Well, God has a way of breaking into our comfortable spaces and replacing our complacency with a sense of urgency for the things that are important to him. Such was the case for me when I recently heard someone praying for the “misguided, unbelieving, evil, feminist women” who attended ‘The Women’s March on Washington’ the day after Trump’s inauguration.
I thought about the implications of that prayer and it prompted many questions. Why is feminism a bad thing? Why is it noble to stand at the steps of the capitol and protest abortion, but somehow unacceptable to march against the injustices of sexism and inequality? Can I be a Christian, but still care about some of the issues on the feminist agenda?
Most of us, myself included, tend to associate feminism with angry, pagan women waving banners and shouting obscenities, and yes, there was definitely some of that at the rally that day, but there were also Bible-believing women among their ranks. These are women who felt called to stand in solidarity with sisters who have been abandoned, abused, and violated or who, themselves, have suffered unjustness because of their gender.
If you’ve never been victimized and mistreated as a woman, consider yourself fortunate, because there are many who have. Such was the case for me many years ago.
Taking a Stand Against Evil
For 10 years, I was married to a man who had a serious addiction to alcohol and drugs. Although we both regularly attended church and had gone to counseling, he was unrepentant and things got progressively worse.
He started spending nights away from home and would use his entire paycheck to purchase drugs, leaving me and his three children with little to no money for food and other household expenses. His addiction was so bad that he started stealing money from the children’s piggy banks and I resorted to sleeping with my wallet under my pillow. The final straw was when a drug dealer came to the house demanding money that he said my husband owed.
Although my family and close friends knew the intimate details of the situation and were sympathetic, several well-meaning people urged me to stay in the relationship, even after knowing he had been promiscuous. The idea of me leaving my marriage was considered so improper that they were willing for me to risk my health and the safety of my children.
I had a decision to make and the weight of it was so heavy that it almost caused a nervous breakdown. After much prayer and advice from my former pastor and a few others, I made the decision to leave and preserve what was left of my family.
Twenty-one years later, I’m happily remarried to a Godly man and I look at my adult daughters and I see young women who respect themselves and who value their worth and bodies. As a wife and a mother, God called me to rise in righteous femininity, uphold a standard, and fight the tyranny that had come against our home.
It’s important to define exactly what feminism is. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, Feminism is “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities,” but this definition falls short. It fails to consider that righteous feminism is a spiritual call ordained by God himself.
The Bible is full of women that were used by God to be advocates for justice, not just for themselves, but for others who were oppressed and mistreated. Therefore, feminism doesn’t have to be a dirty word feared by Christians because it’s deeply rooted in the narratives of scripture.
- Esther, a Jewish Queen married to King Ahasuerus, risked personal peril to petition the king on behalf of her people so they would not be annihilated by Haman.
- Deborah, a prophetess and the only female judge for Israel, went into battle with the troops to help them win the war against their enemy, King Jabin of Canaan.
- Jael was the heroine who killed the commander of the Canaanite army by hammering a tent-pin into his head after he fell asleep.
- Dorcas was a New Testament disciple who lived in Joppa and used her wealth, prominence, and gift of sewing to provide clothes to the poor widows of her community. Her contributions were so significant that when she died she was mourned by “all the widows…crying and showing (Peter) the robes and other clothing that she had made while she was still with them” (Acts 9:39).
- Jochebed, the mother of Moses, against the order of the Egyptian king, hid him for three months and when she could no longer hide him, she made a water-tight basket and floated him down the Nile River in order to save his life.
- Puah and Shiphrah were the two Israelite midwives who feared God and helped prevent the murder of Hebrew baby boys by the Egyptians.
Let’s fast forward a few thousand years to the women of the 19th century who courageously fought against the evil institution of slavery.
Underground Railroad leader Harriet Tubman, American abolitionist Sojourner Truth, author and abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe, and suffragist and social activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton were all holy feminists who God used to advance his kingdom and fulfill his righteousness.
Based on the example of these women and many others throughout history, it seems clear that God never meant for women to be relegated to the sidelines when it comes to fighting against the social injustices of poverty, racial discrimination, infanticide, sexual harassment, income disparities, and other social ills.
These women understood that although the scriptures say, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” sometimes making peace requires taking a stand and that it may even involve risking life and limb.
Becoming a Drum Major for Justice
Let me be clear and say I am not an advocate of everything on the modern feminist agenda. However, there are valid issues that must be addressed and the Christian women who fight for these issues should not have their faith questioned and their concerns dismissed.
Furthermore, as believers, we have a responsibility to reach out, in compassion, to the some of the hurting, enraged women who attended the women’s march that day, remembering that we, too, were once “dead in trespasses and sins” and that it’s only “by grace you have been saved through faith”. Many of these women have been abandoned by loved ones who were supposed to love them and ignored by the church who should have helped them.
As Christians, it’s easy to shake our finger in self-righteous indignation and pray pious, imprecatory prayers, but bringing in God’s kingdom is not easy work. It’s time for the church to get into the trenches, wade into the dirty waters of sin, recover these women, and love the hell right out of them.
In his 1968 “Drum Major Instinct” speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. talks about how he wants to be remembered at his life’s end:
“Say that I was a drum major for peace. Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. [Say] I was a drum major for righteousness.”
My prayer is that the Body of Christ would encourage sisters of the faith to “be strong in the Lord,” heed the call to be “drum majors for justice”, and that all of us, together, can help usher in the Kingdom of God.