the beginning. The bible starts the beautiful process of stumbling through understanding what God wants for each of us, how He wants us to live as followers of Him. And that is going to be different for everyone because He made us all different.
My journey will be different from my mother’s, from my niece’s, from my best friends’s and they all will be beautiful and full of God. It is not our similarities that make us good Christians, with heaven secure and our lives marked out. It is our differences that God lovingly designed and uses to bring glory to His kingdom. In the end, it won’t matter whether or not there were women pastors, or whether a woman a mother or not.
What will matter is whether or not we followed Christ and if we lived our lives constantly pursuing Him. What will matter is how we loved the world He placed us in and how we cared for them. The conversation is constant with God and with each other.
And that is why I am a feminist. The constant conversation opened my eyes to the truth that men and women are equal in the eyes of God and to negate my worth is a slap in His face. I can do just as much good and bring just as much glory to God as a man. And how I do that, whether it’s by being a mother or a writer or a speaker or a pastor or a nun or a businesswoman, is only a part of the picture. Because I’m constantly learning and understanding who I am in Christ. And that could mean any number of different paths for me. But no matter the path, as long as I’m aiming for what God has for me, then I can’t step wrong.