Recently I posted A Former Feminist. Something I should have considered is the many, many definitions of being a feminist. I don’t know that I was clear on what I meant by feminist and I know that many assumed what I meant and labeled me as a hypocrite immediately. (Fortunately, God has been working on me to not care so much what others think, but focus on what God wants for my life!)
Either way, it got me thinking about the topic, A LOT. God really began speaking to me about what it means to be a feminist and what it means to be a Godly woman. So I posed the question to a number of women. Many of my friends and family responded and I was so pleased with what they had to say! Quite a variety of responses. I want to start there and then I will get to my opinion. They are in no particular order and unedited. Enjoy…
“I don’t think so… God has called us to be submissive and to embrace our roles as women and I don’t think a godly woman has any room to pursue equal rights or feministic view points. We are called to put off ourselves, put on Christ and live a sacrificial lifestyle, love our children, love our husbands, serve one another. We were made differently than men, with different gifts and we should use those created gifts as best we can to honor the Lord.”
~Brandi, wife and mother of 4 and expecting
“I believe that a feminist can be a Godly woman. True feminism to me is to support the rights of women; which would not have gotten a lot of attention had it not been for the feminist movement. It’s like the suffrage movement worked to get women the right to vote. I don’t believe that God is against that. Just because you speak does not mean that you do not respect God.”
~Anonymous, wife and mother of 1
“I had to be the head of my home when I was married or it would have fallen to the children. Would I have been otherwise? Prob not.”
~Anonymous, mother of 2
“I certainly think you can be a feminist and a Godly woman. I think unfortunately the current modern-day feminists have done damage to women and I don’t think they represent what the original feminists represented.”
~Anonymous, wife and mother of 2
“The definition of feminism is advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men. Given that definition, I would ask were men created greater than women? Were we not all created in God’s image? While our roles may be different, our roles should be equal in dignity, honor and worth. While you may disagree with some things considered “feminist”, there are many things you obviously are ok with, such as the fact that you can wear pants and have a job. If you completely disagree with feminism your life would be entirely different than it is now.”
~Sara, wife and mother of 1
“My feelings on this subject are not the popular opinion, I’m ok with that. My hubby calls me a chauvinist, and I’m ok with that ;)
I believe that God created men & women differently, we need different things, we are good at different things. This is not to say we can’t be good at things not traditionally our “roles” because God also made every single person different.
So that being said I believe my role in life is a helpmate for my Hubby. I cook & clean (not as often as I should, but I am a work in progress), I listen to him, I respect his opinions & decisions. In return he loves me & provides the security I desperately need.
I am not against Women’s rights, I vote, I share opinions with my Hubby without fear of being shutdown. But I have a bad taste in my mouth when it comes to Feminism. I feel that once women started getting treated equal, they just continued to push because they think it will never be good enough.
Every person is different & every couple is different, the most important thing is to find the perfect balance for your relationship. Hubby & I tell each other all the time that our relationship is our favorite ;)”
~Krystle, wife, at Just Me Writing to You
“I think Proverbs 31 kind of clears up the whole can one be a feminist and still be a Godly woman. Especially the last line: “Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates. (KJV)” Since the “gates” were places of merchandising and trade, I think it is rather accepting of the feminist woman. It does not explicitly say that she was at the gates, but the phrase before it would indicate that she was the one actually selling the merchandise at the gates (participating in business outside the home).
Another idea is that the Bible likens Gods people (men and women) to a bride for a bridegroom. If a woman cannot be a feminist (here feminist is defined as deserving of equal rights and treatment as a man), than this presents a break in the analogy because the Bible also says we are to work (whatever that is for the person). To not allow a woman to be feminist would disallow said woman to work in the way she may be called to do. Hence this would violate both the work mandate and therefore the bridegroom mandate. Thus making the Bible an illogical picture of who we are to be to Christ. That is just plain illogical because even if one does not believe in Christ or God, it is very difficult to suggest that any book would present a theme and then contradict its own theme.”
