Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Accidental Feminist, by Courtney Reissig

Courtney Reissig is not a feminist, at least not in the sense that the word is usually used.  In The Accidental Feminist: Restoring Our Delight in God's Good Design, she writes as a "feminist in need of recovery."  What is she recovering?  God's design for women.

Reissig holds to the complimentarian view of gender roles, "believing that God created men and women equal, yet different."  She contrasts this view with the "bill of goods" that mainstream feminism sold women, "telling women they can have it all, by giving women endless choices" and promising "freedom to have what you want when you want it."

Women are life-givers and nurturers.  We primarily picture these roles as being played out in the home and family, but Reissig demonstrates that women can fulfill these functions in many ways, not exclusively as wives and mothers.  She is careful throughout the book to include single woman and childless women in her exposition.

Feminism is one of those terms that can mean a variety of things to different people.  To the extent that mainstream, secular teaches "feminism equals sameness" I agree with Reissig that they are wrong.  She goes as far as to say "the seeds of feminism are actually an affront to the gospel."  Most importantly, while "feminism claims to be the answer for the oppression of women," Reissig writes that "nothing frees women like the gospel of Jesus Christ."

Feminists (as commonly understood) won't like Reissig's perspective.  Many Christian feminists will take issue as well.  Her arguments about the role of women in the church are thoughtful, but ultimately reflect a patriarchy that many Christians are not comfortable with: "From the birth of the church after Christ's resurrection until now, God's intention for the local church has been for godly, qualified men to lead his people through the preaching and teaching of his Word."  Some women, as well as men who would like to see women in more leadership roles, won't be satisfied with her consolation that women can serve in other important ways in the church.

Ultimately, the important point is that "men and women are equally created in the image of God."  They are different, with different roles and functions, but both are valuable and unique.  Reissig affirms and encourages women to fulfill their role and express their gifts.  I, for one, want to be a man who supports my wife, daughter, and other women in doing so.  Isn't that the most basic, most elemental expression of feminism?

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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