Confessions of a ‘Dirty’ Feminist

Why am I here? What am I doing on this blog? I want you guys to know my heart, so I’d like to share some things with you. The name of my blog is Redeeming Freedom. The tagline under the name is, “A fresh look at faith, food and biblical feminism.” The decision to use the word “feminism” was one I wrestled with. I decided to go for it, even though it is a ‘dirty’ word in Christian circles. I like to live on the edge. I’d like to explain why.

The church has been a large part of my life for as long as I can remember. When I was young, I attended AWANA. Through the years I participated in church on Sundays, church events and youth group. My husband and I continue to participate in church, through small groups, serving and leadership in various ways. We’ve brought our children to church and encouraged them to serve as well as they’ve gotten older. I have labeled myself as a ‘good, Christian girl”.

When you hit your thirties, God starts doing crazy things. Life altering, pendulum swinging, foundation crumbling, paradigm shifting sort of things. I’ve watched it happen to others, and I am no exception. A pattern of freedom and redemption has emerged in my life due to God’s work in the last few years. (Redeeming Freedom. Get it?). He needed to set me free from sin- others’ sin against me and my own. Much of this sin has come in the form of religion.

That may sound funny to you, the idea of needing to be set free from religion. It would have to me a few years ago. Religion in this context can be defined by the legalistic rules that we add to the Bible that HINDER us from having a genuine relationship with Jesus. As Jesus works, I am finding myself more free to be in relationship with Him. I am less hindered by all the things I think I have to do. Or even worse, the way I have to BE. A particular area where God is continuing to free me is in the area of men and women.

A year or so ago, God told me to start studying the women of the Bible. Who were they? Why are their stories in the Bible? What did they do? What are we to learn from them and their stories? How does God feel about them? As I have studied these women, God has opened my eyes. He has shown me the incongruency between His view of women and my own.

Years ago, a friend said to me, “Kristi, if you weren’t such a Godly woman, you would be a raging feminist.” I’ve thought about that comment over the years and I’ve thought a lot about the idea of feminism. You may not believe this, but as my heart aligns more with scripture and with Jesus, I’ve actually become MORE of what you might call a feminist.

Secular feminism, or feminism without Jesus leads to dark and ungodly places. Man shaming/hating, abortions under the guise of sexual equality, and damaging generations by pushing an agenda of “equality means sameness” by not affirming that God created men and women to be DIFFERENT, to name a few. It is no wonder that feminism is a dirty word in the Christian culture. These things are NOT the heart of God, but without Jesus, this is probably where I would be.

The thing is, I LONG for value and worth. Not in spite of being a woman, but BECAUSE I am a woman. I LONG to know and believe that there is not anything lesser about who I am because I am a woman and not a man. Without Jesus, I certainly would be fighting for that on my own and stomping on anyone who stood in my quest for it.

What I’ve come to learn is that my longing for worth is good and it is right, and it a God-given desire. Jesus longs to fill that desire for me. All I needed to do was ask, but for so long I didn’t know! I believed my desires for value and worth were contrary to God’s word. My fear was that if asked Jesus about it, He would tell me my desires were sinful, or worse, that He really did think women were less valuable than men!

Oh, how I was wrong! In Genesis, Eve was given instructions to rule with her husband. Women were named as rulers and queens and prophets in the Old Testament. In the New Testament women traveled with Jesus and learned from Him just like any man. Jesus dignified them, and freed them to work alongside of Him and His ministry. And this was counter cultural! Jewish leaders at the time believed women to be little more than property and not worthy to teach. Paul also worked side by side with women to spread the gospel. He honored their work and sacrifice, and named them as leaders. (Romans 16)

If we define the word ‘feminist’ as the dictionary does, (Adj: advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men. N: an advocate of such rights.)  then it’s pretty clear that Jesus Himself was a counter cultural feminist! Let that sink in for a moment! Jesus affirmed the worth, value and dignity of women in the face of religious men.(Luke 7:36-50) Jesus did NOT have to stomp on the value of men to show the value of women, and nor should we. Jesus stood firm in the truth of the original creation story. Equal value for both men and women. Partnership. Ruling and subduing the earth, side by side.

