Friday, June 8, 2012

Feminism and Faith

So after writing my last post I began to feel the familiar feeling of nervousness for putting strong opinions out there.

I find that after such a contribution, it is imperative that I refocus, remind myself that, yes I stand by what I wrote, but there is much more to me than these positions. When I say, yes, I’m a feminist, yes, I’m a Christian and I care about gender issues, there’s still a whole gamut of things I care about too. I care about seeing Jesus in this world. I’m obsessed really with the Kingdom of God. I’m blown away by radical, liberating, beautiful Jesus. He’s good for me, yes, but he’s salvation for this world. I want more than anything to be identified with Christ, that is, to look only to him for my identity, my sense of self, and my source of motivation.

I know it is so very easy to put people in boxes when they seem to fit in one. What I wrote yesterday is not core to who I am, but who I am at my core has led me to these conclusions.

So, I guess what I’m thinking is that it is easy to write people off when the word “feminist” comes up (which is very telling in itself) but honestly, my views are molded by my walk with Christ, and it just so happens that there are a lot of parallels between the work of feminists and my own understanding of things through Christ.

I think it might be better to embrace the challenge of allowing loaded words to be what they are without rejecting people or groups altogether. I use the word feminist because it would be a disservice to feminists to need a Christian alternative label, somehow saying that we can’t be doing the same things…even if they are doing it better.

I think a common misconception of feminism is the idea that it’s only pro-women. But my understanding is that feminism is a lens that illuminates power structures that are harmful to all of a society’s members. It considers the harm to men by these power structures as much as to women. It shines light on people groups that are, thanks to the power structure, rendered invisible by the privileged majority.

Feminism is kind of like infrared imaging. It makes visible what is already there. It doesn’t create it.

And honestly, the Spirit has that same capacity of “renewing our mind”, of bringing light into a dark world, of shifting our paradigm and creating a new Kingdom in which the poor inherit the earth, the weary find rest, the “least of these” are looked straight in the eye and their names are learned and they are tended to.

Feminism has been part of my faith journey. It has been a tool that has opened my eyes to understanding justice according to the gospel. I’ve prayed through these ideas, I’ve wrestled long and hard with them before God and, I’m sure, I have a lot more wrestling to do.

In the same way the Church has twisted the Good News of the gospel, it is important to recognize that there is good news in feminism as well, and the same way we ask people to not judge the whole Church by its extreme outliers, I would ask that you do the same with feminism. Compare the good news of feminism with the Good News of Jesus.

I’m asking you to notice where we can easily walk beside one another.


Steve Finnell said...

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Unknown said...

"Feminism is kind of like infrared imaging. It makes visible what is already there. It doesn’t create it."

Well said!