Is it possible to be a good Christian at the same time as being a feminist?

(269 Posts)
SummerHoliDidi Sun 28-Jul-13 19:48:49

I count myself as a feminist, and am also a Catholic, but I am finding it increasingly difficult to be both.

I sat through a very Christian wedding (much more overtly Christian than I have ever been to before) yesterday, where there were a LOT of references to the bible passage that talks about women submitting to their husbands but men only having to love their wives. I found myself wanting to tell the minister to fuck off, which is hardly a Christian thing to want to do. The man is the head of the household - fuck off. If a man loves his wife and only wants to do the best for her what wife wouldn't submit? - fuck off. Hearing "obey" in the vows - fuck off. Having children is God's will - fuck off. The bride being "given away" by her father - fuck off.

I appreciate that this particular wedding is not typical of Christianity as a whole, and my friend has actively chosen to have this type of ceremony (she was always very sensible back when we were at uni, but "found God" a couple of years ago and I hadn't realised quite how much she's bought into it).

How do other Christian feminists reconcile both viewpoints, or do you find yourself picking and choosing which bits to take from each?

GetStuffezd Sun 28-Jul-13 19:51:28

I am so sorry for an unhelpful post but I am DYING imagining the congregation sitting, heads bowed respectfully, and you muttering a "fuck off" at everything the minister said! grin

SummerHoliDidi Sun 28-Jul-13 19:53:05

I kept it all in my head thankfully, but it was trying to burst out. Then I caught dp's (a complete atheist) eye and he raised his eyebrows too, which nearly had me in fits of giggles.

I'm a feminist and a Christian, works for me.

I don't believe the passage is meant to be taken that way and modern, liberal Christians don't believe literal interpretations of the passage quoted.

What sort of church was it?

stargirl1701 Sun 28-Jul-13 19:55:22

I am a Christian but a heretical one. grin

I don't think the Bible is the literal word of God. Just a representation/interpretation that must be looked at as an historical document. I just try to love God and love my neighbour. I don't think you need anything else.

I am open to the notion that God is simply an alien from a species far more advanced than our own. grin

Heretic.

daftdame Sun 28-Jul-13 19:56:36

If a man truly loves his wife he wouldn't make or even want her to do her do anything that made her unhappy....

Its a bit of a catch 2 situation isn't it?

daftdame Sun 28-Jul-13 19:59:16

I think of it as an ideal. Ideally you can look to and trust your husband to make a good family decision, stick up for you etc, take responsibility. Have harmony and agreement within the family.

Usually people have to have a lot of faith and work through some issues...

dontlaugh Sun 28-Jul-13 20:00:13

My own opinion is most organised religion and feminism do not, and never will, share common ground. It would mean women matter, innit? The recent Magdalene debacle in Ireland should tell a lot of people what the Catholic Church think of women - referencing in particular the 4 religious orders refusal to pay anything towards the redress scheme.,

It's actually a brilliant sentence though with 2 completely dependant clauses:

'Submit to your husband as your husband submits to Christ' ( paraphrasing obviously)

So you do no obeying until your husband submits. And it can't be asked or demanded separately.

I would imagine all the women in my church are feminists - the ones I know well are.

JoTheHot Sun 28-Jul-13 20:04:21

Surely it is 'picking and choosing' to arbitrarily decide passage x from the bible does mean what it says, while passage y means something different to what it says?

kim147 Sun 28-Jul-13 20:04:55

stargirl You don't watch Stargate do you grin

I think the basics of Christianity is to look after your neighbour, the poor and to lead a good life.

That message seems to have got lost in a lot of other stuff which is not good for women.

But I'm not Christian so I'm only listening to the basics of what Jesus preached.

curlew Sun 28-Jul-13 20:07:41

You certainly can't be a catholic and a feminist. I suspect you actually can't be any sort of Christian and a feminist. I don't know enough about any of the world's other religions to make a judgement, although I have heard that Judaism and feminism to together quite well. I don't know, though.

