Jesus Feminist grew organically out of my life in Christ.
As a writer and blogger, I love to write through my life to figure out what I think and believe and dream about God, as well as the Church, marriage, motherhood, community, global issues, all of it.
So as I was writing through these intersections of women and Scripture, the kingdom of God and missional theology, freedom and justice, through my own habit of storytelling, the book simply began to grow in my heart and mind. It wasn’t born out of anger or bitterness or even a need to set the record straight about anything.
Instead Jesus Feminist took shape out of my own history as a beloved daughter, in my experiences in the Church as a woman, in my heart for justice and wholeness for God’s daughters, my passion for writing out my life, and most particularly in my adoration of Jesus and commitment to live into the Kingdom of God. All those things came together and over the course of a few years, the book began to grow.
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I define feminism as the simple belief that women are people, too. At the core, feminism simply means that we champion the dignity, rights, responsibilities, and glories of women as equal in importance to those of men, and we refuse discrimination against women. That’s it.
After a season of my life spent wandering, I emerged from a spiritual wilderness crazy about Jesus.
I poured over the Gospels, and decided that I wanted to follow this man for the rest of my life, wherever he took me.
I learned about the Kingdom of God, I learned to look at my life and even the world through the lens of Jesus’ life, ministry, and teachings.
And as I became more active in women’s issues, I began to see specifically how Jesus interacted with women in the Gospels.
It was revolutionary. It was profound. It was just plain normal. And I loved it. Jesus thought women were people, too, and at that point, I decided that I wanted to be a feminist in the way that Jesus would be a feminist.
When I say “Jesus made a feminist out of me” it also means that Jesus shapes my feminism, rather than the other way around.
When I decided to become a disciple of Jesus, it meant that I wanted to live into my right-now life the way I believed Jesus would do it – that included my passion and advocacy for women’s voices and experiences, for healing and justice.
It was several years ago when I started to actively call myself a feminist, and a few Christians asked me quizzically, ‘What kind of feminist exactly?’ Without hesitation, I laughed and replied I was a Jesus feminist. It stuck.
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The idea of feminism carries baggage with it, perhaps especially in evangelical circles – feminists can be unflatteringly stereotyped, and this leads to fear-mongering, misinformation and a distorted portrayal of a bitter, humourless man-hater. Including the word ‘feminist’ in the title of my book was and is a risk in the light of what we have been fed about feminists over the years, but the word feminist shouldn’t scare you or I. In fact I’d like to see the Church re-claim it. Indeed, feminism’s roots are intertwined with strong Christian women’s elements in the temperance movement, in campaigning for women’s suffrage, not to mention several other abolitionist movements of the 19th century in the US and in Britain.
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The intended audience for Jesus Feminist is evangelical men and women who have had some exposure to the differing views on womanhood taught within the Church. Many in this demographic find their yearnings for healing and freedom, as well as their hunger for justice and mercy and love expressed as followers of Jesus in a broken and hurting world, to be at odds with the traditional teachings of their churches and homes.
But patriarchy is not God’s dream for the world. Instead, we are invited to participate in the Kingdom of God through redemptive movement, for both men and women, towards equality and freedom.
Sarah Bessey, author of Jesus Feminist, is a writer and an award-winning blogger at sarahbessey.com. Sarah is also an editor at A Deeper Story, and a contributor at SheLoves Magazine. She is a happy clappy Jesus lover, a joyful subversive, a voracious reader, an unrepentant hashtag abuser, and a social justice wannabe. She lives in Abbotsford, British Columbia with her husband and their three tinies.