I’m a Feminist and a Christian -- Gotta Problem?

I don’t like to talk about my faith that often. I mean, when someone asks me about it, heck yeah I’ll talk for days. But I don’t like to go around shoving it down people’s throats, especially people in my field.

You don’t find too many religious social scientists.

That being said, I actually get more flack from Christians than I do my colleagues. Maybe there’s a reason for this, maybe not. I just know that my professors are less likely to give me a dirty look when I mention being home for church one Sunday than when I mention to someone in the church congregation that I’m studying something anthropological.

I don’t often share my testimony in public, either, for the same reason. But that’s a story for another day.

Well, I guess it’s part of the story.

I grew up in a Christian household. I never really liked it much, though, because I met a lot of people my age who revealed themselves to be hypocrites. I’d see them in school, acting one way, and then I’d see them in church and they’d be acting a different way. It wasn’t a great thing to me, and I ventured away from it. My first year in college, I went to church when I needed to (re: Christmas and Easter). Second year, I was immersed in it a little more as my roommates were very deep in their faith. I respected that; it wasn’t like I went around proclaiming they were all liars and stuff.

I always believed that my faith was mine, just like my choices in life. If there was something I needed to know, He’d tell me when I needed to know it.

The biggest hurdle I faced was that I’m a feminist.

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I believe a woman’s job in life isn’t to be fruitful and multiply. I believe that she shouldn’t have to submit to a man’s will. I believe she shouldn’t have to cover her head in public or not speak out loud in church. I believe that, while Eve was naive enough to take the apple, Adam couldn’t do anything by himself and begged God to bring a woman into his life (Also, he was dumb enough to take everything she said at face value and not think for himself -- but somehow men are supposed to make decisions for women? I think not).

Everywhere you look in the Word, there’s rules and discussions against the things I believed people should be allowed to do. That didn’t sit well with me, so I found myself venturing further and further away from it. My entire discipline looks into how religion influences the way people behave, and I often felt conflicted about that.

Then, I remembered this pivotal scene from The West Wing:

And I read a few verses and all made sense in the world for me. You know, that light bulb clicking on above someone’s head?

Yep, that was me.

Every time someone makes a comment to me about how my beliefs conflict with His rules for us, I not only remind them of that scene, but I bring up the story of this chick Jael from the OT.

Long story short, she was a descendant of a Jew and murdered this general trying to annihilate them by sedating him and then stabbing him with a tent peg.

I kid you not; my ESV version literally says drove the peg into his temple until it went down into the ground. (Judges 4:21 it's there I promise, look it up)

This lady nailed the man to the ground because he tried killing the Jews. Is that not the most badass thing you’ve ever heard of in your life? Sure, Mary carried a baby as a virgin, and Esther held a feast for her forced-husband king to convince him not to kill the Jews, and Noah’s wife let him build a huge ark when everyone else thought he was crazy, but did any of them kill a man with a tent peg just because he was a Jew-murdering general?

I don’t think so.

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Point is, there are some badass women all over the Bible. You just have to look. On top of that, all the verses that say stuff like, “And she’ll submit to her husband,” are included with stuff about how men are supposed to treat their wives as they’d treat themselves. Feast on that for a bit before trying to tell me it’s my job to wash your dirty dishes or that hitting me is okay because I’m not submitting to you. There’s some pretty important stuff about how it’s not our place to judge someone on their transgressions because, you know, we’re not God in there, too.

So, yeah, I’m a feminist. And my faith as a Christian is all the better for it.