Feminism has been used to campaign for women’s voting rights, abortion rights, reproductive health rights (including access to contraception and quality prenatal care), protection of women and girls from domestic violence, sexual harassment and rape, for workplace rights including promotions and equal pay, and against other forms of gender-specific discrimination against women. Feminism is a movement that seeks social, economic and political equality for both men and women. However, you choose to define it; there’s a common goal all definitions are trying to achieve.
Waves of feminism
First Wave: The movement started in the 19th centuries. This wave was mainly concerned with the equality of both men and women in a society. Activists (who were not only women) during this period they fought for women’s right to the privileges of voting and from discrimination and other bias against women.
Second Wave: This movement came about after the introduction of contraceptives. The movement sought equality to home and gender roles. The main reason for contraceptives was to control childbearing so that more women would go to work. Activists in this wave raised concerns on social and cultural equality such as healthcare, sexual freedom, work and reproductive rights. They were concerned that women were seen “only capable to be housewives” thus pursued equal rights for women as of men to pursue a career life.
Third-wave: Some believe that this wave is a continuity of the second wave to help fill-up the loopholes missed by the second wave like who is to take care of the children when both parents are at work? Who is to take the contraceptive, can there be one for men as well? among others; however, others believe that this wave was brought to raise concerns against sexual harassment in women and to increase the number of women in power.
Fourth Wave: well, this is what we would call the modern wave of Feminism. It has been dubbed #MeToo on social media and inspired the Women’s March Movement. The movement used social media to contest against body shaming, sexual harassment and rape, especially against celebrities and leaders in the political and business fields.
Issue on Identity
Let us agree that some of the issues raised by feminist activists are not wrong, sinful or harmful. There are issues raised that the Bible strongly endorses. We mistake when we take scripture out of context or misinterpret scripture to suit our advocacy for female empowerment. I firmly believe that a greater part of those struggling with the idea of feminism, if they soul-search carefully, the deepest root of it has to do with their identity. We want to identify ourselves with a people or group who hold a particular belief.
Feminism today has grown to seek advocacy in redefining masculinity and femininity, opposing the biblical gender roles of males and females, claiming that God is misogynistic (we’ll discuss that in another blog), promoting lesbianism and defending abortion. This has spread out to most countries in the world and in the church (feminist Theology; Christian using the Bible to advocate for female equality).
What then do we make of Feminism as Christians? Can Christian women identify as Feminists?
Male and Female Equality and Difference
Men and women are equal in God’s eyes as they were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27) and likeness (Genesis 1:26). So if we look at it from the beginning, male and female equality is not a feminist idea, but God’s design. The beauty of humanity is this, that God made us all, in His image, He loves us all, He died for all, and that is the beauty of the gospel.
Equality calls us to honour God’s design in the difference between men and women. As He made us in His own image, He made us male and female (Genesis 1:27, 5:2), different in nature, in our roles, abilities and biologically (in appearance) and in what He calls us to do. If God created us equal yet different, what then does it mean to be a man or woman?
Man was created to lead. He was created before the woman (genesis 2:7) and was given dominion over God’s creation (Genesis 2:15). He was also made to be the head of the home, which is also a sign of his leadership role (Ephesians 5:22-24, 1 Cor. 11:3). Women are called to be helpers, companions and to live in submission (Genesis 2:18, 1 Timothy 2:11-14, 1 Peter 3:1-2). Man’s leadership does not mean lordship over the woman, nor does her help or submission mean her inferiority.
God’s design in our equality and differences is good and honours and glorifies Him. As male and female, he created us in our difference of abilities, physical appearance and roles but we are all God’s image-bearers, neither is greater or lesser than the other (Galatians 3:28). In the words of Ray Ortland, “Man was created as royalty in God’s world, male and female alike bearing the divine glory equally.” We then ought to embrace God’s design of our sexuality and together reflect his image for God’s glory alone (Colossians 3:17).
Abortion and Lesbianism.
The leadership of man over woman is not intended to assume Christ’s leadership over her but to point her to Christ’s leadership; thus this leadership is not oppressive but is out of love and serves the woman (Ephesians 5:22-25). Feminism has led women to seek out authority over men and not godly leadership from them.
We have seen feminists advocate for ungodly practices such as abortion and homosexuality. God’s word condemns such practice. God is against the taking away of life (Exodus 20:13, Matthew 19:18). Children are a gift from God (Psalm 127:3-5) whether gotten in or out of a marriage covenant, and thus, abortion is sinful and done out of a selfish heart. God condemns same-sex relations (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13, Romans 1:26-27) as it is against God’s design of companionship. God made man for the woman and woman for the man (Genesis 2:18-25). Same-sex relation is man’s perversion of sexuality.
Feminism has been used to propagate for rights and destructive ideologies. It does not solve everything. All the injustices and oppression we face, we should never look to groups or movements for justice; they may never get it for us. We ought to look to God. He listens when we call on Him (Psalm 86:7).
He is the only one who gives justice (Psalm 89:14), and only God sets the standards of Justice. He calms our souls in times of trouble and is our sure stronghold (Psalm 9:9). Dear woman, devote yourself to God’s glory. Live out His call for you, live out His design of femininity for you and find Joy abiding in Him. Do not lose sight of the God who created you and let His fullness overflow in your daily living.