May 22, 2024

Jesus, Feminism and I

Its Women’s Month around the world. A time to celebrate everything women and continue in the campaign for equality of the sexes. A time to discuss the F word. Feminism. This is a word I feel is dreaded in the Christian circles. Feminism is considered a rebellion of sorts, a pursuit for women’s supremacy over men, a distortion of the “order” of man as the head, honored and in some cases worshipped. As I write this there is a conviction in my heart that I cannot shake. That I am Christian, and I am feminist. There I said it. There is no taking it back.

People who know me well and my background will probably say, this does not come as a surprise. After all, I am the poster child of a would-be feminist. I was raised by a single mother. A single mother from a generation where leaving your marriage was the ultimate sin. It was more honorable to die in an abusive marriage than to save your life and that of your children. Consequently, no-one expected much of us. Girls raised by a single mother would not amount to much. We showed them.

However, as I thought about this article. I couldn’t help but think that possibly this conviction stems from a deeper place, my grandfather. Guka Kirigu. How does a man of his generation, after the death of his wife, stay single for over 14 years before he rested? Was it love for his late wife or he just could not stand the rigours of marriage again? Self preservation perhaps? What would make him ensure his girls got educated and secured an inheritance from himself and their mother? What kind of man was he that in his generation would have nothing but words of affirmation and empowerment for his daughter, my mother, when her marriage broke? He is really the reason I am feminist. He and Jesus.

Yes, Jesus. Every time I am struggling with how women are treated in the church, I am reminded that there is difference between cultural intentions and God’s intentions. His intention was that men and women would work together to subdue the earth and multiply. When he created men and women, he considered both to be in his image and likeness. His initial instructions were not for either to dominate over the other. There was purpose for each at the exact same level.

The inequality we see now, and that feminism seeks to fight, is because of the Fall of mankind. Eve did not sin alone. Adam too made his choice. They both fell. It does not stop there, God then began his redemption plan, constantly working to save mankind from himself. To restore men and women to himself. Throughout the Old Testament we read of many times that God used women in this redemption story. Deborah and Jael (Judges 4), Esther (The Book of Esther), Ruth (The book of Ruth) and many whose wisdom and courage saved their families and their communities. Women who are all part of God’s redemption story. They fulfilled their God-given purpose with the same valour as did the men. I am convinced it was God’s way of demonstrating that women were no-less than men, challenging the culture and the place of women in his story to redeem the world from the effects of the inequality resulting from the Fall.

I wonder, if God could take away Enoch and Elijah, would he not have then made Jesus just appear somewhere someday? Instead God chose a young woman from a nondescript family. A nobody in terms of how we would describe worth then (and now). Then when Jesus walked the earth, we see him challenge culture and I dare say the patriarchy by his response to the men who looked down on the women who washed his feet (Luke 7:36-50, John 12:1-8), in the encounter with the woman who had bled for 12 years (Mark 5: 25-35). When he met with the Samaritan woman (John 4:5-30), who then told her neighborhood about him. Everyone followed her to Jesus and they believed in Him because of her testimony (John 4: 30,39) — people who possibly previously paid her no mind.

Ultimately, women (Matthew 28:5-10) would be the first witnesses of his resurrection. They passed on his instructions to the Apostles to meet him in Galilee (Matthew 28:16-20). Women whose testimony would not be admissible in a public hearing in court would be the first ones to tell of his resurrection. Women supported the ministry of the Apostles as the gospel spread around the world perhaps much more than even the Bible accounts.

I believe it’s God’s intention to restore the order of men and women working side by side, multiplying and subduing the earth. While Jesus walked the earth as a man, I see that in itself a strategy by God to show that men can be champions for equality. Its culture that causes us to ignore Ephesians 5:21 (Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ) and causes us to emphasize on Ephesians 5:23 (Wives submit to your husbands). It’s culture that causes us to see the call to headship for men as a position of power and not of service, and submission to be a place of servitude and weakness. It’s culture that causes us to see the role of helper as lowly and not one of authority to enable and empower the helped.

So I continue to support feminism as the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of equality of the sexes. I support it because I believe it was God’s idea from the very beginning. For men and women to work alongside each other each fulfilling a God-given purpose, none more superior than the other.

Purity Wanja

Purity is a wife and mum to three boys and has been a Christian for as long as she can remember. She enjoys writing about everyday Christian living with the hope of encouraging other believers in their daily walk in the faith and life. Besides writing and journaling, Purity enjoys reading novels, watching animation movies with her sons.

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