A thought by Jason Duncan | 10 minute read
I remember the day my wife bluntly declared in a conversation with me that she was a feminist. Not that it was new or something I hadn’t realized prior, but it was something about her boldness and the relieved / satisfied look in her face that made that passing conversation different. She had a confidence in her declaration that I hadn’t noticed before (or more likely hadn’t payed attention to). This was different, and I changed because of it. A missionary once told me the average American needs to hear the full gospel message 10 times for it to sink in. I honestly have no clue how many conversations my wife and I had prior to this one about feminism. Maybe thousands… but it was this moment that all of her effort, her tireless explaining, her trying to get through to me, finally sank in.
I, in that moment, identified myself as a feminist.
But what does that mean? How does one be a christian and feminist and a male? My wife has discipled me for years pointing out nearly everyday the inequality along the way, but I still had so many questions. In my over-spiritualization I read the bible in a new light, I saw Jesus in a new light. I identified Jesus as a feminist especially for the culture in his time. But how do I accurately convey my new identification to my christian community? The word feminist carries a lot of baggage and on the surface level it’s scary!
I have this brilliant and long-suffering picture of a feminist in my wife, who has labored with me for years, making me a better man, husband, and father, but others don’t have that picture. Most people when they picture a feminist, picture an easily angered monster who doesn’t want equality but superiority. That’s not my wife or the feminists I know, they want equality, which means what’s best for men as well.
So I hijacked our podcast for an entire month to talk about feminism and learn more about it. I’ll confess that I also had an agenda to show my co-host and conservative leaning best friend that feminism wasn’t as scary as he thinks. For the entire month of May we got to know women who also identify as feminists, with each one we talked about a different aspect of feminism some topics with more clarity than others. In total we spent nearly nine hours in direct conversation with them!
In our first episode of the series, we talked to my wife, Jess. Why? Because she is who we interact with the most! We (Alex and I) don’t spend all of our time researching and reading about feminism, we have families and jobs, we have life outside of podcasting, but for us the feminist we interact with the most is my wife. A real live person, which I always prefer over blog entries or YouTube videos. With Jess we talked about her terrible church upbringing into purity culture and the reasons she identifies as a Christian as well as a feminist. The conversation garnered the attention of some very big names in feminism, Jamie the very Worst Missionary, as well as a complement from Sarah Bessey. However do the personal nature of the some of the content we decided to remove the episode from circulation at this time.
— Jamie Wright (@JamieTheVWM) May 7, 2017
— Sarah Bessey (@sarahbessey) May 9, 2017
We were honored in part two of our series to talk to Hillary McBride, a feminist therapist residing in Vancouver Canada. She has also appeared on some major podcasts like the Inglorious Pasterds Podcast and the Liturgists. We primarily talked to Hillary about a new book she has written scheduled to release this fall, “Mothers, Daughters, and Body Image: Learning to Love Ourselves As We Are.” She dropped some gigantic truths on us about being content with our bodies. In her research she found that contentment with oneself by and large was associated with a belief in a higher power! She also brought to light for us the different waves of feminism! Listen to it here:
Pastor Alice Connor joined us in part three to talk about her new and amazing book “Fierce: Women of the Bible and Their Stories of Violence, Mercy, Bravery, Wisdom, Sex, and Salvation” where she provides a fresh and female perspective on many of the women in the bible. I greatly encourage everyone who reads this to buy her book! In the interview we discussed some of the deeper themes hidden within her book. I personally read “Fierce” while facing some very difficult trials in life. In reality I should have taken a solid month off of podcasting, but I’m so glad and grateful I hung in there, had this conversation, and read this book. Because in Pastor Alice’s character development I identified so much with struggle, treating God as a true friend we can push back against, and authentic worship. This atypical book review and interview is extremely special to me. What’s even more rad, is that Alice stayed on the call long after we finished the interview to give us some much needed personal counsel! Thank you!
Hey just listened to your episode on @NYPastors – from one guest to another- loved everything you said. Gonna go order fierce right now.
