Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible's View of Women
By Sarah Bessey
Howard Books November 2013
Received via Netgalley
Jesus and Feminist. Those two words don't usually spend a lot of time together. Feminism is often viewed as anti-religion and it seems as if there is no place for feminism in the generations of patriarchal tradition that are foundational to the church. But Sarah Bessey argues that Jesus was a feminist, that Christ himself challenged the women he encountered to use all of their gifts and to come and follow Him. She invites us to stop arguing and share our stories with each other. Through our stories and our honesty, we will find unity and draw closer to the God who made us as men and women.
This book is perhaps best described as a warm hug from a very smart and very compassionate lady. In the introduction, Bessey invites you to lay down your tightly held ideas about what it means to be a woman in the church. Instead, she takes your hand and leads you outside to share a good bottle of wine and dig your toes into the sand as you share your story of the ways you have been hurt or pushed aside, the people who have been Jesus to you, and the moments when God found you and loved you at your most vulnerable.
Although Sarah has described herself as a "happy clappy" Christian, this does not mean that she has not done her research. She examines the moment when Jesus spoke to women, when he healed them and when he taught them alongside his male disciples. Bessey even tackles those troublesome passages where we read that women should be quiet in church and are not allowed to teach. She does so with a level head and in the context of its time and place, the other books that accompany it in the Bible, and the Abba God who inspired it all.
Jesus Feminist does not limit itself to the Americanized churches that we find on our street corners. Bessey points out that the world fails women over and over again, by limiting them, by denigrating them, even by murdering them. Followers of Christ should be the ones to change the broken system, not the ones contributing to it. We are challenged to be a voice for justice for men and especially for women all over the world.
It sounds cliche, but this book made me laugh and it made me cry (all within the first ten pages). Best of all, it challenged me to rethink some of the most controversial and highly debated sections of Scripture. If we believe that God is the God of love, then he loves women too. He created men and He created women and He has big plans for us all, if we are willing to lay down our petty arguments and precise definitions and just walk together in love. With Jesus Feminist, Sarah Bessey has given us a gift - an opportunity to share our stories and learn how to better love God and each other.