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Thread: "10 Things [Many] Christians Get Wrong About Feminism"

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    Senior Member Kevin Timpe's Avatar

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    "10 Things [Many] Christians Get Wrong About Feminism"

    A few years back when I was teaching at NNU, I remember a graduating senior female ministry major asking the following question: "What should I say if I'm interviewing at a church and they ask me if I'm a feminist?" My reply: "You should say 'of course I am, and you should be too.'" Perhaps not the most prudent advice, even if the embedded claim is true.

    I continue to be puzzled by the resistance to feminism from evangelical circles.

    One of my new colleagues just posted this at Patheos. I wish I'd had this to give my student (and many others) while at NNU.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxious...bout-feminism/

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    Senior Member Jim Franklin's Avatar

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    Re: "10 Things [Many] Christians Get Wrong About Feminism"

    Take that Dana Garvey and your depiction of the "church lady."

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    Senior Member Billy Cox's Avatar

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    Re: "10 Things [Many] Christians Get Wrong About Feminism"

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Timpe View Post
    A few years back when I was teaching at NNU, I remember a graduating senior female ministry major asking the following question: "What should I say if I'm interviewing at a church and they ask me if I'm a feminist?" My reply: "You should say 'of course I am, and you should be too.'" Perhaps not the most prudent advice, even if the embedded claim is true.

    I continue to be puzzled by the resistance to feminism from evangelical circles.

    One of my new colleagues just posted this at Patheos. I wish I'd had this to give my student (and many others) while at NNU.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxious...bout-feminism/
    Dismayed, yes. Puzzled, no.

    Given that a literalist reading of the Bible appears to prescribe gender roles that were commonplace in the ancient world and mostly unchallenged in the biblical witness, it's not at all surprising that today's fundamentalists and theological conservatives find plenty to hate about all varieties of contemporary feminism.
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us wthout end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
    - C.S. Lewis
    Thanks Diane Likens - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Kevin Timpe's Avatar

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    Re: "10 Things [Many] Christians Get Wrong About Feminism"

    Yeah, the kind of literalist reading of the Scriptures puzzles me too.

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    Senior Member Doug Ward's Avatar

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    Re: "10 Things [Many] Christians Get Wrong About Feminism"

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Timpe View Post
    A few years back when I was teaching at NNU, I remember a graduating senior female ministry major asking the following question: "What should I say if I'm interviewing at a church and they ask me if I'm a feminist?" My reply: "You should say 'of course I am, and you should be too.'" Perhaps not the most prudent advice, even if the embedded claim is true.

    I continue to be puzzled by the resistance to feminism from evangelical circles.

    One of my new colleagues just posted this at Patheos. I wish I'd had this to give my student (and many others) while at NNU.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxious...bout-feminism/
    If she was smart, that would not be her reply. She should reply, "that is a very loaded word. Tell me what you mean when you say the word, and I will answer." We have to know that is a loaded word, and there needs to be some unpacking done before we answer.
    On second thought, let's not go to Camelot. It is a silly place.

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    Senior Member Lucas Finch's Avatar

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    Re: "10 Things [Many] Christians Get Wrong About Feminism"

    I've long been an advocate of women in all roles. Most women that I know are more capable than me at, well, just about everything. To try to offer some perspective, though . . .

    For those of us who were raised and still live in conservative settings, the word "feminism" carries some baggage with it. It is unfortunate and inaccurate baggage, and yet it is very real to those people. The word "feminist" conjures up mental images of man-hating, angry women. I have since learned that those mental images are far from what feminism represents, but it takes a lot of work to convince people of that. Generally, in my setting, though I embrace the ideals of feminism, it is more helpful to not embrace that language and to rather focus on what accurate feminism looks like when carried out. (In my sermon on the Second Sunday of Easter a few weeks ago, I spent time explaining to my church's congregation why the COTN affirms women in all roles of leadership. Surprisingly, I did not get any pushback, and I got quite a few "Amens".)

