A new friend in Facebookland posted on my timeline a link to a site called The True Woman Manifesto. She made it clear with her comment (this is nauseating) that the site is decidedly not in keeping with her womanhood.
Before I had even clicked on the link I knew I would have trouble with it, no matter the content. Let’s just start with the title, True Womanhood. True. A wonderful word that can be defined as meaning the real deal, pure, honest, unfiltered, authentic.…true womanhood than communicates a rather sour message just from being strung together that there is somehow the capacity to be an inauthentic woman – an inauthentic human being – and so before I even hopped on the internet highway to roll into this site, I kinda figured I’d be looking in a distorted mirror that would tell me, Pam, you are not a true woman.
And I was right.
There is no place in the way of Jesus for inequality to remain unchallenged. The kingdom of God is a kingdom of justice for it is a kingdom of love and goodness. We need Jesus’ daring spirit that defies oppression in favor of equality, for love and justice will trump theology every time. — Unladylike: Resisting the Injustice of Inequality in the Church
The True Woman Manifesto is a collection of signatures from Christian women who are asserting their commitment to the complementarian view of themselves. Complementarianism is one of those theology words that obscures an ugly truth: Christianized sexism. In the world of church, complementarians hold that God has a created divine order of men leading and women following. This mindset is evident in several points of The True Womanhood Manifesto:
We are called as women to affirm and encourage men as they seek to express godly masculinity, and to honor and support God-ordained male leadership in the home and in the church.
When we respond humbly to male leadership in our homes and churches, we demonstrate a noble submission to authority that reflects Christ’s submission to God His Father.
Selfish insistence on personal rights is contrary to the spirit of Christ who humbled Himself, took on the form of a servant, and laid down His life for us.
God’s plan for gender is wider than marriage; all women, whether married or single, are to model femininity in their various relationships, by exhibiting a distinctive modesty, responsiveness, and gentleness of spirit.
Mature Christian women have a responsibility to leave a legacy of faith, by discipling younger women in the Word and ways of God and modeling for the next generation lives of fruitful femininity.
I address this kind of thinking in my book, Unladylike: Resisting the Injustice of Inequality in the Church. I address it head on offering readers a primer in a theology of equality, historical context of patriarchy’s influence on Christianity as well as many stories of how this kind of subservient posturing is damaging to a woman’s soul.
Instead of picking apart this manifesto, I would like to offer a different kind of manifesto, an unladylike manifesto for women and men who embrace the full personhood of woman alongside the full personhood of men.
- We believe that male and female are created to collaborate, co-lead and co-exist in a mutuality of submission to one another. (Gen 2:18 – 23,Galatians 3:28)
- We believe that gifting is appointed according to the will of the Holy Spirit and that calling is determined by gifting, not gender. (1 Corinthians 12, John 20:1 – 20)
- We believe that the power of the Gospel restores men and women in right relationship to one another to live, serve and lead side by side rather than in patriarchal hierarchy. (Galatians 3:28, John 4:7 – 39)
- We believe that the voice, influence and authority of women is meant to be fully unleashed in accordance to the full personhood that women possess. Male headship is a myth. (Joel 2:28 – 29, 1 Peter 2:9 – 10)
- We believe in the mutual submission and partnership of marriage where neither has authority over another by virtue of gender. We reject the headship/submission model as a biblical truth and instead embrace the liberty and wisdom of deference to the other. (Ephesian 1:22, Ephesians 5: 15 – 33, 1 Peter 5:5)
- We believe that the leadership of women is needed in full partnership with the leadership of men in all arenas of culture and church. Women were not created to follow anymore than men were created to lead. (Numbers 12:15, Judges 4 & 5, 2 Kings 22:13 – 14, Acts 2, Romans 16:3 – 4, 7)
- We believe that Jesus modeled a radical agenda of respecting women’s full personhood in how he treated them as noted in the Gospels. Jesus went against cultural and religious norms in his treatment of women. (Luke 13:10 – 17, John 4, Luke 8:1 – 3, etc.….)
- We believe that men and women of faith ought to resist the injustice of inequality wherever it is found, including the halls of the church. Justice is a kingdom of God value and is the language of love. (Hosea 2:19, Amos 5:15, 24, Micah 6:8)
So this is my manifesto, my unladylike declaration that true womanhood is liberated personhood. The kingdom of God does not perpetuate the injustice of inequality among women. The kingdom of God frees women from sexism, even within the house of faith. Because being human is true womanhood