Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women
Exploring God’s Radical Notion that Women are People, Too
Why I picked up this book:
Seminarians have the opportunity to complete a lot of reading. After evaluating my reading diet over the past few years, I was a little discouraged by the limited amount of assisted reading that was either written by women or writers of color. Therefore, my original desire was to read several books that were written for or about women this summer. I did not get through nearly as much reading as I would have liked, but this book was certainly at the top of my list. I was just itching to get to it as I saw the bright yellow quotes displayed on Pinterest.
Who Should Read Jesus Feminist:
I can certainly understand why some Christians would shy away from reading a book like this. After all, the title includes the dreaded “F” word. The words “Jesus” and “Feminist” cannot possibly go together. Or can they? I found this book quite delightful and refreshing to read. The author invites the reader into a conversation by a bonfire on the shore, so I think any woman who likes bonfires, seashores, and conversation should probably add this book to their reading list.
What’s in Store for You:
Contrary to what some might think, author, Sarah Bessey, is not looking for a fight. She begins by drawing us all in with Idelette McVicker’s poem, “Let Us Be Women Who Love.” I had not read the poem prior to opening the pages of this book, but I do love it and have visited it many times since. Sarah claims that Jesus made a feminist out of her and shares how she would like to see the church reclaim the word feminist. After all, not all feminism is the same, “feminism’s roots are tangled up with the strong Christian women’s commitments to the temperance movement, suffragist movements, and in American and England in particular, the abolitionist movements of the nineteenth century. [Additionally,] there is a rich tradition of pro-life feminist, which continues today.”
Feminism only means we champion the dignity, rights, responsibility, and glories of women as equal in importance—not greater than, but certainly not less than—to those of men, and we refuse discrimination against women (13-14).
With this definition, she begins the conversation to usher us all on to pursue the redemptive way of the gospel. In the conversation, Sarah explores gender roles; Paul’s word concerning women; women as spiritual warriors, saints, and midwives. Sarah also affirms our deep need for community, as women advocate for the global concerns of the world.
Finally, she calls us all to live with God’s kingdom in view. “The mission of God is your mission, and it’s mine, and it’s the work of every son and daughter living loved as we join with God in his great and gorgeous mission.”
My personal take-aways?
I really enjoyed this book. Sarah and I have much in common, from our love for Jesus and commitment to his church, to bearing unimaginable losses, to our wilderness experiences and weariness with the same old conversations in the church. I get her. I think she has weathered the storms and risen as a peacemaker, reconciler, and person of grace with this testament of a book. Because of this weathering, she is more confident as a woman of God, disciple of Christ, wife, mother, and minister. As am I.
After reading this book, I would encourage women, “Don’t be afraid to live authentically, ask hard questions or go against the grain. Christ has set you free. Sarah writes, “We are creating a world where every women can be who see is, without apology, in freedom.” Commit to following Jesus wholeheartedly and dwell in a safe community that will allow you to walk in your freedom and grow in spiritual maturity as the person God created you to be. Stop trying to perform, meet impossible obligations, or evaluate your worth based on the expectations and standards of outsiders. God is writing your testimony and the path is uniquely your own. I invite you to get on the path and keep walking.
“I am a biblical woman because I live & move & have my being in the daily reality of being a follower of Jesus” @sarahbessey #JesusFeminist
Woman: “‘You are a warrior, alongside your brothers, on God’s mission in the world.” @sarahbessey #JesusFeminist
I also recommend reading:
Why Complementarian Women Should Read Jesus Feminist by Lore Ferguson
Other books I would recommend along this lines:
Reclaiming Eve: The Identity & Calling of Women in the Kingdom of God by Suzanne Burden, Carla Sunberg, and Jamie Wright
Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women by Carolyn Custis James
Dare Mighty Things by Halee Scott Gray