The term, “evangelical feminism,” is a new one to me. I’m not sure what people mean when they use it, or what it means to you. But if it describes women who are strong, bold, free-spirited leaders inside and outside of their homes, unashamed of their faith in God, His Word, His Son, and His Gospel, then I can identify with it.
I was raised in a strong evangelical Christian home where women were respected, honored, and who held significant positions of leadership. My maternal great-great-aunt ran off an invading Yankee soldier, running him through with her hat-pin. While my maternal grandmother bore five children, buried one, and managed a missionary’s home in Tsingkiangpu, China, she was also a nurse and supervised a women’s medical clinic. My paternal grandmother not only raised four children, but taught a weekly Bible class, and helped my grandfather run a large, successful dairy farm. My mother-in-law was not only the official first lady of several churches as the wife of a pastor, she raised four incredibly successful sons while at the same time she kept a full time job on 5th Avenue in New York City as a dental hygienist.
I wonder if the term, “evangelical feminist,” would describe my own mother. Her strong character and faith are legendary. I am convinced there would not be a Billy Graham as we have known him, if there hadn’t been a Ruth Graham beside him. She never felt staying home to raise five children a demeaning burden. Instead, she considered it the highest privilege she could be given. She was an artist, a pianist, an intellectual who read everything available, and an authority on log cabins. She cared for sick neighbors, stayed in touch with missionary friends, helped my father write his many best-selling books, supervised the running of a large, unique household so that my father was free to give full attention to his preaching, learned to ride a Harley-Davidson and to hang-glide. She was filled with an exuberant zest for life. When the last child left home, she stepped out to speak, and published her own poetry and writings. William F. Buckley, Jr., related to me recently how she had been the sparkle at a White House state dinner he had attended, easily carrying the conversation at the president’s table.
Evangelical feminists today, if I understand the term rightly, are rooted in the women of the Bible, beginning with Eve, who was given equal dominion over the earth with Adam; Sarah, whose faith, along with that of her husband, Abraham, was extraordinary, enabling her to bear a son at 90 years of age—a son who became one of the patriarchs of the Jewish people; Hagar, a single mother who had a personal relationship with God, and raised her son, Ishmael, to become the father of many nations; Rahab, whose bold, courageous act of faith saved her entire household from God’s judgment; Ruth, who committed herself to support her mother-in-law, leaving everything behind to begin a new life and became the great-great grandmother of King David; Deborah, who was so bold in battle, the generals would not face the enemy without her; Jael, who single-handedly defeated an enemy none of the generals had been able to overcome; and on it goes until we come to the Virgin Mary, singled out by God for her purity, integrity, piety, and humility to be the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ…and Mary Magdalene, a woman with a sinful past, who was commissioned by the risen Lord Jesus Christ Himself to be the first evangelist to the world,
So if “evangelical feminism” means women who know what they believe, who are strong in their convictions, who are bold in their actions, who are courageous to stand up and speak out for Jesus Christ, while being godly wives and mothers, then I would count it a privilege to be called one.
Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy Graham, is a wife, mother, grandmother, Bible teacher, International speaker, President of AnGeL Ministries, award-winning author of 13 books, including of The Magnificent Obsession