Is Christian feminism an oxymoron?

No mutual exclusivity

Despite many who believe the contrary, Christianity and feminism are natural and fruitful companions, writes Vicky Beeching.

- Church Times

'That is totally untenable!' my friend yelled over the party music. 'You can't be a feminist and a Christian.' She was a staunch atheist, and spent the evening telling me, as many have done before, that Christianity is unavoidably and embarrassingly patriarchal. She urged me to throw off the shackles of my misogynistic faith.

I am surprised at how frequently this happens at feminist gatherings. Regularly I find myself the only Christian present, treated like an anomaly in need of conversion to fully fledged, religion-free feminism.

Often it takes me a while sheepishly to admit my faith in these circles. Finally I pipe up that actually I do 'believe in that stuff,' between the tirades of 'God is dead' and 'Religion is the oppressor!' that usually emanate from the microphone. In years of attending feminist seminars and marches, one thing has become clear: you are about as likely to meet another Christian there as you would a vegan at a meat-feast buffet.

Occasionally I have found my faith welcomed by fellow feminists. But, more often than not, the confession of Christianity has been met with the sort of facial expression you would pull when opening an awkwardly disappointing Christmas present.

I don't resent this. In fact, I empathise with why many women shudder at certain elements of the Bible and the Christian tradition. Phyllis Trible's powerful book Texts of Terror (2002) highlights some of these difficult passages; she skillfully demonstrates why a surface exposure to scripture could be repellent to anyone concerned about gender equality. It is not difficult to see why a religion with a male God, a male Saviour, and 12 male disciples would be off-putting initially. It is something I have wrestled with for years.

Strangely, I find a similar attitude at many Christian gatherings. When I speak on faith and feminism at church-based conferences, the questions afterwards invariably contain responses from Christian women who feel that feminism is an unhelpful movement.

FULL STORY Christian feminism is not an oxymoron (Church Times)


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