My parents accidentally raised a feminist. In my personal work of deconstructing and reconstructing my faith, I found the patriarchal environment in which I was raised was at odds with the faith they also taught. So I set to work reading and learning about dismantling the patriarchy.
Mind you, I was told that feminists were raging sex-crazed women who want to see men destroyed. While there may be a subset of women to whom that description applies, generally speaking, it does not describe most feminists.
Jesus Dismantled the Patriarchy
One of my favorite stories about Jesus is with the woman at the well. (You can read it in the Gospel of John, chapter 4). The conversation upends all the social and religious constructs of the day. Jesus recognizes faith where others see barriers. The patriarchal world of both the Jewish and Roman societies depended on dehumanizing women and those of different races. Sadly, many Christian men continued to wear the mantle of patriarchy and carry it through the centuries.
Women keep Showing Up
And yet, throughout history the stories of women’s faith and work within the faith crop up again and again. From queens who converted their husbands to monastic mystics to slaves-turned-advocates, women have been pushing through the nonsense of oppression to free themselves and others. This month, all over the internet you will see and hear stories of the amazing work that women have accomplished. This work has often been in spite of great rejection and dismissal by society at large.
If you grew up hearing that a woman’s place was in the home, that it was the godliest role she could have, then perhaps you are looking for some insight into other points of view.
Recommended Reading on Dismantling Biblical PAtriarchy
The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth by Beth Allison Barr. In this book, Beth explores the Biblical Manhood and Womanhood movement that rose up in the late 1980s and 1990s. She unpacks the social setting and how the Bible was applied to perceived issues of the day.
Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation by Kristen Kobes Du Mez. Biblical patriarchy is tied closely to Christian nationalism. Understanding the political impact on the religious community and vice versa is a part of how those in power keep their power.
Someone Other Than a Mother: Flipping the Scripts on a Woman’s Purpose and Making Meaning Beyond Motherhood By Erin S. Lane. Biblical patriarchy wants to give women two choices: be a devout virgin or a stay-at-home wife and mom. Both these things are meant to keep them from entering the conversation.
A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband ‘Master’ by Rachel Held Evans. Rachel spends time taking the Bible at its most literal. Unpacking the dangers of inerrancy and misinterpretation, allows men to control the women in their lives.
The Mothers of Christ by Caitlin Mallery. This is a small ebook of poems I wrote about the women in the genealogy of Jesus.
The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd. This fictional novel about the life of Jesus centers on what if he had a wife. In so doing, Sue is able to present us with the reality of a woman’s precarious position in ancient times. From there you can start to grasp the radical way that Jesus treated and valued women.