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Is the Bible Feminist?

Feminism can be a contentious topic. A few weeks ago, over lunch, a friend of mine asked that we not talk about it when it came up, because she was having a nice day and did not want to ruin it with an argument!  

To understand the controversy a little better, let’s delve into what feminism is, what it originally intended to do, and the role it plays in Christianity.

What Exactly is Feminism?

The term feministe was coined by French utopian socialist Charles Fourier back in 1837. The first wave of feminism formally began in 1848 with the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York. 

As women in many civilizations have been mistreated and had fewer rights than men, the early feminists were a courageous group that took it upon themselves to fight for the political, economic, and cultural equality of women.

At its core, feminism seeks to create a level playing field with equal access to resources for women regardless of their choices. A noble cause, at that.

Feminism Today

Over the years, feminism has taken many forms and adopted a wide variety of causes and ideals. Recent feminist groups have fought for equal sexual rights, abortion rights, access to contraception, equal pay, and other causes.

Without context, feminism has sometimes been made to look almost like an “anti-man” movement. As with any group, unless the initial ideals are maintained, the fundamentals of existence may become twisted and distorted.

Feminism and Christianity

The Bible, to feminists, is a patriarchal book written by patriarchal men in an unenlightened era. The women in the Bible are often seen as helpless victims, unable to save themselves from situations orchestrated by men.

We see women in the Bible being turned to salt. We see them being denied, as in the case of Sarah, being unloved like Leah, used like Hagar, abused like Bathsheba, and, of course, unable to survive without a husband, as in the case of Naomi. 

These are all reflections of the society in which these stories took place. But what was God’s plan? To fully grasp that, we have to begin at creation.

God’s View of Women

At creation, God created woman to be man’s help-meet. His helper. This term is used often in the Bible to refer to the important people in a pursuit, such as armies and allies—or to God Himself, as in the Book of Deuteronomy:

“And this is the blessing of Judah: and he said, Hear, LORD, the voice of Judah, and bring him to his people: let his hands be sufficient for him; and be you an help to him from his enemies.”

Deuteronomy 33:7 (KJV)

God saw that it was not fit for man to be alone, and chose to create Eve, a woman, to complete His creation. God could have very well made a second man, but He chose to create a woman instead.

Throughout the Bible, we see God use women in invaluable ways to achieve his purpose for redemptionJesus often revealed himself to women; he spent time with them. His birth was told to Anna, the elderly “prophetess” in the temple. Two of His closest friends were Mary and Martha. After the resurrection, Jesus chose to reveal himself first to Mary Magdalene. 

And, of course, He was born of Mary, the human woman through which God brought about His perfect plan for the world’s salvation.

We also see that, during the days of the early church, women made the advancement of the gospel possible. 

It is therefore impossible to picture a world where God thought of women as less ideal. All these examples amplify how highly thought of women were in the eyes of our savior. 

Is the Bible Feminist?

God is equal and just in all He does. It is impossible to perceive his thoughts with human understanding. But we do know that He, over the years, used different women to show himself to us. God does not need to be feminist to be fair; He is just.

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