You can’t talk feminism without talking about the Bible. I’m not talking about oral law, tradition, theology, or what anyone else is telling you about the Bible. As much of a fan as I am of solid exegesis and thoughtful commentary, no woman – no person – can be truly liberated until they have read the Bible for themselves. Equality begins in the workplace of the heart. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23) To find your place in this world and hold fast to it, you must first know the God who has “plans for you” (Jeremiah 29:11) just as He did for Noah, Abraham, and all those who first chose to listen to His voice.
Feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.” For the First Wave Feminists, “equality of the sexes” meant equality under the eyes of the law: suffrage, property rights, and child custody. Feminism’s Second Wave was defined, oddly enough, by male scientists: If a woman could control her reproductive system, the theory went, she could have better opportunities in the workplace. Third Wave Feminism’s grand accomplishment was introducing the idea of gender as a social construct, an idea championed by today’s Fourth Wave busying itself with transgender rights, often at the very expense of the women they claim to serve. The term “equality of the sexes” has shifted so many times that today’s feminists advocate for the erasure of women and the submission of women who insist on retaining their femininity to the preferred concept of an altogether genderless society.
Enter Biblical Feminism. The modern Hebrew word for equal is “shaveh”. It comes from Genesis 14:17, when Abram meets Melchizedek in the Valley of Shaveh. When used as a noun the word references a geographically level plain, but when used as a verb the word indicates “to be like, or agree with”. In a modern sense it means “compromise” which sounds a lot like what traditional feminists are doing with their femininity today: Compromising it in favor of following the status quo.
Ezer Kenegdo is the actual term used to describe Eve in Genesis. In English it’s poorly translated to “helper” or “helpmate”. The Hebrew meaning is much more detailed: In creating woman, God created for man “a helper corresponding or equal to him“. The term ezer goes on to be used 21 times in the Tanakh, referring to Eve, other helpers in life-threatening situations, and even God Himself as a source of help to the nation of Israel in times of peril. Biblically speaking, women aren’t just men’s equal; without the unique gifts and purpose of women, men could not survive.
In other words, ladies, when you’re so frustrated that you turn to your boyfriend, or your husband or your son and say, “You’d be useless without me,” you aren’t speaking out of anger, you’re just telling the God’s honest truth.
Biblical feminism rejects the English language concept of equality as mere sameness in favor of the concept of gender equality according to Biblical Hebrew: a unique, life-sustaining helpmate. We are better than “same” with a purpose and calling as unique to our biology as it is to our relationships. Instead of forcing ourselves to be accepted members of the culture, Biblical feminists stand apart from the culture. Like our Biblical role model Deborah, we rest in confidence ready to arise like mothers and lead the charge in our homes, our workplaces and our culture at large.
Feminism is Biblical. Our unique role and inalienable right to it are God given. Instead of manipulating or changing our biology in order to fit into a simplistic, even inaccurate notion of equality, we must make the Biblical definition of feminism our personal norm. Feminism is a psychological game with a very serious spiritual component. It has become the lens through which girls are taught to see themselves at very early ages, and a litmus test grown women feel they need to live up to their entire lives. Change begins when we reject the test and choose to see ourselves through a different lens. Women will only ever find true empowerment when they see themselves through the lens of Scripture, because true freedom is an inalienable right granted by God.