Why Christian Feminists?

Many think that “Christian feminist” is an oxymoron, but we at the Christian Feminist Podcast think that it should be a tautology.

Competing popular oversimplifications of these two terms of identity frame them as incompatible. Feminists? Aren’t they angry lesbian man-haters? Christians? Aren’t they Bible-thumping sexists that hate the angry lesbians? Both the terms “feminist” and “Christian” are, in different ways and by different groups of people, often thought to be defined by hatred and limitation.

Instead, for us, Christianity and feminism are both rooted in love and liberation. We are all human beings who are equally loved by God. We are all human beings who are equal. We are all freed through Christ. We are all to work toward freedom from oppression.

We discuss some of the ways in which we see Christianity and feminism as intersecting and complementary in our introductory episodes, 1.1 and 1.2. In those episodes, we also recognize that our theo-political backgrounds and opinions are varied, and rightfully so. In our conversations in this podcast, we hope to approach each other and our listeners with the following realizations in place:

We recognize that Christianity is not monolithic. No one denomination or subset of Christianity is the sole possessor of “Christian” as a term of identity. Our panelists and contributors claim varying denominational backgrounds and affiliations, and none is more or less “Christian” than another because of that. It is our hope that differences in backgrounds and opinions will be productive of fruitful conversations. Additionally, we recognize that while for us our Christianity demands our feminism, many other Christians do not claim “feminist” as an identity, and are not more or less “Christian” than we are. The family of Christ is diverse, but still a family.

We recognize that feminism is not singular. Just as the theological opinions of our panelists and contributors will vary, the conclusions we draw on particular questions of gender politics will also be multiple. This is true too of the larger scenes of feminism and social justice, in which viewpoints are constantly tested by voices in conflict. That multiplicity of voices has long been necessary to the progress of feminism. Feminists can disagree and still stand by each other in solidarity.

We recognize that our stances are not static. Our opinions are evolving and our positions are subject to change. We wish to approach each other with the humility of knowing that it is possible to be wrong. If we never learn new concepts or attain new nuances, we are not developing as Christians, feminists, and human beings, something that we hope that our conversations together will drive us to do. Also, though this should go without saying, the viewpoints of panelists and contributors are their own individual opinions, and should not be taken as representative of the set standpoints of any denominations, institutions, or organizations with which the podcast participants may be affiliated.

Our tagline was chosen with these realities in mind. “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, love,” first appeared in a seventeenth-century tract by Marco Antonio de Dominis, and it later became a motto of Christian irenics (sometimes misattributed to Augustine). The peacemaking impulse and the emphasis on love seem appropriate approaches for us to take to the controversial, complicated, and personally significant topics that our conversations address, both in terms of Christian theology and feminist politics.

In essentials, unity. We recognize Christ’s centrality and human equality.

In non-essentials, liberty. We recognize the right to disagree as we work out how to apply these concepts to ourselves and to the world.

In all things, love. We recognize that love is crucial to our work as Christians and feminists, and that it is the source of our respect for each other and for all human beings.

by Marie Hause