Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Loving Jesus and justice?

As I wrote the posting on patriarchy I started thinking about true activist. By that I mean people who care deeply about social issues that have to do with secular society but are nonetheless biblical. For example people like William Wilberforce who fought so long in Britain against slavery and the slave trade.

But mostly I was thinking of women since I was writing about radical feminist’s attempts to understand ethics by turning biblical mandates on their head. I wrote about Feminist’s ethics and biblical principles for my Master Thesis and so that holds some interest for me.[1]

One of the women I looked at in my thesis was Josephine Butler (1828-1907). She worked for reforms to aide prostitutes who were legally misused. Her work involved the fight against what was at the time called white slavery as it existed in England and then in several other countries. Another person who did some of the same work, an American doctor, who ministered in China, Katharine Bushnell (1856-1946), wrote Bible Studies for women. And both of these women were devout Christians who loved Jesus.

A more recent activist and historian, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, started the first women’s study department in a university, at Emory. Fox-Genoese’s conversion flowed from her concerns over abortion and the rise of those promoting euthanasia. Although Sylvia Thorson-Smith, who I wrote about in my last posting, referenced her in the book Body and Soul, Fox-Genovese was ignored and distained because of her stand against abortion and because of a book she wrote, Feminism is not the Story of My Life.

In Fox-Genoese’s statement about her conversion she wrote, “A Christian, by definition, is one who accepts Jesus Christ as his personal savior and, no less important, as Lord. Everything depends upon belief. “Her story can be read at First Things.

All of these women stood up in some way for the oppressed. One does not need to throw away the word of God in order to care about others. And a plus is that holding on to God’s unchanging words places the activist on a solid foundation; their roads will be straight, bordered by both the truth of God and the justice of God.

[1] The first chapter of my thesis can be read here, “Early Feminism: Equality, Ethical Theory and Religion.”

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