Ancient Feminist Texts

Mar 25 | Posted by: Stephen | Tags: Crackpot Theories to save the world

One of the most beloved texts in the Christian Bible when it comes to women’s spirituality is Proverb 31. This is kind of fascinating in that one major facet of this passage that tends to get widely ignored is that it is one of the most feminist texts in ancient literature. Let’s read a sample:

13 She selects wool and flax

   and works with eager hands.

14 She is like the merchant ships,

   bringing her food from afar.

15 She gets up while it is still night;

   she provides food for her family

   and portions for her female servants.

16 She considers a field and buys it;

   out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

17 She sets about her work vigorously;

   her arms are strong for her tasks.

18 She sees that her trading is profitable,

   and her lamp does not go out at night.

  • Prov. 31:13-18 (NIV)

So in this passage, the much lauded woman is...

  • Plying a trade

  • Managing employees

  • Owning land

This woman is economically-independent! One of the great defining traits of a Godly and wise woman is that she has autonomy to function in the economy.

That is an incredibly-feminist concept! Ultimately, economic justice is the core of almost all justice. There are a lot of important concepts in all discussions of equality between people groups: reasonable protection from harm, access to recourse for harm through the justice system, freedom of speech, etc.

But I would argue that one of the most important freedoms is economic autonomy. If you lack the ability to provide for yourself and your household, if you lack economic mobility to improve your station; you don’t really have freedom at all. The inverse: if you do have freedom to control your own economic fate, you can access the tools needed to improve your status in all those other areas.

So the next time you’re in a conversation where somebody is trying to point out “women’s true place in the church” or somesuch, just remind them of this: God wants women autonomous and free just like everyone else.

Thumbnail via Wikipedia.

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