This is the first post out of four concerning the continued importance and relevance of feminism. All four will be about different aspects of feminism and all will be from different voices. Read the introduction to the series here.
Today’s post comes from Sarah Shwartz, a fiend of mine and recent graduate from Biola University. Her desire to be a pastor often received constant push back/criticism at Biola. Yet, instead of letting these hurdles deter her she continues in her commitment to Christianity and gender equality within the Church and society.
There is a great deal of misunderstanding and fear surrounding the words “feminism” and “feminist”. I often find myself defending the terms, only to discover that those who display the most aversion towards them generally possess the least understanding of their actual meanings.
As a child of the 1990’s, I was a beneficiary of feminism long before I labeled myself as a feminist.
I was born into a time and society where my right to vote at the age of 18 was already secured, where my body was no one’s property but my own, and I had the opportunity to receive an education as well as build a successful career, if I was willing to put in the work required. These basic assumptions, that women should be viewed as equal to men under the law, are the foundations of feminism, which, like any other ideology or social movement, has many diverse )and sometimes differing) forms.
Feminism has greatly impacted and enriched my life, as well as every young woman born in the 19th century, regardless of whether or not one labels themselves a feminist. I have encountered a great deal of pushback from my conservative Christian community in regards to my choice to claim feminism as my own. While this has caused me a great deal of frustration, I also cannot help but see the humor in it, as it is my faith in Christ, more than any other factor, that urges me to identify as a feminist.
It was Yahweh of the Old Testament that made the care of widows a legal responsibility of the Jewish people, it was Jesus who entrusted the good news of the resurrection first to a woman, who welcomed them to join men in learning at his feet, and the apostle Paul who wrote that the new covenant erased gender inequity in the Kingdom of God.
It was the book of Genesis that assured me that when God created man and woman, he created them to equally bear his image, the gospel of John that gave me a picture of a Savior who freely interacted with and bestowed dignity upon the women society reviled, and Paul’s letter to the Roman’s that urged me to see my spiritual gifting as not something I could consider using for the church’s good, but something I must walk in for the building up of the church.
I would argue that the basic tenets of feminism accurately communicate the heart of God, and that all followers of Christ are called to promote and advocate for the rights of women everywhere.
Keep your eye out for next weeks post and if your interested in more issues surrounding Christianity and Feminism check out Rachel Held Evans posts for a week of Mutuallity here. Dianna Anderson is another amazing blogger writing about these issues as well.
If your really interested read this book. Its the best one I’ve read on this subject.