“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” - Galatians 3:28
For centuries, the role of women in the church has been debated over and over. For many women this has resulted in taking a back seat when it comes to their calling in the Kingdom. But in her book Jesus Feminist, Sarah Bessey is issuing a new call to women. Using biblical teachings and examining the church culture of the past and present, Bessey shows women that they do have a place in the church and it is on the front lines in His Kingdom.
The term Jesus Feminist can be scary or off-putting for some. It can also be confusing for some. But the focus shouldn’t be on the label but on what women are capable of doing. It is a conversation that needs to be opened. And as a woman who has always taken a more hardline stance on our role, I truly believe that this book shows there is a place for every opinion in the conversation. The Kingdom of God is built on the work of everyone who abides in Jesus Christ, both men and women. We all bring something to the table and without that we can’t truly achieve all that the church is capable of.
I was truly amazed by this book. I have been following Sarah Bessey on Twitter but haven’t been reading her blog so I wasn’t fully sure what to expect. In all honesty, I was expecting to come out of it feeling condemned for my views on a woman’s role in the church. But it was nothing like that at all. Using the teachings of both the Bible and scholars, as well as her own personal experiences, Bessey crafts a well-structured argument for gender equality in the church. This isn’t just an argument against the teachings that women shouldn’t be pastors or should keep silent in church, this is more an argument that Jesus has called us all to be a part of his Kingdom and that we all will have a role in building it. It won’t look the same for every woman but everyone has something to offer.
This book isn’t as hard-hitting as the title will have you believe but that is okay. Bessey isn’t writing it to be the next great theological masterpiece but rather to open up the conversation about traditional gender roles and to inspire women to find the place that Jesus has for them. She isn’t attempting to be the next great academic scholar, she’s a wife, mother, and blogger who feels compelled to share a story many women have. It’s time we throw out the debates and throw out the labels and start focusing on what Jesus wants us to achieve with the lives He has given us.
(Usually when I read a book, I jot down a few quotes that jump out at me. While reading this book, I wrote down many more quotes than I usually do. It was very difficult for me to pick just a few to go here.)
“I am a biblical woman because I live and move and have my being in the daily reality of being a follow of Jesus, living in the reality of being loved, in full trust of my Abba, I am a biblical woman because I follow in the footsteps of all the biblical women who came before me” - p.97-98
“If we can’t preach it in every context, for every person, it’s not really for everyone, and so then we should probably ask whether or not what we are preaching is actually the gospel” - p.126-127
“You have worth, not because of your gender or your vocation or your marital status. Not because of your labels or your underlined approved-by-the-gatekeepers books or your accomplishments or your checked-off tick boxes next to the celebration you’ve mistaken as a job description in Proverbs 31” - p.193