Let’s Talk About the F Word

Do I have your attention?

Brace yourself . . . it is going to be really controversial!

It’s not something I want to talk about . . . I want to live in a world where we don’t need it.

I’m talking about Feminism.

Some of you might be thinking, “That’s worse than what I thought she was going to talk about!”  In some circles this is the worst F Word you can utter!

I know this because there are all sorts of blog posts and articles and memes and Facebook posts, Tweets, etc., etc., all trying to caution people about the dangers of Feminism and how it’s in opposition to Scripture.  Honestly, that’s why we need to talk about it!

Princess Leia was amazing when I was 7 -- she saved the guys and spoke her mind. I loved seeing that portrayed in a movie! The only girl more awesome is Rey.

This was my shirt when I was 7. Princess Leia was amazing — she saved the guys and spoke her mind. I loved seeing that in a movie! The only girl more awesome is Rey.

I really don’t appreciate when people who don’t understand it try to define it.  I really hate it when people who don’t understand it try to define ME!  They will boldly post what feminists believe, what the feminist agenda is, where feminists want to take everyone, and what is really driving us.

Why?  Why does it bother me?

It’s because they are so miserably wrong and they don’t get it.

Most recently I read an article that talked about one of the problems with feminism being that everyone defines it differently.  An interesting argument but not something I’ve ever found to be true.  In fact, I just googled “feminism defined” and was quickly informed it’s a noun of French origin that means “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.”

Easy peasy and no confusion at all! A quick scan of the articles and blog posts about the definition of feminism confirmed that this is the basic agreed upon definition that feminists are functioning with.  It’s why there isn’t a lot of infighting about what we’re all advocating for.  We basically agree.

At the same time, we all function in different realms of life and there is going to be a beautiful diversity of how that plays out and what it looks like in our lives.

At feminism.com there is an excerpt called “What is Feminism?”by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards*

In the most basic sense, feminism is exactly what the dictionary says it is: the movement for social, political, and economic equality of men and women. Public opinion polls confirm that when people are given this definition, 67 percent say they agree with feminism. We prefer to add to that seemingly uncontroversial statement the following: feminism means that women have the right to enough information to make informed choices about their lives. And because “women” is an all encompassing term that includes middle-class white women, rich black lesbians, and working-class straight Asian women, an organic intertwining with movements for racial and economic equality, as well as gay rights, is inherent to the feminist mandate. Some sort of allegiance between women and men is also an important component of equality. After all, equality is a balance between the male and female with the intention of liberating the individual.

I am not advocating everything on the site, or even in the Manifesta – I haven’t read it all and don’t want to be misconstrued.  I do want to point out a few things in this beautiful description and offer my thoughts on them.

First – as I mentioned above, there isn’t debate about the definition and it’s easily defined

Second – the goal is inherently pro women AND pro men.  There is no need for men to lose in order for women to live in equality with them.  In fact, if the goal is equality then the idea of taking men down is counter productive and foolish.

Third – wanting to accomplish these things for all women regardless of their gender, position, sexual orientation, etc., is not the same thing as endorsing or agreeing with all of the things they may choose to do.  It is, however, important to acknowledge the reality that women may make choices you don’t agree with. That is not a valid objection to them having the information and right to make those choices.**

Fourth – the goal of empowering women with enough information to make informed choices is only scary if you are invested in victimizing and controlling women.

It’s with the fourth point that I find myself most entangled day to day. This is because I am not just a feminist . . . I’m a Christian Egalitarian.

All too often Fundamental Patriarchalists will say that Christian Egalitarians are liberals who discount the “plain and obvious truth” of the text of Scripture.

To that I say that Fundamental Patriarchalists have found another area where they have no idea what they are talking about.

For one thing, the issue of liberal and conservative with regards to the Bible has to do with whether you hold the Bible as authoritative for the instruction of believers. Liberal means you do not hold the Bible as authoritative.  Conservative means you do.

I do. That makes me theologically conservative.

And we find ourselves at the primary reason that anti-feminist bloggers in the Christian community can’t seem to find a way to silence us.  We are not the straw men they set up and knock down.

Who are we and what do we really believe?

We are educated, intelligent, empowered, women AND MEN who have studied Scripture and believe it to advocate for gender equality.

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Gender equality is not the same thing as gender neutrality.  I don’t care how many times someone tells you it is, they are wrong.

Christian Egalitarians do not reject submission.  We reject the idea that there is a sound doctrine that requires women only to be submissive while men are told to rule and dominate.

Ephesians 5:21 “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”

Mark 10:42-45 “42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.””

Christian Egalitarians reject Subordinationism.

Christian Egalitarians know that the Word of God presents God not as male or female but as Spirit and as the Creator determined, male and female are both image-bearers of God.

Genesis 1:27 “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

One test I put doctrinal ideas through is this . . . I take them to its extreme and ask what that looks like.  Does it hold up to Scripture?  I just can’t find anything in Scripture that argues against treating men and women as equal image bearers of God, submitting and serving one another sacrificially, and treating people in the way that I would treat God because as we do to the least of these we have done to Him.  I have yet to come across a sound argument against Christian Egalitarianism.

In fact I believe Egalitarianism is the doctrine that best expresses  God’s intention for men and women within the Body of Messiah.  Therefore, I am a Christian Egalitarian.  I am a feminist.


*from Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2000).

**While Christian bloggers might express loud and passionate views of what they think of men’s choices, to my knowledge there is no organized movement to remove information and choice from men’s lives.  There is some hate mongering and name calling when someone does something some people don’t like, and efforts to pass laws making it okay to be mean to them or refuse their business.  Those laws would include women too so it’s not the same thing.

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