God’s feminism

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28

Warning: This is me playing preacher.

I usually don’t post twice on the same day, but Women’s Day: Liberation and Lies was already a wee bit too long, so I decided to add some thoughts in a different post. Those of my readers that have followed me for a while may have noticed that I took a sharp turn somewhere. There’s been more faith and less dystopia the last couple of weeks. You can still expect to read about the topics that have always interested me, but I am also asking questions about faith, or as Douglas Adams so eloquently put it: Who is this God person anyway? I’m trying to figure that out.

On this International Women’s Liberation Day I wanted to add some thoughts about the Bible. First of all, I think many feminists tend to get sidetracked. I understand that some spend a lot of energy on debating language for example. Some don’t like the title chairman and want both men and women to be a chair person. Actress is unacceptable, but police woman is ok. We talk about male nurse, but not female doctor. Personally I don’t believe in adding more confusion to a world that is already hard to understand, and it can be tricky being politically correct.

But now I’m getting sidetracked myself. Feminism is a lot of things, and it seems to me that there is a branch that frankly is a part of a general trend in society, one that clouds the message, or the people reading it. Equality to some feminists is about writing a new Bible, one where women are more visible. That sounds like a good idea, but when feninists find a male Jesus problematic I wonder what they are really playing at.

But feminism has also changed the church for the better. It’s not that long ago that Christian women were not allowed to speak, and certainly not hold any key position in the church. There have been some positive changes, and maybe it’s not fair to blame the feminists for everything that has gone too far.

When I read the Bible the women aren’t very visible. It clearly wasn’t a priority to the authors to show the women, but there are some clues. I don’t know enough about this to say much about it, but I welcome my readers to comment after this post. If I’m not mistaken there were a lot of people that followed Jesus, and his disciples were chosen from this crowd. The gospels also name some women specifically. Jesus healed some women, and the disciples probably had wives. It’s not unlikely that some of them joined their husbands, at least for periods.

bible
This is the one thing I have from my father. I recently opened it for the first time, 36 years after he died. I won’t pretend I don’t have any problems with this book, but I disagree with people that say it’s oppressive to women.

I’m just speculating now, but I think there is plenty of room for a positive role for women in the Bible, if not for feminism. The problem is that what developed into the Catholic Church really made a mess of what most likely was quite positive from the start. No, I don’t think there was equality as we know it today, but women seem to have had a more important role to play than the church allowed for later. In addition to this demonic turn towards the dark side, this also influenced the feminist movement. I don’t think the counter-reaction would have been nearly as strong if the church had been fair to women.

I am believer a in the church addressing the difficult issues. That means admitting they have been wrong and making sure they do better from now on. I am not an expert of course, far from it, but I have found some verses I believe support the ideas I have expressed in this post.

And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
Genesis 2:18 (helper is also used on God several times in Psalms 33:20, 70:5, 115:9-11, so it’s clearly not about being less).

This is an interesting passage from Luke 8:1-3:

And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him,

And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils,

And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.

It’s interesting that apart from the disciples some women are specifically identified. That must be for a reason.

There are of course verses that could hint to women having to submit to their husbands, such as Colossians 3:18

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

If you stop reading there you don’t get the whole meaning, as I see it, but if you also read verse 19 you get a different impression:

Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

It’s the same in Epphesians 5:22:

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

This changes as you read on. Verse 25:

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

Verse 28:

So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

Maybe it was a sign of my disobedience, but I’ve always felt it couldn’t be right when Christians preached inequality. Would I love my wife, the way God wanted me to do, if I expected her to be less than me? I don’t think so. God is neither a man or a woman, but He is a feminist in the sense that He doesn’t value women as less.

The quotes are from the King James Version from biblegateway.com

I guess I did it again. I almost included this in my post earlier today because it was only going to be a 100 words or so.

http://www.christianbiblereference.org/faq_womensrights.htm

http://www.gotquestions.org/feminism-Christian-feminist.html

Advertisements

42 thoughts on “God’s feminism

  1. This was interesting. I don’t have time to comment immediately,and want to take time to re-read this before responding. You may get an earful later, though 🙂

    1. lol You’re not in trouble!
      This is a topic I’ve continued to examine myself for several years. It interests me.

