10.9.08

You see, Christian feminists aren't really that scary!

Complegalitarian helps to define which I have been very reluctant to apply to myself for fear of what it conjures up in the popular imagination. They help to alleviate my concerns.

What is a Christian feminist?

A feminist...is someone who believes that men and women should have equal rights...The struggle for women to have equal rights has taken different forms depending on what was the focal inequality at any particular time in history.

It wasn't too long ago that women did not have the right to vote (suffrage) ... suffragettes... fit the definition of feminists since they wanted to be able to vote as men did.

Even before then women did not have the right to own land. Eventually laws were passed that allowed women to own land.
...Feminists call for women to have equal access to education, including higher education.
.... Feminists believe that a woman should receive the same wage as a man for the same kind of work.

... a woman who believes in equality for women and is also a Christian would be a Christian feminist. This would not necessarily mean that a Christian feminist would believe that women should have exactly the same jobs as men. I'm sure that there are the same differences of opinion among Christian feminists as there are among the Christian public over whether or not women should be able to have the same roles in the church and home as men do. Some Christian feminists believe that women should be able to be ordained and pastor churches. I assume that some do not.

When some people hear the word "feminist", the image that comes to mind is of women who called for equal rights for women while some of them made symbolic gestures, such as burning bras, to indicate that they did not want to be restricted by men to "women's work" or roles. They wanted the freedom to do anything a man could do that was physically possible for a woman. Some feminists denounced men, making it sound like they had little need for men in their lives. That, it seems to me, is a distortion of the biblical idea that God has created men and women for each other, to enjoy each other's companionship, to procreate, and to nurture their children together.

Today some people refer to feminists who burned bras and downplayed the need for men in their lives as radical feminists.

In summary, it seems to me that a Christian feminist is someone who is a Christian and who believes that women should have equal rights to men. Here are some of those rights for which many Christians would agree that women should have equality:
  1. voting
  2. land ownership
  3. protection from abuse
  4. equal pay for equal work
  5. education, or, in particular, higher education
Some, but not all Christians, believe that women should have equal rights in the following areas:
  1. military service
  2. church ministry
  3. civil authority over male employees

Of course with equal rights come equal responsibilities, this is where the emphasis should be really, especially if we are discussing it in terms of what it means to be a Christian feminist.
I think though, the explorations at Complegalitarian were very helpful indeed.
I enjoyed what Lynne said in response to the explorations at Complegalitarian:
She said:
Well, I've been calling myself a Christian feminist for years, because I'm an egalitarian, and I believe that is the biblical position (with due respect to those who read those key verses differently). I do not believe there is such a thing as a "Divine Order" of male over female, I believe that the subordination (and often oppression) of women is the result of the fall, and that, as agents of the kingdom, we have a mandate to reverse the effects of the fall wherever we are empowered to do so. This does not mean women HAVE to do any of the things traditionally regarded as male domains -- there's nothing wrong with being a stay at home mum if that's what's appropriate for you (I was one myself), but it means that every family have the right to decide for themselves what pattern best fits their needs (including the emotional needs of the members, one of whom is the mother) I can't understand why any woman would want to be in the military (but then, I'm closer to the pacifist end of the spectrum) but I would support her right to choose. I'm all for women preaching and teaching, I do it myself and am frustrated that I can't be ordained and use my training more fully.
Where I part company with secular feminists is that I'm anti-abortion, pro-marriage, pro-underwear :) and I actually like men as people.

I wonder why she is frustrated that she can't be ordained - how this has come about - perhaps I'll try to find out.

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A little background reading on the two theological integrities in the Church of England regarding women in ministry.