Faith, Feminism And Family -- By: Catherine Clark Kroeger

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 13:1 (Winter 1999)
Article: Faith, Feminism And Family
Author: Catherine Clark Kroeger

Faith, Feminism And Family

Catherine Clark Kroeger

Catherine Clark Kroeger is CBE President Emerita and adjunct professor at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. She is author of I Suffer Not a Woman (available through the CBE Book Service).

Faith, feminism and family are three of the highest priorities in my life, but no one has ever before invited me to write on all three topics at once. If I am to do so, I must begin at the beginning: with the book of Genesis. In an incredibly poetic story, we are told of a wise God who made all things and saw that they were good-that is, until it came to the creation of man. Then God saw that it was “not good” that man should be alone. Humanity, made in God’s image, must be relational as God is relational, sharing mutual love and joy and wholeness.

In the creation story, male and female were both made equally in the image of God. Woman was drawn from the very substance of man to share his dreams, his intellect, his emotions, and his spirituality. Greek tradition taught that women were made of an inferior substance, a cruel trick of the gods to despoil the potential of man. Hebrew tradition, however, described the woman as one who is like man, a blessed gift from the true and living God, bestowed to save man from loneliness.

The creation of the family is celebrated with Adam’s song: “This at last is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh!” And the two became one flesh, naked and unashamed, joyful in their togetherness, tender and caring in a newfound relationship.

The next chapter of Genesis is far less cheerful, and disaster lurks as man and woman lose their openness with one another and with God. Nevertheless, the family remains the mainstay of Israel’s faith.

The household was to be built upon the union of man and woman, bound together by sex and covenant. That covenant household was to become a haven for the alien and stranger, a center for instruction and influence to all who entered through its door, a bastion of righteousness upheld by prayer and commitment to the one true God.

From the resources of this most basic social unit, there was to be outreach to those in any sort of need or distress.

The Valiant Woman

The influence of the household for political, economic and social betterment of the community is well described in Proverbs 31. This chapter outlines the activities of the valiant woman whose husband serves as a judge at the traditional place for judgement, the city gate. The venture is a cooperative one, however, involving both wife and husband. The wife not only manages the household capably but appears to make a major contribution to the fami...

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