    Personally, I also tend to avoid associating myself with most -isms, -ians, and -ists. I usually don't even consider myself a "Christian" but rather call myself a "Christ-follower". But I wholeheartedly embrace what feminism stands for, and have, on occasion, said that I am basically a feminist, even if I do not like to take those sort of titles for myself.
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    Senior Member Craig Laughlin's Avatar

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    Re: "10 Things [Many] Christians Get Wrong About Feminism"

    Quote Originally Posted by Lucas Finch View Post
    I've long been an advocate of women in all roles. Most women that I know are more capable than me at, well, just about everything. To try to offer some perspective, though . . .

    For those of us who were raised and still live in conservative settings, the word "feminism" carries some baggage with it. It is unfortunate and inaccurate baggage, and yet it is very real to those people. The word "feminist" conjures up mental images of man-hating, angry women. I have since learned that those mental images are far from what feminism represents, but it takes a lot of work to convince people of that. Generally, in my setting, though I embrace the ideals of feminism, it is more helpful to not embrace that language and to rather focus on what accurate feminism looks like when carried out. (In my sermon on the Second Sunday of Easter a few weeks ago, I spent time explaining to my church's congregation why the COTN affirms women in all roles of leadership. Surprisingly, I did not get any pushback, and I got quite a few "Amens".)

    Personally, I also tend to avoid associating myself with most -isms, -ians, and -ists. I usually don't even consider myself a "Christian" but rather call myself a "Christ-follower". But I wholeheartedly embrace what feminism stands for, and have, on occasion, said that I am basically a feminist, even if I do not like to take those sort of titles for myself.
    I tend to advise that in the absence of clear definition they take the opportunity to define it themselves. I would have them answer, If by feminist you mean man hating political activist then no absolutely not. If you mean that women should have equal opportunities as men, be paid the same for the same job and be leaders and pastors in the church, as is our Nazarene stance, then I suppose I am that sort of feminist, but then so is the Church of the Nazarene.

    If that answer blows them up then they need to go to another district anyway.
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    Host Theology Forum David Graham's Avatar

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    Re: "10 Things [Many] Christians Get Wrong About Feminism"

    I have a good relationship with a female Minister on our Presbytery who used to be our State Moderator. She's really a devout, personable well balanced woman.... who says that she is a feminist. No worries, I could warm to that type of "feminism".

    But I've also met another type of feminist too, the man attacking, humourless, win at all cost type of feminist and I'm not enamored with these at all. And yes they are ugly.... and I'm not talking about outward appearance either. Their ugliness stems from the bitterness with in.

    Of course there are a lot of men who "push" particular types of theological barrows too who fit into the same ugly category. I really think its all about how moderate people are in their particular positions. If you push things too far with the "rightness" of your cause without considering the opinions and feelings of others, then you actually diminish your case and push others away from you.

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    Senior Member Kevin Timpe's Avatar

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    Re: "10 Things [Many] Christians Get Wrong About Feminism"

    Yes, that's closer to the (better than my) advice she got from Diane.

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    Senior Member Kevin Timpe's Avatar

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    Re: "10 Things [Many] Christians Get Wrong About Feminism"

    Quote Originally Posted by David Graham View Post
    But I've also met another type of [Christian] too, the [world] attacking, humourless, win at all cost type of [Christian] and I'm not enamored with these at all. And yes they are ugly.... and I'm not talking about outward appearance either. Their ugliness stems from the bitterness with in.
    Yeah, me too. Which is what I don't align myself with the label at all.
    Thanks David Graham - "thanks" for this post

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    Host Theology Forum David Graham's Avatar

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    Re: "10 Things [Many] Christians Get Wrong About Feminism"

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Timpe View Post
    Yeah, me too. Which is what I don't align myself with the label at all.
    Sure that too..... which was precisely my point about being more "moderate" and thus still remaining as a part of the "human race" as "amicable type" people.

