Feminism and the BibleSue Afutu
A couple of years ago, some students of mine asked me this question just before my class. “Madam, are you a feminist?” I honestly did not know what answer to give them. That question led me to do a bit of reading on the topic, the result of which is this article.
Feminism has been defined by the Cambridge International Dictionary of English as the belief that women should be allowed the same rights, power and chances as men and be treated in the same way, or the set of activities intended to achieve this state.
Feminists advocate for certain things for women. Equal opportunities as men, equal pay for equal work, maternity leave, erasing domestic violence, erasing sexual harassment, etc. Unfortunately, feminists have been painted as angry, forceful women who want to take over from men. But the question is, where did male domination come from or how did it begin?
As a Christian, I choose to go to the book of Genesis – which is the story of the beginning. In Genesis 1 we are told: So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” Genesis 1:27-28 NLT.
We realise that the charge to have dominion was given both to the man and the woman.
We are to exercise dominion over the rest of creation but not over each other. I believe male dominion came through sin. This is why when Christ brought the new covenant, certain emphatic statements had to be made in Galatians 3:26.
What do some find offensive about the feminist movement? It is some of the means advocated for achieving these goals. Some feminists trumpet the right to an abortion to achieve some of these goals. A girl in school gets pregnant and may be advised to have an abortion so she can continue her education and rise to attain a high status in society. A female employee gets an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy and decides an abortion is a way out because she is just not ready for the baby, more so not at this time in her career.
Further, some feminists, seeking to achieve their ideals decided to undertake a religious overhaul of the Biblical perception that God was male. They argue that God is a woman. This perhaps is motivated by the thinking that religion helps reinforce male dominance. As we have seen, proper interpretation of the Bible does not lead to male dominance. From a Biblical point of view, it is wrong to say that God is a woman. Jesus referred to God as his Father many times in the Gospels. And this is not a wrong record or translation of history.
Although God is male, He feels for His children (Christians) even more than mothers do.
Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! Isaiah 49:15 (NLT)
Furthermore, it is also notable that the Holy Bible also aligns with the ideals that feminists seek to achieve. This may come as a surprise to some. Galatians 3: 26 – 28 says the following in the New Living Translation. For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.
As such under the new covenant given to us through Jesus, there is no disparity between the races or the sexes. Someone may ask ” what about the woman submitting to her husband?” A reading of Ephesians 5 reveals that a wife is supposed to submit to her own husband as to the Lord. This is not a carte blanche statement under which we can sweep a general submission of the female gender to the male gender but must be kept within its confines.
The vexed verse on female submission in the Bible can be found in 1 Timothy 2: 11 – 12 where the apostle Paul said women should learn quietly and submissively. I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly. I believe Paul made this assertion in keeping with the culture of the day among the Hebrews. Even though the Bible aligns with the ideals feminists fight for, it also says that life is both precious and sacred. The life of an innocent person must not be lightly dealt with. As such the Bible frowns upon the unrestricted right to an abortion.
In conclusion, it is worth mentioning that male dominance is wrong and so is female dominance. God created both sexes equal and none should seek to dominate the other.