“Perhaps feminism, in its infancy, was truly a great movement to free women from oppression and abuse. I mean, we won the awesome right to vote! But those things have been clearly and foolishly redefined recently in America. We live in the grandest country for women in the world, we have more opportunities than anywhere else and yet I still hear us complaining of tyranny! The cry reaches out from the beginning itself with Eve and the curse. The Hebrew word translated “desire” in the passage of chapter 3 actually means “desiring to have mastery over”, which implies all women ever afterward will strive to have mastery over men, and the answer is that men will in response rule over the women (uh, sound a little familiar?). Women cry out for equality and the abolition of every female oppression, but the way we go about that reveals what’s really in our hearts. I hear today women demanding the legislation of evil atrocity (abortion) in the name of defending their bodies. This is weakness in the heart of the woman, the weakness that the new feminism has taught us- entitlements without personal responsibility. Chapter 8 of Proverbs personifies WISDOM as a woman. This should be the point of reference for every feeling and desire and campaign we have to be great- to be the embodiment of wisdom. And wisdom is never weak.”
~Erin, wife and mother of 1
“I believe Jesus came to set the captives free. For His time He was a feminist. He stopped a crowd from killing an adulterous woman by telling them to cast the first stone if they were without sin. Mary and Martha: who was best.? The one doing a woman’s work or the one learning Jesus teachings? And this in a time when custom dictated her to serve. Care of the unwed mother? Mary was provided for. The woman at the well? She brought people to see Jesus because he made time to speak with her. Mary Magdalene the prostitute? Redeemed. Jesus is about love. If a relationship between two spouses is built on that and the desire to do God’s will then prayer will dictate that they can come together and make the right decision even when they disagree. Not all relationships are like this and then it us our job as Christians to see that the weaker party is protected. Women’s rights are necessary to protect women in a world that does not always obey God.”
“I believe that it could be possible to hold some of the tenets of feminism – ie: equal pay for the same job, women’s rights to vote, women are equal in value as human beings as men. Where it gets problematic is that the vast majority of the teachings of feminism in the 1st, 2nd wave and 3rd wave of feminism is that they go counter to God’s Word. So I have to decide if God’s Word is the ultimate authority or if feminism is the ultimate authority. “Radical Womanhood,” by Carolyn McCulley, is a book by a former feminist who is now a Christian. She studied women’s studies in college and was a very radical feminist as a young woman. She goes through the history of feminism. And when you see the roots of the ideas of this movement – they are so counter God, counter the authority structure of God, counter the Bible, counter God’s design for marriage and family and counter God’s design for godly femininity and masculinity -that it is shocking.
Feminism embraces the idea that the God of the Bible does not exist, and that we can create our own god, or preferably, goddesses. That was even in the 1st wave. The first wave also undermined God’s authority structure in the church by saying that women should have “equal rights” to ministry as men even though the Bible expressly forbids women to teach or have authority over men. By the second wave of feminism, feminists were advocating that marriage and motherhood was oppression and bondage and that women should find fulfillment in career alone. No fault divorce was the biggest victory for 2nd wave feminists that allowed women to leave their husbands without cause or justification. This has dramatically contributed to the skyrocketing divorce rates in our culture. The idea of feminists is, “I don’t need a man. I can take care of myself!” That works ok when a woman is single, but marriage is not about independence, it is about interdependence. And marriage was designed by God to show the very great mystery between Christ and the church. The husband is to represent the love and selfless leadership of Christ. The wife is to represent the adoration, submission, reverence and cooperation of the church with her Lord. Feminists sought to destroy God’s design for marriage. They discredited the Bible. They encouraged sex outside of marriage as being freedom. Today, the 3rd wave of feminism has goals such as: don’t allow biology to define the family anymore, gender should be fluid (people should be able to change genders anytime for any reason), homo-sexuality and bi-sexuality are normal and healthy, there is no absolute truth, women should be in charge not men (in business and the home), women are BETTER than men, men are idiots, women can find freedom in being porn stars and pornography is a good thing.
With those ideologies, I don’t believe that a godly woman can espouse feminism.
A godly woman is going to accept God’s design for marriage, His Word as authoritative, His authority structure as divine, His commands for wives as life-giving and joy-producing, and his design for women to be wives and mothers as some of the ultimate fulfillment of godly femininity. A godly woman embraces marriage, embraces God’s Word, embraces respect for her husband and submission to him as God’s authority in the marriage, and embraces children as a gift. A godly woman knows that God’s wisdom is vastly higher than her own or than the wisdom of the culture.
