As a Christian I fully affirm and hold to what is known as an “Egalitarian” position. I believe that the Bible affirms that men and women are equal. I also make a caveat that within this equality are biological differences that we cannot and should not dismiss.
By biological differences I mean our reproduction, birthing and natural nurturing capabilities. (breast feeding) There may be some merit in public thought as to how men and women may have a different thought processes and emotional intelligence or response ability. I am not convinced that this is true though.
I believe that God has created men and women equally. That neither is out ranked by nor ranks above each other. I believe fully that whatever societal positions exist that both male and female can equally fill that role. (I acknowledge that there are times when a male / female is better suited or preferable within a certain role. Such as a female/ male worker at women’s / men’s shelter or a doctor / nurse having to perform a strip search etc)
Therefore women can serve as a senior minister of a church, be an elder of the church, to preach, teach and lead both men and women equally under God with the same calling that a male could be called to serve. Not only does my belief lend its self to how women may minister in the church, it also leads to the way women are called to serve equally beside men within the marriage context. I believe that both men and women can be out working, that there should be equal pay for equal work and that there should be equal opportunities for both men and women. Neither should be discriminated against.
In reading the above you might be wondering why I would be renouncing “Christian Feminism” After all, what I have said agrees with feminism thought, or does it?
My basis for renouncing Feminism is based on this Scripture.
Gal 3:28 A person is no longer a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a free person, a male or a female, because all of you are one in Christ Jesus. ISV
On the basis of this Scripture and others I believe that the Gospel teaches equality between race, societal position (class) and gender.
Historically feminism hasn’t been about total equality between genders. Rather it has been more about equality within a certain narrow class of race. Take for example the often spoken feminist influence on the vote for women.
What is not generally known, but is easily verified that during the time of the suffragette movement, only the aristocratic class were allowed to vote. The lower classes of both men and women had been fighting for the right to vote since 1640.
In 1893 New Zealand lead the way to allow all men and women to vote. South Australia followed in 1894 where 3 women unsuccessfully stood for election. It’s interesting that at this time both Tasmania and Western Australia had still in place the imperial edict that only the upper class were still allowed to vote. This roughly equated to 10% of the male population were allowed to vote in Australia when SA lead the way within equality. It was a few years later when the other states followed.
The politics of the vote became more complicated in the United States, because of the way the various states were self regulated. Again though even in America the vote was denied by the common man and was a privilege given to the aristocratic class.
When equality of the vote was eventually established within America, New Zealand, Australia and England, it was still denied to Aborigines, Black Africans, American Native Indians, Mexicans and other ethnic races both male and female.
The feminist movement had no influence or interest at the time in issues of slavery or equality between the classes or ethnicity. Though many women and men were involved in the fight against slavery, at the time it wasn’t considered a subject of interest for the feminist movement.
It took the civil rights movement to right the wrongs of racial inequality. Alongside this civil rights movement the black feminist movement took hold where they purported that it was this movement that would cross racial, gender and class issues when black women were considered equal to white women. In America it was around 1869 that congress passed laws that all were allowed to vote, but this law wasn’t enforced and vigorously denied till around 1963 that black men and women were allowed to vote.It was this same civil rights movement that fought successfully for the Australian Aborigine population to have the right to vote in the 60’s as well as to have rights equal to white people in all areas of life and opportunity.
A militant form of feminism rose up in the 60’s through to the 80’s which many forms of feminism still maintain its core foundations. Many within this movement were anti male. The end of the 80s saw a different sort of feminism start up, which saw the 2nd wave as still being essentially an middle / upper class white movement, which looked down on women in other classes.
Now for the crunch, historically feminism hasn’t stood for equality between race, gender and class. Even today many feminists look down upon women who decide that their vocation is being a home maker. While it can be easy for those within the church today who hold a Egalitarian Position to say they are Christian Feminists, we actually have more in common with the Civil Rights movement more so then the feministic movement.
If indeed the Apostle Paul is correct to say that in Christ there is neither Jew or Greek, Slave or Free, Male or Female and that all are equal in Christ…. this means that we are to seek for and rectify any inequality issues between race, gender and societal position.
Feminism has historically failed in this area.