Use My Voice

Speaking up about the issues I can't get out of my head or heart.

Why I am Jesus Feminist

on November 6, 2013

I am super excited to be taking part in Sarah Bessey’s synchroblog today celebrating the release of her book Jesus Feminist. I am sure just the title of her book is enough to start a wild fire of controversy. The whole idea that Jesus might be a feminist? I mean aren’t feminist man hating, family hating, Bible hating women? Well, no, they are not. Well, some might be, in the some way some Christians are homophobic, sexist, or hypocrites. Some, not all, probably not even most. So then what is a feminist and how could Jesus have been one?  A feminist simply put is someone who believes men and women are equal and should have equal rights, opportunities, and protections. If that is the case then I am pretty sure Jesus would be the first to sign up for the title.

Let me back up for a minute. I would not have always identified myself as a feminist. I would have even told you for a long time that God did not allow women to lead in  some ways (OK most ways).  I was taught in church  growing up that men were to lead and women were to teach children and prepare food.  Well, I really didn’t challenge this too much because I love to teach children and can fake my way through preparing food.

It wasn’t until college that this idea began to be challenged. Yes, I went to a very conservative Christian college and this idea for the most part still was the undercurrent of thought. We all took Bible classes taught by men and I don’t remember any women I knew taking pastoral or preaching classes. We were all Christian Ed or Mission Majors. My junior year I took the class “Women in Ministry” taught by our campus pastor’s wife. In class she towed the line that men were too be the head of the church but always in a way that left me questioning if she really believed it. One day over lunch in her home she asked me what I thought about women in leadership in the church. I stammered and muttered and gave her the same tired line I had heard my whole life, “It’s not that God didn’t create us equal he just called us to different things.” She looked at me and asked, “If that is true then what do you do with Galatians 3:28”

Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

I didn’t have an answer and all she said was, “I think if God has gifted you to  lead you should lead”. It was a profound moment in my life and to this day I am grateful for her wise and gentle words.

I have written before about how after college I was blessed to serve in The United Methodist Church where this is not even a debate. Women serve along side men in every role. I had someone once tell me, “I could never raise my daughter in a church that told her there were things she couldn’t do for God simply because she was a woman”. I had never thought about it that way before and from that moment on I became a Jesus Feminist.

I am a feminist because Jesus was a feminist. There is no way you can read the Bible and not come away with that. read each encounter he had with a woman. Never did he say, “you are equal to my disciples but you there are some things you can not do”. No,in fact at his resurrection, it was women that he trusted to proclaim the good news (Mathew 28) . Did you catch that he sent women out to preach before he did the men. He could have appeared to Peter or John but he chose two women.

I am also a feminist because when we take away the fact that we are equal before God we open our world to a host of problems. We are saying that they are worth less, that they do not matter as much, that it is acceptable to treat them as second rate. Now, I know that most people (including some of my very dearest friends) wold say that this is not true. That just because the church teaches that women can’t lead that it does not mean they are less valuable, I disagree.I think we are reinforcing the idea that women and girls are worth less than men and boys. We plant the thought that it is OK to treat them with less respect and deference than we  might a boy or a man.

Finally, I am a feminist because I have a daughter, sons, nieces and nephews, and I have ministered to hundreds of children. I have looked into their eye and told them, “God has made each of you unique and and has gifted you to serve him”. I have looked into the eyes of both boys and girls and known that God has called them to lead.




6 responses to “Why I am Jesus Feminist

  1. alissabc says:

    You’ve given me so much to think about here! So glad you joined in the syncroblog.

  2. Tamara Rice says:

    I really appreciate what you’ve said about complementarians not valuing women. I wrestle with that because I want so much to be charitable about this. I know that many complementarians would never, ever say (as you acknowledged as well) that they don’t value women. And I know they believe that with all their hearts and mean so well by all of it. But I fear (and I’ve seen) that the devaluing comes out one way or another. It spills out eventually and leaves wounds in its wake. Thank you for calling that out.

    • usemyvoice says:

      Thank you, it is something that I have really wrestled with. I use to think, “I don’t agree with it but it’s not hurting anyone.” Now I am realizing that it does lead to how girls and women are valued in so many areas.

  3. Carolyn says:

    “God has made each of you unique and and has gifted you to serve him”. One thing I am seeing over and over as I read through the blog posts in this synchroblog is the equality of our calling to serve God. Thank you for expressing it so simply.

  4. This is so beautiful. Thank God for women like your campus pastor’s wife – I have stories like that, too, women who changed the trajectory of my life with their encouragement and words. Thank you for this!

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