Today several thousand women marched for their rights in Chicago. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, the Kavanaugh/Ford crisis, and any number of scandals and criminal convictions, I feel like it’s time for some new language around women’s roles and rights. I grew up in the midst of the feminist movement in politics, and have more recently been exposed to feminist theology, Mujerista and womanist theology, which interpret the Bible from women’s experiences. I have a hard time finding myself in any of these expressions.
As one of my good friends points out, it’s hard to take a woman seriously who is out on the protest line wearing a vagina hat and screaming at the top of her lungs. I don’t agree entirely with any major party or political machine in our country. Many of the feminist theologians interpret from a hermeneutic of suspicion and bring their criticism of the Apostle Paul and many Old Testament writers. Since I believe that the Bible is God’s word for me, I can’t agree with that thinking.
On the other hand, I’m unabashedly egalitarian. I believe husbands and wives are God-designed to be equal in power and submit to each other. I have a strong theology that identifies women’s unique gifts, roles, and leadership callings for church ministry. I believe that the church will never achieve God’s full plan for Kingdom fruitfulness until this imbalance is corrected.
I’m calling myself a She-ist.
A She-ist is egalitarian in marriage. God designed us for partnership with men. A woman should never allow herself to be subjected to abuse of any kind. A She-ist expects her husband to take equal partnership in domestic responsibilities. When men take equal responsibility in domestic matters, wives are empowered to walk out their God-calling. In my egalitarian marriage, we make decisions together, and we don’t move forward until we agree.
A She-ist is egalitarian in ministry and the marketplace. Our species is figuring out that women bring some pretty spectacular things to the table when it comes to life and leadership. Not only do they bring a diversity of beauty, they are natural integrators. Women bind things together, carry culture, and build relationships between people. Women’s leadership styles are naturally team-oriented rather than hierarchical. Every spiritual gift listed in the New Testament is poured out on both women and men. Women of the New Testament carried the ministry roles that men did.
A She-ist is pro-life. I am for life and flourishing at every stage of human existence. Humans are the most vulnerable when they are youngest and oldest, and at these stages of life, we place value on humanity and protect it. I am not anti-choice, but I believe that God puts a spirit inside a human at the moment of conception, and we have a moral and ethical responsibility to protect that life.
A She-ist stands up against injustice with grace and gentleness. I don’t have to be violent, strident, shrill, or harsh to be an ezerwarrior. I speak the truth in love, carrying the heart of Jesus to forgive, to seek reconciliation, and healing. I don’t stay silent or side with oppression. I listen to other people’s stories and stay open, learning, because I don’t know what I don’t know.
A She-ist carries God’s mission forward, in word, deed, and in power. I am responsible for preaching the Gospel, and for bringing healing to the world around me.
A She-ist loves men. I don’t punish or resent men for being the dominant sex for the past several millennia. Equality and power are not a zero-sum game. Men do not have to lose in order for me to win. I seek a win-win, so that men also gain from my strengths. I do not tear men down when they have made mistakes. I do not publicly humiliate or destroy. I invest in the men in my world as equally as I do the women.
A She-ist doesn’t shame women who pause their vocation to stay home with their children. Every woman’s nature is unique, and I celebrate those who desire to stay home with their small children. Child-rearing is a short season of life, however, and I take a long view of my calling as a woman and a mother. God has more for us than mothering.
A She-ist is emotionally intelligent and healthy. I feel things and am more naturally intuitive than a man might be, but I don’t follow every feeling I have. I don’t manipulate men or hold them hostage to my emotion but have rational conversations.
A She-ist reads the Bible from a hermeneutic of trust. I trust the Bible to be God’s Word to me, and that when interpreted properly, the Bible reveals that places equal value on women as men.