Why I no longer fear the word ‘feminist’

Today, I’m linking up with blogger Sarah Bessey, author of the newly released book, Jesus Feminist. You can read my review of it here. And read others’ reflections on what it means to be a Jesus feminist here.

I was vaguely aware of the feminist movement in high school and college but watched from a distance. I wasn’t sure of myself as a human being, much less a woman, so it didn’t seem to matter to me.

Then I found Jesus. Or maybe He found me. I’m still not quite sure which it was. And I learned that men and women had clearly defined roles in the church. And leading wasn’t one of them for women.

I was mostly content with this arrangement, though something in my soul still rebelled when I was told I need a man’s protection and/or leadership. As a single woman, living on her own, I wasn’t quite sure how to accomplish this nor was I sure I agreed. But I was young and an even younger Christian.

Still, I wrestled when I saw a woman I love dearly, who is clearly called to lead, be refused that leadership time and again. But it’s what the Bible says, right? So, how could it be wrong?

When I finally met the man I would marry, that biblical hot-button word “submission” never really seemed like an issue. He didn’t demand I submit to him. I didn’t silence my opinions, though I probably deferred to him more than I wanted to. Because that’s what a biblical wife does, right?

My husband started seminary, and for the first time, I was presented with a different way of looking at women in leadership. My husband was in classes with women. Women who are called to be pastors. Who faithfully serve congregations. Who preach. And care. And shepherd. And lead.

The world as I knew it was shifting, and I began to wonder if maybe, just maybe, I’d gotten wrong.

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Then, I birthed a daughter. A feisty red-head who showed her independence from birth. (She arrived five weeks early because well, the world was just too interesting to miss.) As she’s grown, we’ve seen the potential in her. She was “preaching” sermons not long after she could talk because that’s the sort of make-believe play that happens when your husband is seminary. Even after her brother was born, and now when they “play church,” they are both pastors. Both teachers. Because, why not?

And I began to realize that I couldn’t deny her gifts, whatever they were, if I wanted her to do what she was meant to do in God’s kingdom.

I believe she has a purpose. A God-given one that has nothing to do with what I want for. It might not be world-changing, at least not on the grand scale. But it will matter. And I want her to know that she is not limited just because she is a girl who will be a woman.

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So, I am a Jesus feminist, for her.

But also for me.

A few years ago I took a spiritual gifts inventory, something I hadn’t done in a while. And a new gift emerged. One I’d never expected nor ever seen before.

Shepherding.

I thought it was a mistake because that’s an awfully pastoral sounding gift. I figured it was because my husband was in seminary and I’d been gleaning the leftovers from his studies.

But, why not?

As we’ve navigated the post-seminary waters, we’re discovering together, he and I, that we are called to ministry together. He has the seminary degree, but we are partners. And there’s nothing wrong with that. With men and women working together to share the good news, to tell of the kingdom work of redemption.

I am a Jesus feminist because when I read the Gospels, I can’t help but see the way Jesus values women. I’ve heard that Jesus is the most sexist man who ever lived, but it’s simply not true. For the culture in which He lived, He was a liberator of women.

I am a Jesus feminist because I see women changing the world. When they band together to end a civil war in Liberia, or apply for loans to start a business in an African village to feed their families and bring hope to their community, or use their time, resources and influence to ensure women in Cambodia have a better life.

I am a Jesus feminist because I love my husband and want to share his burdens. I love my brothers in the faith and want to encourage them in their callings. I love my sisters in the faith and want them to see their place in the kingdom.

I am a Jesus feminist because I believe women are worth it. And even though the declaration feels a bit daring and controversial, I’m no longer afraid to be called a feminist.

In the end, it’s not about being better than men. It’s about living out my calling and loving well.

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So, what about you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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One thought on “Why I no longer fear the word ‘feminist’

  1. Pingback: Why I no longer fear the word ‘feminist’ | ChristianBookBarn.com

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