A Review Of Sarah Bessey, “Jesus Feminist: An Invitation To Revisit The Bible’s View Of Women.” New York: Howard Books, 2013. 256 Pp. $14.99. -- By: Courtney Reissig

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 19:1 (Spring 2014)
Article: A Review Of Sarah Bessey, “Jesus Feminist: An Invitation To Revisit The Bible’s View Of Women.” New York: Howard Books, 2013. 256 Pp. $14.99.
Author: Courtney Reissig


A Review Of Sarah Bessey, “Jesus Feminist: An Invitation To Revisit The Bible’s View Of Women.” New York: Howard Books, 2013. 256 Pp. $14.99.

Courtney Reissig

Pastor’s wife,
freelance writer, and blogger
Little Rock, Arkansas

Much has been said about feminism over the years. From non-Christians to Christians, people from varying walks of life claim feminism as their own. Sarah Bessey, however, is making a new claim: Jesus was a feminist.

In her new book, Jesus Feminist, Bessey argues that feminism finds its home in Christ (14). The book is a departure from the more typical didactic approach to talking about the gender debate. Jesus Feminist is Bessey’s story. It’s an account about how she learned to love God’s people and live out her Christian life. It’s also a story about how she came to see her feminism as part of her love for Jesus.

The Good

Perhaps no issue can get blood boiling in the church like feminism can. Jesus Feminist, however, avoids the rancor. Bessey is gracious in her tone. She doesn’t resort to name calling. She seems to be genuinely humble about her view of women’s roles in the church, home, and abroad. Even as someone who disagreed with her conclusions, I greatly appreciated her tone. In fact, I felt like she was someone I could have a conversation with about this issue without finding myself in the middle of a heated argument (48). I hope I can do that with her in person someday.

Unlike a lot of women who embrace feminism, Bessey came by it naturally. She didn’t have a great awakening after years in an ultra-conservative church. Feminism is a part of her. So, in many ways, she is an outsider looking in on complementarianism. This perspective gives her some helpful insights. She asks some good questions and complementarians would do well to listen carefully. For example, in her early days in ministry she struggled with the typical generalizations of how men and women operate (44-45). When she struggled to conceive, her heart ached as she heard sermons about being a “real woman”—i.e. having children (72). Bessey wonders if there is another way to talk about men and women, in a way that does not reduce their “realness” to marriage and children. I agree. Womanhood is not only about bearing children and loving a husband. If it were, then millions of women would be alienated from God’s design. I don’t think, however, that feminism is the answer.

Nothing New Under The Sun

For a book that is promoted as innovative, Bessey doesn’t really say anything that hasn’t already been said. While she is writing for a more mainstream audience, rather than the hall...

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