I have at last found a post that mentions the sessions at the New Frontiers, Together on a Mission conference that mentions the sessions led by women: Becki’s Wanderings: Together on a Mission.
As you would expect those sessions appear to have been all about how to be a proper Christian Woman. Becki came away entused and inspired to read a book ‘God’s Design for Women’ by Sharon James which raises my normal hackles. See this about the book:
Women today are encouraged to think they can ‘have it all’: career success and family fulfilment at the same time. But these external measures of ‘success’ leave many feeling inadequate. Sharon James shows that every woman has dignity as she has been made in the image of God, and that every woman can find true fulfilment when she understands, enjoys and fulfils her creation design.
God’s design for women has been written for:
- Christian women who want positive biblical teaching on womanhood, including issues such as singleness, marriage, motherhood and workplace
- Church leaders who want to encourage biblical women’s ministries
- Students and others who want a biblical perspective on modern feminism and women in ministry
Questions for group discussion are provided.
Sharon James has degrees in history (Cambridge University) and theology (Toronto Baptist Seminary). She has taught history in the UK and Malawi and has written articles for a number of Christian journals. Her husband Bill is pastor of Emmanuel Evangelical Church, Leamington Spa, and they have two children.
Aarghh, I hate this hijacking of "Biblical perspective" and "Biblical teaching". They should actually go and read some feminist theology and discover that it is in fact Biblical teaching. Or they should be honest and admit they are talking about "Male Headship teaching" and "Male headship perspective".
I hate the way that these huge side swipes are taken against feminist thinking and equality as if they are the cause of
"Women today are encouraged to think they can ‘have it all’: career
success and family fulfilment at the same time. But these external
measures of ‘success’ leave many feeling inadequate.
Such thinking has nothing to do with Feminist Theology, in fact it seems to me that the stress on needing to be a perfect wife and mother comes principally from the male headship movement because that is all they value in women (or at least it gets a whole load of attention – just look at how frequently men in the comments on 42: New Frontiers and Women tell us how they value women for their work in the home and childcare).
In my experience Christian feminist thinking is actually freeing for women and men. It sets us free from stereotypes that may not fit and free from rigid expectations, free to be the people that we are created to be. Free to work out our relationships in ways that are appropriate for our personalities, preferences and abilities.
Stress results from trying to meet contrasting expectations. I see that most where you have a male headship Church (marketed as complementarian as that sounds better) conflicting with a society that does not demand a women to achieve fulfilment by serving men. Note that male headship can be just as destructive for men as it can for women (the discomfort of being such a church when in a happy relationship where the woman is the natural leader).
Of course if you abandon faith and do not see yourself as a servant of Christ, a disciple, then worldly definitions of success can kill you, but that is true for both men and women. It is not the result of feminism but of materialism, of greed, of pride and status ie of sin.
[update] See thoughts by Auntie Doris at Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman.