Monday, August 27, 2007

Confessions of a Recovering Feminist

When we think of a feminist we can all probably think of a person we know, or know of, who typifies the feminist ideology. There are all types of fixtures of feminism ranging from Presidential candidates to evangelical scholars to college students—and I am one of them. Prior to conversion I was the stereotypical Generation Y feminist—anti-marriage, anti-child rearing, and corporate ladder hopeful. After conversion I sang a slightly different tune, although held onto many of my previous ideals regarding marriage and settling down. I simply masked it with a missions/ministry focus, content to be the single girl on a mission to save a third-world country for Christ. What I did not want, or think I needed, was the idea that my changed life meant changed priorities. It was not that I needed to find a husband or chuck any career aspirations, the problem was that I thought feminism was an outside of the church issue, at least the conservative church that I belonged too. I had no notion that my heart, at its core, was fighting against the authority of God in the Scriptures, and still does have a lot of change left to be done to it.

I may have moved out of the militant feminist camp, but I most certainly have been a part of one too many male bashing conversations in a dorm room and coffee shop with my girl friends. What we must understand about feminism is that it did not originate in the wake of the women’s liberation movement of the 1970’s. And the mother of feminism is far older than Ms. Magazine and her friends. Feminism started in a garden in the Middle East thousands of years ago. Feminism is at the very heart of our fallen nature, and manifests itself in many different forms.

Recovering from feminism must first start with an embracing of the Gospel of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Only then will we see the roots severed because we will be clothed in the humility of Christ, who willingly submitted himself to the Father on our behalf. For older women it will mean embracing and modeling femininity, motherhood, and marriage in a Titus 2 way. For younger women it will mean knowing the godly women in our congregations better than we know the celebrities on late night television.

Feminist ideology is not simply relegated to the brash Gloria Steinem types, or even the female executive with the corner office. Rather, feminism rises up in ordinary women in our congregations, homes, and in the least obvious place, the mirror. Feminism is in the core of our hearts apart from the saving work of the shed blood of Christ, and not simply because we are militant against male authority, but primarily because we are opposed to the greatest authority of all—our Creator. The feminist is not some abstract “out there” woman. She is staring right at us every morning when we put on our make-up.

If we are going to make any headway in the gender discussion, we must first admit that our problem lies much deeper than a woman filling the pulpit on Sunday morning, or stay-at-home dads. Our problem lies in the fact that there is no one righteous and we are all opposed to God—we are all feminists at heart. And we can’t wake up one day and decide to be a Proverbs 31 woman any more than a man can decide to lead like Christ. Instead of seeing our gender differences as mere cultural constructions we must first admit that there was something far greater going on in the Garden than we now realize, and when Creation fell, it was distorted. In creating man and woman differently, God was pointing to the beauty of the Trinitarian relationship, and the relationship between Christ and His Church. The fact that we fight against it reveals our depravity even more.

Many times we are so busy looking for the woman with the hyphenated name that we miss the woman who scoffs at a man for opening the door for her. Both of these actions are products of our feminist heart. My “recovery” from feminism is not about learning how to bake pies or a decision to be more feminine (though these are important and helpful things), it is about repentance. Repentance of my desire to be in control and to raise my fist against God’s created order. Only through repentance and faith in Christ am I, or any one for that matter, able to renounce rebellion and submit to the Lordship of Christ. It also means truly believing that God’s Word regarding gender, and everything else for that matter, is true. Recovery for many of us will mean a reversal of the way we approach women in our congregations. It is no wonder why so many young women don’t desire motherhood when what they often hear from older women is to “get your degree first and live your life,” acting as if marriage and children was the final stamp on the end of your life as you know it.

And when I still feel the judgment rising up in me when I see a young woman joyfully choosing marriage and a family over a college degree, I realize that I have a long way to go before this feminist is fully recovered. As I grow in my walk, there is a great hope in the Holy Spirit’s promise to complete the work that Christ began (Phil. 1:6). From the time the first feminist (Eve) came on the scene, until now, we have been in a cosmic battle against the flesh and Satan because he hates the image of Christ and His Church. We await the final consummation of the good work that was started by King Jesus on Calvary. With the curse came the promise. Feminism was, and will finally be, defeated when the Seed crushes the Serpent (Gen. 3:15). And that’s good news for recovering feminists like you and me.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Christ and Genesis

Every time I read Genesis, I am amazed with something new that had never seemed as exciting to me before. The account of Joseph was a tremendous blessing to me last week and further helped me to see the sovereignty of God over every detail of our lives.

Consider Joseph, sold into slavery by his own brothers. As we watch the story unfold it seems that all of the odds are against Joseph initially. He is despised and misunderstood by his brothers, falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife and then sent to languish in an Egyptian jail for no crime at all. But God had not left him. God had sent him away from his family, a family that was falling apart with immorality, deception, and dissension, in order to preserve the family of Israel and keep the Abrahamic covenant.