      Perhaps you’ve not yet noticed my tendency to write far more than is necessary in order to adequately communicate my ideas.

      However, if you do ever feel the sparrow’s song becomes obnoxiously distracting, you could always suggest that she could make a boatload of money by marketing her skills.

      That’d probably shut her right up 😉

    2. Hopefully, I’ll have something worth contributing later. My afternoon internet ration just ran out.
      Have a good evening.

  2. John,

    I really enjoyed this one! I agree that for a very long time, the church (both Catholic and Protestant) did portray women as less than men in God’s eyes. I remember growing up in church and receiving a VERY strong message about women being inferior than men and not being of much value to God. I heard the “wives submit yourselves unto your husbands,” but I never heard Ephesians 5:28 ever preached on in the churches. And submission was taught as something almost equivalent to a woman being a doormat, voicing no opinions, just a very overall, oppressive idea. This is how it was presented to me. As a child, then a teenager, and then a young adult, I was repelled by it.

    I wish that Ephesians chapter 5 had been properly taught, because I do not believe that God, Jesus, or the Apostle Paul saw women as inferior to men or sought to oppress us. That is how MEN in church leadership chose to interpret those scriptures. It was largely due to this mis-teaching of Ephesians 5 that led me to run from God for so many years.I hated the submission idea as it was presented to me.

    In my late twenties I became friends with a Christian man who explained Ephesians 5 to me, what that really meant. He was the first Christian man I had known who was willing to examine the Scriptures as how they applied to both men and women. He explained that the churches and men had misinterpreted and misapplied those verses, and that if those verses were filtered through a man’s carnal, natural, sinful, nature, then of course there would be confusion on the matter. He expounded the Scriptures for me in a way I had never heard before, and I began to understand that “submission” was not necessarily a bad thing, that it was not oppressive.
    I still think though, that the submission concept for the woman only really works, if the man is doing his part, also, ” loving his wife as Christ loved the church.” In its proper context, “submission” makes sense. (Though of course, the “submission’ I am referring to here is not of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” variety!

    With regards to women in the Bible: Don’t forget, the first witnesses to the resurrection of Christ were women. Paul also mentions several prominent women, as well.

    1. This reminds me of the Norwegian historian (of religions) Hanne Nabintu Herland. She is the strongest, or at least most visible supporter of Christian values in Norway. Many of the things she says aren’t especially controversial, but they still are regarded to be. She has made some good points about the feminists war on gender. She got a lot of attention some years ago when she wrote something about how women should allow the man to be a real man. I can’t remember the details. She translates some of her articles and I could see if I find it.

      I think she’s for equality, but wants a more masculin man. Many got confused and thought that meant going back to being a doormat.

      The feminists haven’t exactly cleared up the confusion.

    2. I’d be interested in her perspective.

      War on genderis a good understanding of the current incarnation of American feminism.

      It really isn’t about equality anymore, but about proving that women are somehow superior to men. And now, we have an angry mob of anti-feminist men who appear to despise all things female. I once wandered into the little corner of cyberspace known as “the manosphere” and was amazed at the intense level of irrational hostility.
      Granted, many men have been treated unjustly as a result of the feminist trend, but they tend to feed one another’s bitterness in that environment and there is no way to have a reasoned discussion with most of them. It’s got to be a miserable existence 😦

    3. Heather,

      I agree, but it still seems like the feminists are sending a mixed message to women: 1) be like men, and 2) women are superior to men. There is also a mixed message being sent to men: 1) be more like women, 2) males are evil, unnecessary. Really, all these messages contradict each other. I think the real purpose behind feminism is to create gender confusion, eliminate the meaning of gender, and basically make it impossible for men and women to get along, respect each others’ differences, or to ever have a healthy relationship.

