Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Without Jesus, would I even be a feminist?

Image source.

If I had not been certain that Jesus saw me and rescued me, an individual woman, would I have felt I had the right to read the whole bible, and learn from the whole bible, not just the "woman" passages?

If I had not combined my logic with my total devotion to God, would I ever have challenged the idea of modesty so strongly, and concluded that it's not right for women to be burdened with that?

If I were not so inspired and devoted to God that I pursued him as far as China, would I ever have discovered that he lives in every culture in the world, and my own culture and experiences are not superior to anyone else's?

If I did not read about how Jesus hung out with those that were judged by society and called "sinners", would I ever have made the choice to meet gay people in real life, and to search out and read blogs about their stories and their opinions? Would I have honestly looked at what the bible says, to the point of concluding it's not such an easy issue? Would I ever have seen the humanity of the people involved, and concluded that yes, gay marriage should be legal, and gay rights are worth fighting for?

If I had not known that every nation, every people group, every language, would worship God together in heaven, would I ever have moved past suspicion and found delight in different forms of worship?

If I had not been willing to listen and be humble, as the bible teaches, would I ever have genuinely listened enough to be convinced of the reality of racism in American culture?

If I did not know about God's compassion toward all people, would I ever have looked for news stories about transgender people, and asked questions in an attempt to understand them?

If Jesus had not set me free and shown me I can trust him completely, would I ever have felt secure enough to question him about the sexism I found in the bible?

If Jesus had not said I should "love my neighbor as myself" would I ever have seriously thought about what needs to be done to end injustice for black people affected by poverty, rather than just saying "they need to work harder"?

If I were not committed to honoring God as the center of my life, rather than myself, would I have continued to feel superior to those who are different from me?

Image source.
There is a way to use Christianity to reinforce one's own ideas and maintain the status quo of oppression. Whenever someone is doing something that makes me mildly uncomfortable, I can quote 1 bible verse that vaguely relates, and say obviously what they're doing is WRONG.

It's so simplistic, so easy, and it's based on the idea that I know all the answers and I'm always right.

But Jesus kept challenging me, with his whole philosophy of loving people and not judging them.

Jesus has brought me past a naive understanding of Christianity, which says everything I heard in the conservative, white, American church is absolute truth, which is blind to the nuances of different situations, which made me think I have all the answers and I don't have to listen to anyone else.

As I followed the real Jesus, who challenged the powerful religious leaders, who stood up for "sinners", who said "blessed are the poor" and "do not judge" and the most important thing is to love God and love people... I found that I can't not be a feminist.

Yes, it's more complicated, and it means I don't have such easy answers for every issue. But Jesus did not come to give us a list of answers- he came to show God's huge, absurd love, which is for every demographic of people on the planet- regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, family history, income level, etc etc.

And like Jesus, I will be a feminist, and I will listen to others, and I will love and respect people, and I will not be blind to injustice and discrimination.

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
    to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
- Jesus' words as he begins his 3 years of ministry. Luke 4:18-19


This post is part of the Faith & Feminism blog carnival, hosted by from two to one. The deadline for submissions is September 25. If you'd like to submit one of your own blog posts, go for it!


  1. Wow. This is so good. My own journey has been very similar. Thank you, fellow traveler!

  2. I notice a complete lack of challenging the idea of modesty in your "modesty as she is taught" post. It is further not rejected in your "modesty my solution" post, but rather confirmed and upheld.

    I have come to two possible conclusions on your assertion: One is you mistake "method of expression of modesty" for "modesty." The other is you hate modesty and make a misleading argument against modesty based upon that hatred, knowing that your hatred of modesty is illogical. I lean towards the first position, but as most of your posts have a tendency toward such illogical allusions, I second guess myself. If you truly are a hatefilled bigot, I think it good to figure it out quickly and avoid further interaction.

    What is your opinion?

    1. Umm... what?

      You're making a lot of accusations and I really don't know where you're getting them from, so I'll just say this: Maybe the misunderstanding is because we are working from different definitions of "modesty"? My definition is "Christian women always have to be careful about what they wear and how they move their bodies- women need to give up their right to wear what they want, because men are so helpless and vulnerable to lust." What is yours?

    2. One accusation: Your posts enlist ideas for support of your arguments that the reader is required to presume true, ignoring a good deal of evidence to the contrary.

      "Modesty," you can look up in any dictionary and the first definition will not be "women's demeanor and apparel." By assuming the oblique position that everyone will or should understand that this very constricted definition is the entirety of what you mean by "modesty," you have made a suggestion inferring the illogical.

      It may be a particular fault of mine that I am more acutely aware of this in others. My original comment makes several modest illogical jumps, and this one may as well.

  3. "But Jesus kept challenging me, with his whole philosophy of loving people and not judging them."

    Exactly the point. Great post.

  4. "As I followed the real Jesus, who challenged the powerful religious leaders, who stood up for "sinners", who said "blessed are the poor" and "do not judge" and the most important thing is to love God and love people... I found that I can't not be a feminist."

    So true. I'm find the same thing as I reflect and grow in my understanding of faith. I could have highlighted several other quotes from what you've written that I totally resonate with as well.

    I think Jesus clearly was a feminist, although you won't hear that stated in many churches!

    1. Thanks! ^_^ If feminism had been a thing back then, Jesus would have totally been a feminist.