Every year I set myself a project for the summer. For example, the Scripture series was the product of last summer’s project. You may have noticed from my last two posts that this summer I’m looking at feminist theology: theology that comes to the Bible with a feminist lens. Unlike ‘evangelical feminism’ (a term I dislike, by the way) which advocates for women on the basis of what the Bible says, feminist theology starts with different presuppositions. It’s bigger than a debate over women’s ministry or roles. It’s a question of how we read the Bible and from whose perspective.
I thought I’d give five reasons for why I’ve chosen to explore this area.
- We need to hear women’s voices. Feminist theology is bigger than the western world and encompasses a variety of experiences. Even if you don’t agree with a feminist reading of the Bible, compassion asks that you take the time to listen and to appreciate the reasons it has come about. Hear the hurt and the opportunities even if you don’t subscribe to the hermeneutic.
- Feminist theology may help us to read the Bible. In Exilic Prophecy this semester, we looked at Ezekiel 16 and Ezekiel 23. These are confronting passages. Too confronting for many evangelicals who explain them away without dealing with the difficulties in the text. Though I disagreed with the conclusions that feminist theologians came to, I noticed that they did closer work on the text than many evangelical scholars. We may have a lot to learn about reading the text as it is, not as we want it to conform to our framework.
- Feminist themes resonate deeply with me. I have experienced oppressive men and an oppressive male society. I look for freedom from that. And I want my voice to be heard. I love the way feminists play with the narratives of our society and how they turn them on their heads for the empowerment of women.
- I want to know what to do with feminism. I read Kirsten Birkett’s The Essence of Feminism and felt like she told me that it was bad, but didn’t replace that worldview with anything or teach me how to interact with feminism. I hope to gain some of those skills.
- I want to work out how to approach the Bible as a woman. Does reading the Bible as a woman bring something unique? Are there strands in feminist theology that can help me to better understand the Bible and better understand myself as a reader of it?
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.