      But I don’t think that necessarily every woman that claims to be a feminist intends the above purpose. I am referring to those who set the agenda for feminism.

      And like you, Heather, I have encountered the bitter, hostile men you mentioned earlier, and I think they make the same mistake the feminists do, they lump all women into the same category.

    4. it still seems like the feminists are sending a mixed message to women:

      Agreed, Jay.
      At least insofar as the radical element is concerned. The distorted message is being fed to men, too, from an early age. Our culture seems to be immersed in the “men are useless idiots” message. My in-laws have received young boys at their private school who have been systematically mentally and emotionally beaten down by the public system. And many decent men are destroyed in divorce court.

      I think the real purpose behind feminism is to create gender confusion, eliminate the meaning of gender, and basically make it impossible for men and women to get along, respect each others’ differences, or to ever have a healthy relationship.

      Hmmm. Ever wonder where the origin of all the chaos lies?

      I have encountered the bitter, hostile men you mentioned earlier, and I think they make the same mistake the feminists do, they lump all women into the same category.

      Absolutely! I had a relatively mild ongoing e-mail debate with a blogging sister in the Lord who rightly sees the need for wives to support our men. But she was interacting freely with men who identified with the anti-feminist movement. Some of them would comment on her site, and I made the mistake a couple of times of challenging their claims.

      Regardless of how respectful I tried to be or which scriptures I used to back my own view, the standard reaction was “Hey! You’re a girl who disagrees with me. That automatically makes you wrong.” End of any potentially fruitful discussion. :/

      The really unhappy part of it is that they were all professing Christian guys. If it weren’t so discouraging, their over-the-top responses might have been amusing.

      I’m with you, though, not all who identify as feminist are man-haters. And there is a positive side to being pro-female. We just cannot afford to do it at the expense of seeking justice for men as well.

    5. Yes! I can’t see why both men and women can’t reject feminism without rejecting women. The anti-feminist male crowd has a tendency to do that, which then, has the effect of reinforcing the arguments of the feminists, and then it becomes a very vicious circle.

    6. Interesting discussion. I like your idea about mixed messages. I might follow this up in a new post.

      I have come across some feminists as a student and later as a teacher, but I made it a point to avoid confrontation. I have also read some books where the message was basically that the world would be a better place without any men, because we are all evil. Nice.

      The movement may have started out with the best intentions, but something clearly went wrong. I’m not sure what the problem is, but maybe this is just as much about men as militant feminists? I am doing a lot more than my father did, but I probably have some of the same issues, and he didn’t exactly teach me what a man is. I hope I have learned some, but I didn’t get those lessons at home.

      I also think men, especially within the church, has some responsibility for the way feminism developed. This would not have happened without these betrayals.

      I’m not sure this is fixable, but we can at least try to be better men, and manage our aggression.

    7. John,

      I don’t think I would like a world very much without men in it! 🙂 Then I wouldn’t have some of my closest friends. I appreciate your willingness to acknowledge the role men, particularly Christian men play in this. I agree that part of the problem is that men are not teaching boys what it means to be a man, and it doesn’t help when the men get such extreme messages, and then when those men grow up to be fathers of sons, they struggle to guide the boys to be men, because they themselves haven’t figured that out. It is a tragedy that the church does not do a better job with this, because then, the dominant voice becomes that of pop culture and secular society.

      Yes, I agree that men can try to be better men, and we women can support those of you who strive to do so, and in the process, I believe we become better women.

    8. @ John
      maybe this is just as much about men as militant feminists?

      We all need to accept responsibility for our respective roles in creating the mess.

      A while back, I believe you wrote something about being just one generation away from a return to complete savagery. Perhaps it was the dystopia post, but I’d have to recheck the source. I thought that was an interesting observation, as all human beings do seem to have an inherent need to fight the temptation to instinctively do the exact wrong thing in nearly any situation.

      Sadly, I do believe you make a valid point that the church has played a role in the development of the overall problem.

