Is it possible to be a Christian feminist?
Courtland Sykes, U.S. Senate hopeful for Missouri, had a great deal to say when it comes to women’s rights. While I can never get behind his description of “nasty, snake-filled” feminist there was one point he did get right, or close. (click here for the full statement)
“Modern women can BE anything they want, including traditional women.” – Sykes
Perhaps ‘sike’ is more appropriate.
Now, had he stopped there, instead of sandwiching it in the midst of degrading patriarchal insults to women and those who are actually living into the statement he made, I’d say he’s on to something. In fact, I would have said his statement is close to what the Bible tells us about women.
Let’s change it up a little and remove all the hate-filled rhetoric and we are left with:
Women can BE anything.
See it’s not just modern women who have this freedom. In fact, the term traditional is fuzzy. Sykes sheds some light on his definition of traditional in the first paragraph as “think Norman Rockwell here and Gloria Steinem be damned.” Hmm, interesting?
What does traditional mean?
According to Merriam-Webster it can mean
- of or relating to tradition; consisting of or derived from tradition
- handed down from age to age
- following or conforming to tradition: adhering to past practices or established conventions
Interesting. So, there is no real time frame on what makes something traditional. If it’s passed down in my family from my grandmother, then it is traditional to me. If it’s passed down to my children from me, it can be labeled traditional. We can look at the church calendar to see the repetition year after year as the old falls away, new things begin and we hold on to the tradition.
Tradition in and of itself is not a good or bad thing. Tradition simply means in my circle/ my culture/ my community/ or my family this is how we have done this particular thing. It can be comforting, or it can be oppressive. Traditional is dependent to the community in which it applies.
When it comes to womanhood I’d rather look to the Bible than to my own family “traditions,” or those of Sykes that inspired his “nasty, snake filled” comments.
What does the Bible say about women and who or what they can be? Here’s what I found…
In the Very Beginning
As men and women, we are following in Eve’s footsteps. We are daily faced with choices to trust God or yank back the reigns and say, “nope I’m doing this my way.” God made us to work together. Not to be at odds with one another. His perfect plan was one of cooperation where each brought their uniqueness to the relationship to help one another.
God Sees Us All
Hagar at the well teaches us that God sees us. Even when we feel overlooked and neglected God sees us! He did not just bestow blessing on the chosen Abraham and Isaac. He saw Hagar, rejected and alone, and He blessed her too.
God Calls Us All
Hagar and Ruth were called from tragedy to show God’s love and redemption. Bathsheba was elevated in the midst of a world that mislabeled her as a vixen when really she was the victim of rape and murder. Esther was positioned in authority and influence to save her people. Deborah had authority as a judge even in the presence of available qualified men. Women such as Huldah were used as scholars and women of the New Testament as Good News bearers (um, I think that’s the same as preaching but that’s a topic for another day).
The stories of women throughout Scripture, from Eve to the very last page, offer freedom and hope. They share the message that yes women can BE anything. But even more than that, women are called to be and do, to work with and alongside of, to have positions of leadership and positions of service to men. And men are called to do the same.
EVEN TODAY GOD USES WOMEN
Despite John Piper’s recent statement that women should not be professors in seminaries, despite comments from leaders in politics like the one above made by Courtland Sykes, despite years of church tradition where the female voice was not accepted: YES God uses women and He gives them the freedom and talent to serve the kingdom in many ways.
Some God calls to be modern-day Deborahs, like Judge Aquilina. Some are called to teach, like Brene Brown, Jen Hatmaker and Truth’s Table. Some are called to preach, like Nadia Bolz-Weber and my own pastor Jessica Vaughan Lower. Some are called to create art, to write, to work, to stay home. There are too many wonderful faithful women to name.
The point is ALL. ARE. CALLED.
Male and female are called to be a part of this big magnificent kingdom created by a loving God. We do a disservice to one another by stifling the talents God bestowed on our sisters and brothers for the sake of our “tradition.”
Will I be labeled a feminist? Yes. When you do call me a feminist in the comments remember to preface it with Christian. Will I be called a “nasty, snake filled” woman? More than likely. But I’ll be in great company. At the end of the day, I don’t answer to man or womankind for how I use the talents God gave me, and neither do you. At the end of the day may we all hear “well done” from the ONE who matters most.