For a lot of folks inside the church and out, the word “feminist” is the other “f” word. The very thought of putting it next to the name of Jesus, as Sarah Bessey has done in the title of her new book, Jesus Feminist, will drop jaws. Or cause them to clench. Some might make negative assumptions about the author’s agenda.
If so, they would be wrong.
In the same way that John Piper calls himself a Christian hedonist and then defines the phrase as he is using it, Bessey uses and defines being a “Jesus Feminist.”
Jesus took women seriously; he taught women; he talked to women even when it scandalized the disciples; he accepted financial support from women; he entrusted the core facts of the faith, on which all our doctrines are built, to women… That’s the kind of feminist Bessey aspires to be and wants her readers to be. In a world in which females across the world are raped, trafficked, abused, aborted based on their sex, prohibited from getting an education—into that world, she calls men and women to advance the kingdom of Christ, shoulder to shoulder, on behalf of “the least of these.”
This book is so not for those seeking a fight about women’s rights, especially in the church. Bessey writes, “We are among the disciples who are simply going outside, to freedom, together, intent on following Jesus; we love him so. We’re finding each other out here, and it’s beautiful and crazy and churchy and holy. We are simply getting on with it, with the work of justice and mercy, the glorious labor of reconciliation and redemption, the mess of friendship and community, the guts of walking on the water, and the big-sky dreaming of the Kingdom of God.”
Bessey’s tone is loving, affirming, encouraging, and courageous. Of her own journey, she writes, “I won’t desecrate beauty with cynicism anymore. I won’t confuse critical thinking with a critical spirit, and I will practice, painfully, over and over, patience and peace until my gentle answers turn away even my own wrath. I will breathe fresh air while I learn, all over again, grace freely given and wisdom honored.”
And to that I say, “Amen, sister!”