      Christ’s “great commission” was to make disciples. During my lifespan, I’ve seen a great focus on getting people into the church buildings and familiar with specific denominational teachings and activities. But not so much ongoing interaction to help the successive generation build strong personal relationships with the Lord.
      This becomes apparent as life gets more complicated and young Christians don’t have the spiritual tools they need to adequately face the pressures of parenting and other life decisions.

      Looking forward to reading future thoughts on the subject.

    9. Heather,

      With regards to…

      “I thought that was an interesting observation, as all human beings do seem to have an inherent need to fight the temptation to instinctively do the exact wrong thing in nearly any situation.”

      …I think this is covered in Romans 7 & 8?

    10. I think I have written about the “savage theory” at least twice. I believe it’s especially important that the church is doing a good job.

      The church used to be a place where people learned a lot more than the Scripture. It was and should be a place where we learn decent behaviour, how to show solidarity, how to be a good citizen, an honourable man, how to deal with the failures in life etc, how to like spending time with people. I am not sure all churches are doing a good job.

      There are many things the goverment isn’t doing, and shouldn’t do. There are many things parents can’t do because no one told them how. There are many things each generation has to learn.

      I hope people understand that we need the church. I understand that there’s a lot inside I need to fight and things I wish I could unlearn. I suppose I should follow my own advice some day, and actually go to church. I wish it was less complicated.

    11. Well said.

      For the record, it’s the people who are the church…the assembly of those who have been called out of the world to follow Christ into eternity.

      As the body of Christ. we need to be doing all of the things you mentioned as we interact with one another. Some groups which meet in official church buildings get it mostly right, while others give the Christian faith a bad reputation. Those who see error need to guard against falling in the same manner as they strive for personal excellence.

  3. I do appreciate the notion of social equality. However, I have a bit of a problem with secular feminism as it seems that this movement has attempted to adopt some manner of biblical morality without acknowledging God as the source. We tend to get ourselves into trouble when we do this.
    In the US, we’ve seen some unpleasant results of liberating women to “be like men”, while assuming that men ought to be free to indulge whatever hedonistic behavior they desire.

    I’m thinking this wasn’t an especially beneficial plan.

    Anyway,

    I really appreciated:

    Maybe it was a sign of my disobedience, but I’ve always felt it couldn’t be right when Christians preached inequality. Would I love my wife, the way God wanted me to do, if I expected her to be less than me? I don’t think so. God is neither a man or a woman, but He is a feminist in the sense that He doesn’t value women as less.

    …well, not the disobedience part….although I’m not sure exactly what you mean by this disobedience of yours, so I’ll just skip to the rest of the statement.

    I agree that the Bible is not oppressive to women. God sees us as equals, regardless of gender, nationality, age or social status. That said, I do believe that He created men and women differently in order that we may uniquely reflect some aspect of His “image”, in which we are all created.

    You’re spot on with the observation that delivery of half the message regarding submission is actually a dishonest twisting of the intended meaning.

    Unfortunately, human nature often redirects our attention to focus on what I think *you* owe me, rather than looking for what *I* can do to help you. So, it can be tempting to unjustly emphasize a responsibility that does not require the speaker to make a personal sacrifice.

    A careful reading of the context shows that all of the specific relational instructions in Ephesians 5 fall under the general heading in v21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. And really, this is just a rephrasing of Christ’s instruction to love others as He has loved us.

    Somewhat reminiscent of Olaf the Snowman’s “Love is putting someone else’s needs before your’s”. 😀

  4. The Holy Ghost sets such divisive issues straight via Paul. “in Christ there’s neither Greek nor Jew, male nor female, bond nor free….” Why be defined our constrained by such distinctions – in the public arena? We can celebrate our unique gifts and talents in our homes. In public such distinctions lead to unfair treatment. Remember age distinctions are dealt with the same as gender and nationality — dismissed as irrelevant to shared common concerns. As always — Christ’s way is perfect! And I believe the same “disregard” applies to His kingdom.

