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

Posts tagged ‘gender equality’

A Biblical, logical argument for evangelical feminism

Premise 1: Jesus want God’s kingdom to come on earth as in heaven. (Mat 6:9-10)

Premise 2: Even complementarians admit that before God (in heaven), men and women (more…)

Does your church or community really believe in male-female equality? (For both supporters and opponents of gender roles, and even atheists)

scales-man-woman-11783392Egalitarians believe men and women are equals before God. Complementarians believe they are equal, but have different roles. The majority of secularists in the Western world will say they believe men and women are equally worthy as people, but they would not add the “before God” part. If you want to see if your community really believe this, there is a simple test you can do: (more…)

You don’t need a certain view of gays, transgender people and abortion to be a feminist

A recent article named “The 39 Most Iconic Feminist Moments of 2014includes points that seemingly see feminism in coming out as gay, and in a writer saying “go away” when someone say that gay sex scenes and getting away with murder in said writer’s story add nothing to the plot. (I don’t see posting “go away” on Twitter as iconically remarkable.) It also seems that they find expressing pro-choice sentiments,and victories for transgender issues, as “iconic feminist moments.”

The worst is perhaps their inclusion of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the list, for claiming that the ideal gender ratio for Supreme Court justices would be all female. Feminism is not about removing men and giving half the population no say whatsoever in important spheres that equally affect them. Feminism is the exact opposite of giving half the population no say whatsoever in important spheres that equally affect them. Some enemies of feminism also characterize feminism as being about sexual licence, abortion and man-hating.

Do you need to approve of gay acts to be a feminist?

11160012985_66083d9347_mWell, the dictionary definition of feminism is to believe in and be an activist for equal rights, oportunities, etc. for men and women.

It is possible to argue that, since you believe men should have the right to consent to sex/ marriage with women, you also believe women should have the right to consent to sex/ marriage with women. And since you believe women should have the right to consent to sex/ marriage with men, you also believe men should have the right to consent to sex/ marriage with men. That reasoning is certainly compatible with feminism.

But it is also possible to argue that, since you believe both men and women should have the right to consent to heterosexual sex/ marriage, it does not follow that either women or men should have the right to consent to homosexual sex/ marriage. That reasoning is equally compatible with feminism.

That said, I believe a certain degree of understanding of the plight of gay/ lesbian/ transgender people is a natural outflowing of feminist sentiments. Many in the church unjustly dicriminate against those who are unlike them.

For example: Joe is a churchgoer. That is all you know of him. At work he works with Ben, who cohabits with his girlfriend. What percentage, knowing nothing else about Joe, is the chance that he will tell Ben to repent of Ben’s sexual sin? Peter is also a churchgoer. That is all you know of him. At work he works with Carl, who cohabits with his boyfriend. What percentage, knowing nothing else about Pete, is the chance that he will tell Carl to repent of Carl’s sexual sin?

If it was only a sin issue, church people would treat a gay cohabiting couple the same as a straight one. But the latter is more likely to be preached to, because many in the church does not see gays in the same light they see other people. A feminist like me, who still believe God’s original intention for marriage was one man and one woman, knows society and the church discriminate against gays largely because gays are seen as not living up to the gender role constructs of society.

Do you need any particular opinion of transgender people to be a feminist?

A feminist could believe, as someone recently told me, that male/female is essentially meaningless, and they are willing to call “anybody who chooses to identify that way, for any reason” male or female. (This belief don’t seem, IMO, respectful towards anyone, trans- or cisgender. The holder of this idea seemingly only pretend that gender identity has meaning.)
A feminist could also believe “male” and “female” are words with meanings (either only the biological meaning, or a more liberal meaning range), in which case only some people can be regarded as male or female.
Some feminists say that someone’s “sex” means his/her biological (wo)manhood, while “gender” refers to sociocultural roles. People who feel female (or male) at heart, regardless of genitalia, may be holding on to a social idea of femininity (or masculinity), a social idea which they as feminists disagree with. Calling a transwoman (transman) a “woman” (man), while disagreeing with gender stereotyping of characteristics, seem to be cognitive dissonance to my perhaps-limited understanding.

Do feminists have to be pro-choice?

In the most direct sense, abortion fits uncomfortably into feminist issues. Feminism is firstly about equal rights and opportunities, and biological men and women cannot have equal rights/ opportunities with regards to abortion. If both the man and woman have equal right to decide over the life of the unborn, it gives men a claim over a female body that women do not have over a male body. If only a woman can choose it, the mother has a right over the unborn that the father does not have. If abortion is illegal, the woman has a responsibility the man does not have.

Many feminists argue that pro-choice gives women more options to act as equals in a male world. But there is also pro-life feminism, like the organization Feminists for Life. Every Christian egalitarian I have ever heard mentioning an opinion on abortion is pro-life.

(Pro-life, in my opinion, is not always synonymous with anti-abortion. In the case where a pregnancy could kill both the mother and the unborn, while the unborn stand no chance to survive anyway, defending the mother’s life at the cost of the unborn is certainly pro-life.)

And patriarchy is a major reason for abortion: Abortion is most common in the very patriarchal India and China, where people prefer boys and kill girls because of gender roles.

Do feminists approve of pornography, prostitution and other sexually promiscious activities?

