Feminism didn’t come easily for me. I fought it tooth and nail because everything I knew about feminism was “bra burning liberal flaming left wing anti birth women” How wrong I was and how I allowed the thoughts of others to influence what I thought about people that I did not even know. When I was younger it was about the politics and the tree hippie feminists. My step dad is a staunch republican as they come and if you live in his house you vote red.
When I became a Christian my new baby Jesus brain was filled with thoughts of anti birthers and gun haters. Because of course now that I followed Jesus I was filled with bright red blood, guns, God and America. Liberals and feminists were here to take over our God Blessed country.
Just to write that out makes me feel very sad for the narrow minded beliefs that I spread to others because of what I was taught. I am sure more than once that I lost what could have been an amazing relationship because I just couldn’t let a topic go because I was sure my “American Christian” view was right.
Feminism was one of the last parts of my faith transformation. I wonder if the tough part about it was that those old beliefs about women and the church. You know those words of Paul hang on pretty tight to someone who slept with her bible for over a year.
I hate that one of the hardest parts about leaving fundamentalism is unlearning and rewiring all those old thoughts and beliefs. I spent six years hearing that women aren’t this or cannot do that or that our sole desire in life should marriage and children.
I allowed those thoughts to limit what I thought I could do with my life. As a single mom I felt that my daughter and I were a broken family because I am not and nor have I ever been married. If I couldn’t live up to these so called Christian standards than what good was I to God.
Learning to lean into new beliefs started to soften my heart. I started reading the Gospels with the thought of Jesus as the ultimate notice of the broken and downtrodden. I don’t mean to say that women are broken and down trodden more that Jesus notices the least of these. I would say in fact that women in our culture are part of the least of these.
One of my favorite stories of Jesus is when the woman who was bleeding crawled along the ground just to grasp onto the hem of his robe. He felt the power go out of Him and He asked who touched Him. See here’s the thing, He’s Jesus; He already knew who touched Him. He wanted to stand her up and allow the crowed to see this woman that He noticed, that He had touched and healed. He wanted to crowd to see that He loved her above measure.
That’s the Jesus Feminist I know. That’s what led me to seek out more of what feminism means. It does not mean bra burning and pro choice and gun hating like the sterotypes from the 60’s and 70’s read. There are those that carry over yes but far and wide it means equality for all people. It doesn’t mean that women are to be elevated above men and that every feminist wants to see men down graded to a lesser position, at least for me it doesn’t.
I am a feminist because I spent way too many years having my body be used and abused. I was owned and called property. The church felt it appropriate to have a say in what I was allowed to do with my vagina and I still felt the shame of everything that all those men did to me. Learning about consent, bodily autonomy and the shaming ways of purity culture were eye opening in this journey. No longer did I have to stand by and allow someone else dictate what I did with my body.
I walk the road of feminism because I want my daughter to grown up in a world where she can go to church and see a female pastor who can preach the Word of God to her. Preach it to her with love, grace and peace just like anyone else. I want to her to know that she can do anything, be anything and be an equal wherever she goes.
It is sad to me that there are so many churches that see and treat their women as substandard and limit them to certain positions because of their gender. They are told to be subservient to their husbands, to ask him first before making any decisions and to keep their strong emotions under check. What happens under this belief system is that abuse and neglect get covered up by submission.
I am a feminist because I don’t want to be told that I am emotional, dramatic or strong willed. Those things are not inherently bad, nor are they character defects. They are a part of me, a part of the way God intricately put me together.
I see feminism as an open door to important conversations and not just within the church. I believe, or hope to believe it a bridge builder when it’s brought with love and grace rather than conceit and embittered attitudes.
I am a feminist because first I am human, second I follow Christ and third I am a woman.
As Always,
Bethany

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