feminism and the church
I grew up in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas. My parents divorced when I was five years old and after living with my mom and grandparents for two years I moved in with my father who raised me as a feminist. He always told my sister and me to be independent, to not rely on a man for anything, and to get an education and career before ever thinking about marriage. “Books not boys!” he would always tell me as I was growing up.
Then I fell in with a bad crowd and got lost. I had always considered myself a Christian but never really fully believed, just went along with the flow. Then when I turned fifteen I went to a church that my crush went to (stupid reason I know) and I found Jesus all over again. Sadly, I also found an extremist way of believing.
Growing up I had feminist ideals and was raised in a church that said homosexuality was not a bad thing and that God loves us all. I believed these things until I went to this new church, where they told me that a woman’s place is raising children. I wanted to believe in Jesus with my whole heart and do right by him so badly that I started to blindly believe these things. While I feel that my time with this church was beneficial in that it kept me out of trouble, I’m sad that I was not true to who I was – a feminist who wanted out.
You can be a Christian feminist. I consider myself one now. But at the time I was told that you can’t be one, that it was against God. You had to be pro-life because that’s what Jesus would want, and you had to be against homosexuality because that’s what the Bible said, and you had to get married because it was a sin of lust not to. Then a few things happened that changed my mind.
The first thing was my sister got pregnant by an emotionally abusive man. She had to leave her town to move in with us. My mother took her to Planned Parenthood as well as to the other “Christian” option. My mother told me that the Christian option was crazy because they actually told girls not to use any sort of birth control. They said that using the pill was just as bad as having an abortion. At first I was upset that my sister would go to this sinful place called Planned Parenthood. I was told by my church that it was where women would go to have abortions. I had no real facts about it until my sister told me what really goes on there and says that they don’t even perform abortions at these places, but they helped my sister make her own personal decision that was right for her, which turned out to be keeping her baby.
This was just a small stepping stone for me. I started to think about girls like my sister, who were either too poor to a raise a baby or who had a horrible boyfriend or husband. Wouldn’t abortion be the right choice for them? So as I continued to think about it, as well as talk to some women who actually had abortions, my ideas changed.
As this happened I stopped going to church mainly because I did not feel comfortable going anymore. I did not agree with the majority of what they said. I also took a religion class that changed my thoughts on how literally I took the bible. My teacher told us that there was no way you could possibly believe that the Bible was literal because then we would have the same knowledge as God and that is sacrilegious in and of itself. We also talked about homosexuality and how Jesus didn’t really talk about it, in fact he didn’t really seem to care because he loved everybody. My views on that changed, and I became a fighter for equality.
I leave you with this: keep fighting, because who knows who we will change. I did, hopefully others will too. I especially hope there is change among men, that they will fight with us, and realize that feminists are not the enemy and that we want to get rid of gender roles for all, not just women. Hopefully that day will come, but until then I will listen to my anthem, “I Am Women Hear Me Roar” and continue on changing for the better and praying that others do the same as well.