Welcome to the Crawl

Before you start, make sure someone gives The Schpeel to your group. 

Also, remember these conversation tips: 1) Be polite, and don’t take offense, 2) Say something if you don’t understand, 3) Ask “why” and speak up if you disagree (It’s not rude, its just a good conversation). Now, order a drink and start unpacking the deep mysteries of the universe!

The Big Question: Should a “Christian” be a Feminist?

The Main Questions

  • In your own experience, how have your viewed Christianity’s treatment of women? What are some negative perceptions your have? Are there any positive perceptions?
  • Look at the section below labeled “Texts of Terror.” Ask someone to summarize a passage if you are unfamiliar with it.
    • What is your response to these? What specifically is troubling about them?
    • Are there any redeeming pro-women passages or themes within Scripture?
    • Do you see the Bible and Christianity’s legacy as liberating or repressive for women? Is this a result of the text itself, its interpreters, or both? Explain.
  • How would you define feminism?
  • Look at the section below labeled “Types of Feminism.”
    • Do you see any Christian ideas or values reflected in the various forms of feminism? What are they
    • Do you seen any ways in which Christian ideas oppose/react to the various forms of feminism? What are they
  • What are some of the most important issues facing women today?
    • What values/ideas/resources does Christianity have that help to address modern issues faced by women?
    • What actions can/should Christians take to address these issues? How are these actions expressions of the Christian story?

EVANGELICAL BONUS ROUND
Look at the section below labeled “Egalatarian Complementarian Debate”

  • Where do you see yourself falling one this spectrum? Why?
  • Pick a perspective you do not align with personally. Why might someone argue this perspective

Texts of Terror

Phyllis Trible argues that the Bible contains several “texts of terror.” These stories of abuse, exploitation, and violence against women expose the misogyny of patriarchal biblical cultures, and their lack of comforting resolution leaves uneasy questions for people of faith. Below are a few examples.

  • Genesis 16:1-16 // Hagar, a slave, is used, abused, and then rejected by God’s chosen family.
  • Judges 19:1-30 // A concubine is raped by a mob, murdered, then dismembered by her master.
  • 2 Samuel 13:1-22 // The princess Tamar is raped by her half-brother then discarded and left desolate.
  • Judges 11:1-40 // Jephthah kills his only daughter due to a foolhardy vow he made to God.

TYPES of Feminism

  • Liberal Feminism // This kind of feminism works within the structure of mainstream society to integrate women into it and make it more responsive to individual women’s rights, but does not directly challenge the system itself or the ideology behind women’s oppression. The suffragist movement is an example.
  • Radical Feminism // Radical feminism views patriarchy and sexism as the most elemental factor in women’s oppression – cutting across all others from race and age to culture, caste and class. It questions the very system and ideology behind women’s subjugation. The term often refers to the women’s movements emerging from the civil rights, peace and other liberation movements.
  • Black Feminism (Womanism) // School of thought which argues that sexism, class oppression, gender identity and racism are inextricably bound together The way these concepts relate to each other is called intersectionality.
  • Marxist/Socialist Feminism // Feminists, grounded in Marxist and socialist analysis, attribute women’s oppression principally to the capitalist economic system where global corporate power prevails.
  • Eco-Feminism // This form of feminism views patriarchy and its focus on control and domination not only as a source of women’s oppression but as being harmful to humanity as well as destructive of all living creatures and the earth itself.
  • Transnational/Global Feminism // This approach to feminism is concerned mainly about how globalization and capitalism affect people across nationalities, races, ethnicities, genders, classes, and sexualities and has reinforced a range of global movements.
  • Visionary Feminism (Womanism) // The notion of visionary feminism, as seen in the many writings of the African-American feminist, bell hooks, combines the need to challenge patriarchy, class, race and other forms of oppression such as imperialism and corporate control. She also focuses on love and the role of men.
    Definitions adapted from We Rise, “Different Kinds of Feminism

Egalitarian-Complementarian DEbATE

Within the evangelical world, the power relationship between women and men often fall into a debate between an egalitarian perspective on gender roles or a complementarian perspective. The below chart outlines a bevy of options around these two perspectives.

Position Roles in Church Roles in Home Roles at Work
Patriarchal Different Different Different
Strong Complementarian Different Different Similar
Moderate complementarian Some differences Different Some differences
Soft Complentarian Similar Similar Identical
Moderate Egalitarian Same in theory Similar Identical
Strong Egalitarian Identical Identical Identical
Extreme Feminism Different Different Different

Chart from excerpted from Adrian Warnock, “Gender: complementarian Vs Egalitarian Spectrum

PAUL ON THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

  • As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church // 1 Corinthians 14:33-35
  • But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. // 1 Corinthians 11:3
    Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. // Philippians 3:14
  • Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored. // Titus 2:3-5
  • There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. // Galatians 3:28

Thoughts from Others

  • Thus, it seems that through imprecise translation, our understanding of the powerful words used originally to describe Eve’s role have been diminished… Suppose we had all been taught to understand Genesis 2:18 as something like the following, “It is not good that man should be alone. I will make him a companion of strength and power who has a saving power and is equal with him.” // Beverly Campbell
  • Although we cannot answer all questions about the specific situation Paul was addressing in Corinth, we do conclude that he was addressing a specific situation rather than making a general prohibition on women speaking in church. His intent was to prohibit disruptive and disrespectful questions and comments that were part of the chaotic Corinthian meetings—and in Corinth, these particular practices were coming from the women.  // Joseph Tkach
  • Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man – there never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronized; who never made arch jokes about them; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unself-conscious. There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could possibly guess from the words and deeds of Jesus that there was anything “funny” about woman’s nature. // Dorothy L. Sayers 
  • The current demographic shift in world Christianity should be analyzed as a women’s movement based on the fact that even though men are typically the formal, ordained religious leaders and theologians, women constitute the majority of active participants. // Dana L. Robert

ResouRCES

SUPPORT AN ORGANIZATION

This summer, REUNION Somerville’s generosity team has teamed up with the Northern Crawl to turn our conversations into action. Each week, after the discussion, participants will vote on an organization to support financially.

Below are the organizations that will be voted on this week:

  • National Organization for Women – NOW’s purpose is to take action through intersectional grassroots activism to promote feminist ideals, lead societal change, eliminate discrimination, and achieve and protect the equal rights of all women and girls in all aspects of social, political, and economic life.
  • Cambridge Women’s Center – The Cambridge Women’s Center offers a wide variety of programs, groups and workshops to meet the varied needs of women in Greater Boston. Our programming assists women in healing from traumatic experiences, offers opportunities for women to support each other, and develops new skills and leadership abilities among the women in our community. Our goal is to contribute to the empowerment of women and the creation of a just society.

  • Strong Women Strong Girls – Strong Women, Strong Girls is an award winning curriculum-based mentoring organization that works to counter the social pressures that discourage girls in under-resourced communities by combining multi generational group mentoring to build a community of strength around every girl. Strong Women, Strong Girls empowers girls to imagine a broader future through a curriculum grounded on female role models delivered by college women mentors, who are themselves mentored by professional women.