I suppose the title of this article says it all. Going to university I have been flooded with new people and experiences which I am thrilled with and I have tried to embrace all of them. With changes come questions obviously about who I am which as a teenager I still don't have answer to, but I know what I believe and despite what some may suggest I don't think they're incompatible. I follow Christ and His teachings, which has led me to know I will dedicate my effort and my knowledge fighting inequality between the sexes.
Both as a woman and a Christian, I have been incredibly lucky. Considering the former, I was taken by a devoted mother to a denomination that has allowed equal access for women to positions of power for over fifty years. The Bible was taught to me by a variety of ministers and Sunday school teachers who varied in gender as well as age, background and life experience, making for a rounded experience. Our denomination is full of strong women working the through ministry, the Guild and in so many other avenues. Gender Injustice is currently a key issue for the Church and one we are addressing at all levels and in a variety of ways. In terms of my gender, I have been blessed to be middle class, well fed and white in the UK, meaning my likelihood to suffer from gender based violence is far lower than other women worldwide, but it is a threat I do live with, but not one I will accept. There is no resting on laurels, gender injustices occur when onlookers choose to ignore the powerless and forget to fight. My reasons for tackling injustices and what reminds me to continue, are contained in the Bible.
The strong, powerful women in my life have come from a variety of sources and that includes the Bible. The supportive story of Ruth and Naomi was a great example to me as I was growing up on how women can empower each other through grief and we are better together than apart. Jesus spends time and energy teaching and learning from amazing women, and giving important messages to women of all nationalities, ages, ethnicities and background. Personally, I am moved and encouraged by the story in John of Jesus meeting a Samaritan woman at the well. To me it sums up the teachings of Jesus; transcending societal separations and expectations of women and their conduct, He shows how faith is more powerful and will always be than anything else. It's not a coincidence that Jesus speaks to a woman, He shows their value by teaching them and giving them knowledge. I have brilliant feminine role models in my life and amongst my mum, Caitlin Moran, my secondary school headteacher are the women who fill the books of the Bible who I've had the pleasure of learning about and continue to admire.
My praise for the Bible and the powerful, meaningful, guiding stories it contains does not mean I don't struggle with it. There are passages regarding women as property or only as mothers. However, an idea I cannot accept is the idea that Jesus, is anything other than an advocate of equal rights for all. Jesus was a revolutionary, who ate and taught with society's outcasts. Ultimately when I am struggling with the negative opinions about women's role in the world and the Church, I read Galatians 3:28, "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." As one body in Christ, no human is less or more valuable because of their genitalia or how they fit into a prescribed notion of gender; we are all valued and loved by God without question or exception. This I feel is at the core of what the Christian family is and what I hope people take from this article.
In the seemingly never-ending US presidential election of last year, the now vice president Mike Pence continually used the phrase, "I'm a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican -- in that order." I wildly disagree with Pence on a number of issues which probably doesn't surprise you, but this phrase did cause me to think about how I label myself. With this in mind I realised I am a feminist Christian, the two exist together and are not contradictory or even unrelated. My positive view of humanity and my morals and ethics are largely based on my faith and so I can't not be a feminist while being a follower of Christ. My university bookcase is the best example of how all this exists together. Next to well-worn feminist literature from Laura Bates to Iris Murdoch is my Bible; each loved, each with an important place in my life.