Dr Belle Tindall pulls no punches in her new column on Christian feminism 


Dr Belle Tindall

Can you be a Christian and a feminist? This question seems to follow me around; it’s been asked to me, about me and by me more times than I can count. 

Occasionally, it’s been asked with an arched eyebrow and folded arms. Whether that be from Christians who don’t like the F-word or feminists who don’t like the C-word, you can just tell that it’s a question they already hold their own answer to. They just don’t like that yours doesn’t match. 

But more often than not, this question has been asked of me by women and girls with tears in their eyes. Tears infused with hope, pain, confusion and so many other things. 

To both categories of people, and everyone in between, it is always my pleasure to offer up a resounding “Yes!” The confusion that I’m sometimes met with makes me feel like I’ve just said that unicorns exist. But seriously, you can be a Christian and a feminist. In fact, you want a hot take? I would suggest (tentatively, because I’m a natural-born conflict-a-phobe) that all Christians should be feminists.

Defining feminism 

Before throwing such huge statements around, I should take a minute to explain exactly what I mean by the term feminism (assuming that if you’re reading this, I don’t have to define the whole Christian part?) 

When defining feminism, I always reach for the same phrase, borrowed by the ever-wise Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who in her TED talk influentially declared that feminism is the belief in “the social, political and economic equality of the sexes”. As a Christian, I would like to slip the word ‘spiritual’ in there too – but, apart from that, I tend to use Chimamanda’s words as my cultural compass.  

Jesus intentionally went out of his way to value, empower and equip women

Chimamanda makes it sound so obvious, doesn’t she? Who could have a problem with such a belief? Well, firstly – many do. But secondly, while I wish that feminism was as black and white as Chimamanda’s clear and concise words make it seem, I have to admit that, in reality, it more accurately resembles the whole grey-scale. It is brimming with nuance, complexity and subjectivity. It is personal and it is political. It unites and it divides. It’s spoken of in terms of waves, strands, categories and arguments. 

In short. It’s blooming complicated. 

As not only a personal feminist but also an increasingly public one (whoops), it’s integral for me to continually plunge to the confusing depths of feminism and scope out what’s really going on down there. But it’s more important to ensure that I continually come back up to the surface for a deep breath of air, and I consider Chimamanda’s over-arching definition to be that air.  

Through this regular column, I’ll be inviting you to join me as I do both of those things; to come with me on the deep dives and join me in the re-surfacing. From gender reveals, to ambition, to Love Island. I’m sure we’ll hit it all. 


Faith and feminism

For this inaugural piece, I’m going to use the last few paragraphs to explain, albeit briefly, why my feminism not only exists alongside my faith, but is utterly dependent upon it. 

And the answer is – Jesus.

The more acquainted I get with the details of his beautiful life, the more I become convinced that Jesus intentionally went out of his way to value, empower and equip the women that he came into contact with. I can only imagine what it felt like for these women to have bumped into a man who treated them like no other man they had ever known. It’s truly no wonder so many of them gave their time, their reputations, their money and their security to follow him so devotedly.

Jesus did this empowerment thing continually; it built and built, until his death and resurrection – which is the hook upon which I hang my life. A history-altering, universe-shifting, reality-shaping event that was first witnessed and first communicated by a woman. Now, don’t hear me wrong, it is not my intention to reduce the resurrection to a feminist act – my gosh, that would be stupid, and a little (a lot) heretical. 

But, I think Jesus knew what he was doing. As the mighty NT Wright said: “It is the women who come first to the tomb, who are the first to see the risen Jesus, and who are the first to be entrusted with the news that he has been raised from the dead. This is of notable significance” (Surprised by Scripture, SPCK).

Jesus’ resurrection set about the re-establishing of the beautiful, bonded and equal relationship between the sexes that was so notably present in Eden, and has been so notably absent ever since. So, here I am – a Christian who believes in and fights for “the social, political, spiritual and economic equality of the sexes” purely because I believe that Jesus does. 

It’s so nice to meet you. 

Dr Belle Tindall is Seen and Unseen’s resident writer (see seenandunseen.com) and co-host of its ‘Re-Enchanting’ podcast. With a doctorate in biblical studies, she has a few specialisms; one of which is feminist theology.