Few books have made as much of an impact on me in the last year as Sarah Bessey’s “Jesus Feminist”. I read it so quickly the first time, knowing though that my enjoyment would continue to grow and that I’d immediately re-read it slowly, devouring sentence after sentence, drinking it all in. And I already want to read it for a third time! I just wanted to highlight some of the things I LOVE about this book here, with a STRONG encouragement for you all to purchase your own copy (here) to read and underline on your own! 🙂
Something that Sarah Bessey and another favorite of mine, Shauna Niequist, have in common, is the way they beautifully simplify some of the things that twist up and complicate my mind the most. Here, Sarah writes about the idea of being a Jesus Feminist, saying, “I call myself a Jesus feminist because to me, the qualifier means I am a feminist precisely because of my life-long commitment to Jesus and his Way.” (14) While the concept of “Jesus Feminist” might seem controversial and chancy, at best, Bessey’s humble approach and winsome personality shine through in a way that is entrancing and beautiful. In this book, Sarah writes to readers about her own experience with Scripture and Jesus, saying, “After years of reading the Gospels and the full canon of Scripture, here is, very simply, what I learned about Jesus and the ladies: he loves us…In a time when women were almost silent or invisible in literature, Scripture affirms and celebrates women. Women were a part of Jesus’ teaching, part of his life. Women were there for all of it.” (17) She makes it out to be so clear and sweet. In addition, she writes that “our big and good God is at work in the world, and we have been invited to participate fully however God has gifted and equipped and called each of us. One needn’t identify as a feminist to participate in the redemptive movement of God for women in the world.” (171) At the end, she reminds us that “Biblical equality is not the endgame; it is one of the means to God’s big ending: all things redeemed, all things restored. Jesus feminism is only one thread in God’s beautiful woven story of redemption.” (178) Her book is not an argument, nor a soapbox, nor even a rant. She delightfully illustrates the concept of Jesus Feminism in a biblically-founded, still-deeply-in-love-with-Jesus sort of way that is endearing and nuanced, while remaining steadfastly truthful and clear.
This book entered my life at a crucial moment, where the tensions that had been building regarding my own place in the church and in the family of God as a leader and teacher, so quotes like this truly clawed at my heart, “I know that you come bearing wounds. Don’t we all? Perhaps someone has explained away your gifts and your callings, your abilities and your wisdom – maybe even your marriage, your stories, your testimony. Someone may have clobbered you with paragraphs and words and proof texts, made you feel like you are wrong somehow, either in your practice or your orthodoxy or your very created and called self.” (2) I am walking away encouraged, enlightened, and embraced. Thank you, Sarah Bessey, and keep going.
P.S. If this is a topic that is even remotely interesting or important to you, it would be a disservice for you not to know about The Junia Project! Check them out here.