If I were to liken mixing Feminism and Christianity, it would be like mixing peanut butter and double stuff Oreos. To the majority, it would (or should) be a heavenly treat to sate that sweet tooth and reach nirvana. For the few unfortunate souls who deign to broaden their horizons, it would be just plain outrageous. As a person who identifies as a Christian, I say to my fellow believers that it is possible to label yourself as a Feminist AND as a Christian woman.
Let’s first look at how Feminism has viewed the role Christianity has played in assigning gender roles for men and women. During the Women’s rights Convention at Seneca Falls in 1848, two suffragettes made history in their declaration of sentiments on several points. All their objectives pertained to raising awareness on the equality of rights for women. To be honest, I was jarred by Elizabeth Stanton and Susan Anthony’s statement that “women have too long rested satisfied in the circumscribed limits which corrupt customs and a perverted application of the Scriptures have marked out for her, and that it is time she should move in the enlarged sphere which her great Creator has assigned her.” Perverted is a bit harsh Elizabeth.
Why do we need to equate male supremacy and oppression with the role God has designated for men? In Ephesians 5:22 it says “Wives, be subject to your own husbands as to the Lord.” This verse is just waiting for feminists to jump on it. But God did not create us with unequal rights. In fact, He created us with different roles in mind. Our designated roles of men and woman were created with a purpose. If we go back to the first book of the bible in Genesis 1:27, it says “And God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” We see that man and woman were created to be God’s expression on earth in life and in nature. Bell Hooks confidently likened our patriarchal society to be one of Christian culture with “masses of people continuing to believe that God had ordained that women be subordinate to men in the domestic household.” To be subject to our husbands does not mean we lose all our opinions. To submit to our husbands means we acknowledge the Lord’s authority as it mentions in Genesis that God’s life was first dispensed into man (Eve the woman was created from the bone of Adam the man). The primary point to remember is that at the end of the day, we submit to the authority of God as our head.
As a radical feminist, you might be gasping at the audacity of my words. At the core of feminism, we have the right to our own lifestyle, identity and self. How can we submit to a person that is not even tangible? But how can you not submit to one who would give His own life up for you? I was always touched with how much love the Lord had for us that He would give up His own life. In Ephesians 5:25, the verse urges that “Husbands, love your wives even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” Men are encouraged to love women to the point they would give up their life for them. God sees that we are all valuable and have a purpose (according to our gender role). Again, this does not mean we have unequal rights among men and woman. It is simply different in nature. In society, I admit it is hard to put spiritual verses and truth into practice in a realistic way. That’s what faith is all about. In the realm of cultural institutions, it can be easy to misconstrue this biblical teaching and apply it wrongly to suit the societal construct.
It’s all about the ratio of peanut butter and Oreo cookie to achieve satisfaction for myself specifically. I cannot dictate this ratio for others. I believe it is possible to uphold the principles of some ideologies in Feminism without having a conflict with the Word from the Bible. I want equal pay and job opportunities for women. As Betty Friedan says in her book The Feminine Mystique, “I want something more than my husband and my children and my home.” A woman should have the right to aspire for a higher education and career of her choosing. My taste buds are happy.
“Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions, Seneca Falls: Stanton and Anthony Papers Online.” Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions, Seneca Falls: Stanton and Anthony Papers Online. Web. 28 May 2016.
Friedan, Betty. The Feminine Mystique. New York: W.W. Norton, 1963.
Hooks, Bell. Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics. Cambridge, MA: South End, 2000.