Jesus was not a feminist. He was the Word made flesh, the Son of God, the Lion and the Lamb. He cannot be labelled. He is I Am. His name is a verb.
As a card carrying Christian feminist (there isn’t actually a card, it’s a metaphorical card, however I am now wondering whether I should make myself one…) most people would expect me to answer this questions with an enormous YES! But it’s not. That’s right, I don’t think Jesus was a feminist. “What?!” I hear you cry. “But GLW, he championed women…” I hear you plead with me.
Jesus was not a feminist any more than he was a socialist. Yet His teaching and His life, death and resurrection have influenced many who would hold to both feminist and/or socialist worldviews. We cannot co-opt the Saviour of the world for our campaign or political framework. He is too big for any one world view to claim Him as their own.
There is no consensus on what it means to be a feminist. Feminism in all its different forms is not a united movement. Unlike most political or social moves for change, feminism did not come about through a manifesto and was not led by one group people. Feminism is the cry throughout history that women are people too. It is a framework for those who believe selling sex is a valid life choice and for those who believe such work is actually exploitation; those who believe pornography can empower women and those who believe pornography destroys women. Feminism is united only in her outrage that half the human race is, to a greater or lesser degree, oppressed.
Over the last few years I have become a disaffected Christian; struggling to reconcile my passion for justice with the apathy in the church. Feminist spaces have felt more like home than church. Each week in my small group I was the awkward spoon insisting the easy answers were not enough. Then in January we shared communion as part of the group. In that sacred act of breaking bread and drinking wine I realised; these are my people. Not because we hold similar worldviews, but because all of us acknowledge that it is in Jesus that we live and move and have our being.
Jesus came to bring life in all its fullness to women, men, children, communities, and relationships. His treatment of women was radical for the society into which He was born, He treated women as people and removed the power of the father (patriarchy) through His insistence that only God Almighty held that power; the rest of us were brothers and sisters and he commanded us to call only God father and teacher. And yet Jesus was not a feminist. He was the Word made flesh, the Son of God, the Lion and the Lamb. He cannot be labelled. He is I Am. His name is a verb.
There are feminists who would categorically refuse that Jesus could be a feminist because He was a man. There are many more feminists who would reject wholeheartedly Jesus’ message that we must die to ourselves and be risen with Christ. I believe that feminism is a vehicle of liberation, a prophetic message holding the Powers to account, but I do not believe the Powers will be overcome by feminism. They will be overcome by the power of the Living God, with the message that women are people too being one part of the prophetic message of the Spirit.
@God_Loves_Women works addressing gender injustice inside and outside the Church. She is part of the Christian Feminist Network collective. She loves God and wants everyone to know God loves women!
This is our fifth reflection in our exploration of 'Is Jesus A Feminist?', our topic for Week V of our Gender in the New Testament series. What do you think? Share your thoughts by commenting on this blog, discussing on Facebook or tweeting @sophianetwork using #genderinNT. Let's join in the discussion together.
This is our FINAL reflection in the series; thank you for journeying graciously with each other. We hope that you have been challenged and inspired: what did you learn? Please share with the rest of the community.
(Image courtesy of Paige Larson Photography).