I have struggled to sit down and write a piece about being a feminist in the Christian world. I’ve tried many times but every time I put pen to paper I can’t find the words to say.
And so there is silence.
Many thoughts have set up camp in my mind that have far outstayed their welcome:
You are too young.
You are uneducated.
No one will listen.
You don’t have nearly enough influence.
But that last one got me. You don’t have nearly enough influence. The enemy whispered that into my subconscious, unaware of how liberating it would be. He is right – I don’t have enough influence.
But Jesus does.
Jesus arguably, even among unbelievers, a man with some of the most profound influence in history.
I, a twenty-year-old female college student, may not have influence but Jesus, He does. And, dare I say, Jesus was one of the biggest feminists of all.
So take a minute and let Jesus convince you of this truth, not me.
Jesus broke the mold of the Jewish patriarchy. Scholars will go as far as to say it was, “a break in tradition that was without precedent.” Men, let alone rabbis, in the first century weren’t even allowed to publically speak to women and yet we find countless encounters of Jesus in the company of women.
Jesus sat alone, talking theology, with a promiscuous Samaritan woman. She was a sinner, an outsider, and a woman and still, Jesus sits beside her in the middle of the day for all to see. Even His disciples return, afraid to question him, marveling that he was talking with a woman (See John 4). Talk about breaking the status quo.
Jesus didn’t rebuke the woman who lunged for Him, grabbing His cloak, knowingly causing Him to become “unclean” because of her culturally shamed menstrual cycle. Instead, He turns to her, heals her, and calls her daughter. (See Luke 8)
We find the Pharisees mocking Jesus at a public event saying, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner”, while that same woman anoints His head with precious, expensive oil. And instead of joining in on her public humiliation, He turns to her accusers and says, “Do you see this woman?” (See Luke 7). Do you actually see her?
Again, the Pharisees throw an adulterous woman down in front of Jesus (notice they do not throw down the man who was also guilty of a sin punishable by death), simply a casualty in a war of the Pharisees need for superior intellect, and instead of accusation Jesus extends grace and truth (See John 8).
Jesus. The seer of the person, not gender.
Why if Jesus saw women as equals (not with himself but with man) has feminism become such a dirty word in our churches?
We claim to be disciples of Jesus. We want to walk the dirty, dusty streets of Jerusalem with Him and be transformed into the person He is, and yet here we stand silent, afraid to call ourselves “feminists” for fear of its connotation.
I no longer stand silent. Instead, I stand with Jesus, who in the face of tradition, oppression, and blatant sexism never wavered or cowered away for fear of what others might think. Jesus makes it abundantly clear who and what sort of woman I am.
The woman who should have long ago realized that staying silent has never been an option.