This is why I chose the word ‘feminist’ for my blog. Jesus was a feminist, and He shocked people with it. I want to be like Jesus. Jesus came to set captives free. Male and female both. He called both men and women to ‘pick up their cross and follow him’. He called both men and women to be leaders. And He called both men and women to be warriors.

I now know that I am free to be fierce. I am free to be a warrior. I am free to fight. I am free to be a feminist. I am free. Jesus has set me free.

 

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How to Study the Bible

Last week, my post about the importance of studying the Bible was a surprise to me. When I first sat down, I had something different in mind for what my post was going to be about. But as the words poured from my fingertips, I could see the direction of the words changing. So I went with it. Little did my conscious know, a few short days later I would be attending another conference on Bible exposition where I would be reminded of some things I had heard before, and introduced to some new ideas and resources. Today’s post will be much more comprehensive as a result, I’m sure!

Conferences and workshops on Bible exposition are helpful in learning how to study God’s word. I’ve had the opportunity to attend a few over the years. While I haven’t yet had opportunities to use what I’ve learned in a teaching sense, the knowledge has been helpful to me in my own study of scripture. If you’ve ever thought about teaching the Bible, this post will help you get started. If that’s not on your radar, knowing what the Bible says is still imperative! Not only will it help you in your personal relationship with Jesus, but it will help you handle God’s word correctly, and that’s good for everyone!  Amen to that, yeah?

I’d like to share a little bit about what I’ve learned in some of these conferences. Enough to get you started, or at least started with the thinking process. The more I learn about the Bible, the more beautiful it becomes to me and I want that for you, too! I want that for all of us. God is so pleased when we delight in Him, and we are able to delight in Him more as we get to know Him through His word!

The first thing we need to recognize is that the whole Bible connects, and it tells the greatest love story of all time. The Hero of the love story is Jesus. Every story, every passage we read in the Bible points to Him, who He is, and the work He did on the cross to reconcile us to Himself. Jesus is easy to see in Paul’s letters where he explains the gospel. But where is Jesus in the story of the concubine getting raped, abused, cut up into pieces and sent to the 12 tribes of Israel in Judges? As amazing as it is, he is there too!  Both stories teach us more about Jesus and His character, and we must do the hard work of figuring out how.

The Bible is a book.. have you ever thought of that? It is a work of literary genius and includes many different genre’s. Go to the library, and what do you see? Genre’s of books in every kind; children’s books, reference books, text books, fiction, non-fiction, romance, sci-fi, etc. You would not sit down and read a text book in the same way that you read a fiction sci-fi book. It wouldn’t make any sense. A textbook was not meant to be read like a sci-fi. The Bible is the same. The Bible consists of ten different genre’s:

Epistles (Letters)

Acts

The Gospels

Parables

Old Testament Narratives

Old Testament Law

Prophets

Psalms

Wisdom Literature

Apocalyptic Literature

Each genre should be read differently and each shows us a unique and beautiful facet of God and how He relates to us. In order to grasp scripture we must understand what genre we are reading. This will help us know how to read it.

Now it’s time for the challenging part- interpretation! The fancy Bible word for this is Hermeneutics, and it consists of 4 parts.

Context- deals with the Who, What, Where, When and Why the book or passage was written as well as what the culture was like at the time.

Observation- the Who, What, Where, When and Why questions about what the words are saying. Who are the people involved in this passage? what do they say? what is happening? where is it happening? what day/time is it? what comes before and after? why is this included?

Meaning- Meaning in this context does not mean figuring out what the passage means to us. It is understanding what the meaning of the words meant to the original readers. If we don’t figure this out, we won’t know what the words initially intended to communicate, or why they were written.

Application- How does this story, this passage apply to me today? This is where the Bible can come alive to you and/or your audience and minister to specific needs.

As you can see, we’ve only scratched the surface of Bible study. There is SO much more to talk about, but I hope this gives you a jumping off point. Attached below are some links to some helpful resources including links to the conferences I’ve attended, some online resources and books to get you started. My post today was a culmination of many of these resources, and I’m so grateful to have access to so many great things. I have also added a RESOURCES page to my site, where I will (future tense.. it’s blank as of this writing) list a bunch of different materials I have found helpful.

Conferences

Verity Fellowship

Simeon Trust

Online Resources

Dallas Theological Seminary- FREE courses you can take!

