If I had read this just a couple of years ago I would have laughed (and possibly peed myself a little) if I heard myself say what I am about to say. And it is this:

Christ is the only way to better the situation of women everywhere.

Yep. I just said that. A long way from where I was before. Now before you begin scratching your head, or worse- hurling insults- hear me out.

I was raised an accidental feminist. I have grown into a strong Christian woman. Some people would say that these terms are mutually exclusive. That one cannot be both a feminist and a Christian. This was something I struggled with for a long, long time. After all, what did Christ or the Church know about being a woman?

Today, in celebration of International Women’s Day 2017, I am here to tell you that I believe these two terms to be necessary and sufficient.  A mouth full, I know, but a sentiment that essentially means that both ideas must simultaneously be true. That is, to be a Christian is to be a feminist. A stretch? Hang in there.

I used to think that Christianity was a patriarchy. No place for strong, opinionated women like me. Heck, no place for women period. Church after church seemed to herald men as the be-all, end-all leaving little room for women outside of Sunday School and baking bars for funerals.

And from where you stand, maybe that’s what it still looks like. If that’s the case, let me let you in on two little secrets-

#1. Churches don’t always reflect the Word or Will of God.  Nope. It took me a long time to figure this one out. Turns out churches are just a bunch of humans getting together and doing what humans do best- mucking things up. Taking something wonderful & divine and making a big mess of it all. That isn’t to say that some churches aren’t doing a good job- they are, but they still don’t come close to measuring up to what God would ultimately have the Church look like; what He would have men & women’s roles and interactions look like. In his world we wouldn’t have hearts filled with selfishness, pride, anger, and other horrible stuff, just to name one of the many reasons for our failure.

#2. God’s plan for women & men cannot be viewed or understood from outside of His Word. That is to say, God’s roles for each gender is complex, interwoven, and echoes Christ relationship to the Church. What may appear weird or oppressive from outside of faith starts to make beautiful sense within it (this statement does not in any way condone relationships that truly are oppressive, harmful, & undermine and abuse women under the guise of God’s Word- God’s Word is based in love and all thoughts, deeds, and actions echo this).  

This tendency to make a mess of God’s greater plan has historically left women at the bottom of society’s who’s who list. Often women were viewed (and still are in some cultures) more as property than as people. However, Jesus came and he changed that! He healed women as readily as men, allowed women to sit at his feet and learn (even commending the choice of this over housework), and readily interacted with women who were seen as pariah’s and faced death.

Author Philip Yancey comments in his book The Jesus I Never Knew, “For women and other oppressed people, Jesus turned upside down the accepted wisdom of his day. According to biblical scholar Walter Wink, Jesus violated the mores of his time in every single encounter with women recorded in the four Gospels.”

Once I finally took time to read the Bible for myself, I saw this image of Jesus set before me and began to realize that this is what Christianity meant for women. Jesus shows us that women are every bit as important to God as men. That we are gifted and loved. To solidify the idea, the letters of Paul speak of women as his fellow evangelists and teachers and patrons and friends, as he does of men; verses such as Galatians 3:28 state that we are all one in Christ.



What I finally began to understand is that if we were to follow Christ, to devote ourselves to becoming more like his image, we would begin to see the changes we long for in this world. Women would no longer need to live in fear of men. Women and their children wouldn’t be starving. Women would be paid based on the quality of their work and not their gender.

The final piece of the puzzle may sound simple but it was really not simple to come by, funny enough. That is to say, without Christ none of these things are possible.  It’s a big difference to say that with Him we can than to realize that without Him we have no hopes of succeeding. Do you see what I’m saying?

It’s not that our chances are better with Christ on our side, but rather that Christ is our only chance. There is no way without Him at the heart of it all. 

So this International Women’s Day, take time to share the Word with those around you. Take time to pray.

 

Dear Father,

Today I pray for all of the women in my life. I pray that they come to know you more deeply and rely on you in all the waking moments of the day.

Today I pray for all the women in my community; I pray for their strength and stamina in a world that seeks to break them down and destroy them; a world that causes them to question their beauty, their intelligence, and their very worth.

I pray that those who do not yet know you find themselves in the path of one of your disciples.  Allow me to be one of those disciples, Lord, if that is Your Will.

Today I pray for the women of the world. I pray for warmth, shelter, and Your peace for them all. I pray that you allow them to provide food to fill the bellies of their children and comfort for their weary bones. I pray that if they must suffer that it be with the utmost joy in You. Be their solace, oh Lord.

Today I pray for the men in my home & my church, that they see us with Christ’s eyes and love us as He so loved the Church. I pray that they have the courage to speak Your truth in the face of ugliness and evil standing up for us as strong men of God. I pray they have the patience and wisdom to act out this love in their homes.

Today I pray for the men of the world, that they be met where they are by You; that You open ears and eyes and soften their hearts teaching them how to love others outside of themselves. Humble them, Lord, and build a reliance on You in their hearts.

I pray today for Your Church: that you continue to use women and men alike for Your glory and help us to put feet to our faith.

In Christ’s name I pray,

Amen.