It’s an identity-based political movement, characterized by marches, protests, speeches and posters. Today, women like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Beyoncé and Ivanka Trump have become faces for feminism because of their public fights for advancement of women.
While it is true that great strides have been taken in furthering the equality of men and women over the past decade, feminists believe there is much work yet to be done. With predominating issues like the gender wage gap, healthcare reform and violence protection for women, it is no surprise that women’s issues are often at the forefront of the news.
Last month, the world saw how serious feminists are about this cultural moment we’re living in. Uncountable numbers of women took to the streets worldwide to march in solidarity in what was formerly known as the Women’s March on Washington for women’s—and human—rights.
Most of this is welcome and needed, but it also reminds about why I had to rethink my own feminism.
It all started in college, where I saw how many girls were only there for the coveted MRS degree—basically, they just want to find husbands. I could see how they were all attempting to find their worth in who they might marry instead of in who they might become.
I pitied those girls, and I didn’t want to be like them. I didn’t want my identity as a woman to be swallowed up in my identity as a wife. I wanted to make a distinction for myself in what I could do—regardless of what my last name might or might not someday be.
It seemed like everyone around me believed women served best as “helpers,” and I refused to rally behind that idea. I couldn’t bear the thought that I would marry someone who would be the ultimate decision-maker for our lives, and I the submissive counterpart, simply because he was a man and I was a woman. I felt bitter, even enraged and ultimately compelled to fight this notion.
Most of this happened in my own heart and mind. I never attended any rallies or marches or forums to discuss the issues. Honestly, I wasn’t a feminist by practice, just by inward position. I simply made a decision never to find myself in a situation where I was being stripped of my equality because of my gender.
What I wanted from feminism was simple: I wanted equality. I wanted men and women to be viewed and treated the same. I wanted to stop hearing Christians say that women are to “submit.”
But then a question flashed across the screen of my mind I never considered before: “Do I care about my identity as a woman more than I care about my identity in Christ?”
In that moment, I felt like I was suddenly presented with two platters. On one was my feminism, a fight for equality, standing up on behalf of my gender and the entirety of my mental and emotional capacity. On the other was my knowledge of who I am in Christ, and my cross. After all, the apostle Paul writes to the Christian in Galatia, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you all are one in Christ Jesus” (3:28).
I was overcome.
If God was asking me to humble myself, and lay down the fights and desires I craved to carry in my feminism, could I do it for Him? I finally decided I care more about God than I do my feminism.
The truth is, God does see men and women as equals. And when I gave up feeling like I carried the burden of inequality, my heart change and my bitterness lifted. What I learned was that in my fight for my feminism, I let pride and arrogance rule in my life. I was haughty, instead of humble—I put fighting for a good thing above the Giver of all good things.
I still call myself a feminist, but not before calling myself a worshipper of God with a pure and humble spirit. I still believe it’s important to validate women and fight for rights not offered us—because there are women all over the world who are being sold into slavery, abused and disenfranchised. God calls us to stand up and fight for them; for all people marginalized and oppressed.
There’s a lot of work to do. But I’m learning that I don’t have to do it all. Pastor Tim Keller, in his book Jesus the King, puts it like this:
There’s nothing that makes you more miserable (or less interesting) than self-absorption: How am I feeling, how am I doing, how are people treating me…am I being treated justly? Self-absorption leaves us static; there’s nothing more disintegrating. … When we decide to be our own center, our own king, everything falls apart. … The good news of the kingdom of God is this: Jesus is that true King.
The good news is that Jesus already won the ultimate battle. We fight to take back hearts and lives for the glory of God, but Jesus won when he died, and was raised back up to life again. So before I dare cry out to be given rights I feel I deserve and treatment I believe is merited, I desire first to cry out to God Almighty.
This is where I spend my time as a Christian woman—not on my feet in demand for my rights, but on my knees asking for humility before God.