This post will focus on the essay, “Confessions of a Recovering Feminist“, by Courtney Tarter, which can be found on the The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’s website.
I would like to go through the main points of the article, my purpose being to clear up some misconceptions about feminism that are rampant in the Christian community. It is my observation that there is some confusion among Christians about what feminism is and how it started. When feminism in mentioned among Christians, the reaction is often indifference, ignorance, or disdain. It is clear that the concept of feminism is greatly misunderstood in some Christian communities.
The word “feminism” does not appear in the Bible(obviously!), but the type of feminism that some evangelical Christians support can be defended Biblically, because it focuses on equality for women and men to serve in the kingdom of God according to their gifts. It is not about power, but about service. The Bible supports the idea that we should treat everyone with justice and equality, for there is no partiality with God. There is no Biblical mandate from God telling men to rule over women, to prevent them from voting or from being educated, or that women’s minds are inferior to men’s(this idea was taught by philosophers prior to Jesus’ time on earth). These beliefs permeated the world until very recently, so the feminist movement was a necessary step in refuting these beliefs, and putting an end to the oppression of women.
The article represents one woman’s experience with being a feminist prior to her conversion to Christianity, and how she came to renounce the idea of feminism after her conversion. I will begin with these sentences from the first paragraph. You can find the entire article here.
“Prior to conversion I was the stereotypical Generation Y feminist-anti-marriage, anti-child rearing, and corporate ladder hopeful. After conversion I sang a slightly different tune, although held onto many of my previous ideals regarding marriage and settling down.”
~ I would like to point out that there is nothing “typical” about the kind of feminism the author is referring to. There are many different types of feminism. If one espouses the type that is man-hating and abortion-defending, then as Christians we would not be able to support it. However, many Christians(in my experience) don’t seem to be aware, or are indifferent to the fact that there are different types of feminism, and many of them are not the man/marriage-hating type. Also, I would like her to back up, with Bible verses, what exactly is immoral about a woman choosing not to get married, choosing not to have children, or desiring to excel in her career. But she wouldn’t be able to do that, because there are no Bible verses to support her view.
“What we must understand about feminism is that it did not originate in the wake of the women’s liberation movement of the 1970’s.”
~ This is true. The feminist movement didn’t originate in the 1970’s; it originated in the 1800’s, when women began to receive more education than ever before. Prior to this time, women were largely uneducated, and may not have had the resources to express what they desired in terms of equality with men. Some women of the First Wave of feminism were Bible-believing Christians, and were quiet conservative and moderate in their views. The focus was on women’s suffrage and political equality. Susan B. Anthony held the view that wives should have the right to refuse sex with their husbands, because at the time, there was no legal protection to keep wives from getting raped by their husbands.
For more information on the roots of the feminist movement, look here(specifically page 6 of this article.)
“Feminism is at the very heart of our fallen nature, and manifests itself in different forms.”
~ I would like her to explain her Biblical reason for saying this. There is nothing in the Bible saying that it is wrong for women to be treated like equals with men. Feminism is not the reason for our fallen nature, pride is, specifically thinking we can be like God (Genesis 3:5).
“Recovering from feminism must first start with an embracing of the Gospel of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Only then will we see the roots severed because we will be clothed in the humility of Christ, who willingly submitted himself to the Father on our behalf. For older women it will mean embracing and modeling femininity, motherhood, and marriage in a Titus 2 way. For younger women it will mean knowing the godly women in our congregations better than we know the celebrities on late night television.”
~ So she is saying that a person who embraces equality for women is prideful and needs to be humbled. According to the author, in order for this to happen, we need to embrace the gospel and “recover” from the following ideas:
– women should be paid the same as a men when they perform the same job
– women should be allowed to attend universities
– women should be allowed to vote
– women should be legally protected from rape
This shows that the author is completely ignorant of history in general, and of the very feminism she is talking about. When a person embraces the gospel, they should be a champion of justice for all people, including women. And of course, motherhood and marriage are wonderful gifts from God, but she is “proof texting” when she uses one verse(Titus 2:5) from the Bible to prove that women should only want to get married, have babies, and be homemakers. We could make a similar case that God wants us to remain single by using 1 Corinthians 7:1 ~ “Now for the matters I wrote to you about: it is good for a man not to marry.”
The Bible consistently mentions women in reference to jobs that do not involve staying home and looking after their children(Prov. 31:16, Acts 18:2-3, Acts 16:14, Gen.29:9, Romans 16:1-2). Jesus himself said that Mary was doing a “good thing”, when she sat at his feet to learn(women in that day were not permitted to learn from a rabbi, but Jesus permitted it. Luke 10:29) The Bible does not teach that marriage, raising children, or homemaking are the “highest callings” for women.
In addition, I would like to know what this last sentence means. Is there some widespread problem with feminists watching late night television and being interested in celebrities? What does this have to do with the feminist movement?
The feminist movements accomplished great things for women. Feminism in not necessarily anti-Biblical or anti-Christian. Like any other idea supported by our culture, we need to be educated and informed about feminism before supporting it or completely dismissing it. There are ideas in our culture that we support, even if they are not specifically “Christian” ideas. For example, our culture views slavery as wrong in all contexts, and we embrace this view. In this sense, we are conforming to our culture, because our culture’s view on slavery is correct.
This concludes Part One. I’ll continue with this topic in my next post.