For Christian feminists, it is easy to exclude the traditional woman. I am guilty of it myself. It is never intentional; it is an effort to correct an imbalance in the Church. You see, the Church has always praised the traditional woman.
The traditional woman has been named the “biblical ideal” by many leading Christian voices. The Church has not been fair to the non-traditional woman, so our tendency as human beings is to swing the other way in the hope of finding a balance.
However, as we swing the other way and reject the notion that traditionalism and biblical are one and the same, we must be careful not to reject the traditional woman. The truth is that some women love tradition and soar in the home as stay-at-home moms and wives. This is a beautiful choice and it is not an easy task.
Some Christian women sense a strong calling from God to make their full-time job raising their children, caring for their husbands, homeschooling, raising their own chickens, planting organic gardens, leading Bible studies for women only, volunteering in children’s ministry, and all the things we commonly associate with the traditional woman.
There has been tension between the traditional woman and the non-traditional woman since Bible times. We see this play out with the popular biblical story of “Mary and Martha.” Christian feminists love the passage (Luke 10:38-42) because it is one of the few “woman power” stories in the entire Bible, and Jesus was the one empowering.
Basically, Martha was doing what she was supposed to do in her culture – cooking and preparing to serve the men. Mary was doing what she was not supposed to do in religious culture – sitting and learning at the feet of Jesus with all of the men. Martha gets annoyed that Mary is out of line and asks Jesus to make her get back “in place.”
Jesus empowers Mary in that moment and says that Mary has chosen what was best. This had to have hurt Martha’s feelings. I know it would mine, but it had to be said, because Martha was judging her sister as wrong, when she was right because she was following her calling to become one of the first female disciples of Jesus Christ.
However, it seems Martha was also following her calling and using her gifts, and we don’t see Mary get up and say, “I told you so, your way is not biblical and my way is.”
In the Christian world, every woman wants to believe she is a “biblical woman,” but there is not one way to be a “biblical woman.”
We have allowed religious “experts” to tell us what a “biblical woman” is. This causes us to compete for a certain status that does not even exist. The truth is that there are all sorts of women in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. There are warriors, prophets, business women, teachers, preachers, homemakers, deacons, judges, and the list goes on.
Jesus does not call us to be “biblical women;” no, sisters, Jesus calls us to take up our cross and follow Him. Mary did not get praised by Jesus as choosing the better way because she was a non-traditional woman. She was praised because she was taking Jesus at His word. She was paying attention to His teachings.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me (Matthew 16:24).
Remember, the Bible is the written Word of God, but it is not the actual Word of God. Jesus alone is the Word of God (John 1:1-14) and we are called to follow Him over the many biblical interpretations of mere human beings.
How did Jesus handle the ongoing war between the traditional woman and the non-traditional woman? In so many words, He said, stop judging each other. Stop worrying about who is right. Sit at my feet. Learn from me.
You can be a traditional Christian feminist or a non-traditional Christian feminist as long as you are a follower of Jesus and you affirm that women are equal to men in all rights, opportunities, value, and authority in the home, church, and in society.
Feminism gets a bad rap because it often tries to make all women fit in “feminist boxes,” and traditionalism gets a bad rap because it often tries to make all women fit in “traditional boxes.”
But women are not made to fit in boxes. We are human. We are complex. And we are wonderfully made. We are all different and we should be working towards accepting each other for who we are and celebrating each other’s life decisions. Your way is not higher than my way and my way is not higher than your way, if we are each doing our best to follow Christ.
As females, we move forward by empowering and uplifting the women who think and live differently than we do. We should not shame them or marginalize them until they conform to our way. These are our sisters. These are our best allies. We progress as women when we stick together, despite our differences.
The more types of women we include in Christian feminism, the quicker all women will move towards complete equality and uninhibited freedom in Jesus Christ.
This does not mean we all have to agree on everything, and it does not mean that we don’t call out oppressive or harmful attitudes. It does mean that we choose our battles with our sisters very wisely and spend most of our time embracing and empowering one another. The continued debate over who is the more “biblical woman” is not a battle worth fighting, because the traditional woman and the non-traditional woman are both celebrated in the eyes of the Lord Jesus.