I’ve never read another book like Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey (Howard Books, 2013).
|image source: SarahBessey.com|
In explaining what she means by “Jesus feminist,” Sarah (may I call you Sarah?) doesn’t shy away from the “baggage” that the word feminism carries (p. 11), but reminds us that feminism and Christianity have a long history together. She defines feminism as “the radical notion that women are people, too” (p. 13) and explains that Jesus’s respect for and inclusion of women, as evidenced in the gospels, is what inspired her to call herself a “Jesus feminist.”
From there, Sarah weaves her experiences and her understanding together in a way that’s almost more poetry than pose. A careful examination of women in the letters of Paul flows into stories from her own marriage of mutuality, which flows into the etymology of the Hebrew phrase “ezer kenegdo.” She gives equal weight to the stories of famous Christian women and women who remain anonymous. Sarah bravely tells us of her own heartbreaking losses and reminds us of the pressing pains our world is waiting for someone to heal.
The last chapter, “The Commissioning,” brings us back around to where we began: with an invitation. “Stop waiting for someone else to say that you count, that you matter, that you have worth, that you have a voice, a place, that you are called,” Sarah writes. “Stop waiting for someone else to validate your created self: that is done… Now go. And do.” (p. 192-193)
More than anything else, it’s the invitation that sets this book apart for me. If you are looking for a book that makes a reasonable, well-researched, scripturally sensitive appeal on behalf of women in the Church, you will find that here. If you are looking (with either hope or fear) for a book that chips at the cracks in patriarchy, you will find that here. To be honest, I suspect that you will find whatever it is you’re looking for – for good or ill – in this book. I hope in your looking that you will not miss the invitation to “get on with it” and serve God and God’s people in whatever ways your gifts and circumstances provide.
I could fill up pages and pages with lines I’ve underlined and starred, but here are a few:
"I want you to wrestle with the Bible. Do it. Wrestle until, Jacob-like, you walk with a limp ever after, and you receive the blessing of the Lord." (p. 22)
“We are the people of God, and we are moving forward, always, prophetically embodying and moving toward God’s shalom.” (p. 31)
“We are not living biblically by stuffing our true gifts and callings and passions into worn-out clichés, turning scriptural encouragement and invitations into new rules.” (p. 100)
“Thanks be to God who moves mountains. And thanks be to God for men and women who pick up the stones, one after another, after another, until the mountain moves.” (p. 140)
“In the Kingdom of God, there is no such thing as an outsider.” (p. 166)
“…if you are given a voice for dozens or only one other soul, you are a minister.” (p. 197)(If you missed my post about why I’m a Jesus Feminist, check it out here!)
image source: SarahBessey.com
Full disclosure: I received a copy of Jesus Feminist from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.