Feminist Theology: Why I Am a Feminist
As a man, I readily confess that I am a feminist. I do not endorse all of the things that feminists do, believe, and profess; but, then again, I do not endorse everything that Christianity does, believes, and professses either. Rather, I see myself as a working feminist, someone who firmly believes in the egalitarian movement, in the abolishment of gender roles, and in the fair treatment of all people. And to that end, I am willing to take a public stand, to profess that these are ideals that I hold to. I claim Jesus, another man, as my example of how to be a male feminist.
Do not misunderstand me: I am not labelling Jesus a feminist; I'm not saying that he would endorse such a term. But if feminism, minus all of the political baggage, means that women are equal to men, then I think Jesus would endorse this. Here's what I mean:
Jesus had a lot of contact with women. He ate with them, he spoke openly with them, and he shared his vision of the Kingdom with them. Jesus risked his public image often (just think of Jesus approaching the woman at the well - his society interpreted this as soliciting a prostitute, yet Jesus treated her as an equal). And, finally, perhaps the most striking of Jesus' relationship with women: ALL four NT gospels openly state that women were the first witnesses to the resurrection. Let the point sink in: the first to experience the new Kingdom, the resurrection of Jesus, were not his twelve male disciples, but rather women who were close to him. Coincidence? Hardly - in my opinion, all of these things culminate in early Christian teaching. What does this mean? It means that Jesus' vision was radical for many reasons - and one of those was that women and men are equal. Not just equal in the eyes of God, but equals on earth as well. Jesus' radical vision, watered down in orthodox Christian teaching, now points to the underpinnings of the gospels. Women were a vital part of the early Church - it's time to reclaim that vision.
Now, I don't exclusively label myself a feminist. I am many things: I am a Christian, I am a married man, I am a student, I am a progressive, and I am a feminist, amongst other things. To me, living the Christian life means more than going to Church, confessing sins, and partaking in the sacraments (though all of these things are vitally important). It means embracing the radical vision of Jesus, a vision that transforms society. It is partyl an earthly vision, one that is nitty-gritty, one that teaches that we should love our enemy (!), and one that calls us to reform. It is our job to speak (LOUDLY) for those who have no voice. That MAY include women, children, the oppressed, the poor, the mentally ill, etc. etc.
Being a Christian feminist means accepting responsibility for the mistreatment of women in history (and even today). It doesn't mean taking the fall for others' actions against women, but rather it means asserting the agency of women who have been run over by the powers-that-be. It means elevating women to the equality of men (in social status, in pay, in rights, etc.).
Don't get me wrong. Our world is perhaps one of the widest-reaching equality movements ever in human history. Women have more rights than perhaps ever before. But we still have a long way to go. There will always be inequality - it's a sad fact of human existence. But as Christians it is our duty to embrace the vision of Jesus and fight for others.
I welcome constructive criticism, comments, and affirmations.