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The book Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey, came to me at the perfect time in my life. Although, I hardly doubt that it was by accident. It was on my book list for quite a while, but I believe the Lord had me read it when I was most primed and ready for it. I had just come off of my first year of being a Residence Director over 150 freshmen and I was away from my hometown for the first time. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t super pumped about life. My first year in a new place had some loneliness and confusion. When I read Jesus Feminist, I was coming out of a dark time of depression and anxiety. I knew God was with me through it all but it was hard to believe it at times. I picked up the book on a plane ride, not knowing what I was about to embark on. I knew it would challenge my theology (hello, the word Feminist is in the title) and I love reading about women empowerment, so I was down for the ride.
The first thing I noticed was how Sarah Bessey spoke from a place that wasn’t in any of my preconceived theological “camps”. She takes her readers outside the campgrounds where divisive words are slung and theological punches are thrown far too often. Sarah just chats about the women of the bible and how Jesus interacted with them. It isn’t any secret that women were seen as property centuries ago. The bible speaks of few key women and we rarely know their backstory. But Jesus spoke to them. He looked them in the eye and called them daughter. He touched them, healed them, and spoke truth in love to them. In his day, Jesus was probably seen as a radical feminist. Not because he thought women were better than men, or women were exactly the same as men, but because he saw value in them as image bearers of God. In her book, Sarah writes, “Jesus loves us. In a time when women were almost silent or invisible in literature, Scripture affirms and celebrates women. Women were a part of Jesus’ teaching, part of his life.”
In his day, Jesus was probably seen as a radical feminist. Not because he thought women were better than men, or women were exactly the same as men, but because he saw value in them as image bearers of God.
As I was reading, Jesus met me there. He was in those pages and I saw myself in the ancient stories. I didn’t agree with every word of her exegesis or theology explanations but I didn’t care. Jesus was speaking to me and my value as a woman. Jesus used these words to look me in the soul and say, “I value you. You are a delight to me. I look at you with adoring eyes. Come here and stop striving.”
Jesus Feminist became real to me mid-book. I was thinking and talking badly to myself about my body (shouldn’t that tape be warped from so many plays by now?) and suddenly I heard Jesus in the midst of my self-condemnation say,
Umm… I’m sorry, what? Stop what?
“Sarah don’t you see? You are beautiful and adored by me, so far beyond your body shape. I will stand up for you if you won’t. Stop bullying my daughter. I have created her for Gospel purposes. Purposes that have nothing to do with outward appearance and that are so far beyond your material, applause-seeking mind. You are precious in my sight and I love you.”
Jesus stood up for me. I was bullying myself, and he stood up to me! In that moment I had never heard or felt such loving conviction. It all made sense to me. He loves me and will defend me, even from the self-condemning tapes I play far too often.
Jesus used these words to look me in the soul and say, “I value you. You are a delight to me. I look at you with adoring eyes. Come here and stop striving.”
Sarah writes, “He loves us. On our own terms. He treats us as equals to the men around him; he listens; he does not belittle; he honors us; he challenges us; he teaches us; he includes us—calls us all beloved. Gloriously, this flies in the face of the cultural expectations of his time—and even our own time.”
Jesus loves women and will fight for the respect of women. Jesus is a feminist. Sarah Bessey writes, “Feminism only means we champion the dignity, rights, responsibilities, and glories of women as equal in importance—not greater than, but certainly not less than—to those of men, and we refuse discrimination against women.” We are so fearful of that word, yet rarely are we willing to look past our fear and look at the definition of the word. If we looked at the word with this definition, I think anyone could be on board with it! So through Sarah Bessey’s book, Jesus has made a feminist out of me. Not by the definition of the world that often represents anger toward men, but by the belief that women are just as valuable and important as men. If you get nothing else from this book or article, then I hope you take away that you are a woman (or man) not by accident. Jesus values you as you are and has purposes for you as you are. Have grace with yourself, and have grace for one another. Those are the children of the Most High God you are bullying.
Jesus loves women and will fight for the respect of women. Jesus is a feminist.
“So may there be grace and kindness, gentleness and love in our hearts, especially for the ones who we believe are profoundly wrong. The Good News is proclaimed when we love each other. I pray for unity beyond conformity, because loving-kindness preaches the gospel more beautifully and truthfully than any satirical blog post or point-by-point dismantling of another disciple’s reputation and teaching.”
Interested in reading Jesus Feminist? Check in out HERE!
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Image Credit: David Morgan, Creative Commons