I used to be a feminist. It all started in college, where I saw how many girls were only there for the coveted MRS degree. I could clearly see how they were all attempting to find their worth in who they might marry instead of in who they might become.
In my pride and arrogance, I pitied those girls. I didn’t want to be like them; I didn’t want my identity as a woman to be found 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 someday be.
As a Christian, I felt like I was in the minority for having this opinion. 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, only because he was a man and I was a woman. I felt bitter, even enraged, and ultimately compelled to stand up against this notion.
Most of the fighting happened in my own heart and mind. I never attended any rallies, marches or forums to discuss the issues. I wasn’t a feminist by practice, just by inward position. I simply made a decision to never find myself in a situation where I was being stripped of my equality because of my gender, within marriage or otherwise.
One day, I was mulling over all of these thoughts, trying to figure out what I wanted out of my feminism. What was I really fighting and rooting for? Well, it 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 you care about your identity as a woman more than you care about your identity in Christ?”
I felt like I was suddenly being presented with two platters. On one was my feminism: my fight for equality, my standing up on behalf of my gender, my pride, and the entirety of my mental and emotional capacity.
On the other was my knowledge of who I am in Christ, and my cross.
In an instant, 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? Would I?
“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” Galatians 3:28 (NKJV).
In that moment, I decided I care more about God than I do my feminism. Because the truth is, God does see men and women as equals. But even if He didn’t, I would still care more about loving Him, serving Him and honoring Him with my life than I would about crying out for my equal treatment.
I still believe it’s important to validate women and fight for rights not yet offered us. 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. The good news is that Jesus already won the ultimate battle! We fight to take back hearts and lives for the glory of God, yes. But let us not forget that Jesus won— in effect, WE already won— when he died on the cross, and was raised back up to life again.
So now I am a recovering feminist, because I have a much healthier understanding of the word “submission,” and what that actually looks like in a Christian marriage. I’m a recovering feminist because 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. I will lift up my voice in worship, beckoning in prayer, and lifting my hands in surrender to the Holy One.
This is where I spend my time as a Christian woman—not on my feet in demand for my rights, but on my knees in humility before God.
“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.”—Timothy Keller, Jesus The King p. 17-18