There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. |Galatians 3:28|
I’ve heard plenty of Christians talk a lot of crap about feminism, and I get where they’re coming from. I’ve even seen Christian blog posts titled, “Why I’m not a feminist.” Although I totally see why Christians would want to separate themselves from mainstream feminism, I find it kind of ignorant to reject feminism as a whole.
If someone were to ask me if I’m a feminist, I would reply that yes, by the definition of the word feminism, I am. However, I’m not a fourth wave feminist, and I’m not down with a lot of the views that many feminists have.
It’s important to define feminism. What is the actual definition? The advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes. So if you say you’re not a feminist at all, you’re essentially saying you don’t think men and women are equal and deserve the same rights.
What is fourth wave feminism, on the other hand? Fourth wave feminism is the current brand of feminism, the feminism that many millennials endorse. It’s the kind of feminism that says my body, my choice. It’s the kind of feminism that claims that abortion is perfectly fine. The kind of feminism that ignores science and claims that gender is a socially constructed concept. The kind of feminism that encourages women to objectify themselves. The kind of feminism that has encouraged a lot of hatred and aggression. The kind of feminism that doesn’t align with scripture.
Now, not all fourth wave feminism is bad. There are some aspects of fourth wave feminism that I think are really positive. But the majority of what I see of it in the media or hear about directly from non-Christian feminists simply isn’t compatible with biblical beliefs.
And if we’re honest, a lot of the negative aspects of feminism didn’t just come with the fourth wave; they began back in the 60s, when women were demanding rights to abortion and the sexual liberation was taking place. The ideas we hear about so frequently have been around for a long time. Although some of these ideas have a sliver of truth to them, a lot of them are really damaging to women.
Quite frankly, I don’t think most Christians reject feminism because they can’t go along with the amoral implications of fourth wave feminism. I believe a lot of Christians who reject it have been brainwashed into thinking men and women aren’t really equal, even if they wouldn’t admit it.
If you’ve been around conservative Christians, you’ve probably heard a lot of sexist statements. So many Christians take certain Bible verses out of context and twist them in order to control and manipulate. Many Christian men have done this for centuries.
Women need to be voiceless. Women need to be unconditionally obedient to men. Women need to be in the kitchen. Women are here merely to have kids and serve men. Sound familiar?
I’ve read blog posts about womanhood written by women that made me cringe (and made me a little angry). There are some Christian women out there who genuinely believe the sole purpose of women is to have children, be homemakers, and obey their husbands unconditionally.
Due to the sexist attitudes of many Christians, people often associate the faith with sexism. If you take some things Paul said out of context, they can sound horribly sexist. If you don’t know the historical and cultural context of his epistles, you could think he was a real misogynist. However, if you look at his statements in light of the culture he was in and how he treated women in general, it becomes evident that there are some missing pieces.
I would argue that many things Paul said in the epistles were actually really counter-cultural for the age he was in and actually promote equality of the genders (such as the verse I included at the beginning of this post). Although he made it clear that women shouldn’t dominate their husbands, he mentioned women being in positions of leadership. He also made it clear that women were encouraged to participate in church by prophesying and edifying the church with their spiritual gifts.
In Romans 16:7, Paul even spoke highly of a female apostle named Junia who was also in prison for the sake of the gospel. She was a female leader. Paul also referred to several other women whom he spoke very highly of and considered to be extremely valuable in the spreading of the gospel. Therefore, we have to look at the verses about women being quiet and submissive in light of other verses and understand that they can’t be read at face value. If you look at the Greek words that have been translated into “quiet” and “submissive,” you’ll understand that they actually have different meanings than what you would assume.
When interpreting verses like these, it’s essential to know the Greek words behind the translations, as there are many cases when it’s impossible to find an English equivalent that accurately portrays the deeper meaning. It’s also essential to know the historical context and the specific situations Paul was speaking to, as these were epistles written to specific people in specific churches.
I’m not even going to go through all the awesome female figures throughout the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments. When I read the Bible, it sure doesn’t seem like God wants women to be silent and invisible and dominated by men.
When you read the gospels, you can’t possibly think Jesus was down with sexism. Some people may call me blasphemous for saying this, but by the definition of the word, Jesus was a feminist. His treatment of women was counter-cultural and revolutionary.
How did He treat prostitutes and women with questionable reputations? How did He defend Mary Magdalene when the religious folks were trying to humiliate her for pouring alabaster on His feet? How did He respond when the men were about to stone the woman caught in adultery? Who did He first appear to when He was raised from the dead? In a culture where women were viewed as worthless and invisible, Jesus made women feel seen. He made them feel valued.
Being a feminist and being a Christian aren’t a contradiction if you support the positive kind of feminism. I don’t think it’s possible to be a Christian and go along with mainstream feminism because it’s simply not compatible with scripture. But there’s a lot of feminism that is positive and important and doesn’t contradict God’s word, but can actually be supported by it.
Do you really think God’s against defending women and fighting oppression? Do you really think God doesn’t want women to be educated and given the same professional opportunities as men? Do you really think God, Who is infinitely fair and just, is happy about women being paid less than men for the same job? Do you really think God is okay with sexual violence and objectification of women? Do you really think God is okay with the disgusting way Donald Trump treats women? Do you really think God is happy about sexism?
To say feminism in general is bad is to say that women’s rights don’t matter. So if you’re a woman and you say you hate feminism but voted in the last election, then that’s kind of ironic. Because if it weren’t for feminism, you wouldn’t be able to vote. If it weren’t for feminism, you wouldn’t have the educational and professional opportunities that you have today. If it weren’t for feminism, you would be voiceless and powerless.
It’s important to remember that not all feminism is bad. Oftentimes when we hear the word “feminism” nowadays we think of angry lesbians who hate men and promote abortion. But that’s not all feminists. Feminism, by its definition, isn’t about women dominating men or thinking they’re above men, but merely promoting gender equality.
Emma Watson’s campaign HeForShe is an example of feminism that isn’t all negative. Yes, she supports some things that I can’t go along with because she’s not a Christian. But a lot of what her campaign is doing is actually really positive and wouldn’t conflict with biblical convictions.
It’s time to acknowledge the fact that a lot of Christians have just been plain sexist. They’ve taken verses out of context in order to oppress, control, manipulate and limit women. By rejecting feminism as a whole, you’re really just condoning this kind of behavior.
So many Christians have warped womanhood into something it was never meant to be. They think women should be voiceless and unintelligent. They think women should always obey men. They think women exist merely to pop out babies and look after the home and cook for their husbands. They try to suppress women’s sexuality in an unhealthy and unnatural way. They try to control and oppress women. But that’s not the Bible I read.
So if you’re a Christian and you think all feminism is wrong, I respectfully ask you to rethink your opinion. Feminism hasn’t always been a negative thing, and it’s not always negative today (even though most of the feminism we see in the media is). If something doesn’t line up with scripture then of course we need to reject it. But it’s absurd to think that it’s against God’s will to believe men and women are equal. We’re different, yes. But equality doesn’t mean sameness. Let’s embrace the differences between men and women while promoting equality.
Here’s a great video of Ravi Zacharias (who, by the way, has female apologists on his team) talking about feminism and the Bible: