The lovely Sarah Bessey‘s book, Jesus Feminist, officially hit the book store stands yesterday, and friends, it’s the real deal, mostly because she’s the real, authentic deal. Some of you might be wondering how “Jesus” and “Feminist” can sit side by side, but as Bessey so beautifully puts it in this article, “I’m a feminist because I love Jesus so much…” – and friends, that’s Truth right there. So without further adieu, I’m a Jesus Feminist because…
…women modeled leadership in the church I grew up in. Mylinda and Pam preached on various Sundays, Linda gave the announcements, and different women served communion, took the offering and served as elders and deacons. Sure, they were also standing in the back burping babies and teaching children’s classes and setting up the punch for the social hour, but all were free to use their gifts accordingly. I never questioned whether there was even another way within the church.
…my parents instilled a confidence within me that nothing was outside of my abilities or bounds – of all things, my sex certainly was not a limiting factor.
…Young Life believes in women in leadership. I saw this as a high school student when I saw both males and females given equal opportunities, and I experienced this on staff when I was not limited by my gender, but all the more encouraged to assume leadership roles.
…I was given opportunities to use my gifts and passions and talents – though young, different organizations and camps and churches offered me a platform to open my mouth and speak. (Thank you, Young Life, Frontier Ranch and Mount Hermon, to name a few).
…I read and I questioned and I let myself feel angry if something didn’t make sense, if a verse or a statement or an implied belief didn’t sit right with me. Though certainly not academic, I remember reading Traveling Mercies for the first time in my early twenties, when Lamott’s words encouraged me to truly be me, to believe what I wanted to believe and still love Jesus all the same. Permission had been granted through mere print.
…I read the writings of various feminist theologians, and found my heart thumping along with a good number of these men and women.
…I realized that it’s so important for the next generation to have modeled. Our girls need to see and hear and experience leadership from both men and women in the school and in the church, at home and in play.
But there’s a “but” to it as well; I’m a Jesus Feminist because…
…I was silenced. It was assumed that I would conform to conservative biblical gender roles, because this was the right and the only way.
…I didn’t see women up front. Because I didn’t hear women preach and lead and use their gifts accordingly.
…I was looked down upon solely because of my gender. I was excused and looked over. I was disregarded and stereotyped.
…I was called a Jezebel.
...the misunderstood words of Paul and Timothy infuriated me, past, present and future. For years, my face would grow red with anger, my emotions overwhelmed; I tried to piece together a response, because I couldn’t understand why the Jesus who was so for women would seem so opposite from those whose words followed the writings of his life. I couldn’t understand why if it was for freedom Christ had set us free that I was still limited, solely because of my sex.
But mostly, I’m a Jesus Feminist because…
…Jesus loves me so much.
It’s not so much about my response to him, as it is his response to me. It’s his response to the widows and the orphans, to slaves and women and children, to the marginalized and the poor, and to my own heart, today, here and now, regardless of my reply.
And that’s why I’m a Jesus Feminist.
What about you? Why are you a Jesus Feminist, and/or why does the combination of these two words together send shivers up your spine? But more importantly, aren’t you glad that, as adults, we can still love each other even if we disagree?