This part of Genesis includes, in my opinion, some of the sweetest accounts of God’s providence. It is fundamentally about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God is here preserving a people for Himself, but He is showing Joseph as a type of Christ. Like the Christ to come, Joseph grew in favor with God and man (Genesis 39:21, Luke 2:52). Joseph was sent to an unknown place, enduring sorrow and hardship, in order to preserve and save the people of God. Christ was sent to a dying world, bearing shame and our sin, in order to bring ruined sinners to Himself.

So many of our stories are largely unwritten and we have no idea what the outcome will bring. Maybe God is not giving you exactly what you want right now, His purposes will still stand in your life. Maybe you are facing great uncertainty with direction in your life, God has not forgotten you. Just like in Joseph’s life our small frames are mere pieces in the much bigger picture of redemptive history. God is working all things out for our good, and His glory. Imagine the feelings Joseph must have had when he realized that his dreams were coming true years later. It is no wonder that he had to excuse himself on more than one occasion to weep. And when he finally reveals himself we read such an amazing verse of complete trust in the purposes of God:

“And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.”

Only in Christ can we express, and believe, such things about the purposes of God. Like the Christ that his life is pointing to, he did not revile back when he was reviled. There is a trust that comes after weeks, months, or eve n years, of darkness that begin to show glimpses of light. Surely the disciples were distraught in the three days before Resurrection Sunday, but the conqueror arose victorious that by His death He may preserve life eternally.

Joseph preserved the life of his immediate family, but like every person (with the exception of one) in the book of Genesis, he too died and was no more. And every other leader in the Old Testament died too, until the Man came, who conquered sin and death for those who are found in Him. Trust in His purposes this day, dear Christian. They are far more perfect than we could ever imagine. And He never forgets His children.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Lessons from Jamaica

Saturday evening our team returned from Jamaica after a week of work in the Robin’s Nest Children’s Home, a Christian orphanage. Jamaica, known for its resorts and tropical haven for Americans (among other things), may have seemed almost like a pseudo-vacation for a team of twenty five people from Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minnesota. But I assure you, we were far from the illusion of Jamaica’s problem free paradise. Coming back after seeing first-hand the reality of a third world country makes me really think about my priorities. Many things seem much more insignificant than they did before I left. And blogging seems quite trivial when I realize that there are twenty five Jamaican orphans on the top of a mountain in Montego Bay going to sleep tonight without a mother or father to kiss them goodnight. Not to mention the countless other children in far worse situations in that depressed country.

It would be quite difficult to recap all of the things that happened on this trip, so I will simply say a few things. Michelle Robinette, the founder and leader of Robin’s Nest, asked us three questions our last night there: what was your favorite moment, what was your least favorite moment, and how did the Lord touch you—and here are my answers.

My favorite moment of the trip was fellowshipping and praying with an eighty year old Jamaican woman, named Neta, at the market on Saturday. She sold me Blue Mountain Coffee (amazing, by the way), and really was a blessing to Whitney and me. The last thing she said to me before I left was, “If I don’t see you again, I’ll see you at the Pearly Gates.” And oh, what a glorious day that will be!

My least favorite moment was being sick. I caught something awful on Monday and ended up being out until Thursday. I had not been that sick in a long time and seriously thought I was never going to get better. Something about being really sick in a hot, humid, country that is not America makes it all the worse. God really used it to stretch me and show me even more His trustworthiness and absolute sovereignty over all things, even bacteria’s in our body. He also used it to show me that I am not in control, nor do I always have to be in control (even though I often try to control everything).

The Lord touched me by solidifying in my heart how much I really do want to adopt someday. I knew I wanted to before, but spending the days with the little ones, and putting faces to their parentless status made me want to save all the children of Robin’s Nest, Jamaica, and the world. I pray that one day I will be able to be a mother to many orphans, whether through parental mothering or spiritual mothering.

People always talk about how hard it is to come back and describe what you have seen, and it is. But the thing that stood out to me the most on this trip was that one day all things will be made right by King Jesus. One day the knees of all Jamaicans will bow down, along with the rest of the Earth, and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord over all. This is why we do missions. We want the nations to be among the saints who bow voluntarily, not the judged who bow under compulsion. The women living at the dump and the children living in one room shacks with fifteen other family members are reminders that all is not right just yet, but it’s coming soon—so we wait for our glorious King. And when He comes, I pray I’ll be standing next to Neta and the little ones of the Robin’s Nest, praising God that now there are no more tears and the meek have inherited the Earth.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Minneapolis, My Home

I write this after a long night of waiting, praying, and watching the coverage on television. As the countless reports show, at approximately 6:00 this evening the 35W bridge collapsed sending many cars into the Mississippi River. This is the same bridge that I traveled on every Sunday for church in college, the same bridge that I traveled on last night with my brother, and the same bridge that is a few miles from where I live. Many people from my church travel it every week to give of their time to minister.

Pastor John has written a wise post at the Desiring God blog about this event. Our neighbors were among the kids on the bus, and tragedy doesn’t seem as real until you see the scared face of a mother who doesn’t know where her little girl is. Suffering is real. Pain is real. And this is an even greater reminder that this world is groaning for redemption, bridges and all. Oh that the Phillips neighborhood, and all of Minneapolis, would embrace and believe in Christ.

Here is the link to Pastor John’s post: