Although nowadays, the role of religion in the world is lowering, Christianity remains one of the dominant and most influential systems of beliefs. It is not only a religious conception but also a philosophy that impacts the minds of many, though some of them may not even know about this. The concept touches upon many aspects of life, including the role of women in the family, society, etc. That is why the problem of Christianity being feminist or non-feminist is worth consideration. I believe that in some ways, Christianity is a kind of feminist ideology, and in some ways, it is not.
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First of all, it is necessary to mention that modern Christianity is represented by certain people who translate their views to the public and form the religion as a present-day system of values. That is why it is necessary to address modern sources as well as older ones that are still widely used. For example, Catholic bishops officially state that “the family is the most important institution in society because education, formation, and care for the human person, especially children, take place more in the family than anywhere else” (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops 1).
In this case, Christianity values families more than the will of the individual. Thus, the role in society and the interests of the former are neglected. This is contradictory to feminism as it is the ideology of the individual who may not be eager to build a family but can contribute to society in other ways.
Another vivid example of how both concepts correlate is the writings of St. Basil the Great. In one of his lectures, he considers the question of what each person will say to the god at the end of his or her way (Basil 47). Discussing the issue thoroughly, the author does not define between men and women; he treats them equally. I believe that in this respect, Christianity fits the concept of feminism.
On the other hand, when mortal life is concerned, Christian ideologists tend to discriminate against women. For example, Tertullian openly tells females how to dress and behave (3). However, I believe that his chauvinistic views were influenced by the Medieval epoch when women used to have almost no rights at all. The same situation may be observed in early Christian works. According to The Acts of Peter, a young girl in the times of the Apostles had no right to choose a husband or refuse one imposed on her by the parents (391). This is viewed as normal, which does not suit feminist views as it directly deprives the woman of her basic rights, such as the freedom of choosing a partner.
Another instance is the story of the woman called Thecla. According to The Acts of Paul, she left her fiancée to join the apostle on his journey (355). This act of choice is considered brave and directed at self-liberation. According to Musurillo, women may become martyrs as well as men (109). In this respect, both sexes are considered equal. An example of this is the Christian martyr Felicite.
To conclude, I believe that at some points, Christianity resembles feminism, but in other ways, it does not. The examples of the above-mentioned modern and old Christian writers demonstrate that religion was strongly influenced by historical circumstances. However, it bears the spirit of liberation (just as feminism does) and states that representatives of both sexes are equal before God and will be judged only by their deeds.
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Musurillo, Herbert. The Acts of the Christian Martyrs. Clarendon Press, 1972.
St. Basil the Great. On Social Justice. St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2009.
Tertullian. On the Apparel of Women. Kessinger Publishing, 2004.
“The Acts of Paul.” The Apocryphal New Testament: A Collection of Apocryphal Christian Literature in an English Translation, edited by J. K. Elliott, Oxford University Press, 1993, pp. 350-388.
“The Acts of Peter.” The Apocryphal New Testament: A Collection of Apocryphal Christian Literature in an English Translation, edited by J. K. Elliott, Oxford University Press, 1993, pp. 390-427.
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. United States House of Representatives, 2017.