Is “biblical feminism” an oxymoron?

9 Dec
Three very intelligent women discussing the idea of biblical feminism. Is it an oxymoron or is it a biblical concept? Many things in this discussion may surprise. One, the guest rejecting feminism teaches women’s studies. The guest defending feminism takes the bible seriously. For some, that may puzzle the mind.

I thought both of their comments on the neglect of single persons in church, especially in the positive light of Paul’s approval in 1 Cor. 7, was very helpful and much needed. They both essentially agree that churches so stress marriage and married life that they forget Paul’s approval of being single for the sake of the kingdom. Whereas Paul stressed how beneficial to the kingdom single people could be as a result of being unmarried (unfettered and unburdened by a spouse), churches often minimize their importance or role or are at least neglectful of it. They usually “serve” single people by trying to find ways to help them get married, rather than finding ways to encourage them to use their status as critical members of God’s kingdom uniquely positioned to do much good. Essentially, they both agree that Paul is encouraging single people “not to waste their singleness” while the church often treats them with indifference at worst, pity at best, rather than affirmation and approval.

For those unfamiliar with the idea of biblical feminism, this conversation will help. For most folks, the debate about feminism is usually understood as a conflict between conservative Christians and theologically liberal Christians or seculars (neither of whom would care much what the bible teaches regarding gender). But biblical feminism has been around for a while. It is different because it purports to take the bible seriously and authoritatively, and yet it asserts that doing so leads to feminism (the idea that gender equality means the non-existence of a creational or natural order in terms of gender roles or functions). To contextualize, their main argument is that male headship or normative gender roles are not part of the created order but a direct result of the Fall (part of the curse). As such, Christians are called upon to break the curse by living and exemplifying in the church total egalitarianism, which is also how they interpret the teachings and life of Jesus and how they interpret a few passages in scripture, especially Gal. 3:28 (“there is neither male nor female”).

Are they pointing to a legitimate coherent interpretation of scripture or are they simply engaging in wishful thinking (trying to get the bible to say something it plainly doesn’t)?

Key questions in the debate:
What does it mean when God is said to have made male and female in His image/likeness?
When Paul said there is neither male nor female, was he denying the existence of distinct gender roles in the family or church?
Is the message of the bible the eradication of all hierarchy in society?
Was Jesus a feminist?

Take a listen to this Up For Debate program from Moody Radio:

Would Jesus Support Feminism?

Air Date December 7, 2013


Would Jesus support feminism? Popular blogger Suzannah Paul asserts that He would, but professor and author Mary Kassian disagrees. Both women join host Julie Roys on the next Up For Debate to discuss the issue. Is Jesus a liberator of women in the same vein as Gloria Steinhem? Or, does portraying Him this way pervert the gospel? Don’t miss this important discussion next Saturday at 8 AM Central Time on Up For Debate!


Suzannah PaulSuzannah Paul

Pilgrim, perceiver, and feminist-poet-mama, Suzannah Paul pens love letters to the broken, beautiful Church at The Smitten Word and A Deeper Story. She has a background in youth ministry and affordable housing, a B.A. in religion and history, two young kids, one husband, eight chickens, and a home at the Christian camp she attended as a child. She writes for love and for clients and appreciates a good kitchen dance party.

For more information about Suzannah, please visit her website.

Mary KassianMary Kassian
Mary Kassian is an award winning author, internationally renowned speaker, and a distinguished professor at Southern Baptist Seminary. She has published several books and Bible studies, including The Feminist Mistake. A graduate from the faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine from the University of Alberta, Canada, Mary has also studied systematic theology at the doctoral level and taught courses at seminaries throughout North America.


Roys, Julie (SM)

Julie Roys

Julie Roys has become a trusted voice of biblical wisdom on Moody Radio, earning an audience through her weekly commentaries and appearances on The Morning Ride. Julie came to Moody Radio in 2007, after taking a 13-year hiatus from broadcasting to raise her children and serve in youth ministry. Prior to that, Julie worked as a TV news reporter for a CBS affiliate in Indiana and as a newswriter for WGN-TV and Fox News in Chicago.

Julie holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Wheaton College and a master’s degree in broadcast journalism from Northwestern University. Julie and her husband, Neal, live in the Chicago suburbs and have three children.

%d bloggers like this: