Again, many thanks to everyone who read and/or commented on my piece for Feministing. It was a privilege to contribute and I’m pleased at the level of interest that has been piqued about the topic of feminism and religion. That was the point of the series, and I’ll be very excited to read upcoming posts. I’ve received a lot of questions about feminism and gender roles in conservative Christianity since the piece came out. Today, I’m going to try to answer a few of those.
Christian feminism is a minority view, but it exists, and I believe it is gaining ground. I mentioned egalitarianism in my article. Egalitarianism, aside from being a prime candidate for entry in my hypothetical Christianese dictionary, can loosely be described as feminist Christianity. There are a couple great egalitarian organizations. Probably the most active of these are Christians for Biblical Equality: http://www.cbeinternational.org/. They also publish a journal, Priscilla Papers , and Mutuality magazine. Nor is egalitarianism a fringe movement. It boasts endorsements by Shane Claiborne, Brian McLaren, Jim Wallis, and numerous other theologians, pastors, and authors. And I’ve added a new page to this blog with a list of egalitarian resources for anyone who’s interested.
So no, Christian feminists don’t work in a vacuum. They are still outnumbered, in some denominations more than others, but support certainly exists. I can credit a feminist Christian professor at my university for exposing me to egalitarianism. Until I met her, I hadn’t realized that the misgivings I had long possessed about the concept of female submission could have a legitimate theological basis. I still believe that egalitarianism (and pacifism, though that’s a topic for another post) is the most correct interpretation of the New Testament. To those who call Christianity a patriarchal religion: yes, it was. Often it still is. But the blame for that can be laid at the feet of those who choose to interpret it that way. It’s patriarchal when it’s being used to serve a patriarchal agenda. But it’s unfair to condemn it as inherently misogynistic. Yes, there are fucking terrible moments in the Old Testament. In fact, most of can be filed under that category. But if you ask most Christians on the street if they believe that Christ came to the world to redeem it, you will receive an unequivocal yes. The message of Christ can be used to redeem the bloody acts of inhumanity, the ethnic hatred and the misogyny, to create a better world as a prelude to the one that exists beyond that.
If I were to believe in something, I would believe in that. And as an agnostic, I feel no contradiction in embracing the beauty of the possibilities represented by that sort of theology. I support anyone who clings to it as I once did.
There remain legitimate questions about different interpretations of reproductive rights, and I plan to address those in an upcoming post. For now, I hope this follow up answers a few questions and provides enough resources for an intro to egalitarianism.