Reading Jesus Feminist was one of the first things that made it onto my 30 before 30 list. (To balance things out I also have on the list to read Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God by Jonathan Edwards, which I have had on my shelf since college and never gotten around to reading it.)
Ordering this book felt rebellious. When I had first heard of it I had thought ‘can you do say? Say that? Is that ok?’ Having read the book I do wonder if the author purposefully picked that title to weed out people who would dismiss the book regardless of the content. And if the title didn’t scare those people away, the introduction would. The introduction sets the tone for the book. And with that, I want to say what this book is not.
Jesus Feminist is not angry. It is not defensive. It is not a theology book. It is not a debate. The author calls herself a rabble rouser near the end, but she is the quietest rabble rouser I have ever encountered. If you’re anything like me the biggest thing in my list of ‘nots’ that would have jumped out at you is that I stated it’s not a theology book. The least amount of time spent in this book is addressing the passages in Scripture used in the submission debates, or whether or not women can preach. Sarah Bessey is egalitarian and does believe that women can be pastors, and she dives into the Scriptures and explains why she believes the traditional interpretation is inaccurate. And then she moves on. I found her argument thought provoking for why women can be pastors, but felt that her argument for why the complementarian view of submission is inaccurate to be weak.
But this book isn’t about arguments. Or sides.
“Neither one of us – woman or man – is secondary or backup; we are all key parts of Kingdom building, intrinsic to the story of God, right now.” Jesus Feminist pg. 79
I believe that’s the point of the book. Men, women, single, married, widowed, none of us are backup, secondary Christians. We are all equally loved and equally important in the Kingdom of God.
The author spends a good amount of ink writing about her love and respect for her husband, and painted a beautiful portrayal of marriage. Reading those parts of the book I found the cynicism regarding marriage that I hadn’t really known had been building in my heart being scrapped away. For that alone the book was worth the read.
There are many more quotes I marked that I could share, but I’ll leave it at that one. My conclusion for this book is that overall it points back to Christ. She encourages her readers to pray, to keep Christ at the center of your life, and listen to the Holy Spirit. At the end of my studies, will I agree with her 100%? Probably not. But I also don’t agree 100% with the theology in my C.S. Lewis books, doesn’t mean I’m going to stop reading C.S. Lewis. But isn’t that the amazing thing? We can read and study and compare to Scripture on our own. There aren’t gate keepers who are keepers of The Knowledge, and when we encounter something that we don’t understand? I pray that everyone who reads this has an older believer they can go to to help explain a tough issue, or have that older believer work through it with them.