— Hillary McBride (@hillarylmcbride) June 11, 2017
Finally, wrapping up our series we had a dear podcasting friend Holly B of the “Method Theology Podcast” on to share her perspective on feminism as well as hash out the old egalitarian / complementarian discussion. Holly within the past few years has recently joined the feminism and egalitarian movement, so her take is fresh in her mind, and you can tell when you listen to the interview. She is a well spoken student of sociology and loves theology. In this series wrap up episode Holly helped us define our “christian” variation of feminism!
Alex and I have a secondary podcast called Not Your Pastor’s Pulpit, where we invite listeners of our show and fellow podcasters to share their perspective on Jesus in hope of finding the unity Jesus prayed about in John 17. In addition to our interviews on feminism, we released for the entire month of May sermons from women. These sermons had no feminism requirement.
The sermons were incredible and life changing! Laura Pruneau brought us to tears describing the loss of her daughter. A sermon that will be entrenched in my heart forever as she pinned down the exact location of Jesus as holding her daughter. I can’t even type that without tears welling up at the realization of how amazing God is.
Ashley Easter shared how Jesus was a victim of abuse and can identify with those who have been abused. Her perspective is a true enlightenment to the church, one that I hope lives on until the bride of Christ (the church) is officially married to the groom (Jesus).
Alicia McClintic’s sermon was a personal breakthrough for me. Alicia preached her sermon as if she was talking to her own congregation and I can’t help but picture myself sitting in a pew in front of her hearing her words. At the age of 33 this was the first time I have ever heard a woman expositionally preach as she does in her sermon. I am so thankful for her time and wisdom! It’s also a sermon in which Alex coined the hashtag #JerkPharisee.
Finally closing out the month Becky Castle Miller gave us another perspective on abuse, this time how Jesus didn’t use his power or influence to abuse or lord over people, but rather, how he spoke kindly and was gentle and gave his followers options.
So what did I learn from all of the these interviews? How does one relate as a male christian feminist?
While I certainly have become more aware of issues and even willing to contribute my voice to the cause, I’m not a female. I will never face the same hardships in the same way. I continue to be appalled as each rock of injustice is overturned and my eyes focus on what’s been uncovered. I know women who have not responded to cat calls and been threatened and followed. I know women who were abused and then blamed for it. I know women who have been reduced to only what their body can provide visually. I could keep going, but you get the point, as a male, I will never face those life-altering situations.
“You shouldn’t have drank that, or wore that, or been there.” That is the narrative of the church I grew up in, and I can’t rest with that logic anymore. It turns my stomach. I read the parable of the good Samaritan and see women hurting and left for dead, and those words play in my head. “They shouldn’t have drank that, wore that, or been there.” Those are the words of the righteous who passed by on the other side unwilling to help and risk the public ridicule of being identified with the sinner. Those are not the words of the Samaritan who offered help, and likewise, are not the words of Jesus who came to help those who need healing.
In true secular feminist circles, I may not be accepted as a feminist by my contemporaries. I don’t care. I will maintain the feminist label as long as inequality continues to thrive. In true religious circles, I many not be accepted as a christian by my contemporaries. I don’t care. My identity is in Christ, and my weakness is His strength and for His glory. I will maintain the christian label even with it’s baggage, because, if it be His will, I will not deny Christ.
My ultimate hope for the feminist movement though, is that the word “feminist” is no longer needed because inequality has been defeated and is no more. In the same fashion, I hope that the word “christian” so truly emulates Christ that inequality has been defeated and is no more.
As for my co-host Alex, who still does not identify as a feminist. I can truly say I’m proud of him on a couple of fronts. First, this hybrid definition of “christian feminist” is truly just “christian” to him. Listen to the end of episode 35, and you’ll see what I mean. Second, he was willing to listen, and listen, and listen! Think of how many of the world’s problems could be solved if the world would just listen. In the process he collected some amazing advice for his daughter that he wouldn’t have collected otherwise!
All in all, it was fun adventure getting to spend some time with some incredible women! I hope it is beneficial to listener as well! Thank you to all of our guests and sermon contributors! You’re willingness to help us define feminism will not be forgotten!
To end on a lighter note, I may still be learning what feminism means and looks like in both christian and secular environments, but at the very least I understood all the jokes in the “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” episode “Kimmy Is a Feminist!”
<bio> Jason is not a pastor </bio>
contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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