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    Senior Member Billy Cox's Avatar

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    Re: "10 Things [Many] Christians Get Wrong About Feminism"

    Quote Originally Posted by David Graham View Post
    Sure that too..... which was precisely my point about being more "moderate" and thus still remaining as a part of the "human race" as "amicable type" people.
    Repurposing a famous quote...

    Quote Originally Posted by Gandalf the Grey
    Many that think themselves moderate are unyielding extremists. And some who think themselves unyielding extremists are situational moderates. Can you tell them they are self-deluded? Then do not be too eager to deal out judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.
    The takeaway... How we describe ourselves says at least as much about who we keep company with as where we actually exist on *whatever* spectrum.
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us wthout end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
    - C.S. Lewis

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    Senior Member Kevin Timpe's Avatar

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    Re: "10 Things [Many] Christians Get Wrong About Feminism"

    Apparently my sarcasm didn't come through on my previous comment....

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    Host Theology Forum David Graham's Avatar

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    Re: "10 Things [Many] Christians Get Wrong About Feminism"

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Cox View Post
    Repurposing a famous quote...



    The takeaway... How we describe ourselves says at least as much about who we keep company with as where we actually exist on *whatever* spectrum.
    Okay Billy that's going a little bit too far. You are inferring that I'm an extremist, because I dare to be critical of those whom the left regard as Sacred (and thus must not be criticised) i.e. inamicable Feminists are not nice people to be around. Well, duh, you don't have to ask too many people how they find them (both men and women by the way) to find out that most reasonable people perceive them in the same way. I doubt very much whether this would make me an extremist, unless you are saying that the majority are extremists..... which doesn't make any sense.

    No I stand by my comments..... I reiterate my view in "plainer words" (perhaps) that Feminists and other activists that want to get on with others and try to be nice people in their relationship with others, I have no problem with. (BTW, that's what I meant by "being part of the human race", I was being sarcastic too, though that particular nuance was being lost on some apparently, though they felt free to be sarcastic in their dealings with others!)

    So by all means call the majority "extremists" if you will, we'll just yawn and go on about our daily lives, and in the process we might even find satisfaction and joy, while still allowing others to hold their own opinions. (live and let live!) But I doubt whether real extremism ever find satisfaction and joy, except perhaps in their feelings of smug superiority over others who won't conform to them, for the ones I know, are not content to allow those who differ from them to maintain their own opinions. And as a Moderate, I have found that I get attacked from all the extremes.... left and right. But, I'm increasingly learning to ignore the attacks and just to move on. In the end most of these groups just disappear anyway. I suspect that the joyless extremist feminists will be among these as well.

    And btw I am now out of this discussion! I've decided to move on. Have a nice day.
    Thanks Lucas Finch, Jim Chabot - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Lucas Finch's Avatar

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    Re: "10 Things [Many] Christians Get Wrong About Feminism"

    Quote Originally Posted by David Graham View Post
    And as a Moderate, I have found that I get attacked from all the extremes.... left and right.
    Yup. Very true.
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    Thanks Craig Laughlin, Diane Likens - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Rich Schmidt's Avatar

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    Re: "10 Things [Many] Christians Get Wrong About Feminism"

    Quote Originally Posted by David Graham View Post
    Okay Billy that's going a little bit too far. You are inferring that I'm an extremist, because I dare to be critical of those whom the left regard as Sacred (and thus must not be criticised) i.e. inamicable Feminists are not nice people to be around. Well, duh, you don't have to ask too many people how they find them (both men and women by the way) to find out that most reasonable people perceive them in the same way. I doubt very much whether this would make me an extremist, unless you are saying that the majority are extremists..... which doesn't make any sense.

    No I stand by my comments..... I reiterate my view in "plainer words" (perhaps) that Feminists and other activists that want to get on with others and try to be nice people in their relationship with others, I have no problem with. (BTW, that's what I meant by "being part of the human race", I was being sarcastic too, though that particular nuance was being lost on some apparently, though they felt free to be sarcastic in their dealings with others!)

