My fellow blogger Bill Ekhardt points me to this post at the Christian A-Team Blog: An Introduction to Feminism. Written by a fellow Christian named Roger, the post offers what promises to be a thumbnail sketch of the history of feminism. It's the usual sort of screed, frankly. It contrasts the "good" nineteenth century feminists (Stanton, Anthony et al) who merely wanted legal rights for women with the nasty Sixties feminists (Friedan is singled out) who demanded actual equality with men.
The second form of Feminism is sometimes called the “second-wave,” while I prefer Radical Feminism. This form emerged in the 1960’s and sought (quite consciously) to establish functional equality between men and women. According to its proponents, women not only can do everything that men can do, but they should do everything men can do. This sort of Feminism has been incredibly damaging to the culture and its members.
Precisely how "functional equality" damages the culture is not something Roger bothers to explain; apparently we are to take it for granted. The comments aren't much better, with a Christian blogger I respect referring to Friedan as a Stalinist. That's so wildly off base, I don't know where to start. (For folks in the Christian world, that's like calling Benny Hinn a strict Five Point Calvinist, or calling Gene Robinson a Fundamental Baptist. Sheesh.)
I don't usually take the time to go after anti-feminist attacks on conservative Christian websites. But the A-Team blog has some good stuff on it -- it's not your usual, run-of-the-mill rants of the sort you find in the commentary section of World Net Daily. More importantly, I'm trying to distinguish between a useless engagement with those who are utterly hostile to feminism, and creating dialogue with those whose understanding of feminism is based on distortions, half-truths, and fear.
Roger would do well to become familiar with Christians for Biblical Equality, a terrific non-profit dedicated to reconciling feminist principles of justice and egalitarianism with the Gospel. The statement of beliefs on radical equality is endorsed by everyone from Richard Mouw to Bill Hybels to Ron Sider. An excerpt:
The Bible teaches that woman and man were created for full and equal partnership...
In the church, spiritual gifts of women and men are to be recognized, developed and used in serving and teaching ministries at all levels of involvement: as small group leaders, counselors, facilitators, administrators, ushers, communion servers, and board members, and in pastoral care, teaching, preaching, and worship.
In so doing, the church will honor God as the source of spiritual gifts. The church will also fulfill God's mandate of stewardship without the appalling loss to God's kingdom that results when half of the church's members are excluded from positions of responsibility.
Hmmm. And Roger said that the worst thing about feminism is that According to its proponents, women not only can do everything that men can do, but they should do everything men can do. Well, CBE -- made up of far better biblical scholars than Roger and I will ever be -- has made it clear that when it comes to family life and church life and public life, women and men are equally called to all responsibilities.
I look forward to Roger's next post, where he explains why most of the faculty of Fuller Seminary have betrayed the fundamentals of Christian faith by insisting on biblical equality! Feminism's call for full integration of women into all aspects of the culture and human endeavors is utterly congruent with the biblical understanding of gender and sexuality.
Whenever I doubt the possibility of reconciling faith and feminism, I pray. I also have a look at the principles of CBE, grounded as they are in Scripture -- and in the radical notion that God calls women and men alike to full and equal participation in the Kingdom.