In which I review “Jesus Feminist”: part II

January 13, 2014

I couldn’t narrow my thoughts about this book to one blog post, so this is second of a two-part review of “Jesus Feminist” by Sara Bessey.

One of the great things about running a blog is that I get to declare decisions that I would have made, even though I am in no position to be making those decisions. And so, in reading some other reviews of Jesus Feminist I found that there were a lot of people writing about what the book could have been. Even though the writer makes clear that she hadn’t set out to write a highly academic piece, and that she probably isn’t the person to write that kind of book anyway, a number of people still would like to read/critique the more academic treatment.

Now, if I was the editor, and someone came to me with a proposal for a book called Jesus Feminist, I would have something else in mind. Technically I do run a publishing company. Sure it only has one author so far (me), and zero sales, but the concept isn’t entirely absurd. From time to time, I read about some crisis that has the feminist community up in arms, and it strikes me that Christians are one group of people that should agree with them. I don’t just mean one quadrant within the church, I mean everyone from the left-leaning, intolerance-hating, peace advocating Christians to the right-leaning, God and country, literal reading (except for gluttony and loving enemies) believers. I would love it if someone would take the overlapping areas of agreement and flesh them out, or maybe just bring them to public attention.

If it were up to me, I would love it if this was was a book that tackles a number of pressing feminist issues and devotes a chapter to explaining why Christians and feminists already do agree in potentially very constructive ways on each particular issue. Maybe this could be the sequel, we could call it, “Jesus and Feminism: why can’t we be friends?”

At the very least #JesusFeminist could be the hashtag that people use when they tweet about apparent agreement between Christian belief and Feminism. Let me give a few examples of what that might look like.

One issue that feminists often complain about is the double standard in society that men are often lauded for the sexual promiscuity and called studs, while women are derided for the same behaviour and called sluts.  With this general principle, the church should whole-heartedly agree.  Of course feminists would like to advocate a woman’s right to choose her own sexual behaviour without social consequence, and while many in the church would disagree with that interpretation, I think there is still room for us to tweet our agreement.

“There is no double standard in the Kingdom. Formerly promiscuous men and women both welcome. #JesusFeminist”

“The grace of God is so great, even studs can be forgiven. #JesusFeminist”

“For it is by grace that we are saved, through faith, lest no stud may boast. #JesusFeminist”

Another issue that flairs up with the occasional mispoken word from police men and government figures that suggest a woman invites/deserves to be sexually assaulted because of how she dresses. While we shouldn’t expect to see the church defend a woman’s right to dress however she wants, we should expect them to hold the men involved accountable for their actions.

“God will not tempt you beyond what you can bear, and neither will scantily clad women. #JesusFeminist”

“You have heard that it was said, ‘She was asking for it,’ but I say you have already committed adultery in your heart. #JesusFeminist”

“It isn’t unloving to say men are accountable for their own actions, it’s unloving not to say it. #JesusFeminist”

Finally, one issue that won’t go away in both the church and in feminist debates. Studies have shown over and over again that women get paid less than men for doing the same work.  While the gap seems to be closing, many still hold this up as a fundamental justice issue.  The church has largely been percieved to be unsympathetic in this cause, partly because the loudest voices within the church expect women to be content to be unpaid home makers.  Still, there should be room for agreement here.

“Please, pay our women more, so they can tithe more. Sincerely, – The Church. #JesusFeminist”

“There is pay equality in heaven. Equal jewels for equal service. #JesusFeminist”

“Work like Ruth, remmunerate like Boaz. #JesusFeminist”

Sure it’s just a collection of tweets right now, but it wouldn’t be the first time that a twitter account or hashtag resulted in a book contract or sitcom.

I guess neither of these posts constitutes an actual review, but this was my take on what it could have been.

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