Some reject, some support, some ridicule, some doubt, and some aspire…
But everyone reacts when you identify yourself as a Christian as well as… dare I say…a feminist.
There is a misconception that these two things are diametrically opposed. In truth, one role can strengthen you in the other.
The tagline from my blog’s main page says “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”
As a woman, this is one of the most inspiring verses of the bible. It encourages, motivates, and frees me from fear when I’m facing the unknown. The line “She is clothed with strength and dignity” has me grasping for a word that encompasses both unshakeable strength and undeniable beauty. That is the imagery that it conjures for me. A woman who possesses strength, dignity, and the joy of laughter must be stunning before God.
This verse is from Proverbs 31, a chapter I often refer too when discussing with someone how a woman can be both a Christian and a third-wave feminist.
We would of course have to begin by presenting some definition for “feminist”. There are afterall so many types out there and they are often co-mingled into this distorted picture of what the word itself means and who can and can not be one.
A feminist, before he/she is influenced by political, religious, and personal goals, is simply a person who campaigns for or supports the campaign for equal rights and opportunities for both men and women. In this case the word could easily be replaced with egalitarian. You do not have to be a woman to be a feminist and the word may not be a comfortable fit but many of today’s men, Christian or otherwise, meet the citeria.
As far as refering to myself as a third-wave feminist, I am referencing the third in historical feminist movements. The first-wave refers to the suffragists, the second-wave to feminists from around the 1960’s until the 1980’s who championed for rights in the workplace and addressed issues such as pay and sexual harassment, and the third-wave began around the 1990’s and refers to the most recent efforts to address social equality. This is the new generation of young feminists who are looking at today’s issues in society which affect gender issues. Some of those areas are race, social class etc…
That’s enough on the history and vocabulary lesson. My point was my role as a feminist in terms of my Christian faith. For that I refer you to proverbs 31: The wife of Noble Character in it’s entirety.
The Wife of Noble Character
10 A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
–the woman about to be described is invaluable
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
–this is a woman who is trusted and respected by the male counterpart in her relationship.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
–she is faithful
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls.
–this is a hardworking, generous woman
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
–this is a woman capable of making major decisions that affect the finances and her family.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
–she is not weak, or docile but rather physically and spiritually strong
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
–this is an obedient woman who answer’s the Lord’s call to serve the poor
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
-Her active role in the home and society is not a detriment to her husband’s standing
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
–she is entrepreneurial and participates in local business
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
-she is brave and confident in the Lord
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
–she is intelligent and capable of sharing her knowledge with those around her.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
-her husband is not intimidated by her but rather loves and praises her; as do her children.
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
-She loves God!
31 Give her the reward she has earned,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
-this is not a woman who acts shamefully and she deserves to be held in high regard for her efforts in all areas of her life.
Many of the matters mentioned above address what it means to simply be a faithful Christian; others what it is to be a feminist. These ideals are brought together to describe a woman of noble character. She is a well-rounded, intelligent, generous, faithful wife and mother who loves the Lord.
These verses describe a dignified woman who plays many roles and plays them well. The bible is filled with strong, admirable woman: Lydia, Anna, Pheobe, Martha and Mary, Esther and more….
I do not believe the role woman play in society and in the church is indicative of men’s failure to live up to their intended role but rather a too-slow restoration of the original, equal relationship God intended for men and women.
The enemy is not playing with half his team on the bench and neither should we. Woman must be encouraged and empowered to be who they were intended to be. If that means running a corporation, serving overseas, maintaining a home and raising children, or leading in the church than we must smash through all glass ceilings and do our jobs in a way that honors the Lord.