Are religion and feminism really compatible?
If I was asked to describe myself, the first two words I would pick would be ‘Christian’ and ‘feminist.’ However, people have issues with the fact that I identify as both – people within the church, as well as non-Christians (who sometimes think that Christianity intrinsically values women less than men). Of course, while the Bible is still hugely relevant to modern life, the time in which it was written has to be taken into account when we consider the implied attitudes to women within it. At the time, women were not even perceived as reliable enough to testify in court; what they said was untrustworthy simply because they were women. This means that many of the seemingly patriarchal or misogynistic Biblical laws and perceptions of women are relics of the time and should be viewed as such.
In my opinion, anyone who claims to be a Christian but refuses to call themselves a feminist (i.e. someone who believes in true equality regardless of gender) is overlooking the fundamental, overarching message of Jesus: love. ‘Love your neighbour’ is such a well-known phrase that it has almost become a part of our vernacular. Jesus never put any caveats on this instruction; he didn’t say ‘love your neighbour – but only if they’re a man.’ He preached universal love to everyone, regardless of who they were and what they’d done. He associated with women, made them important to him despite the fact that they were overlooked by society, and stood with them against men who treated them badly. Jesus treated women as people; capable of making decisions and thinking for themselves; these were incredibly radical ideas at the time. In other words, Jesus was a feminist.
I believe that God created everyone to be different from each other, but equally valued. My God is a feminist because He hates sexism just as much as He hates racism, homophobia, and every other kind of cruelty and injustice. Jesus offers everyone forgiveness and a relationship with God, and thinks everyone is worth dying for. If that’s not advocating equality, I don’t know what is.
It’s sometimes difficult to reconcile certain parts of the Bible with my feminist ideologies. Brides promising to ‘obey’ and ‘submit to’ their husbands, and even when that comes from the most trusting and respectful place, still make me cringe. The fact that it has taken so long to allow female Bishops makes me angry at how slow the Church is at embracing true equality. But the thing that Jesus was most passionate about was love; being a feminist is a way of showing that love in the world, and fighting back against injustice. So yes, I’m a Christian and a feminist, and that makes perfect sense to me.