“When Jesus said, ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone,’ we began to acknowledge the moral equality of girls and women to men. And so began the greatest revolution in human history: the long transition of females from male property to achieving legal and social equality.” - Ralph Peters
I’m 100% feminist and I’m also a 100% committed Christian and I see no conflict in being both. Let me explain why. I was born in 1958 when Dwight D. Eisenhower was President and grew up watching America change during those turbulent times of the 1960’s and 1970’s. I was strongly influenced by the media, Gloria Steinhem, protests and riots. At 16, I shocked my European-born parents by rebelling against tradition and declared myself an atheist and a feminist.
But over time, I found that my feminist stance was mostly reactionary. I protested politicians and laws. I fought religions and traditions. I rebelled against the establishment and “the man”. Ironically I was defining myself in the light of man’s laws. Yes, things did change in society, but I was not liberated from my own angry and frustrated heart that was longing for identity and freedom.
Then at the age of 27 everything changed. I met and fell in love with Jesus. I came to realize that my true liberation and fight for equality was not a political thing, it’s a “sin” thing. It’s found in His taking all the debt of my sin on Himself and becoming a sacrifice for me. He took MY place…for me, a woman. Jesus died for me so I may have life more abundant and no longer in bondage to any person, government or institution.
When I read how He treated women in His time and culture, I was moved. He also spoke truth to men in the process without denigrating them and challenged them to a higher calling. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Gal 3:28
Feminism is defined as:
1) the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities;
2) organized activity in support of women's rights and interests.
There are 3 clear examples of this equality of Jesus’ treatment of women according to James A. Borland:
Jesus regularly addressed women directly while in public. This was unusual for a man to do.
Jesus’ regard for the full intrinsic value of women is seen in how he spoke to the women he addressed.
Jesus did not gloss over sin in the lives of the women he met. Each had the personal freedom and a measure of self-determination to deal with the issues of sin, repentance, and forgiveness.
Jesus instructed women and many became His disciples and followers. His teachings on divorce and remarriage literally rescued women from the cruel practice of dismissing a wife because she didn’t please her husband Sadly, it’s the corruption of religious organizations, misapplication of the Bible, fear and abuse of power that have diminished women. And it’s still going on. Like Jesus, the church should absolutely be a supporter of women’s rights and interests.
Jesus was always clear that that women should be active participants in the work of His kingdom. Women like Mary Magdalene, who was called the "Apostle to the Apostles" by early church leaders because she brought the news of Jesus' resurrection to the 12 disciples. Or the Samaritan woman at the well who became the first evangelist in the gospel of John telling her people about Jesus and brought them to Him.
As Alice Mathews puts it in “How Jesus Discipled Women”: “No woman is shown resisting his initiative, failing to believe, deserting him, or betraying him. Because of their faith, their understanding, and their fidelity, women were often paradigms of discipleship for the men who lacked these qualities. In contrast to first-century religious leaders, Jesus affirmed women as whole persons with both the privilege and responsibility to follow him”.
Long ago I would have laughed in your face if you would have told me that Jesus is the answer to my feminism and equality. And yet here I am, all these years later, counting myself blessed to belong to a church like Wellspring with other amazing believers. We see each person as having worth and dignity. We value an ALL INCLUSIVE Gospel message and we value UNCOMMON RELATIONSHIPS which speaks to following in Jesus’ footsteps in how He treated the disenfranchised of His day. I can proudly take my place alongside other faithful men and women, as an equal, doing His Kingdom work right here in Toms River, NJ!
Written by Laura Millan.
Laura is a Life Group Leader at Wellspring Church. When showing up to parties and events Laura is known to bring the most declicious baked goods you've ever had in your life. You should invite Laura to your next event.