I’m fortunate to follow some amazing people on Twitter, and this week, many of my favorites, who frequently inspire and challenge me, are holding a dialogue called #FaithFeminisms. To read more, check out www.faithfeminisms.com. Below is my contribution, at least the draft that I chose to complete and publish. Thanks for dropping by!
Disclaimers: I don’t know everything about first-wave, second-wave, third-wave feminism, etc. I’m not deeply educated about all its history and every feminist ever. I haven’t read “Jesus Feminist” yet. Feminism is both personal and collective, just like faith. Feminism is not a united, defined, clear worldview that agrees on detailed tenets. Feminism is not misogyny. Feminism is not a movement for the superiority of women.
What is feminism and how does it relate to faith? My views, i.e., claimers, ha, are my own.
Wrestling with my faith was one of many things creating a miry clay that I’ve found myself sucked into time and again. That soul-dimming stuff is full of negative body image, apathy, cynicism, purity culture, messages that women are less than, privilege that oppresses.
I’ve found feminism to be a lifeline and a saving grace. Feminism is an integral tool in freeing myself from that miry clay. Feminism is also a framework that not only tolerates but *embraces* wrestling with my faith. Rather than casting a judgmental eye on all my doubts, feminism has been a saving grace, in that it welcomes my critical thinking and invites me into deeper relationship, deeper understanding. Feminism reminds me that there is room to live in the tension of not having all the answers.
Feminism challenges me to fight for justice. Feminism not only challenges me to it, but empowers me to speak up. Feminism tells me to use my voice, flawed and unfinished, to speak up, and it gives me a host of feminists to learn from and engage with.
If you substitute Jesus for the word feminist anywhere above, I believe the meaning holds. I’m not suggesting that feminism=Jesus or that feminism is my religion. There is no distance though between my feminism and my faith. My feminism and my faith are stronger together than either on its own.
I’ve wrestled with my faith to many breaking points over the years, and I’ll keep on wrestling. I find belief in God to be inescapable, no matter how hard I try to escape it. But I find the working out of that belief, the choice of faith, the theological development of it is empowered by feminism, which recognizes the humanity of all, the equality of all, the value of all, and desires justice for all in a way that I believe God values and desires.
Feminism means I can deeply question patriarchy, the entire foundation of most world religions. Feminism reminds me to check my privilege. Feminism allows me to see the harm that the church often does to the oppressed, to see the church as oppressor, and to say this is not right.
Faith means that I can question everything, and still I choose to believe. Faith reminds me to pray for the oppressed. Faith allows me to say this is not right, but this is not the end.
Feminism enhances, builds, and strengthens my faith. Faith with feminism brings me to a deeper encounter with God, a more meaningful relationship with Jesus. Faith with feminism empowers me to be renewed in mind, to not conform to this world, to fight for the least of these. Faith with feminism is a growing thirst for reconciliation, for justice, for mercy, for humility, for love, for peace. Faith with feminism steeps me in the truths that I am valued, loved, worthy, and chosen. By the way, so are you. In all our privilege or lack thereof, in our gender identities, in our oppression or as oppressors, in our race, in our splendid, messy humanity, I believe we are each valued, loved, worthy, and chosen.