Recently I read a quote from a women's conference that said "feminism and other voices trick me into thinking that God’s design isn’t good. I want headship, I want control. Especially when men shirk their responsibility like Adam. Recognising my sin helped me to stop fighting my sin."
I found this incredibly heartbreaking! Particularly as it makes such broad sweeping statements about what the purpose behind feminism is and, I think in the subtext, what egalitarianism is: That the sole reason for these beliefs is to make myself powerful, that it's all about me. What I can achieve and where can I get all the authority and control... and yet it so completely misses the point and so here is my response.
If being an egalitarian or feminist was just for me I would give it up tomorrow. If it was just so I could preach or lead then I would sacrifice that calling for the benefit of others. If I was just seeking my own power and authority I would give it all up.
But it's not because of any of this that I am an egalitarian. I am an egalitarian because I believe that it is true to the bible. Yes, I've read the challenging verses and wrestled with them and prayed over them and asked God to show me if I've misunderstood. But I keep coming back to the same place that God has gifted both men and women equally and he wants all of us to use our gifts to glorify Him and the whole church. Men teaching men and women and women teaching men and women. And submitting to one another in reverence for Christ. It is not as was suggested that there are weak men in my life that I want to overpower or take control of. The men in my life are humble, gentle, strong, courageous and leaders in their own right. They do not fear women who share these qualities, they want to partner with them in serving the kingdom. Partnering together in teaching, leading, evangelising, growing, serving and loving those who are in the church.
I am an egalitarian for all the women who face domestic and family violence all over the world and the thousands who die per year. In Australia more than one woman a week dies as a result of family and domestic violence and one in four women will face domestic and family violence in their lifetime. We need to stand up and say that abuse is never ok.
I am an egalitarian because of the millions of women and girls who are trafficked around our world. Even in western countries like mine in Australia.
I am an egalitarian because I want to be a role model for young women and girls who feel like they are called to lead and teach. I want to encourage and support them and give them opportunities to fulfil their callings.
I am an egalitarian because I understand that a women's highest calling is not to the home but to God.
I am an egalitarian because I see powers of patriarchy in this world which goes against God's plan for men and women, who are co-equal image bearers, to fulfil his initial plans for this world to rule, fill and subdue.
I am an egalitarian for the oppressed and silenced women in our world who do not have a voice, I am standing up for them.
I am an egalitarian because I believe that women not just in the west should have a theology that empowers, grows, shapes and leads them into places that God is calling them.
So no, I am not just seeking my own power or authority, I would give that up in a heartbeat if it was true, but I will continue to be an egalitarian and a feminist because I believe that men and women working together in equal partnership is what God has ordained for us to be doing from the beginning of creation.
Louisa is currently working in university ministry in Sydney. She is 26 and has been married to Simon for three years. She has a heart to see women pursue their callings in serving God with their whole life.