Jesus is a Feminist
by Cat Collins
I’ve been asked several times about how to maintain a good life balance between being a feminist while upholding Christian beliefs and values. As I have thought more about it, I realized that these two worlds don’t have to be “balanced,” but they can be integrated with one another, and should be integrated to establish a healthy movement that empowers women. We can use the abilities God gave us as women to glorify him in leading with love and impacting our world. Wait… love? Wouldn’t that demonstrate weakness? I’ll address that in a little bit.
I believe it is essential to admit that Christianity and feminism do not perfectly and seamlessly align. It makes sense, because really nothing—no movement, political party, or belief—perfectly aligns with the foundations and teachings of the Church. However, I believe that the best way to understand feminism is through the lens of Christianity.
What is feminism?
It is important to define exactly what feminism is in order to view it properly with a biblical lens and see how God uses and empowers his daughters. In short, feminism can be accurately defined as the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. Feminism is empowering women; it is about seeing women as beings, capable of accomplishing the same achievements as men. Feminism is not putting men down or viewing women as dominating over men, but seeing women as fully qualified for the same opportunities that men have access to, and bringing attention to society that women are worthy of equal treatment.
How does feminism connect with Christianity?
Being a Christian means accepting that Jesus is the Son of God, and that he sacrificed himself on the cross to take on the sin—our wrongdoing—that separates us from the holiness of God. Jesus demonstrated radical self-giving and love. We believe he resurrected to defeat death and to bridge the gap between humankind and God, so that we not only 1) have eternal life with him in heaven, but 2) we get in on this abundance of life offered to us now by dying to ourselves, our agenda, and our control of our lives to allow God to be the center of all we are and all we do.
As Christians, we are called to follow his example through radically giving ourselves and loving others. This includes loving women: Jesus is a feminist! He empowered women, protected women, learned from women, honored women in front of others, listened to the voice of women, was funded by women, celebrated women by name, respected women, and spoke of women as examples to follow. Let’s follow the way Jesus treated women.
True Christianity is loving the oppressed, and the oppressed are often women and children (James 1:27). True religion, and true love, is to humble ourselves enough to see the hurt around us and to do something about it. Women are hurting from patriarchal oppression, and both men and women need to see, acknowledge, and empower the women around them to step into the roles God designed for them, not hinder them.
Why has this oppression existed?
So, at the end of the creation process, God finally deemed it all to be “good” once he created Eve (God created Adam first and then realized someone was missing!). He said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” (Gen. 2:22) God creating woman was the crown of creation—the cherry on top.
Well, as we know, the story ends with the fall of humanity: when Adam and Eve were deceived by the serpent to eat the fruit from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil (they were instructed by God not to eat from this one specific tree!). As a result of this fall, women were cursed to be ruled by their husbands. In world history, many men have been deceived by the enemy to believe that they could exert their strength over women and take advantage of them as objects. That’s why Paul addresses the marital relationship between man and woman in Ephesians 5, to command husband and wife to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” because a relationship between the two sexes is designed to be complementary (v. 21).
One of the main barriers of female oppression stems from cases when men assert an unhealthy dominance in many different forms. To be clear, men play an important role and can be healthy, influential leaders, especially more so when they are surrendered to the guide of the Holy Spirit. Men are fellow advocates, and female oppression is not necessarily the fault of the gender itself, but it is the fault of the enemy having plans for our lives, too. (Go read John 10:10, the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy the life God has for you). The enemy will not only use men and any other force to keep women from certain opportunities or positions to exercise leadership, but also he will go so far as to use men to sabotage women by harassment, abuse, rape, sexual assault, etc. Ultimately, this can keep women from being empowered in positions to change the world, and will make women believe the lies about their worth too, which comes in the form of oppression, guilt, and shame.
NEWS FLASH: Silence is from the enemy and the thoughts or words telling us that we shouldn’t speak up are lies from the pit of hell. The devil wants to keep truth from being revealed. He tries to convince us with doubts and lies that “no one will listen to you” or would want to change “the way it has always been.” Women deserve respect, equal treatment, and equal opportunities in this world. This is the heart of feminism.
Who has God created women to be?
Though clearly men and women are not created to be the same, it is undebatable that they are created as equals. We do not have to be created the same to be equals! God sees men and women as equal, having equal spiritual opportunities: He calls us “heirs with Christ,” so we are both on the same level with each other. Also, notice there are no gender restrictions in the popular verse, Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” If we have a God empowering us equally, why should we settle for a world that restricts equal treatment, crushing our daughters’ ambitions and allowing their beauty and abilities to be defined by a man’s standard?
God gave women the same gifts, talents, and abilities that he gave to men, and these are not just to be used around the house. God would not have given women these abilities if he didn’t intend for them to be used. The areas in which God made us different are specific and exclusive which helps to define our genders and not necessarily our roles. We must also realize that women do not need to lead like men to be great leaders. I encourage women to be defined by who God says we are, so that we can be confident and empowered. You are more than a conqueror through him who loves you. (Romans 8:37). Here are more verses defining your identity.
There were important women in the Bible: there was Mary, who gave birth to JESUS, and who was probably slut-shamed for being pregnant and not married, even if she tried to explain that she would soon be giving birth to the Savior of the world. In Judges 4, God chose Deborah to be the Judge of Israel, a high position of leadership. This was after Moses, Joshua and a few other judges were put before prophets and kings. Mariam, Moses' sister was a prophetess. Phoebe in Romans 16 was a deacon. Matthew 1 lists the lineage of Jesus, which includes the names of several women like Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba. Esther risked her life to intervene and save the Jews from the decreed massacre of their race by the Persian Empire. God CHOSE women for specific missions in which he knew he needed them to accomplish. He knew she would be strong enough. Women in leadership is not a new concept: we run amongst a great cloud of witnesses.
How do men and women bring justice for women (enact feminism) together?
As we continue to move forward, I believe it’s important to realize that God has been empowering women to do great things way before our time. Together, it’s time to quit allowing society to define and limit our abilities as women. We must align who we are as women and what we can accomplish with God as our strength. Speak with each other with compassion and humility. Men, listen to women’s perspectives and believe them. Advocate for women when you are in a position to do so. Quit entertaining the ideas and thoughts that lead to oppressive behavior toward women. You may not see the oppression we feel, but the truth exists even if you don’t personally witness it. Women, advocate for your fellow woman and don’t ever tear her down. Be kind to each other, and take the opportunity to be brave and tell the truth.
God created us to be strong women as we allow him to work through us. We should allow Him into the world of feminism because he loves his daughters more than anyone else does!! The way to most effectively trailblaze more opportunities for women is to integrate the two worlds of feminism and Christianity together: allow the One who created you to empower you. Trust me, He believes in you and has equipped you. Lastly, we must combat hate and oppression with the radical love demonstrated on the cross for you. Love is not a weakness—it is actually the answer to what our world needs.