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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Christian Feminism

In Defense of Christian Feminism
By Leslie Johnson
In the eyes of most, “Christian Feminism” is an oxymoron. Two words which are worlds apart…but are they?  Webster’s defines “feminism” as “the theory of political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” - an idea that completely lines up with the liberating Gospel of Jesus Christ.  No, it is certainly not the definition of feminism that gives us pause; it is the baggage of the modern feminist movement which causes Christians to passionately distance themselves from what one writer has appropriately dubbed “that word”.  But we can no longer ignore the subject like a child tightly clamping his hands over both ears and humming loudly to avoid the unpleasant.  Christian Feminism - a large and quickly growing movement within the Body of Christ – is here to stay.  We would do well to understand what it is, and what it is not.   
            First, it is not connected to NOW (the National Organization for Women) or most other secular feminist organizations.  The roots of Christian Feminism are, in fact, found in the Holiness/Pentecostal movement of the 19th century.  A movement that produced such society-changing organizations as the WCTU - the Women’s Christian Temperance Union - founded in 1874.  At this time, women had no voice in government, little or no control over their own property and no legal protection for themselves or their children.  Prosecutions for rape were rare and the state-regulated “age of consent” for little girls to legally have sex with adult men was as low as seven years of age.  Then God rallied housewives, daughters and old women, turning them into a formidable army for change in this nation.  The boldness and success of the WCTU - just one mighty branch in this army – can be seen in how these ladies dealt with the unregulated sell of alcohol which was wreaking havoc upon families and whole communities at that time.   These Christian women began dropping to their knees in local saloons in “pray-ins,” demanding that the sale of liquor be stopped.  In three months the WCTU had driven liquor out of 250 communities!
        No, the roots of today’s Christian Feminist movement are much deeper than the ‘Johnny-come-lately’ secular feminism. The history of Christian Feminism is rooted in women like Abigail Adams,  Susan B. Anthony  and Sojourner Truth, Christians who fought for equal voting rights and the eradication of slavery in America.  And in the same spirit as these great women, the vast majority of Christian Feminists are pro-life, pro-marriage and pro-family. 
            But there are two differences between what Christian Feminism espouses and what the traditional Church is currently teaching.  Christian Feminists believe that God can and does use female vessels just the same as males.  In other words, many women are called to be pastors, preachers, teachers and elders, just the same as men.  And secondly, that husbands and wives are equal partners in marriage – one spouse does not have authority and control over the other. These are the beliefs of the modern Christian Feminist.  No more…but certainly no less.

1 comment:

  1. Great article, you guys have a way with words! Thanks so much for another much needed resource on this topic.