    So by all means call the majority "extremists" if you will, we'll just yawn and go on about our daily lives, and in the process we might even find satisfaction and joy, while still allowing others to hold their own opinions. (live and let live!) But I doubt whether real extremism ever find satisfaction and joy, except perhaps in their feelings of smug superiority over others who won't conform to them, for the ones I know, are not content to allow those who differ from them to maintain their own opinions. And as a Moderate, I have found that I get attacked from all the extremes.... left and right. But, I'm increasingly learning to ignore the attacks and just to move on. In the end most of these groups just disappear anyway. I suspect that the joyless extremist feminists will be among these as well.

    And btw I am now out of this discussion! I've decided to move on. Have a nice day.
    How did you get that from Billy's post? I'm confused.

    As I read it (and re-read it), he didn't call you an extremist. He pointed out that some (ok, "many") who use one label or another are actually something else, and then his takeaway was that these labels describe our associations more than they do our actual position on whatever spectrum is being discussed. He's saying the labels are fuzzy and situational, not distinct/exact, and all of our perspectives are limited.
    Thanks Billy Cox - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Rich Schmidt's Avatar

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    Re: "10 Things [Many] Christians Get Wrong About Feminism"

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Timpe View Post
    A few years back when I was teaching at NNU, I remember a graduating senior female ministry major asking the following question: "What should I say if I'm interviewing at a church and they ask me if I'm a feminist?" My reply: "You should say 'of course I am, and you should be too.'" Perhaps not the most prudent advice, even if the embedded claim is true.

    I continue to be puzzled by the resistance to feminism from evangelical circles.

    One of my new colleagues just posted this at Patheos. I wish I'd had this to give my student (and many others) while at NNU.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxious...bout-feminism/

    I tried reading it, but I couldn't get through it thanks to all the crazy ads. My browser slowed to a crawl.

    Has your colleague posted it anywhere more reader-friendly?
    Thanks Billy Cox - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Jim Chabot's Avatar

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    Re: "10 Things [Many] Christians Get Wrong About Feminism"

    Quote Originally Posted by David Graham View Post
    Okay Billy that's going a little bit too far. You are inferring that I'm an extremist, because I dare to be critical of those whom the left regard as Sacred (and thus must not be criticised) i.e. inamicable Feminists are not nice people to be around. Well, duh, you don't have to ask too many people how they find them (both men and women by the way) to find out that most reasonable people perceive them in the same way. I doubt very much whether this would make me an extremist, unless you are saying that the majority are extremists..... which doesn't make any sense.

    No I stand by my comments..... I reiterate my view in "plainer words" (perhaps) that Feminists and other activists that want to get on with others and try to be nice people in their relationship with others, I have no problem with. (BTW, that's what I meant by "being part of the human race", I was being sarcastic too, though that particular nuance was being lost on some apparently, though they felt free to be sarcastic in their dealings with others!)

    So by all means call the majority "extremists" if you will, we'll just yawn and go on about our daily lives, and in the process we might even find satisfaction and joy, while still allowing others to hold their own opinions. (live and let live!) But I doubt whether real extremism ever find satisfaction and joy, except perhaps in their feelings of smug superiority over others who won't conform to them, for the ones I know, are not content to allow those who differ from them to maintain their own opinions. And as a Moderate, I have found that I get attacked from all the extremes.... left and right. But, I'm increasingly learning to ignore the attacks and just to move on. In the end most of these groups just disappear anyway. I suspect that the joyless extremist feminists will be among these as well.

    And btw I am now out of this discussion! I've decided to move on. Have a nice day.
    FWIW, David, I am with you. While some "feminists" might not match the descriptions given in the article, some do fit them quite well, the writer of the article fails to address this reality. The writer appears to be unsuccessfully trying to reaffix the label to a different group of people than originally assigned. I've kept my distance from this thread for the reason that I felt that I would get similar treatment as you have.

