Feminism and Religion


**Note: this article mostly focuses on Christianity, but also Judaism and Islam are touch upon. this is due to the bias of the reading and the contributors.

A lot of religious people use their religion as an excuse for not being feminists, in the same way that a lot of feminists say they can’t be religious. Although, the beliefs of these two groups don’t crossover, they share something in common- the belief that religion and feminism are incompatible. But what about those of us that are both feminists and religious? Are we onto something? Or are we just fooling ourselves, in an attempt to have an equal slice of the cake and eat it in celebration of whichever god(s) we worship?

Cath Elliot writing for The Guardian, certainly thinks we’re delusional, calling “Christian Feminist” an oxymoron. She says that religion tramples on women whilst exalting men and there are many examples to back up her assertion. Here are five examples from my reading:

  1. In 1992 The Vatican demanded US bishops preach that Jesus deliberately chose to exclude women. This was in response to the ‘women’s pastoral’ proposal that Catholic women in the early 80s began drafting. The US Bishops’ Conference voted against this draft put forward by The Vatican, but the fact that it was even suggested raises a lot of questions.

  2. Religious organisations are dominated and mostly controlled by men, despite the fact that women participate more. For example, in Catholicism and Orthodox Judaism women are forbidden from priesthood.

  3. In Islam, menstruating women are not allowed to touch the Qur’an, which Holm says is an act of devaluation of women.

  4. Sacred texts often focus on the actions of men, and are even sometimes explicitly anti-female. For example, Eve causing the downfall of humans.

  5. Catholicism is anti-abortion

Most of us that practice monotheistic religions, are familiar with these points, and more, but what does that mean about our feminism? Are we not true feminists if we believe in these religions? Or are we bad Christians/Jews/Muslims if we call ourselves feminists? Can feminism and religion be truly compatible? Here are some responses from those kind enough to share their thoughts, thank you.

Kristen and Bethenny from Girl Defined say they don’t identify as feminists because embracing feminism rejects God’s law. Emphasising “God’s design for womanhood”, they say that feminism is based on women empowering themselves for themselves as opposed to empowering themselves in order to glorify God. They feel as though feminism desires a world with 'no more morals, no more boundaries'.

It Feels a little like they have been fed the stigma, but it is also interesting that they relate their issues with feminism directly back to their faith. Their page is really interesting, they aren't really on my wavelength but somehow I enjoyed the videos, LOL.

Mr A

The ability of any ideology to evolve and grow means any one ideological expression, feminism, can be made to comply with any other, religion. That said, the orthodoxy and patriarchy inherent in each of today's 3 major religions makes it difficult to see how they can be made to comply with a modern, secular ideology like feminism without radical change in the mindset of their leading proponents.

Miss B

I think they can definitely be compatible, that's my own type of feminism/womanism

Sharon

I have chosen to serve God and abide by His rules, I should have the choice to do so. My faith is all about love and kindness to one another. And I've also accepted the roles a woman plays in Christianity. Feminism to me is more about having the choice and the acceptance that comes with it from both men and women. I'm not supposed to judge women who do things differently from me. I also believe women can flourish in anything if given the opportunity.

'Tofe

I used to struggle with this before, as a young female Christian feminist, as I would read things on twitter (by, as it turns out, uninformed youth) talking about how Christianity restricts a woman to being a submissive wife. They would then quote the Bible to prove that God thinks I'm inferior to men. Scary, right?

Well, thank God for friends that educate you (shout out Lade).

So, the verses that misogynists LOVE to quote is Ephesians 5: 22-24

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Apparently this proves that, as a wife, I am supposed to be inferior to my husband, as I am simply there to serve him and submit to him. No sis, keep reading:

Ephesians 5: 25-32 reads:

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[b] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church

God instructs husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church. As a Christian, you would understand the gravity of this task. Christ loved (and served) the Church, Christ was crucified for this Church. How can you then argue that God does not want equal partners in the relationship? God gives both people in a marriage very daunting tasks, but they are not unequal. Christ served the Church, so naturally the husband is supposed to serve his wife. How is that different from saying the wife should submit to the husband? I refuse to believe that my God thinks women are virtually slaves in the household, and I think that these verses prove that.

Ephesians 5:33:

33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Misogynists are so desperate to keep up the patriarchal society that we live in that they try to use the word of God against women. Classy. I don't see how anyone can use Ephesians 5 to tell me that feminism and religion are not compatible because they want different things.

Anyway, this is from the Bible, but I'm sure other people have found the same in other holy books.

So yes, say that your wife has to submit to you if you wish, but are you ready to love her in the way that Christ loved the church? Are you ready to love her the way you love yourself??

Feminism and religion are compatible. Misogyny and religion are not. A happy marriage would have the two people regarding each other as equals, as God intended, and giving their all to each other. An unhappy has a husband that only read verse 23

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So thankful to the contributors, who have probably by now forgotten what they even said, LOL! I hope you enjoyed the refreshing tune of other people's opinions, I'll be back with what I found in a later post, but for now here's what I think:

Woju

I was praying just now cos I have lots of work to do and haven't had the time to post, so I asked God to give me the strength and mental willpower to balance everything, so I don't neglect my blog. I think the relationship between feminism and religion is complicated because people have complicated the two. But ultimately, I do believe they are compatible because I believe that God gave me the courage to start this blog, the conviction to go through with it and continue with it (in spite of the setbacks) and the mind to be a feminist in the first place.

See you next post, thanks for keeping up with me!!

#religion #feature #perspective