I’m a proud Christian.
I’m the girl who Instagrams Bible verses alongside mugs of coffee, goes to church at least once a week and prays with her family every night. I’m devoted to God in every way and it’s a huge part of my life.
I’m also a proud feminist.
These two ideas clash constantly, and it’s super hard to find my place in today’s world. Many of my Christian friends think I’m a crunchy hippie. Many of my feminist friends think I’m a backwards, anti-choice conservative. But I think my Christian lifestyle lines up with feminism perfectly.
In fact, many of the ideals in Christianity line up with feminism.
For instance: chastity. A lot of modern day feminists think that “Netflix and chill” is the way to empowerment — but is it really? What screams “empowerment” like a night of two humans using each other for their bodies? Wouldn’t real empowerment be holding out for a person who actually values you for more than your hookup skills?
Pornography is another area where modern-day feminists and Christians could benefit from being on the same side. Last month, Utah declared that pornography was a public health crisis, and in a study of U.S. college-aged men, those who had seen porn in the last 12 months were actually more likely to commit a sexual assault if they knew they wouldn’t get caught. A study of college-aged women found that women dating men who had recently viewed pornography had diminished self-esteem and sexual satisfaction. That sure doesn’t sound very “empowering” to me.
Or take social justice. The Bible is dripping with verses about loving one another. Jesus taught women and spoke with them frequently, something that would have been seen as pretty scandalous in his day. He saved a woman caught in adultery from being stoned, reminding her would-be captors (all men) that they themselves are living lives of sin. Each month, Pope Francis announces his special prayer intention, and this month of May his intention is for the dignity of women to be fully realized by the world.
He said, “We have done little for women who are in very difficult situations: despised, marginalized and even reduced to slavery… we must condemn sexual violence against women and remove the barriers that prevent their full integration into social, political and economic life.”
Every week, I see at least a few essays about how someone’s feminism (Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Hillary Clinton) isn’t feminist enough. Instead of joining together and learning from each other’s ideas, women are continuing to build fences and throw each other under the bus. When I wrote an article about why I believe being pro-life is being feminist, I got dozens of emails exclaiming that I wasn’t a “real” feminist. Well, who says what that is? Isn’t being pro-woman and believing in the equality of the genders being a feminist? If so, then Christianity and its values are definitely under that category.
Feminism and Christianity aren’t spoken in the same sentence very often, and sure — there are Christian people that have a long way to go (the number of Christians supporting Donald Trump is pretty disturbing, considering he goes against everything Jesus stood for). But at the end of the day, many of the ideals Christians hold support women, if only people were willing to consider them.
Claire Swinarski is a writer and Christian feminist living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her work has been featured on Vox, Cosmopolitan.com, Seventeen.com, The Billfold, HelloGiggles, Mom.Me, The Kitchn, and many others. When she’s not writing, she’s probably reading a library book or changing a diaper. Follow her on Instagram at @whatclairesaw.