The title, Jesus Feminist is too narrow to describe the content of this book. While Sarah Bessey begins with the role of women, she moves on to discuss the oppression of women worldwide and challenges her readers to be instruments of change. While, Bessey doesn’t say so, it is interesting to consider whether patriarchy in the church, doesn’t lead to the oppression and violence towards women.
Bessey uses hermeneutic principles to explain Paul’s intentions when he wrote to the various early churches. She also uses Biblical examples of the many roles women played in Biblical history. Through all this, Bessey interweaves her own story of being hurt by church politics, her marriage, the birth of her children, and her involvement in various women’s ministries, including Mercy Ministries of Canada. Bessey also writes how her own attitude has changed. Rather than campaigning for women’s right to teach and preach, she believes change will come through women who bring God’s love and justice to their worlds.
One of the powerful examples Bessey uses to illustrate God’s plan for women, is that of slavery. In ancient culture slavery was considered normal. The Bible instructed the Israelites to treat their slaves fairly, and with compassion. However, the prophetic call of the Bible is for freedom to the oppressed and justice for all. In time the Church began speaking out against slavery because clearly slavery wasn’t part of God’s long term plan. Just because we are told how to treat slaves, does mean that God wants the practice to continue. Likewise patriarchy is also not part of God’s long term plan.
Ultimately Bessey encourages us to follow Jesus’ example and consider how he treated women. She writes, “He treats us as equals to the men around him; he listens, he doesn’t belittle, he honors us; he challenges us; he teaches us; he includes us—calls us all beloved. Gloriously, this flies in the face of the cultural expectation of his time—and even our own time” (p. 17).
This book is easy to read and relatable as Bessey uses much of her own journey to teach biblical truths.
Overall, a great read.