Today is a good day because today our friend Sarah Bessey releases her beautiful book, Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible's View of Women.
And today is a good day because I believe this book captures the spirit of a movement—of stay-at-home moms and biblical scholars, CEOs and refugees, artists and activists, pastors and poets, midwives and baristas, men and women—bringing to life a Kingdom vision for the dignity and equality of women.
In this movement, Sarah Bessey has become one of my favorite storytellers. I have followed her for several years now, and what I love most about her work is the quiet strength with which she goes about it, the way in which she proves you don’t have to speak in anger to speak a hard truth.
I think of Sarah a big sister in the faith, a woman whose wisdom and maturity challenge me, but whose honesty and vulnerability remind me that she’s walking by my side in this journey, one arm over my shoulder. I have learned so much from Sarah—about patience, about maturity, about stopping to breathe for just a moment before I type out that angry response to whatever so-and-so said on the internet today. When I imagine what sort of person I’d like to become, Sarah’s one of the first women to come to mind.
On her blog, and in this wonderful book, Sarah does what all good storytellers do: she gives us permission—permission to laugh, permission to question, permission to slow down a bit, permission to listen, permission to confront our fears, permission to share our own stories with more bravery and love. As she puts it, “There is more room! There is more room! There is room for all of us!”
Jesus Feminist is about gender equality certainly. But it takes a step back to get the wide angle of where gender equality fits into the story of Jesus, the story of God’s redeeming work in this world. And for those who feel bogged down by the seemingly endless debates about women in the Church, it offers a fresh, grace-filled take on what the Bible really says about women.
I was honored to write the foreword to the book, a task for which I felt totally unequipped. (Don’t tell the editors at Howard Books, but I actually googled “how to write a foreword”! Ha!) But I hope my words there serve as something of a reminder that we Jesus Feminists don’t all look (or sound or write or minister) the same.
My voice sounds a bit different from Sarah’s, whose voice sounds a bit different from, say, Nadia Bolz-Weber’s, whose voice sounds a bit different from my hero, Leymah Gbowee’s, whose voice sounds a bit different from Sojourner Truth’s, whose voice sounds a bit different from Dan’s or my dad's or yours.
But when we raise them together, they sound an awful lot like freedom.
So today is a good day.
Get Jesus Feminist today!
And say a prayer for Sarah too. Releasing a book...particularly one about gender equality...can be scary.
And check out Sarah’s interview with Christianity Today. I really love her thoughts on coming to see the apostle Paul as a brother. Definitely worth a read.
What's your first reaction to the phrase "Jesus Feminist"? Does it resonate or inspire or rub you the wrong way? Why do you think that is?
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