Dave Warnock helpfully linked to Becki’s blog which made some commentary on the ‘women’s seminars’ at Together with a Mission, the Newfrontiers Conference. The woman who writes this blog comments that…
“I think that’s what modern feminism teaches, that we can have it all – that by giving women loads of life choices, society liberates them. I actually think the reverse is true. A society that tells women they can do everything forces them to strive to be the best mother, wife, employee, and housewife that she can be, which leaves women stressed and trapped. I think I’d got myself into this mindset.”
What Becki is commenting on above is not feminism… it is putting women into a box that has been created for them by men (NB. please note I am specifically talking about men in these sorts of churches). It is confining and squeezing women to a role that men think is appropriate and suitable for their gender. That is not feminism.
My favourite quote about feminism is by Rebecca West, and it says,
“I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat, or a prostitute.”
Dave’s comment on Becki’s musings are,
“In my experience Christian feminist thinking is actually freeing for women and men. It sets us free from stereotypes that may not fit and free from rigid expectations, free to be the people that we are created to be. Free to work out our relationships in ways that are appropriate for our personalities, preferences and abilities.”
My experience of Becki’s version of Newfrontiers feminism is that I was made to feel inferior. I was made to feel inferior by the fact that I was not married by the age of 21 and I had not popped out a quiver full of children by the time I was 25.
I was made to feel substandard by the fact that I was (and am to this day) a questioning, curious, open-minded WOMAN who was truly passionate about the minorities and the broken-hearted; those for whom the church does not necessarily have an answer. Those who are rejected by the church on the basis of their sexuality, gender and identity of romantic choice of partner.
Instead of freeing women up to be creative and dynamic people these churches squeeze women into a ‘gender-appropriate’ role, limiting them to the expectations of the leadership, and not necessarily releasing them into fulfillment of who God has called them to be.
The reality is that many of the women I read about in the bible were not limited by their gender; they were truly counter-cultural. I think of people like Queen Esther, Rahab, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Ruth, Deborah, Lydia, the woman at the well and Abigail. I could go on, but these were all women who shaped biblical history, who in one way or the other made choices that would mark them down as women of great faith.
I don’t see a God who limited his future into one shaped like a man, only choosing men to do his works. Instead I see a God who truly delighted in the women in the Bible… who saw them and their destinies before the world began and, I believe, actively made choices to choose women to fulfill his story. So, it is this God that I choose to lay my hope in.