So called “sex-positive feminists” do. But other feminists, some of them anti-porn feminists believe the opposite:

…There have been two strains of feminist thought on the subject. One tendency has criticized the restrictions on women’s sexual behavior and denounced the high costs imposed on women for being sexually active. This tradition of feminist sexual thought has called for a sexual liberation that would work for women as well as for men. The second tendency has considered sexual liberalization to be inherently a mere extension of male privilege. This tradition resonates with conservative, anti-sexual discourse.

– Gail Rubin, from the Wikipedia article on sex positive feminism. Here, my personal view agree with that of fellow Christian egalitarian Kathryn Elliott Stegall, who writes:

Without morality there is no equality

and

The day feminism embraced sexual immorality it betrayed its own cause.

In short, feminists agree on a goal: Equality. Equal respect, equal opportunities, equal safety and dignity to both men and women. We disagree on what is needed to get there.

“men and women both reflect God’s image, but in different ways”

… But, interestingly, I think this is where the complementarian view actually has something very interesting to say. On

couple reflected in a mirror

couple reflected in a mirror

complementarianism, men and women both reflect God’s image, but in different ways, ways in which neither gender can do on their own. I think that actually provides a unique dignity to each gender and gives both gender reasons to affirm, delight in and stand in awe of the role the other gender has in reflecting God’s image while affirming their ontological equality. – A complementarian Facebook commenter

Firstly, egalitarians also believe that both genders reflect God, that every man and woman – even more so if they are Christians – reflect God in different ways that one person or one gender cannot do alone. As such, giving men and women that dignity is not uniquely complementarian. But – do complementarians actually, like egalitarians, provide that equal dignity to both genders?

Both complementarians and egalitarians affirm that men and women complement each other. Two thing differentiate us:

  1. Complementarians believe that God places certain restrictions (“thou should NOT”) on women but not on men. They do not agree on what these restrictions are, but they include things like preaching, being elders or deacons, working outside the home, leadership roles at work or in politics, etc.
  2. Complementarians believe in some degree of male/husband lead and female/ wife following.

These 2 ideas are the main, or arguably (more…)

Jesus, fighter for women’s rights?

According to Timothy Kieswetter*, a South African writer on intimacy and Christian living, this is a radical text:

Matt 5:28 “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart”.

But it is not radical in the way you think. (more…)

Update: JOY responded, JUIG did not

The new issue of JUIG and JOY are on the magazine racks. JOY contains the short letter I send them, with a link to this post. JUIG, the Afrikaans sister, do not contain my letter, or anything of the sort, at all.

JOY contains three letters on the matter:

>   A letter from “Minister Kenneth Emmanuel sr.” , complaining about their “underhanded feminist tactics” and how even their article photo next to the “gender hierarchy in the home” article puts the woman in the centre. According to him, he can see JOY want to put women in the centre. He attack JOY management for being all white too, although the article was written by, according to him, a black person. (Huh? Errol Naidoo is not black, neither am I – I wrote the letter Errol responded to.) He then say: “If you do not repent … you will have a lot of blood on your hands on the day of Judgment.”

JOY responds to him by saying they do not have a feminist agenda, and some of the things he quoted in his letter – prior to it being shortened for the magazine – was my words, not those of the JOY article writer.

(I actually agree with the title-loving Minister Kenneth Emmanuel sr. about one thing: To put one gender at the centre, and marginalize another, is something that should be repented before God. It is sin to twist the Bible to suppress others. Speaking of blood on people’s hands, a sense of entitlement whereby some men believe they have the divine right to rule their wives, contributes to domestic violence.)

>   Ted and Jessica Farrish wrote an intelligent letter in which they say “Genesis is not clear that men were to lead.” They rightly call patriarchy idolatry, mention that patriarchal teachings have been responsible for the death of at least two children (I seem to recall a warning about blood and hands and judgment day, from another commenter just before the Farrish couple?), and explain the meaning of head/ kephale, and mutual submission.

JOY responds to them by saying JOY appreciates their thoughts, does not advocate for patriarchy, and “we hope that our readers took away the Biblical truths we were explaining in this instance.”

(I am glad that they are against patriarchy. And I plead with JOY/ JUIG: If they are against patriarchy, they should please, please educate themselves on what ideas, promoted in JOY, comes from patriarchy – and stop promoting those. )

>   The third is a short letter by me: Head, as in “the man is head of the woman”, does not mean leader. The letter then links to my article.

JOY did not answer me.

The Afrikaans sister magazine do not have anything on the matter, although I sent my letter to them too. How will their Afrikaans readers know that women are not supposed to just accept suppression under the name of male headship?

I know that some Internet friends of mine wrote letters to JOY concerning the matter too. I did not ask them. I only linked them to the JOY article, and told of my frustrations. (Up until now,) their letters appeared neither in the magazine nor on the letter page on their website.

Please, fellow Christians, help us get the message out: God does not want one gender at the centre, and the other marginalized. The very passage that is most often twisted to get hierarchy, starts with “everyone should submit” and ends with “God is no respecter of persons.”

Symbol 2: How do I see the egalitarian message?

I’ve been thinking about how to picture equality, and I see now the mathematical equal sign should certainly not be included. Here is another picture of how I see it. (Actually, I see it with realistic man and woman shaped shadow images in my mind, not these symbol-like simplifications. That would make the cross higher too, as men and women are taller. But this is what I can draw quickly.)

The ground at the feet of the cross is level.

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