    1. Interesting to note the element which your comment specifically focused upon. Age is a particularly sneaky distinction, I think.

      But, after reading your thought, I realized that In western culture, we segregate individuals Early in life, and continue to maintain the divisions. many children never learn to value the experiences and wisdom of those outside of their own peer group. And they become adults whe remain isolated from valuable insight.

      I’m probably less prejudiced than most in that way, but do remember thinking as a teenager that 40 was reeaaallyy old and couldnt imagine any possible activity that could be a worthwhile pursuit for one so decrepit.

    2. The twisted worldly way of doing things excludes youth from voting. Yet wisdom from the Word of God tells us, “Train children in the way to go and when old they’ll not depart from it.”

      In the US there’s been more expansion of voting rights in the constitution than any other change. The trend is obvious — unrestricted right to vote. My assertion is that every citizen and resident should have a vote — since the US is a representative republic. That means our reps (elected officials) do most voting for us; and especially, as regards the president, the electoral college does the actual voting. So everyone regardless of ability, intellect, age, freedom (prisoners), etc. should have the ability to make their voice heard through the vote.

      But it’s not that way — and discrimination against children and the mentally disabled remain the status quo. And that means that those children that are excluded from voting early — are less likely to vote as part of excluded classes — which is what the partisans want. It’s a protected secret still; and made convoluted, such as through gerrymandering.

      The hypocrisy in the institutionalized worldy systems is part of their damnation. Simply put, pure evil, if not outright wickedness.

      An interesting counterpoint is the 24 Elders (age?) about the throne as shown in The Revelation. It’s easier to see that those in the Kingdom come out of every nation, tribe, tongue and people regardless of nationality or natural conception.

      Yeshua (Jesus) — as always — shows the best way.

    3. nomemoleste,

      That’s an interesting view regarding representation.

      While I agree that all should have a voice by way of advocacy, I’ve never considered the idea of indiscriminately giving everyone a vote, for reasons similar to those which support my opinion that not all citizens are equally capable of safely operating a motorized vehicle.

      Even scripture acknowledges that “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child”, which suggests that a certain amount of training is necessary before he is able to act in a wise manner. In our culture, consistent, godly training is not a prominent feature, and we see an increasing number of adults who do not behave as though they have any interest in anything beyond immediate personal gratification.
      Giving all such individuals the right to vote might be the fair thing to do, but I’m not sure it’s the right thing.

      Guess I’ll have to ponder that one.

    4. Heather, For your considerations… should we restrict the Josiah’s of our youth from voting — or even from office? He as quite a young man became a righteous king of Israel.

      wiki sums it up citing 2nd Kings…

      Josiah became king of Judah at the age of eight, after the assassination of his father, King Amon, and reigned for thirty-one years, [2 Kings 22:1, 21:23-26, 21:26] from 641/640 to 610/609 BC.

      “The foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of men.”

    5. Hi nomemoleste, the comments are getting squished again, so I’ll try to be brief.

      I appreciate your response and think I understand your point I do agree with you that God’s wisdom is far above anything we can imagine on our own.
      I’m just not sure I quite align with you on the voting matter. Josiah was an exception in his own day, just as such a child would be in our time. His very existence was a prophetic shadow of Christ as the truly acceptable “boy King”.

      I will keep what you’ve said in mind, though. It is a different view than I’ve held, and worth considering.

  5. @ Jay,
    “I thought that was an interesting observation, as all human beings do seem to have an inherent need to fight the temptation to instinctively do the exact wrong thing in nearly any situation.”

    …I think this is covered in Romans 7 & 8?

    In light of Paul’s discussion of the battle between flesh and Spirit, and his prescribed remedy?
    You are probably correct. But, that makes the church’s generalized lack of instruction in this area even more of a tragedy, as we have the answer, yet are not effectively directing people to the solution. 😦

    1. Yes, I was referring to Paul’s battle with the flesh and also the ‘sin principle.’ I have really only heard this taught in two churches as an adult. My parents taught on it, but as a child, I simply understood it as, “I must be perfect.” And since I couldn’t be “perfect,” I must not be saved. Led to much confusion. Now, I am hearing straight teaching on it, but still have difficulty recieving/applying it. I think I am trying too hard to understand it with my head.