Jen Wilkin- FREE Bible study audio teachings and materials

Books

How to Read the Bible for All it’s Worth (recommended by Verity Fellowship)

Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin

 

 

The Importance of Bible Study

Biblestudy

My blog has gotten off to a rather slow start. I started it about 6 months ago, wrote a few things, and then life happened; our basement flooded and we had some remodeling to do. Everything in our house (as well as what felt like our whole life!) was in chaos for a long time. I haven’t written nearly as much as I would have liked to by this point. I have discovered that reading and studying about different women of the Bible takes a LOT of time, especially if one wants to be faithful to the text and what it is actually saying- but that’s okay. I will keep plugging away and hope and pray that it goes wherever God wants it to go in whatever timing He wants.

The first Bible woman I wrote about when I started my blog was Deborah. I was utterly fascinated by her. I still am. From Deborah, I moved to Jael, which I haven’t finished yet, and then I posted a shorter-than-I’d-like version of Jesus’ mother Mary. Over the last months, I have realized that my fascination with the women of the Bible has blossomed into a much deeper love of the Bible itself, which has lead me to a much deeper love of the Person that the Bible is really all about. I am learning more and more about how to study the Bible as opposed to just reading it every morning like a newspaper.

Reading the Bible a little bit each day or having regular quiet times whenever I can fit them in is a really good thing. It is good to get into the habit and disciplining myself in this way. If this is my only method of approaching the Bible though, I can get myself into a lot of trouble.  When I was in high school years ago (let’s not talk about how many), I vividly remember meeting regularly to do “Bible study” with a group of kids in my high school youth group leadership team. I use the term “Bible study” really loosely here in case my sarcasm doesn’t come through clearly via blog post.

While I’m sure that whomever had the idea for student-led high school Bible studies had the greatest motivations behind it, let’s be honest… Why do 99% of high schoolers get together, ever? To hang out with the opposite-sex of course! It’s not bad, or wrong, it’s just true! So here we were, a group of (albeit fairly responsible) teen-agers, mostly there because of the opportunity to spend time with the opposite-sex, with no Bible knowledge or training, attempting to read through books of the Bible and understand what it was saying, in order to be better Christians. Cute, right?

I don’t remember exactly which book we were going through, but it was one of the books with a passage about wives submitting to husbands. We thought, in our wise 17-year-old brains, we knew what the passage was communicating. Our conversations consisted of, “well, I think it means this!” and “this is what this passage means to me”. There were a few 17 year old boys trying to explain what it means for a wife to submit to her husband to a few 15/16 year old girls. Can you say, recipe for disaster? I don’t remember if I said it out loud or not, but I distinctly remember saying to God, “No! I’m not doing that. I’m not that kind of girl, and that will never be who I am!”

You know what though.. I was right. The idea of submission as presented to me by a couple of 17 year old boys (one of which turned out to be my husband a few years later, funny enough) was not the idea of submission that Paul (or God) had intended to communicate in that passage, and I was right to not succumb to that.

It’s a funny story now. Unfortunately, this still happens. To read a passage of scripture and decide ‘what it means to me’ without knowing who it was written to, why it was written, what it meant to the people in that time and in that culture, and what the theme of the overall book was, is dangerous and irresponsible. At best, it is naive, or maybe lazy; at worst, it is the foundation of some of the tremendous evils of the world. How many wars have been fought over theology? How many millions of people have been mistreated and oppressed because of misinterpreting passages of scripture?

Reading, studying and interpreting the Bible is an immense amount of work. But it is extremely important. We must sit in the scripture for a long time and allow all the different flavors to permeate our heart, soul and mind. Sort of like the spaghetti sauce I made for dinner last night. The flavors of all the ingredients on their own don’t taste very good. And even when I combine them all together, there is no depth of flavor until the ingredients have simmered together for a long time. Only then do the ingredients release their flavors and their aromas and combine together to make a flavorful sauce. The longer they are allowed to seep together, the better the sauce will be.

It is similar to the Bible. Unless we do the work to answer the questions about who, what, where, when and why the books and passages of the Bible were written, and then give all those things time to saturate into each other, and into us, the results will be gross and unpalatable. I have learned some methods and found some great resources for how to do this that I would like to share some with you on my next post. But I’d love to hear from you- what resources do you use to help you study the Bible?