I recently finished Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revist the Bible’s View of Women by Sarah Bessey. This book, y’all.
I have to admit, I heard about it when it came out and avoided it, because the title scared me. My deeply seeded Southern Baptist-conservative upraising had created a little voice that screamed at me “NO, DON’T TOUCH THIS BOOK! We don’t associate with anything that contains THAT word (feminist)”. And then, life happened and I had so many eye-opening experiences that changed my political views and the way I approach life as a woman. That’s a story (or seven) for another time.
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If you are having those same scared, panicked, and possibly judgmental thoughts about the title of this book right now, I ask you to bear with me. I ask you to hear what I have to say, as someone who didn’t feel like she had a right to speak in church (despite being a worship leader), as a wife who questioned why being a woman automatically made me lesser than my husband (not my husband’s words, by the way, but the church’s), as a member of the body of Christ who doesn’t have the right to do things the men can do. Just, bear with me.
Silence in Church Meetings
Sarah Bessey writes a book that truly changed my view of the Bible. I had experienced some doubt and dislike of things like Paul’s instructions on women being silent in the church, but her explanation of taking these scriptures in context brings a new view to what Paul was actual saying.
At the core, feminism simply consists of the radical notion that women are people, too. – Sarah Bessey
Women’s Ministry that Ministers
Bessey calls us to be Spiritual Midwives, Patron Saints, and to allow barriers to be broken, but in a Kingdom way. Her book encourages women’s ministries to grow beyond arts and crafts into a ministry that has “room for everyone. You have a great women’s ministry when you have detoxed from the world’s views and unattainable standards for women and begun to celebrate the everyday women of valor, sitting next to you, and when you encourage, affirm, and welcome the diversity of women – their lives, their voices, their experiences – to the community.”
Redemptive Kingdom Equality
A huge point that I do not want missed here is that Bessey is not calling for bra-burning and female domination. She wants men and women working together as equals to love others and build the Kingdom of God. Because of the redemptive love of Jesus Christ, we are called to equality and freedom. No arguments over power, and no sex being the leader of the other, just the people of God serving Him and taking appropriate roles called to us by God Almighty, not by the standards from thousands of years of patriarchy.
If we minimize our gifts, hush our voice, and stay small in a misguided attempt to fit a weak and culturally conditioned standard of femininity, we cannot give our brothers the partner they require in God’s mission for the world. . . Men are most truly “helped” when women give our best.
In Heaven, we will serve one King. Men and women will be equal. While we do live in a world full of sin and oppression, there is a movement calling us to all serve God with the same objective. Sarah Bessey encourages women to live the life they are called to live, and not feel like they are lesser because of their gender.