Feminism is an ever-changing word. The definition changes depending on who you’re talking to. To some feminism is more than a word. It’s a part of who they are, and a way to fight for their rights as a woman. It’s important to understand the history of this word and what it’s meant through the years.
What Is Feminism Theology? Feminism theology is a way of interpreting scripture of all different religions from a feminist perspective. The goal of feminism theology is to redefine a woman’s role within society and shift others’ views of a woman’s value. It strives to make scripture more female inclusive and show that the god from the particular religion has feminine traits. It focuses on how women are significant in our world and must not be overlooked.
This post will increase your knowledge of feminism theology. It will also help you discern whether it’s something you should allow into your spiritual life.
What Is Feminism Theology?
Before going into feminism theology, I want to first define the word feminine and theology separately.
Feminism: Fighting for a woman’s right to have the same rights and be treated equally to men.
Theology: “the study of the nature of God and religious belief” – Oxford dictionary
So when we put these two together we have feminism theology = is studying the Bible or God through the lens of a feminist.
This means sometimes misinterpreting or shifting scripture in order to support that the woman is to be treated equally to a man.
Feminism theology was believed to have originated in the 1960s when the feminist movement was on a rise. It was brought to the attention of women by Valerie Saiving Goldstein.
She believed that scripture had been written by men and only for men, so it could not accurately support a woman’s view. Women’s voices in the past had been silent and had to fight for their right to vote.
This caused a deeper desire for feminists to fight for the rights of women within every facet of life including religion.
Many feminists believe that if a woman is serving a man, or not able to hold all of the same roles as a man then they are being treated equally.
This is a view that has been formed around a secular view, not a Biblical one.
Women matter and should be treated equally as important as men. However, we were created to have different roles within society.
We still have a right to a voice and there are many strong women within the Bible, so we should not read God’s word through a foggy lens that it wasn’t meant to be viewed from. It clouds up the truth and prevents us to see God’s word as it truly is.
Changing scripture is not a minuscule thing. It is saying that God’s word is not infallible and it’s not having true faith. Scripture is truth meaning that it is not objective. When we change it we are saying that it’s not true and it begins to lose its value.
Feminism is not a blanketed term. If someone considers themselves to be a feminist they could have differing views from another feminist. There are three main viewpoints of feminism.
1st, 2nd, and 3rd waves. They are called waves because of how they’ve developed and grown over time.
The waves help differentiate the desires and beliefs of each time period and help to view the growth of the feminist movement as a timeline.
1st Wave Feminism
First-wave feminism broke ground for what women are allowed to do today. In the nineteenth and early twentieth century. At this time women, were viewed as property of the men in their lives.
In society, women’s primary role was to stay at home and care for their children and husband. As a result positions for women in the workplace were limited. They were secretaries and in factories.
Women had fewer rights than men and were unable to vote. Thus creating the first wave of feminism. Though this began in the nineteenth century, it is still a form of feminism today.
This form of feminism believes in the right to fight for equal rights for women and us to be able to have an important part in society.
This form of feminism wasn’t necessarily against a woman’s role as a wife and mother, but that a woman should be valued. They should have the option to pursue schooling and a career.
The first wave time period ended after women gained the right to vote. The act was officially put into place in 1919.
2nd Wave Feminism
In the 1960’s the second wave began to rise. The goal for this wave built on the first wave. Women wanted more than just opportunities for growth. They wanted equality in every facet of life.
Because women had been viewed for so long as just a mother or wife it created anger within many women.
It was no longer about being viewed as more than a wife and mom. It was disregarding the role of women and overlooking its importance. These feminists fought for and still do for women to be able to hold every position a man does.
A huge contribution to this belief was the book “The Feminine Mystique” By Betty Friedan. In her book, Betty says the following
Each suburban wife struggles with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts, and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night- she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question — ‘Is this all?Betty Friedan
This quote minimizes the life of a mom the importance of her role in her family. It’s saying that being a stay at home is a monotonous chore.
This wave is what caused the word sexist to be incredibly misused in society. If a woman was told she couldn’t do something, the person telling her no was labeled a sexist. Even if anyone else in that position was also told no.
Don’t get me wrong sexism is still an issue, but nowhere as big as we make it to be within America.
This wave believes that women had to frame their identity around their family and husband. This then resulted in women not being significant and being of less importance. If they weren’t a mom or a wife then lost value as a human.
This was an extreme twist on how women were actually treated. The mistreatment of women throughout the years caused anger within many feminists. They only fueled the fire and allowed it to lead to over-exaggerations of the mistreatment women have encountered.
This wave’s main goal was to make men and women equal while proving that women are more than just moms/wives.
3rd Wave Feminism
The third wave is currently the most common form of feminism. A huge influence in this wave is actor and author Naomi Wolf.