Feminism appeals to our pride, our rebellion against God and our sinful nature. That is why it is so popular!”
~April, wife and mother of 2, at Peacefulwife
“Feminism was originally a positive movement, focused on giving women the basic rights God intends for every human being to have. Now I think feminism has gone past that and focuses on destroying any trace of a distinction in roles between men and women.
-Feminism is a counterfeit solution to the real issue of the inequality of women in a sinful society.
-Feminism arrogates to itself the right to demand respect and equality in every aspect of life.
-Feminism is based in arrogance, and it is the opposite of the call to the born-again believer to be a servant.
-The actions of the modern, militant feminists are geared to cause women to rise up and rebel against the order that God has given to mankind.
Woman of God:
-A believing woman, who is seeking to obey God and walk in peace and grace, should remember that she has equal access to all spiritual blessings in Christ.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
-A believing woman should not allow herself to be in the worldly agenda of the feminist movement. Men and women have a God-given privilege to fulfill the plan He has set for us. Rebellion against that plan and the arrogance that seeks to put self above God’s Word result in very difficult consequences. These consequences are in the destruction of the relationship between husbands and wives, the destruction of the family, and the loss of respect for human life.
Back to the basics:
Eve believed the lie that eating the fruit would bring her wisdom. She lusted and she took or arrogated to herself something that was forbidden. This is the basis for the feminist movement. Women have bought into the lie that feminism will bring them what they want, what they think that they “deserve.” However, the promise is empty for the premise is based in pride and pride goes before a fall. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).
There has always been inequality in the world. There is only one race—the human race! Within that race are male and female, different ethnicities, different colors, and different national origins. It is sin in the heart that causes inequality. It is sin in the heart that causes men to treat women in ways that are meant to demean. It is sin that sets one person above another. And it is sin that seeks to use counterfeit solutions to counteract these inequalities. The only true cure for inequality is obedience to God’s Word.”
~Carisa, wife and mother of 2
“If answering the question in the blog post title…my short answer would be no. Simply because the idea of fully self-reliant woman isn’t biblical. God created woman to be a helper to man, and we are meant to live blissfully and harmoniously together, as a blessing to one another. I think a better suited goal would be to aspire to that of Proverbs 31. She is secure. And ultimately, because her God is the LORD.
So….I would preface that with….how do u define “feminist”? And how do u define “godly woman”? Because there can be unmarried independent godly women……
The major thing that pops up in my mind when I hear feminist is “women’s rights”……..that is a pendulum that could swing pretty wide……
and if feminist means independent from needing a man…then that is completely contrary to bible when it says husband is head of the wife….”
~Brandy, wife and mother of 8, at The Marathon Mom
“I am a creative stay at home mom and love using my husbands tools to create my big ideas. I think you can be a strong, motivated, and even a self-sufficient, Godly woman. I feel part of being a Godly woman is needing a man though. As a Godly wife I think it’s impossible to be a feminist because I see a feminist as not needing a man. God called us to be our husbands help mate. (Genesis 2:18 says: Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”) In my opinion; that is being a housewife/homemaker and stay at home mom. I don’t feel you can be the attentive Godly wife a man needs and work too. If you are not there for him how can you be his helper? I know a lot of women that do it and do it well and I commend them. I know it can’t be easy and has to be exhausting.
Something somewhere has to suffer, and it’s usually the marriage. I personally do a lot of things that would be considered mans work, but I have my limits and that’s when I call the hubby. Ecclesiastes 4:9 tells us: Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.
If you were unmarried and working ….maybe. I guess it really depends on how independent a woman wants to be.”
~Kristi, wife and mother of 4
“The question ‘can you be a feminist and still be a godly woman?’ Really got me thinking. I do believe you can be a feminist and be a morally good woman, but as far as being a godly woman I think the answer is very much a NO. Let me explain why. The Westminster shorter catechism question one is ‘what is man’s chief end?’ The answer of course being to glorify God and enjoy him forever. I as a woman cannot glorify God by totally focusing on myself, making me my own idol. I cannot serve God while only thinking of myself. You cannot serve two masters.