    So just jumping in to quickly affirm you, and just as quickly ducking back out.
    -Jim

    To know and to serve God, of course, is why we're here, a clear truth, that, like the nose on your face, is near at hand and easily discernible but can make you dizzy if you try to focus on it hard. But a little faith will see you through.

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    Senior Member Billy Cox's Avatar

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    Re: "10 Things [Many] Christians Get Wrong About Feminism"

    Quote Originally Posted by David Graham View Post
    Okay Billy that's going a little bit too far. You are inferring that I'm an extremist, because I dare to be critical of those whom the left regard as Sacred (and thus must not be criticised) i.e. inamicable Feminists are not nice people to be around. Well, duh, you don't have to ask too many people how they find them (both men and women by the way) to find out that most reasonable people perceive them in the same way. I doubt very much whether this would make me an extremist, unless you are saying that the majority are extremists..... which doesn't make any sense.
    I am not inferring that you are anything in particular - as if I have given it even a moment's thought. Rather, I am commenting on the fact that many self-professed moderates are not as moderate as they think they are.

    For example, there are several regular NazNet participants who, if presented with the Republican party platform, would agree with most or all of it, and if presented with the Democratic party platform, would agree with little or none of it. Such a person cannot truthfully claim to be a moderate.
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us wthout end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
    - C.S. Lewis
    Thanks Craig Laughlin, Cam Pence, David Troxler - "thanks" for this post
    Laughing David Troxler - thanks for this funny post

  20. #20
    Senior Member Cam Pence's Avatar

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    Re: "10 Things [Many] Christians Get Wrong About Feminism"

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Cox View Post
    I am not inferring that you are anything in particular - as if I have given it even a moment's thought. Rather, I am commenting on the fact that many self-professed moderates are not as moderate as they think they are.

    For example, there are several regular NazNet participants who, if presented with the Republican party platform, would agree with most or all of it, and if presented with the Democratic party platform, would agree with little or none of it. Such a person cannot truthfully claim to be a moderate.
    Good point. I find the term "moderate" to be less and less helpful as people in general almost always tend to lean one way or another (and there nothing really wrong with that). When two sides grow as diametrically opposed to each other and as the left and right side of the political spectrum, being a moderate seems all but impossible. That's ok, I think. I used to fancy myself a moderate fiscally, for example, but the reality was that then there wasn't a single left wing fiscal policy I supported. In fact, in my mind, opposing social programs that people depended on that I thought cost too much $$ was a totally moderate position as long as I was polite about it. Fast forward today, I support many of those programs wholeheartedly (change of heart, what can I say?) I am fairly liberal fiscally and I think that to try to sell that as somehow "moderate" would only muddy the waters. Basically being nice and polite while supporting one side way more than another =/= the mythical unicorn known as "moderate"
    Last edited by Cam Pence; Yesterday at 02:21 PM.
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    Senior Member Rich Schmidt's Avatar

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    Re: "10 Things [Many] Christians Get Wrong About Feminism"

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Chabot View Post
    FWIW, David, I am with you. While some "feminists" might not match the descriptions given in the article, some do fit them quite well, the writer of the article fails to address this reality. The writer appears to be unsuccessfully trying to reaffix the label to a different group of people than originally assigned. I've kept my distance from this thread for the reason that I felt that I would get similar treatment as you have.
    I was finally able to read the article... and I came away with a very different impression than you did. He acknowledges that there are feminists that don't fit his descriptions, repeatedly. And he reaches back to the origins of feminism repeatedly (and second wave feminism and contemporary feminism), so I don't see how you can say he's "unsuccessfully trying to reaffix the label to a different group of people than originally assigned."

    Overall, I agree with the author. "Feminism" in many conservative Christian circles has been used as a bad word, and "feminists" viewed as the enemy. Brothers and sisters, this should not be.
    Thanks Tim Bourland, Lucas Finch, Cam Pence - "thanks" for this post

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