After my grandmother’s death my aunt found a note from one of her seminary professors among her papers. This professor thanked my grandmother for her academic excellence and said that she had opened doors for “generations of women to follow after her.”
Some sixty years later I sat in a class at the same seminary as a professor explained to our class that a woman shouldn’t even teach a Sunday School class if there were men in the room. I gripped my pen and drew circles on my paper to keep from making eye contact with anyone. When a classmate commented that he didn’t mind if a woman had a leadership position in the church so long as she was willing to step aside if a man became available, I went digging in my purse for a mint to hide my scream of frustration. I knew I couldn’t speak to that male-dominated theology classroom without emotion bleeding into my words. I stayed silent.
I’ll say now what I didn’t say then: I am not a second-class citizen of the kingdom. Calling is dictated by Spirit, not gender. And while I gladly yield my rights to my brothers and sisters out of love for the family of God, I refuse to let anyone dictate to me what my roles and responsibilities should be as woman, wife, and mom.
I am in love with Jesus. And I believe that men and women are equal in his eyes.
I guess that makes me a Jesus Feminist.
I just put down my advanced reader copy of Sarah Bessey’s Jesus Feminist. It deeply resonated with me. If you’ve followed her blog, you know that Sarah’s writing is characterized by striking imagery and poetic prose. It’s on full display here. The book is incredibly well written and a joy to read.
Jesus Feminist is both treatise and rallying cry. It’s Sarah’s own story of how she grappled with the forces of evangelical culture and came to embrace her own identity as woman and follower of Christ. Though she deals with the Scripture this is not so much an exegetical work as a prophetic word: it’s time to end the battle over what women can and can’t do and simply set them free to follow Jesus. The book is a recognition that this work of bringing the kingdom is so awesome a responsibility that we can’t afford to hobble half the church. Aslan is on the move, and it’s time to welcome him.
Put this book on the top of your to-read pile. Whatever your opinions on women’s roles in the church and family, I think you’ll find yourself agreeing with Sarah more than you disagree. And I think you’ll find yourself stirred to find your place in the great redemptive mission of our God.
Jesus Feminist comes out this November. Preorder your copy from Amazon or your favorite book retailer.