    2. Ah. Yes, the Pauline tension between spirit and flesh can be a difficult thing to reconcile.

      I’ve experienced the same struggle regarding perfection.

  6. @ John,

    That last remark I made looks a bit like a reprimand, when it was intended to offer encouragement to you to continue to look for a way to interact with other believers.

    Our family does not attend a recognized church facility. We meet with others in what has become something of an overgrown house meeting. It’s actually gotten to be a larger group than I’m comfortable with, but we’ve recently begun to also gather with a smaller group on Sunday evenings. Many of us do find that smaller, more informal meetings provide greater opportunity for establishing friendships, personalized instruction and accountability, so long as the members of the group are sincere believers.

    1. I frequently misunderstand and think people are angry or irritated when they are not, but I was glad to hear you didn’t mean to reprimand me.

      In a way that sounds like a type of church that would suit me. I like a group to be as small as possible. If not not no one can get a word out of me.

    2. I agree, John. I too, prefer a smaller church. I was in such a church until over a year ago, and now I am in a much larger one. Not exactly my comfort zone, but I am sure I am where I am supposed to be. But I love the idea of the “house church” that Heather is describing. I think that’s how it was for the early Church, and how it is in many countries today.

    3. John,
      The weakness of written communication is a lack of visual cues regarding the way one’s words are given/received. Sometimes the way I word comments ends up looking more harsh than I intended, but it is never due to a deliberate attempt to offend.

      Somehow we’ve been brainwashed into thinking that a formalized, highly structured meeting is the only way to do church.
      Small group study/worship is a perfectly acceptable alternative for believers, if that’s what you need. Not pressuring you to jump into something you’re not ready to do…just making sure you are aware that you have options.

      Jay,
      A lot of people are fleeing the commercialized mega-church culture in favor of a more intimate communion with other Christians. There are potential hazards, of course, but I don’t think that people who are genuinely hungry for the Word are likely to stray into the cult-zone.

    4. Heather, Jay and nomemoleste,

      I tried sending you an e-mail, Heather, but it wasn’t delivered. Maybe I made a typing error. Anyway, my wife wants to join and she suggested I create a new blog we use as a sort of Bible study group where we can ask questions. If we do I hope you will still comment my posts, but we could move some of the communication to this new blog.

    5. I’m not sure why the message didn’t go through, but thank you for telling me.
      I doubt a second site will result in a lack of participation here.
      Your wife is a brilliant lady, and I’m looking forward to meeting her 🙂

    6. John,

      I love the idea of a Bible Study blog! I will keep reading this blog, even then. What an exciting and fun idea! I was feeling sad last night after the ladies’ Bible study I am attending. I had to miss last week, and the two previous weeks were cancelled due to weather, and next week is the last night, and I won’t be able to attend. 😦 I love Bible studies, because I find it so hard studying all by myself.

      Just think, John, you can consider it a continuation of your “theology study.”

      P.s. Please tell my genius friend (your wife) not to forget to call me today! 🙂

      Heather,

      I would love to try the “house church” approach. I just don’t know anyone doing that or interested in it. My current church is about 25-300, which is not large compared to the mega-church ( I once attended one that was 3,000 and had multiple services, and I only knew one person there). The church I left a year ago only had a bout 25 people initially (now there are 7), which was perfect for me. It was part of much larger organization, very hierarchal, and I left partly due to the upper level leadership not dealing with serious issues with local leadership that were hurting people. I am finding myself more and more put off by the whole organizational thing. I love the church where I am now, but I will not be joining it or any other church. I attend and participate and support the ministry of the church; I will not be an “official member.”

    7. I am going to create a new blog later tonight when our little tornado has retired. I have an idea for a name and a suggestion for the start. We can start by making modification to this draft.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s