This post was written by our guest writer Chikondi Mvula.
Author Bio: Jesus loved. Full time woman. Unqualified Theologian. Recovering know it all. Flawed. Seeking to reflect through my life a desire to live honestly and passionately connected to God, discovering greater fullness and wonder in every season with Him. You can find her on twitter as @LaDiadem.
I’m so grateful for D and her love for King Jesus and His gospel. So humbled she granted me space for my crazy in this beautiful online ministry she has created. Come through y’all.
The past couple of years, two to be specific I have had the privilege to sit in the front row to specifically see how God defines womanhood and affirms women in His word. I am grateful for how God in His grace has given His people scripture to understand the essence of womanhood. It will come as no surprise then that I’m deeply troubled by misogyny both overt and subvert. Numerous women have for a long time seen misogyny manifest itself as sexism, rape and rape culture as well as distorted views of patriarchy. I’m interested in how these systems negatively affect men and women and how God equips His people to confront and face these systems.
The past couple of years I speak of have been extremely draining, at the same time an exciting and unique season in my life. I have unravelled and attempted to face all these tensions within me as well as face the parts of me that are broken for women and the challenges we face and the systematic oppression we go through. I have been distracted and I have had to be intentional about my laughs. The Lord has come through and has shown Himself mightily in this season. He has shown me just how highly He values His people, men and women alike, God has also through Ephesians six deeply encouraged me.
When you articulate and confront people’s blind spots as regards to how they view and treat women there’s tension and it often ends with side eyes and people calling you a feminist. People use the word feminist as a weapon to attack and silence you because feminism in Christian circles is what English is to Africans; not our friend LOL. Many of us have our views on feminism whether we have taken time to research the movement only we know the truth, especially if we come from a conservative evangelical background.
Feminism is a complex philosophical framework with many layers that are supposed to be primarily opposed to oppression. In studying the four waves of feminism it seems the definition of oppression has evolved over the years.
Feminism has made great contributions in advocating for a woman’s right to vote, confronting the inequalities in wages and the sexist micro aggressions that are a reality in our cultures, language, schools, and work places and even in the church. It has also contributed in the needed confrontation of objectification of women and just affirming their humanity, not as sub humans but humans who are image bearers of God. (It is important for us to know and be aware that God’s word has a lot of receipts when it comes to respect, freedom, high value and dignity of women for example in Genesis 1:27 God affirms all sexes were made in His image; Some women, such as Miriam (Exodus 15:20) and Huldah (2 Kings 22:14, 2 Chron. 34:22) were recognized as prophetesses, and seemed to command the same level of respect as their male counterparts. With respect to female judges, Barak refuses to go to battle unless Deborah accompanies him, showing that he believes that God is with her (Judges 4). Women were able to take the Nazirite vow, which constituted taking on the highest level of sanctification possible for a non-Levite Jew, under precisely the same requirements as male Nazirites (Numbers 6).
However, there are aspects that are troubling and problematic in the feminist movement these aspects of feminism directly oppose and are in contradiction with how God would have His creation live. They range from a woman’s right to abort (murder) her unborn baby, lesbianism and the right for women to marry women, complete liberation from sexual boundaries and morals and rejection of God as the ultimate authority in life. These are values that are difficult for Christians to affirm.
Is feminism the answer to end misogyny?
If you asked me if I thought feminism is the answer to end the oppression of women I would honestly tell you that no. I would also tell you that I believe that an individual is multi dimensional and not simply one dimensional, people have intersections; people should see a movement and agree with parts that are God glorifying and reject the parts that are not. I also believe in common grace and that all truth is God’s truth, as regards to feminism there are aspects of feminism that are worth agreeing with because they agree with God’s view of women.
The narratives feminism gets it right, it does so because it agrees with God’s view of women; where it fails, it does so because a human made ideology can never be as comprehensive as God’s Word.(Queue Jeremiah 17:9, #TotalDepravity) So here is where I am with feminism; while it has done some good, it has also made its business to emancipate women, not merely from oppression, but from a biblical view of their personhood which I’m directly opposed to because Colossians 1:16-19 is quite clear that we were made by God and for God.
So what is the answer?
Actually, the question should be who is the answer? I believe and affirm that God through His word has an incredible framework to address all kinds of oppression. The reality is that the misogyny displayed the many ways it is; is something that will continue as long as sin remains present in this world.
But God has given all who trust in Him a steadfast hope that will endure, even through the sins that blindside us and are plain as day in our sight.
While women still have a long way to go on the road to equality, God has overcome the spiritual forces of misogyny and prejudice that stand against women. He has also given His people the grace, peace, and strength.
Until God removes all oppression of Women, from the limited yet pervasive powers of misogyny displayed in many ways, I believe women and men have to be intentional and steadfast in holding on to God’s view and high regard of women. Through the hope in Jesus, He equips and encourages His people and in particular, His people who are women to live in places where we must be confident in His redemptive, life giving purposes, yet constantly aware of the threats and troubling perceptions that surround us constantly.
I recently went through a Bible study on the armour of God (S/O to Soul’d Out) and I am so grateful that God has given us the weapons of His truth, righteousness, justice, the gospel of His peace, faith, and salvation. He has given us prayer and perseverance. And even more, God Himself stands with us. He stands with His people in our battle against all sin, including misogyny, whether individual or systemic. He gives us confidence and assurance that we have been reconciled to Him, even when we experience the wickedness of others we can trust Him to be doing our bidding for us.
Paul encourages us to “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10). Although we may experience the actions of those who treat women awfully, Paul tells us there is an evil behind their evil, the schemes of the devil. Therefore it’s not ultimately the negative perceptions, hateful thoughts and actions of misogyny that we wrestle with, it is the spiritual darkness and powers of evil in the heavenly places (Eph 6:11-12).
For humans to hate and demean women based on their womanhood that is created equally in the image of God is not only sinful but demonic; and God has conquered all that threatens to break women, kill women and even shame women at the cross. That is not the only good news; God also enables us to presently withstand them. It is hard but it is comforting to know that we can rely on God’s ever present presence that walks with us in the things we can barely stand against or fathom a light at the end of the tunnel for.
For this, God has given us, through the finished work of His Son, the power to stand in the day of evil; the days when sin’s painful effects seek to end us (Eph 6:13). Paul describes this gift of God to His people as being like armour, and one of the most beneficial aspects of armour is that it protects against attacks and makes sure you are equipped to stand firmly.
Wear that armour y’all as we continue to be vigilant in proclaiming truth and holding on to God’s standard and affirmation of women!
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