A little article here that gave me pause, “3 challenges for Christian feminists and egalitarians.”
I’m going to address this a bit tongue and cheek, from a position of vast female superiority, not really believing women are superior or more valuable, but simply rejoicing and delighting in how wonderful it is to be women. Female privilege is a real thing in the world, there are genuine benefits.
Indeed, there are atrocities still being committed against women the world over, and children….. and men. Men suffer a great deal from human rights violations and they are the most likely to get themselves killed in the process. Even in the Western world men are statistically the most likely to be of victims of homicide, also suicide, and the most likely to die in combat. The atrocities men face are rendered somewhat invisible and that again speaks to an aspect of female privilege. Culturally we are all far more horrified when atrocities happen to women than when they happen to men.
So the first qualm in this article that I have comes in this sentence, “the theological position that works from the basis that men and women were created to function in equal, non-hierarchical roles in the church and family.” Equality, which denotes sameness is a fool’s errand. While it’s honorable, noble, to recognize that everyone has value, worth, in God’s eyes, limiting our value so we perceive it only as equal to another’s, does not honor the abundance of God, the kind of worth and value He has placed on us. He gave His only begotten Son to save us. We were worth suffering and dying for. We can never hope to be worthy of that sacrifice, but I think that’s where our eyes need to be, all of us. Earthly men are lovely and they have many things to teach us, and while it is valuable to learn from them, we are really all striving to emulate Jesus Christ. My worth and value can never be based on simply attaining equality with men.
In the earthly world hierarchies exist and serve a vital purpose. We don’t put just anyone in charge of surgery for example, we select those who are well-trained and have proven themselves. There is a hierarchy between parents and children, we lead them because hopefully we are smarter than a 4th grader and have more wisdom and experience than they do. There are divisions of labor that often happen along gender lines. My husband tends to clean the gutters and pump the septic tank, while I mop floors and go grocery shopping. It is virtually impossible to measure those different roles in terms of “equal.” I often consider being indoors, warm, comfortable, shopping or cleaning, far preferable to being out in the weather trying to make the plumbing work when it is bubbling up all around you.
The second qualm I have is here, “For me, egalitarianism is just one ‘branch’ of feminism as a whole. To work towards egalitarian goals is important, but a focus on better inclusion of women in existing Christian culture can feel limited and insufficient for those who exist on the margins of this culture in the first place.“
This statement totally overlooks the fact that women within Christian culture enjoy more freedom, inclusion, and protection than we ever have had anywhere else, even in the days of old. In the Western world, women as a group enjoy more rights, freedom, choices, opportunities than we have had at any other time in history, the world over. True, there are still some lunkheads in the world, some cultians who pervert scripture, but over all, “Christian culture” is one of the most beneficial places for women to be, inclusive, loving, and rather kind towards women.
Ironically it is usually women who always insist on women “existing on the margins of society.” I rather resent the endless negative messages, you are a woman, you are a victim, you are marginalized, you are oppressed, men hate you, the patriarchy is out to get you. These are incredibly negative words to be speaking over our sisters. Conversely, we also hate that outfit she is wearing and her skirt is too short…
Some days I wonder when we ever get to the part were we lift one another up, remind each other to keep our eyes on Jesus, praise one another for the race we are all running, rejoice in the blessings that Christian culture has bestowed upon us, perceive men as great allies, as the earthly lovers of our souls, and begin rejoicing in the beauty of womanhood and what it all means.
Romantic and crazy dreams I’m sure, but they are real enough, I have seen them, I have lived them, I do live them….until someone pops up to interrupt and inform me that women are actually marginalized, that we have no equality, that we are chronic victims of some misappropriated hierarchy.
One more thing, regarding “..those who exist on the margins of this culture..” Those are sticky waters to navigate and one must be very careful about seeking the approval of men, the favor of the culture, becasue to be called to Jesus Christ really does require one to be set apart, to be in the world but not of the world, to exist some what on the margins. Again, God is a God of abundance and to “feel limited and insufficient,” in that relationship with Him is often an indication that we have not placed our eyes in the right place.