Can evangelical feminism be saved from secular feminism? In response, I propose that many of the needs and the bases for feminism come from God and God's followers. Further, both feminists and male chauvinists elevate values and perspectives that, in truth, should not be contradictory or exclusive from one another.
The introduction of the word “submission” into a Christian conversation about adult human relations immediately strikes different responses. For some Christians, submission is a happy word describing the proper biblical relation of a wife to her husband or of a woman, whether married or single, to the males in the church congregation.
The temptation is always there. When discussing gender equality, it’s easy to let righteous anger in the face of injustice eclipse the call to represent Christ well, even in painful disagreement. On the other hand, we can become so concerned with unity in the body of Christ that we are silent in the face of injustice. I spoke with a brother about this struggle. He turned me to the Lord’s Prayer.
Women make up 19% of active duty service members in the Air Force. I’m a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves, and the numbers in my career field are even lower. The last statistics I saw reflected fewer than twenty female chaplains in the Reserves, out of about two hundred.
As I wrote this article, I was en route to a conference for Air Force Reserve chaplains. Only three hours before, I received a call from my baby's pre-school. They informed me that my daughter was running a fever and needed to go home. I rushed to pick her up, take her to the pediatrician, and drop her and her antibiotics prescription off with my husband so I could get to the airport in time to catch my flight.
Although the issue of low self-esteem in women often headlines glossy magazines, we the church are responsible for addressing it. But women’s low self-esteem is directly related to the church’s theology of gender as well as how we read Scripture.
When my brother and his wife announced their unexpected pregnancy, my family was shocked. My brother and his now wife have been together for fourteen years, got engaged in January, and married in June. A whole two months later, the couple announced that they were expecting a baby. Timing is a strange thing in their world, and given that they are both almost forty years old, we were rightly shocked.
If we read the Bible without preconceived ideas about “roles” that men and women should play on this earth, we can begin to see its true teaching. Unfortunately, most of us have been brought up with predetermined concepts of what the Bible says that men and women should be like and in what ways they should serve the Lord.
Back then, I didn't know any feminists, and I didn't think it was possible to be a Christian and a feminist. It didn't occur to me until years later to think critically about the jokes, or to question why so many—including evangelicals—write off feminists.