Friday Feminism: Jesus Feminist

Posted 13 December, 2013 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Friday Feminism: Jesus FeministJesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey
Published by Simon and Schuster on November 5th 2013
Genres: Christian Life, General, Inspirational, Leadership, Religion
Pages: 256

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Gender roles have been debated for centuries, and now Sarah Bessey offers a clarion freedom call for all who want to realize their giftedness and potential in the kingdom of God. Through a thoughtful review of biblical teaching and church practices, Bessey shares how following Jesus made a feminist out of her.

This book has taught in what order my own philosophies lie, I am a feminist over an atheist. I like to think of myself as a humanist first, so this really shouldn’t surprise me.

I think that this is a fantastic book for Christian women. It’s written, oddly, by an evangelical Christian, who I believe is also a literalist. I didn’t find the book to be that outrageous or ‘outside the box’, but evidently it is. Bessey asserts that she is a feminist and defines a feminist exactly as I would, someone who believes that men and women should share the same legal, political, social, and economic rights. 

Gloria Steinem, (who the author takes a line to dismiss) says it much more eloquently, ‘A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.’

Anyway, Bessey asserts that it’s as simple as that. And it is! She then takes the framework of her faith and her Bible and put it together with anecdotical evidence on how Jesus made her a feminist. I’ll take it! She asks Christian women to leave behind arguing apologetics and feeling angry and upset that there’s no ‘place at The Table’ for them and instead instructs them to love, teach, care, and yes, preach. She is pro-life, I grow tired of seeing feminist on feminist arguments, so I’m not going to engage in it here – abortion is a separate issue from feminism, for me at least. 

I’m not entirely sure of her historical Biblical assertions, but this does not surprise me as it is not my Bible, in the context of reviewing this book it doesn’t matter to me if she’s being historically inaccurate. She interprets Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 14:34 – 35 (Women be silent…) as a letter to specific women at a specific church in a specific time in history. She then goes to solidify her argument with examples of other women in scripture doing great things. She attacks the notion of “Biblical Womanhood” (and Biblical Manhood, for that matter). She welcomes working mothers, single mothers, and single women into the church and seems to possess an understanding that the idealized version of a Biblical woman that many (not all) Christian evangelicals may possess is not only inaccurate, but unattainable. She calls out the church for doing exactly what secular society is doing to women, that is, setting standards that are unattainable and then beating up women when they fall short. (Writing this, maybe I do see how this book could be considered ‘radical’.) 

Like I said, if this book will help lead more Christian women towards empowerment in their own way, if it will lead to greater understanding and love between women, if it leads us to understand that OUR WAY of being a woman, wife, and mother is not the ONLY way to do it, I will take it. 

The book is written informally and seems to have deeply personal moments in it. This book is not an academic analysis of the Bible or Church doctrine. Though it wasn’t for me, (I knew it wasn’t when I picked it up) I do think (hope!) that it has the possibility to open up a lot of minds about what it is to be a feminist. 


April @ The Steadfast Reader


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