RELIGION

Does God love feminism?

By Jen Thorpe

Until about 2003 I was religious. As in I went to a Christian school, was confirmed as an Anglican, and believed in God. Back then I also heard a lot about all the good things that God has done for us, how we should obey him etc. What I also heard was that girls shouldn’t run in the corridors, that a woman had a particular place in the family and the home, and that it would be rad for me to live a life that embodied these values.

Then I went to University and learnt a lot more. God (in most forms) is not a big fan of women’s independence, homosexuality, and had been the source of some pretty big wars. I learnt about religions that required women to cover their bodies, about religions that required women to be stoned for their adulterous husband’s behaviour, about Moses’ authorising of the rape of several thousand women who had been captured, and about religions where men thanked God every morning that they weren’t born a woman.

So I’m not a big fan anymore, but I’m wondering whether there are spaces for feminism in religion and what your thoughts are on this?

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11 thoughts on “Does God love feminism?”

  1. I think we project our beliefs/contexts on what we make of God. There is nothing holy about patriarchy but humans make it so. Every religion can be understood as the sum of its parts (followers) or rather a personal relationship with God. Normative statements about what God loves and doesn’t is more a projection of our own interests.

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  2. I think there definitely is. I’ve had the same concerns as you, and they have not been dealt with. But how I understand the Bible is: man and women were created equal… this was disturbed because of man’s freewill (why God would allow for a freewill and evil, I have not figured out). So basically the old testament is an historical account of people in the world, figuring things out, and making horrendous mistakes along the way (not unlike today). Then Jesus came (because God was tired of the world having no grace in it, but still wanted us to have freewill), and his message was to do away with laws and regulations in society, that stratified people unequally, that we were all deserving of God’s love, forgiveness, protection and grace. And that as this was shown to us, we should show it to others. In Jesus’ ministry he continually uses the underdog (the persecuted immigrant, the unfairly despised prostitute, the child) to demonstrate how we should treat others, and not give into the “way of the world”, i.e. be rebels who care, are indignant about injustice, and advocate for change, in any way we can (maybe just raising decent children). The Bible is a confusing and contradictory book, but so is my life, and in a way, the detailing of those failures is a form of transparency, admitting failure and trying to find a way to correct that. Maybe that’s too romantic a view of the matter. So I think definitely yes, God loves feminists and feminism. He gets hugely irritated with bigots, homophobes, racists and misogynists, but he loves them too. Puzzling, but I’m grateful for the grace.

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  3. The problem with the majority of religions nowadays is that they are based on texts written hundreds of years ago by a large number of different people – mostly men, and men have been at the heads of these religions for all those years. I’m not saying that men are sexist – not at all – what I’m saying is that the masculine point of view is central in most religious documentation, barring pagan mother religions, and this means that women don’t have a place in them aside from very specific fenced aspects. I personally don’t think there is space for feminism in religion, although there should have been.

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  4. the obvious concern here for me is that we are talking of god in the christian-judeo sense(granted,jen,that’s your experiences and thanks for sharing the question).and if that is the case,we have to accept that god is father and son,essentially a man who has masculine standards according to what should and shouldn’t be about women(in the new testament we are told we must have gentle and quiet spirits…i still don’t know what that means).and this is where the questions started for me…as a feminist can i even identify with a male god?surely if god (in most/any religion) is supposed to be omni-everything,then god should be exempt from the social construct of gender as a spiritual being.and once god is not seen is a giant version of human beings,maybe we can start looking at whether the values of feminism (whatever these might be on a continuum)might be considered.it’s the same with race…for a long time god was a giant white man who hated black people(according to the apartheid government) but as soon as people started questioning the nature of god,people had to accept that there were other possibilities.this question also suggests that god is essentially part of religious institution,which is a debate for another forum i guess.

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  5. Religion/theism can certainly be feminist. We just need to make it feminist — religion/theism is a human creation.

    I find it inspiring to note how many women are working towards making their respective religions women-friendly. They’re encountering resistance, yes, but I’m confident they’ll make a big difference. And then we have the liberal religious traditions — Quakers, Unitarian Universalists, reconstructionist Judaism, etc. They fill me with hope.

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  6. my friend is actually writing her (theology) thesis on whether women can be “saved” by a male god. need to track that down and share it, i think it would be really interesting.

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  7. I don’t doubt one minute that Godde loves feminism. I have a hunch feminism is an answer to the Feminine Divine’s reappearance in our world today. Now, some old men in the Vatican don’t like the idea and feel threatened to the marrow, but that’s good for them.
    I am a feminist Catholic, an oxymoron for some. I don’t say it is easy to be either one or the other together, but life would be dreadfully boring otherwise. Or so it seems to me.
    Women’s right to a level playing field needs to be brought in all areas of life. In the Christian churches particularly and in the Roman Catholic Church especially.
    Godde has no problem with feminism. Some men (and brain-washed women) do. That is their right — and their loss.
    Blessings 🙂

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  8. Jen – can’t help but respond to this post…personally I love the accounts of Jesus and the way he valued women even in what was a massively male led society….he was radical on this score for his time and even for many cultures today eg…How he saved the woman from being stoned when caught in adultery… how the first witnesses at his resurrection were women and all the Gospel eye witness accounts include this fact…to include the witnes of women in Jewish society of the time was not in the disciples favour whatsoever but there it is and all of the gospel accounts include this fact…. Women were very much part of Jesus group of friends…he did not reject Mary who washed his feet with her hair even though all the men around him were appalled…etc.etc.etc…I suppose if you believe Jesus is God incarnate in that time and space hehad openly loving and wholly endorsing relationship with women…OK the Church and societies that followed this might not have taken his lead but if you are talking about God then this is where I would start….Rx

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  9. For more on this topic, there are three seminars happening at the University of Johannesburg this month:

    12 May – Gender Justice and Islam
    19 May – Gender Justice and Judaism
    25 May – Gender Justice and Christianity

    Time: 18.00 for 18.30
    Venue: Humanities Common Room (3rd floor, C Ring)
    University of Johannesburg (Kingsway Campus)

    Enquiries: 083 601 0786

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  10. The date for Gender Justice and Christianity is the 26th May and not the 25th as advertised above. Please change this in your diaries.

    Thank you

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  11. Funny enough i call myself a Christian feminist. When you think about it it’s not funny at all. I went through a very dark place trying to consolidate these two important identities of myself. I was angry, I cried a lot. I was overwhelmed by the love that God showed us at the cross (and the love he has shown me in my life) but I was also overwhelmed by the way women (deductively me) are portrayed in the bible. How can God see me as only worthy to serve my husband? Why didn’t he create me to be his glory but be the glory of man? Why is the man the head (is there something wrong with me that I can’t be the head)? Why can’t I lead my husband and other men? Why aren’t there many accounts of great women in the bible? These questions depressed me, even to the point where I doubted his love.
    I couldn’t hear his voice any longer. But instead of drawing away I sought his council and he showed me what he thinks of me (and all women). Direct from his heart/mouth. All the red words in the bible (God breathed not just inspired). Aah that’s when I saw I’m just like him, created in his image. Imagine the idea of a vagina; breasts and a clitoris somehow somewhere reflect his image (spiritual or physical I don’t know). But I am his glory, his workmanship. I am the head not the tail! Jesus is the ONLY middle man (no husband thank you)!

    And yes feminism is like any social cause, God loves freeing people from oppression. Isaiah 61 is a confirmation that feminism is not just a human social cause but a God ordain social cause!

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