Putting myself in HNAC Alison’s shoes, I’m sure that the issue of ‘The Bible and women’ would be a major issue and probably the main deterrent when it came to her consideration of ever stepping inside a Church.
So I’d like to spend a few posts looking at this issue. However, before I do so I’m going to give you a bit of personal context on the issue.
As a female growing up attending Church, I can recall in high school realising the fact that there were some gender differences when it came to commands in The Bible and expectations within the Church. These expectations were not necessarily all in line with The Bible, but they existed nonetheless.
I knew what people had taught me The Bible said but I wanted to start from scratch. To look with fresh eyes and see what was there, coming at it without any particular bias. I knew that would be hard to do but I was going to try and be as objective as possible.
So I decided to do a little research project in my own spare time (yep, one of those people).
What I did was a topical study of femininity across the pages of The Bible. For the theologian types, they would refer to this as completing a “Systematic Theology of Biblical Femininity”.
It took me twelve months to complete this study, although I have been thinking about the topic on and off since then and for obvious reasons, it never really leaves you. So I’m always thinking about it to some extent.
To supplement my study of the issue, I read commentaries on different Biblical passages as well as some books on the topic, written by Christians. Across the twelve months I read the following:
Let me be a woman by Elisabeth Elliot
The Total Woman by Marabel Morgan
Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes
Woman of God: 10 individual studies by Cindy Bunch (A Life Guide Bible Study)
The Essence of Feminism by Kirsten Birkett
If you’re wondering how on earth I managed to do all that in twelve months, it’s because I was studying a BA at the time (Ahhh… it all makes sense now…).
However, if you read this blog regularly, you’ll know that I like to consider things from others’ perspectives. Before I even began my systematic theology research project I decided that once I had finished looking at The Bible’s thoughts on the issue, I would then read a number of feminist texts.
I also decided that I wanted to not just read the texts that were written by these feminists, I also wanted to find out who they were. This is due to my belief that when it comes to deeply personal issues such as gender based identity and all that this entails, it’s good to know a bit about someone’s background context if you’re going to read what they say.
This explains why I’m giving you mine now.
At this very moment I can’t recall reading a biographical text on Betty Friedan or Naomi Wolf (but I may have and have certainly read bits’n’pieces on the web about them). Excluding them, I have read all of the following texts and at least one biographical work on each of the authors:
A Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollstonecraft
The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
A Room of One’s Own and Three Guineas by Virginia Wolf
The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
The Female Eunuch and The Whole Woman by Germaine Greer
The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf
On top of these substantial texts, I have read other books, journal articles, speeches and so forth that you might consider ‘feminist polemics’.
In addition, I have since read other books by Christian writers that link to this topic. Two that spring to mind instantly are: Fierce Convictions by Karen Swallow Prior (a biography on Hannah More) and Feminine Threads by Diana Lynn Severance (it explores women throughout the history of Christianity).
At any rate, the point of this post is to let you know that I have spent a fair amount of time thinking about this issue. That of course does not mean that I have thought of everything, or that I am giving you this context as a way of implying that I think that you should agree with me.
I’m all for people sitting down and thinking things through themselves.
I also want to acknowledge the fact that I don’t know the personal context of all my readers and how thinking about such a topic may impact them. I don’t know the hurt they may have experienced due to this issue and the associated abuse that may have come along with it.
I don’t know what nightmares you may have experienced. I do know that I believe in a God who loves you, regardless of what gender based identity you have.
Yours in compassion,