Naomi wolf’s main belief is that women are viewed as material objects and there’s a focus on the way we look.
A culture fixated on female thinness is not an obsession with female beauty, but an obsession with female obedience. Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history; a quietly mad population is a tractable one.Naomi Wolf
Our culture makes judgments on those who are overweight and has unrealistic standards of what both women and men should look like. Naomi exposes this from the female viewpoint through this quote.
She takes the unhealthy standard of weight to a whole other level. She’s saying that the weight expectation of women is really just a way of women being controlled by men.
The focus may not be on whether the woman is beautiful because of her weight, but if she is obedient because she is submitting to society’s standards.
Third wave took the original goal of equality and turned it into a desire for superiority.
For some third wavers it was no longer wanting to have the same right as men, but being better than them. This wave overgeneralized the mistakes of men in the past and applied them to all men. All men are viewed as evil and only view women as objects.
This quote sums up the opinion of many third wave feminists.
Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.Margaret Atwood
Though this a understandable fear, it must not be a overgeneralization.
Let me be very clear. Men have messed up and in my personal life, I have been hurt by men in my life. However, I’ve also been deeply hurt by women as well.
That does not mean that I should put that blame on all men or all women. That is not a fair generalization. All men and women struggle with sin because of the fall. So everyone is going to make mistakes and struggle with sin.
We need to use this as a lens to view others. Not to judge them for their sin or be afraid of them hurting us but as an opportunity to practice discernment.
Another popular movement that came out of this form of feminism is the “My body my choice” movement.
This movement makes the first couple months about the mother and all the impact the baby has on a woman. It takes away from the importance of the life the woman is growing and that if we have restrictions around abortion it is viewed as another way of controlling women.
Just like with anything there are different levels of beliefs, some of which are very extreme. While they’re other mild supporters of this fight for women’s rights.
Is Feminine Theology Biblical?
Each of the waves of feminism impacts the level at which a woman can interpret the Bible from a feminist’s view. No matter the level of lens you use to read the Bible. The question still stands. Is this Biblical?
Feminism Theology is not Biblical.
We are not to shift scripture or take it out of context in order to support our point.
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
When we change scripture we are saying that it is not true. We are not fully trusting the word of God. We no longer believe in God’s character, but instead, say that our character is better than the Lord’s.
Feminism has become a toxic mindset. First-wave feminism fights for equality and for the proper treatment of women.
This is something we should also fight for as Christians. We treat others the way we want to be treated.
So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.Matthew 7:12
When women we’re being treated as though they were less or not being prevented from similar opportunities to men. It was against this verse. We are called to love our brothers and sisters according to scripture.
We are not to treat each other as less than or control each other. Instead, we are to see one another through the eyes of Christ.
However, the other two waves of feminism lean towards not being Biblical because they dismiss the role of a woman and are centered around the world.
The role of wife and mother is not a role to be overlooked. It holds of utmost importance. When we say that being a mom is a way of women being controlled, we are undermining the importance of motherhood.
Motherhood is a ministry in itself. Not every woman may be called to be a mom, but every mom is called to ministry through raising her children.
It is her duty to raise them up in scripture and as followers of Christ.
The roles of the man and woman within the covenant of marriage are listed in Ephesians 5:22-24
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.Ephesians 5:22-24
A woman’s role is to submit to her husband. This doesn’t mean that she is now his puppet, but that he leads her according to scripture. It’s a loving form of submitting to him because that’s what we are called to do.
A wife should trust her husband, so allowing him to lead her should not be a scary thing, but instead something that will help strengthen her faith.
This does not mean that a woman cannot be in leadership roles because of Deborah, Priscilla, and other women from the Bible who were leaders.
However, there are some roles that are specific to be filled by a man according to the Bible. This is not something we should be bitter about as women, but see the beauty in it.
That our creator created us specifically to caregivers and discerning. We are to help encourage the body, especially the male leaders.
Men and women have equal importance, but not equal roles.
To learn more about the roles that a woman can’t fill and the viewpoints click here.
Why It Matters
Feminism theology is something that we must be aware exists as Christians. Why? Because we need to be able to point those who practice it to the truth.
We must be able to show them that God’s word is infallible.
It doesn’t need to be changed in order to show that women matter because it already does that. Our Heavenly Father cares for both women and men equally and does not view women as slaves.
Instead, He values them so much, that through a woman came the savior of the world. Our Lord does not undervalue women but gives them value.
In fact Proverbs 31 speaks to the character of a godly woman and her importance.
She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.Proverbs 31: 26-30
Women have a beautiful role in the Kingdom of God. We need to educate ourselves on what that is.
We must see the beauty in serving our husbands, being a mom, and loving others. If we are unable to see the beauty in our role then we will be incapable of filling it and showing feminists the importance of our role.
We need to live according to God’s word, not the world. Once we find our value in Him, we will no longer seek it from the world.