Because Christianity is bigger than Biblical manhood or Biblical womanhood (Blog of Retha Faurie)

10-waysWhen I Google “can you be a Christian and a feminist“, I find mainly two classes of answers:

1) Articles claiming today’s feminism goes beyond equality to [sinful attitudes], and you cannot.

2) Articles on the equality and dignity given to both sexes at creation, how Jesus treated women, women leaders in the Bible, etc., claiming you can be a feminist for Jesus.

The “Jesus was a feminist” folks (my people!) are doing a great job, but they do not bridge the gap between “feminism is for equality and this is good” and “feminism is for more than equality and this is bad.” This article will try to bridge that gap, to actually discuss the talking points of the anti-feminists.


Claim 1: ” Today’s feminists goes beyond equality to [insert sinful attitudes]”

Here is a similar argument, which would make the problem with the claim above easy to see:

“Some Christians go beyond regarding Jesus as the Way to God, to hating people who are not Christians. Hate is sinful, so Christians should not see Jesus as the Way.” – example argument

If feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes“, then equality in itself is the feminism, and the sinful attitudes are something else.

Feminists like me believe feminism is better defined in terms of freedom from oppression, rather than equality. But the point remains: The anti-oppression (God calls us to not oppress), pro-justice (God is just) activism on behalf of women is feminism. If a feminist goes beyond that towards sin, feminism is not the sin.


Claim 2: “Feminists have this stupid notion that men and women are exactly the same… “


I never heard of any feminist who claims that, except Eva, who is 5 and does not have the vocabulary to express herself any better. Men are not women and women are not men. They are different. Even the little girl in this video would know that.


Claim 3: “Feminists do not care about all life, so you cannot be a Christian and a feminist.” (A reference to abortion)


Firstly, countries which come close to gender equality (countries where feminists have been successful) mostly have very low abortion rates, while places where feminists made less headway has more abortions. The countries with most abortions are/were India and China, where girls are valued less (exactly what feminism opposes) and therefore aborted. Feminist success lowers the abortion rate considerably.

Combined with the fact that early feminists were strongly anti-abortion, and pro-life attitudes being common among Christian feminists, it is either dishonest or uninformed to oppose Christian feminism because of the abortion issue.


Claim 4: “Feminists do not believe in Biblical gender roles, so you can’t be a Christian and a feminist.”


Biblical gender roles are not one of the basics of the Christian faith. For evidence, do not believe me, but go the oldest confessions of Christianity: Gender roles are not in the Nicene Creed or the Apostles’ Creed or the Athanasian Creed.

I grew up in the Reformed tradition, and we have three long, old, supposed-to-be-taught-over-months-or-a-year Catechisms. These are about the things Christians from the 1500s and 1600s thought of as the basics of the Christian faith. These even include some topics on which not all believers will agree (and on which, in some cases, even I disagree), like infant baptism. However, even these long catechisms never teach gender roles.

You can be a Christian and not believe in gender roles. Many Christians, for example Christians for Biblical Equality, could explain from the Bible why they find “Biblical” gender roles decidedly unbiblical.

Claim 5: “Feminism has its origin in Eve’s eating of the fruit: Women want to be like God.”


No! Does the person who says this confuse humans with God?

Feminism is defined in relation to equality with men or freedom from male oppression, not in relation to equality with God.

Adam and Eve eating the fruit, on the other hand, wanted equality with God in decision-making. Eve eating the fruit was not desiring equality with Adam, and Adam’s eating the fruit was not desiring equality with Eve. Equality with each other was something the man and woman already had – even complementarians theoretically agree on that.


Claim 6: “Feminists reject the concept of a male God.”


This one is misleading. God, except Jesus on earth, is not biologically male (both sexes are in God’s image). And Christian feminists do not reject Jesus, or claim he was a woman.

If I reject the idea that God in heaven, the Father who carries in his womb (Isa 46:3-4) and gave birth (Deut 32:18), is 100% male and 0% female, in a certain sense I reject the concept of a male God. But I accept Jesus: Christ, who took the form of a servant and humbled himself (Php 2:7-8) lived on earth as a male.


Claim 7: “Feminism demands a woman-centered theology.”

Christian feminists do not ask a woman-centered theology, but ask churches to let go of theological ideas which are man(as in adult male)-centered. Theology should be God-centered and from there on, as one of the two largest commandments, love others as the self. This implies loving women as men.

Christian feminists actually work hard to correct skewed one-sex-favoring theology. For example, we sometimes want to correct a theology which wrongly calls God in heaven exclusively male.


Claim 8: “Feminists promote lesbianism.”


Promoting lesbianism is, in a sense, a weird idea. Outside of conservative Christianity, research and common wisdom say people cannot choose to be straight, gay or lesbian. When conservatives claim you can choose, they promote straightness as a choice. As such, very few people in any group promote lesbianism.

But justice for women, which feminists certainly work for, includes justice for lesbians – they are women too.


Claim 9: “Feminists oppose femininity, thereby opposing women.”


This one is quite clever in its subtlety. But this similar argument will help you understand why this is not true:

 “These missionaries in China oppose foot-binding girls. They must hate womanhood, if they do not want women to look like women!” – Theoretical Chinese traditionalist from long ago.

Those feminists who criticize “femininity” sees it as an outward construct. For example, today’s world finds it feminine to wear cosmetics and high heels. Older women shave leg hair, young ones in a porn-saturated culture also shave the hair on spots not often mentioned in polite company. But the natural truth about women is that nothing makes lipstick, heels or shaving naturally more attractive or comfortable to them. If you show these things to people from a primitive tribe, they will not suddenly feel right to all the women and none of the men. To oppose uncomfortable or frivolous double standards expected of only one sex is not opposing womanhood.

Feminism judges a society which expects so-called “femininity”, not those women who follow expectations.


Claim 10: “Feminists are anti-family.”


This is not true. Many feminists have families they love, and most would want women to have a happy family life. Feminists merely do not agree that certain expectations, which are often called the woman’s/ man’s role in the family, is necessarily the right or only right way to do things.

If this is a hint at divorce, feminists argued for women to get the same educational opportunities as men. And educated women are statistically a bit more likely to get married and far more likely to stay married.


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