Wives are to submit to their own husbands as it says in Ephesians 5:22. We are not to lead our husbands but to follow them. To be their helpers. I think if a feminist were to read that she would quickly become outraged, and rightly so if she looked at it solely from a legalistic point of view. However, as with any stand-alone Scripture, you really need to read it in its context. If we look at verse 25 it says that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. That is some kind of love there. That kind of love is not just a love letter kind of love, that kind of love is respect, to provide for and to protect along with a whole lot more. But we as women have to be careful not to look at this husband-wife relationship as a financial transaction. For example, I should not submit to my husband IF he love/respects me, likewise my husband should not love/respect me only if I submit to him. It is not an “if you then I will” command that God gave us, it is a DO IT command. I think feminism started with the right intentions because women were in the same category as slaves. We had no value, no voice, no rights. The heart issue was spot on. Women and men were created equal. Woman was created out of man’s rib bone. We belong at man’s side, not in front of him leading him, and not behind him trying to catch up. Woman was not made from his foot to be trampled on or stomped on, but man’s side is where we belong. Equal. Not of greater value. Not a lesser value. Equal.”
~Lisa, wife and mother of 5
“I googled “feminist” and found most definitions to be something like, “an advocate for the rights of women in relation to men.” Rights and equality are something that should be fought for. God created us equal before Him. However, we get confused about what that means. Although we are equal, we do not have the same roles. Our different roles are not an indication of our status, but simply differences in our relations with each other. Most feminists fight for completely equal treatment in every way. However, the Bible clearly teaches that we are made different, and therefore should act differently. For instance Titus commands older women to teach younger women to “love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands so that no one will malign the word of God.” Be busy at home and be subject to their husbands? I can hear the feminist’s incredulous, “Are you kidding me?!?” in my head right now. But why are we supposed to do those things? So that no one will malign the word of God. People will speak evil of our God if we do not do these things. So, can we be a Godly woman and a feminist at the same time? Well, if we are trying to make equal rights the same thing as equal roles, then no.”
~Erin, wife and mother of 3
“I think the answer is yes. The feminist movement started with an aim to obtain equality for women in politics (the vote), the economy (equal opportunity for jobs and equal pay), and education (equal access). Recently this has also come to incorporate some trickier social issues such as the right to have an abortion or free access to birth control. Personally, I think that feminist has become a title, much like being a republican or a democrat. A person may agree with many of the issues but disagree with others, seldom does one find that a label is a complete description for their own beliefs.
Would someone consider me a feminist? I have spent 9 years in higher education, and am in a highly competitive line of work. I have put off starting a family to reach these goals. I suppose they might. I do disagree with abortion, but also recognize that to make it illegal would require defining when life begins. For us as Christians, that is very easy to do. For secular people in the population, that definition is much harder to reach. I do not think we can force Christian beliefs on the general population. I also think it is important to recognize that any label may or may not hold true in all of its particulars for a given individual.”
“If you mean feminist by someone who is co-equal heir with Christ-equal to men, I believe scripture supports that idea. However, if you mean someone who thinks they are better than or can do something better than another because of their gender, the ‘I can do anything better than you” then, that brings us into issue. This is wrong thinking along with the stubbornness or lack of willingness to be in submission to authority. This is not a godly attitude not just with women but with men, as well.”
~Stephanie, wife and mother of 6
“I think it’s important that as women we advocate for those in need and become a voice to the voiceless. Feminism in today’s society warps many individuals into thinking that being an advocate and fighting for justice means equality. I am a firm believer that God made all of us equally and with the same intention. I feel that as women we have an innate desire and responsibility to nurture and stand beside others with compassion and a fierce love. With that said, I believe it goes completely against biblical principle to encourage, fight and advocate for abortion or marriage for lesbians. If you are a true follower for Christ, your desires become His desires. What breaks His heart should break yours. Instead of advocating for the senseless murder of innocent babies and skewed perspectives of love and marriage in the name of “women’s rights” we should be praying for, loving on and showing compassion for our fellow women. Abortion and same-sex marriage is not a God-given right and to say that they are changes the word of God. It’s a fine line- feminism and being a Godly woman… I personally feel that the two, in today’s standards, cannot coincide with each other.”
