When I was growing up, feminism was a dirty word.
Actually, we didn’t call them feminists. We called them feminazis.
Militant, man-hating, bra-burning radicals who taught literature classes and took orders from Hillary Clinton and outsourced their childrearing duties (assuming they had any children) to some Orwellian, quasi-socialist village.
Then I became a feminist myself.
It started in college, when a friend in my political philosophy class took time to explain to me what feminism actually was. Turns out it didn’t have anything to do with the caricature in my head. (Heck, even the whole bra-burning thing proved to be an urban legend.)
It continued in seminary, when I learned that the arguments used to rationalize the subjugation of women are the same ones that were used to justify slavery a century and a half ago.
Then I fell in love… and found that mutuality offers a better starting point for a happy marriage than hierarchy. (Eleven years and counting.)
Then I became a father… and realized I couldn’t settle for anything less than my daughter’s full equality — in her family, in her church, and in her world.
I came to believe that gender equality is rooted in creation itself, reaffirmed and renewed in the person and work of Jesus. That’s why I can’t wait for Sarah Besey’s new book… and that’s why I embrace the label Jesus feminist.
I’m a Jesus feminist because I believe my daughter is fully and gloriously human, that she and I bear the same divine imprint, that she is not mine, that she is free to discover for herself what God made her to be, and that the possibilities open to her are endless.
I’m a Jesus feminist because the gospels insist we allow women to sit alongside men at the feet of our Messiah — that is, to take the posture of a disciple. The story of Mary and Martha is not a Sunday school lesson on the importance of setting one’s priorities; it’s a radical affirmation that my daughter has as much right as anyone to call herself a disciple of Jesus.
I’m a Jesus feminist because women were the first apostles, the first to witness the resurrection. If not for their courage, vision, and willingness to see what Jesus’ male disciples couldn’t — if not for that, I wouldn’t be a Jesus anything.
I’m a Jesus feminist because I won’t accept a world which turns my daughter into an object — neither the evangelical modesty culture that teaches girls to be ashamed of their bodies nor the hyper-sexualized culture that tells them their bodies (and their willingness to flaunt them) are all they have to offer.
I’m a Jesus feminist because the apostle Paul said there isn’t “male and female” anymore. Just one body, one family, one inheritance in which we all have equal share.
And someday, if my daughter feels a calling deep in her bones to share this message with others — or if she feels called in any other way to lead — I will be right there cheering her on.
Because even though I haven’t read Sarah’s book yet, I’m pretty sure that’s what Jesus feminists do.
P.S. Go and buy the book when it comes out.