Carolra Sun 28-Jul-13 20:10:07

Can you talk to your minister about it? I'm CofE and our vicar was really helpful to speak to when we were in the process of getting dd baptised. It was around the time of the Women Bishops vote and I was struggling... He and I will have to have more conversations about it at some point because I'm still struggling with it, but he welcomes the chat which I appreciate!! I think it's pretty hard to be a committed Christian and believe in equality for women but it takes people like us to be part of the institution to help them towards change.

It's all interpretation - no picking or choosing required. It just depends on your interpretation.

I am a Christian and a feminist curlew so I don't understand why you're saying its not possible confused

Am I right that you're saying that because you think people who believe in God are er... Deluded? grin

Did you say that before? Or am I misremembering?

Bue Sun 28-Jul-13 20:11:06

I'm a feminist and a Christian (although a very bad, very lazy one). I really think it depends what church you belong to as to whether your beliefs can be compatible. Even though I've lived in England for 8 years I still consider myself to really belong to the Anglican Church of Canada, because I can't get my head round this women bishops thing, which is making me increasingly irritable. I mean, we had our first woman bishop in the Canadian church in 1993!

curlew again, it depends on which branch of Judaism. Reform/Liberal Judaism and feminism = yes. Orthodox Judaism and feminism = god no, not in a million years. It's incredibly patriarchal.

stargirl1701 Sun 28-Jul-13 20:11:07

Stargate, yes indeed. Pretty much EVERYTHING with the 'star' prefix gringringrin

daftdame Sun 28-Jul-13 20:13:55

I'm me.

I'm a Christian, whole heartedly, not a non-feminist or a feminist, although I do not agree with exploitation in any form. This does not conflict with Christianity, for me...

SummerHoliDidi Sun 28-Jul-13 20:16:22

It was a CofE wedding, but it seemed to be a very Evangelical branch, with much happy-clapping going on. I assumed that CofE would be a more feminist church tbh as clearly with women vicars they are a lot more women friendly than us Catholics.

I am a very bad Catholic, and getting worse as I get older, because I am questioning things more and more, particularly the inequality between men and women withing the church, as well as some of the more sexist passages within the bible.

mrsspagbol Sun 28-Jul-13 20:19:48

Could not agree more with what Laurie wrote:

"I'm a feminist and a Christian, works for me.

I don't believe the passage is meant to be taken that way and modern, liberal Christians don't believe literal interpretations of the passage quoted."

I think you need to read some Bible commentary on Ephesians 5 and 6 to understand the full context of those verses and how they can be applied in a modern setting.

marriedinwhiteisback Sun 28-Jul-13 20:19:49

Again, what church was this - doesn't sound like my liberal high anglican one. The marriage vows are: for the avoidance of sin, the procreation of children and mutual comfort. Brides don't have to obey.

I believe men and women are equal.

marriedinwhiteisback Sun 28-Jul-13 20:21:18

IME the evangelical wing of the church is very literal in its translations of the bible. Personally it isn't for me and I don't believe it's how Jesus would have thought or lived or guided.

curlew Sun 28-Jul-13 20:21:37

"Am I right that you're saying that because you think people who believe in God are er... Deluded?

Did you say that before? Or am I misremembering?"

Nope, never said that. I think they are wrong, but that's not the same thing. And anyway, you can be wrong and/or deluded about things and still be a feminist.[Grin] But i don't you can't be a member of an organisation which has been so instrumental in the oppression of women over the centuries and also be a feminist.

daftdame Sun 28-Jul-13 20:24:49

Jesus definitely recognised the importance of women. Look at who he spoke to after His resurrection!

Iheartcrunchiebars Sun 28-Jul-13 20:24:52

I'm a feminist and a Christian. It doesn't mean I agree with everything the church says. There's loads that just doesnt fit with what I believe being a Christian is all about. When I was debating confirmation with my vicar he put it like this. 'When you married Mr Crunchie you weren't promising to agree with everything he thinks and believes, when you're a Christian you don't have to believe everything the Bible says.' The church needs feminists to update their outdated views.

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