~Tara, wife and mother of 1
“(This was a comment for your last post, but it also answers the question you asked.) Great post, Tiffany. I understand what you’re trying to say here–not that you want women to return to the days when they were not allowed to vote, own property, or even express an opinion in some circumstances. But, I do think that a lot of the rights that women have been ‘blessed’ with have perhaps been a double-edged sword for us also. Sure, we can work in the marketplace and earn just as much as men, but at what cost to our families, and our society. We have a culture with new terminology like ‘latch-key kids,’ before- and after-school care,’ and a whole new business world of day cares and preschools–all related to the hours the mother is no longer in the home providing care and nurturing for her own children. Of course, this is just ONE area that has been affected by feminism. Dictionary.com defines Feminism as “the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men. ” And that’s the issue for me…feminism seems so selfish–it’s all about ‘Me” with a big M. That is the opposite of Christ’s teaching, which says “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. ” Philippians 2:3 NIV That should be for BOTH partners in a marriage, but it certainly doesn’t fit the view I have of feminism.
The real issue is that Christ intended the marriage covenant to be a ‘picture’ of His relationship with His bride, the church. And in THAT relationship, Christ is clearly the head, the church is clearly NOT. I think it grieves Him when women have a ‘rebellious’ attitude toward their husbands–the “I can do it my way, and it’ll be BETTER” attitude. And even if a woman DID marry a jerk, God honors the POSITION of head of the relationship/husband because that’s how He created it to work. So, if the woman who is married to a ‘jerk’ will just be obedient to God’s Word and honor her husband, God can work on him and actually make him into a Godly husband.”
~Janey, wife and mother of 6
WOW! What a variety of thoughts and opinions from all different kinds of women and even a husband’s perspective. I love how thought-provoking this question is and I loved reading each and every quote.
There are so many definitions (according to our own personal definitions) for being a feminist. Some would call any woman who works a feminist. I have met many women who work, wear pants, and vote that I would never classify as a ‘feminist.”
I appreciate the rights I have as a woman in America, but I would be lying if I didn’t see how some of these rights have been the demise of the family and marriage even in our Christian homes.
After quitting my teaching job to stay at home, God began to change me as a wife and a mom. Our home was much different. Things were calmer, less stressful, peaceful. I trusted in God to provide instead of me and my job. In turn, I trusted my husband as our financial provider. I allowed him to lead our home. I was happier! My husband and children were happier. God began to show me how to be the biblical wife and mother He has called women to be!
This was so freeing! I no longer felt the need to control every situation. It was so nice to not have to take on all the responsibility. This is what I refer to in my post A Former Feminist. This was my struggle and still is at times. We all have our own struggles and sin. Each of us have things we need to work on and can improve. Not one of us is perfect, but we should strive to be as close as we possibly can.
How sad is it that Christians no longer stand out as different? What makes us unique? We try to take control over so much and claim it is our “right.” It is our “right” to decided when and if we want to have children and how many. It is our “right” to decide who should lead in our home and who makes the big decisions. It is our “right” to work as much as we want and let someone else take care of our home and children. It is our “right” to let our voice be heard no matter how disrespectful it may sound to our husband.
As a godly woman, what makes me different from a worldly woman? (maybe another post lol)
My feminist views were many of the reasons I struggled to allow my husband to lead. My feminist views caused me to try to be better, not just equal, than my husband (or any man for that matter). So are all feminists this way? Absolutely not! But can many of the feminist fights lead to this mindset. Absolutely!
Those are many of my problems with “feminists.” I do not have a problem with all of women’s rights, or being equal to men, but many times it is the fight to be better, not just equal where the problem lays. The fight that focuses on selfish desires instead of God’s desire. My feminist views caused me to be more focused on self rather than Christ! We are to serve, not be served. Man and woman.
We were created equal but with much different roles. We ARE called to be great, but in how we take care of our home. In how we raise our children. In how we serve and share Christ. Men will be held responsible for their actions, and so will we as women.
I will leave you with this:
10 A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
What do you think, Can You Be a Feminist and Still Be a Godly Woman? What makes a godly woman different from a worldly woman?