Thursday, May 28, 2009

"I'm not a Feminist, I'm a Christian."

Ok, so I'm afraid writing that post last week has unleashed the blogging-beast...time for you (if you choose to keep reading) to experience more of my figure-it-out-as-I-write prose, eh..."prose" makes it sound fancy. It's really just a blog. Blog, yes...I like that word. Nothing official...just me attempting to express bits of ideas via blogging. Lucky you, ha.

If you were to ask me directly, I'd say "Yes, I am a feminist." However, I don't like to just state that on its own. The word "feminism" summons images of feminazis running around burning bras and kicking men in the shins (and elsewhere). Like with any ideal or social reform movement, there is a spectrum of opinions and ways-of-living-out the same idea. I don't believe in kicking people, it's not very nice (however much I may want to at times). Yes, I believe the central ideal of feminism--equality for men and women, the ability to have the same opportunities made available, the freedom to choose one's life path, etc. However, the issue is SO much bigger than that, and I don't think it can be discussed in a vacuum--society and theology play so much in shaping this and many other issues.

The title of this post is from one of my favorite books by a chick named Sarah Sumner. She, by societal standards, is a feminist. However, she will never use that word to describe what she believes. A major premise of her book is that feminism is not a new idea, it is the world's attempt to achieve what God has purposed from the beginning but what has been ruined and poisoned by, well, us. Ideally, Christianity should be the flagship/standard for equality and justice in and for everything--gender issues, slavery, minorities, environment, the poor, on and on...but instead, most Western/American churches are know as what? The most segregated hour in the nation. The place you have to be "good" to hang out at. The group that you run away from if you're a feminist b/c they'll force you to be quiet (or at least make you feel bad for not wanting to be). The people with no problems (or at least, that we don't talk about)--get your act together and then you can hang out with us.

How awesome would it be if we were straight up with our crap, but worked together as a group to move forward and grow? What if the church was known to be the most inclusive societal institution, if it was where you went for acceptance? What if the government didn't need to provide social security or aid grants because the Church took care of the needs within its community? What if it encouraged ALL people (male, female, every ethnicity, adolescent and elderly, every social class) to serve each other equally and to find/pursue what God's call for their life?

It makes me so mad (and pretty embarrassed) when I hear stuff about anti-homosexual christian groups being semi-derogatory and outrightly aggressive when it comes to government laws being passed or not (yet the homosexual group organizes a peaceful protest); or when Christianity is used as justification for wars started by governments (crusades anyone?); or when Christian groups say that stuff like 9/11 was caused by NYC's sin; or when prominent Christian leaders say "It's great that the ladies love Jesus, but if we're going to win this war, we need the men" *coughMarkDriscollcough*. Ah, it makes me crazy! Sure, within Christianity (like with any ideal) there is a spectrum on which it's members fall. However, it seems that equality and justice (love/serving others in public) should be included in that list of "Stuff You Need to Believe/Do to be a Christian".

This is all sounding negative, but I have hope. I love where I see the church moving. It's slowly becoming a more global and less "American" body, it's starting to increase its support and activism for global justice issues, women are finally being allowed a place to serve aside from just Children's ministry, its starting to recognize that environment responsibility is actually a big deal. It's all a matter of the Kingdom, the already-not yet. We live in this broken, messy, painful world and are broken, messy people...but every now and then we get the privilege to see moments of how things will be. How they'll be someday where God will be with us, where there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. Until then, God, give me compassion to see how things are and courage to help bring them closer to where they should be--and will be some day.

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