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Feminist: To Be or Not to Be

In 2017, according to Merriam-Webster, the word of the year was Feminism. When you hear this word, how do you feel?

Whether this word elicits a positive or negative reaction, the feeling behind hearing “feminism” will most likely be a strong one. But what does this word actually mean?

According to the English Oxford Dictionary, it is “The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.”

A few years ago, as I was sitting in church listening to the pastor, I felt God speak to me clearly. He said one word, “Women.” I could feel it in my bones that morning and can still feel what I am called to do is speak up for those who can’t. In particular, I feel led to encourage women around me so they know who they are in Christ, which is His beloved daughters! I do believe we as women have a lot to offer this world and bring to God’s kingdom.

Therefore, when I hear about women being mistreated simply because they are women, it makes me mad.

Anytime someone treats a human being as if they are an object rather than a person, it is not okay!

Notice how I didn’t separate the genders in my previous sentence? Anytime anyone treats people poorly, not just when a man treats a woman poorly, it is not okay. I am thankful in our society, we do notice more and more when a man treats a woman poorly, and that more people are standing up to say that it is not okay.

The movement of #metoo has allowed women to find their voice and say that to some degree or another, “I have been sexually assaulted/harassed and it is not okay!” Hey ladies, me too!

There are also two ditches with the words “feminism” or “feminist”. On one side, women are found to be in complete oppression and they should “know their place”. Then there is the other ditch of saying that a woman can and should do anything and everything a man can do. Both ditches are extremes and therefore can be run by people living in fear, which will bring about chaos and most likely hatred to either gender.

Is there a middle ground? Yes, thankfully I believe there is. One example in particular can be found in the Bible in John chapter 4. If you’d like to read the whole story of the Samaritan woman at the well, click here. It is a beautiful story, and although there are many points that I could talk about, I will rather focus on two words for this blog.

Samaritan woman.

For Jesus and his disciples, long days of travel usually meant that they were thirsty, hungry, and tired once they reached a new town. At the beginning of John chapter 4, the disciples go ahead of Jesus into town, while Jesus stops at a well. A Samaritan woman from the town walks up the well to fetch some water for herself. Jesus then asks her, “Will you give me a drink?”

For you and I, looking upon this scene from the twenty first century, we may not notice anything unusual. However, this was very unusual and significant.

Those two words, “Samaritan” and “woman”, meant that Jesus shouldn’t have spoken to her. First of all, as a rule back then, Jews did not speak to Samaritans. Second of all, Jewish men did not normally speak to women in public.

Knowing this, you may be thinking that Jesus was a rebel. You may be thinking that in a rough sense, Jesus was the first “feminist”.

However, this was simply the way that Jesus lived his life at all times. He treated all of humanity with love, truth, and dignity. We see this with the Samaritan woman at the well, who, although she had a rough past to boot, went and told everyone she knew what Jesus did that day. Many Samaritan people came to believe in Jesus because of what this woman shared!

Jesus also treated the outcasts of society; whether that was the lepers, temple prostitutes, or tax collectors; with the same love, truth, and dignity as He did all of humanity. This is how we, as His children, are called to live also. To treat people with love, truth, and dignity.

I believe that women have a lot to offer this world and that quite often we are underestimated in certain roles simply because of our gender. Whether this makes me a feminist, I’m not sure.

I also believe that men and women were created to work together, each with different strengths(Genesis 2:18). But I’ll leave that for another blog.

For now, let me end by saying, let’s take a look inward and see if we treat the opposite sex with any underlying animosity. If so, let’s ask God to show us the root of this, and heal this so we can follow the example of Jesus, which is treating all others around us with love, truth, and dignity!

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