Some Initial Thoughts on Jesus Feminist
This past weekend, I started Sarah Bessey’s book Jesus Feminist. I’m only three chapters in, and I’m already convinced that if I were to meet the author, I’d give her the biggest hug I could muster. Why? Because what she has to say about women, the Bible, and Jesus is so liberating. It feels so good to be given permission to be who I am instead of feeling like I have to tone down parts of me in order to be more “feminine”.
Growing up, this was always one of my biggest fears about marriage (yes, I’m a strange girl, and thought about marriage a lot even as a teenager). I would see my parents’ marriage and how it functioned: my mom is a naturally compliant person who is happiest when she can make everyone else happy. She has wonderful diplomacy skills, and she either desires or embodies so many traits that are stereotypically feminine: being a stay-at-home mom, cooking, being gentle and docile, etc. And my dad always performed the stereotypically masculine duties such as making decisions about finances, keeping the budget, mowing the lawn, that sort of thing. Their marriage functions well that way, because my dad has a very assertive, empowering presence that complements my mom’s compliant personality very nicely.
There’s just one problem: while I believe I inherited a lot of traits from my mom, I most definitely inherited a lot of traits from my dad too. I would never feel comfortable letting my future husband have the final say in important financial decisions, like my mom is. I would never feel satisfied and fulfilled as a stay-at-home mom. None of that is my personality, it isn’t who I am. I think there are many aspects of who I am that are considered feminine (one that jumps out is having a very empathetic heart), but I really don’t believe that I’m the sort of person who could fit seamlessly into a complementarian marriage like my mother does.
So because of all that, the prospect of marriage terrified me as much as it excited me, because I thought that I would need to fight against this part of myself that doesn’t fit the bill of how a wife should behave. The idea of submitting to a husband’s authority, of always having to be the one who takes the high ground to quell potential disagreements, bothered me immensely. The idea that it would be my duty to defer to my husband’s decisions because I am a woman is, simply put, suffocating to me.
So when I read what Sarah Bessey had to say about how Jesus empowered women, and taught women, and afforded women the same regard that he gave for men, it was so freeing to me. I have an assertive personality, and that isn’t something that I need to suppress in order to be the sort of wife who would please God and her husband. Instead I must use that personality trait, that beautiful part of who I am, to strengthen the marriage I will have one day.