Feminist Theology Essay
Feminist theology is based on the idea of “not lord but brother”. Jesus Christ himself stepped outside of societies norms by befriending the outcasts of society, which included women. Women are often portrayed as the cause of or focus of evil and misdeeds in the bible.
The focus of feminist theology is the perspective of theology from those who were outcast and therefore considered themselves as equals and friends to Jesus Christ. “If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.” (1 Cor.14:33-35)
Feminist theologians are logical and educated with their approach to the view of the Lord as an equal who is to be believed in and epitomized rather than worshipped based on gender. The Bible is very male organized and driven but there are many feminist perspectives on the bible. The feminist perspective is very relevant to the true Christian experience. This perspective is imperative to understanding the relation of the scriptures to everyday life and tolerance.
The idea of feminist theology is different from traditional theology because of this “radical” idea that women are intrinsic to the story of Jesus and the crucifixion. The divine act of creating woman is portrayed as the fall of paradise but what if woman is the creation story? What if women are what God meant for man to be? What if gender is irrelevant in the view of love in God’s eyes?
There are different types of feminist theology; Revolutionary Feminist Theology is affected by women-centered culture. Reformist Christian Feminist Theology involves modest changes within the church rather than the worship of Goddesses. Reconstructionist Christian Feminist Theology involves reforming church structure and civil society.
Liberation theology is related directly to the theory of “She wisdom cries out in the street ” In Isaiah42:14 “God is depicted as a woman in the pangs of childbirth” There are several passages in the bible and opinions by theologians that make no discernable difference about whether God is a man or a woman. Most female personifications that relate to wisdom are feminine gender nouns in Hebrew and Greek. God is typically thought of as a patriarch, but can be referenced in several places as a matriarch.
A lot of cultures thought of the male as the head of the household with him, when it turns out that one person who truly loved humanity died on a cross. Although the official concept of God is that of a universal, male God, there are remains of a female relation to that God. The idea of the male elite is one that fostered the foundation for feminist theology. Sin is not gender specific therefore worship and judgment should not be dominated by males.
There are many misconceptions in the bible about the differences between the genders. According to some theologians, it is a misconception that man was created first. In other words woman was not something that was created just for man but rather the conclusion of all of God’s creations and efforts on that last day.
“In fact, most conclusions about women being made from a bent rib or are otherwise inferior are not grounded in biblical text.” The problem with many of the church fathers ideas about gender did evolve from Jesus being a man but that not enough men followed in Jesus’ footsteps. Many theologians just made assumptions about men being better than women, rather than using the gentle, obedient, subordinate, and submissive nature of Jesus to allow their followers to come to him rather than force them into salvation.
“Jesus affirmed women as fully valuable and fully human.” It seems that women have been stigmatized throughout Christian history by everyone but Jesus. Feminism is not necessarily a bad word when it comes to Christianity but women are not servants or evil or a symbol of carnality. Even the reference to Mary Magdalene may be incorrect, although it is commonly held that she was a prostitute. She may simply have been lost and found her faith through Jesus’ love rather than the derision that was common to that time period.
The Holy Spirit itself seems to have a feminine quality to its nature. The mystery of the Trinity is by no means that simple. But the fact that it is a mystery would indicate that it is presumptive to assume that any part of the Trinity other than Jesus is either male or female.
The significance of Jesus is not his maleness but his humanness. In the movie, The DaVinci Code, (although many liberties are taken with the biblical basis and texts), there is a very real focus on the feminine idea behind Christianity. What if women were supposed to carry on the Christian tradition and the church? This idea shakes the very foundation of early and modern Christianity to the core.
The Bible itself was written by men, the Council at Nicaea was attended by men, is it so far fetched that maybe the men got it wrong? This idea is radical but has an affect on the feminist perspective that is found in several sources of research. There are several ideas from a feminine point-of-view that even change the focus of Jesus as simply a man.
There is much feminist imagery related to Jesus as well. He gave birth to humanity through his death. This “birth” language is feminine and using maternal images to describe the life, teachings and sufferings of Jesus is powerful indeed.
It has the potential to link inevitable stereotypes for woman to be mothers and nothing else but women in the church have left their mark on the tradition of the faith as well. There is an entrenched patriarchal hierarchy in the church but there are several female theologians who had an impact on the church and were held in high regard by men as powerful as the Pope.
Julian of Norwich, Hildegard of Bingen, Mary Magdalene, Martha of Bethany, Perpetua, Deborah and Paula are just a few of the women who are central to theology, the Bible and the feminist perspective. Feminine theology is important because these and other women’s stories have many gifts and insights into our past and present as Christians.
Sin is a very sensitive subject in any discourse within any facet of Christianity. Through the years feminist theologians have tried to reverse the thought that sin is wholly the fault of Eve and therefore women. Many biblical scholars think that this is an imprecise interpretation of the text. Both Adam and Eve made a choice that had profound consequences, not just Eve. Sin exists in everything around us, including the sin of allowing injustice.
Sin affects thought and actions and it is up to us to fight the oppression of sin. Many people think that women and men sin differently and that may be true because our very nature is different. How we sin is irrelevant in this case, we all sin. What is important is that we do not blame one or the other for more or less sinfulness. Feminist theologians use this idea in varying degrees. What is important is that Eve is not solely to blame for the fall of paradise.
There are many other types of stories that are brought to light in the journey of feminist theology. There are many stories of women in the Bible who suffer appalling tragedies with no one to comfort or help them. In many of these stories there is no criticism of the perpetrators of this horrible violence.
The Spanish Inquisition committed many acts of violence against women who were accused of being witches. Some of the women murdered were even as young as 11 years old. What is so terrifying about these murders is they were carried out and sanctioned by men who believed they were doing the will of God.
These women’s suffering could be equated to the deep suffering of Jesus on the cross and God the father. Love should be overflowing in compassion. This type of violence toward women in the name of God and any violence done in the name of the Lord is not acceptable in any kind of theology.
Can a male savior help women? Sexuality has nothing to do with salvation. This is the viewpoint of feminist theology. Humanity should accept Jesus’ maleness as a feature of his person not a condition of his incarnation. Gender has nothing to do with, “as the shepherd separates sheep from goats”. The last judgment is not solely predicated on gender only on our actions as human beings. So then the actions of men who think they are doing the will of God, will be judged just as the women who are blamed for the actions of Eve.