EEWC-CFT describes itself as “inclusive”. Does that mean it’s an organization primarily for lesbians?

Angel StatueRebecca Kiser responds:

EEWC-CFT welcomes all people who consider themselves Christian feminists, are exploring the ideas of Christian feminism, and/or asking the questions of Christian feminism.  We welcome these people regardless of gender, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, age, handicap, financial status, or anything else!

In 1986, the decision to welcome and celebrate people of any sexual orientation caused a split in the organization.  At that time, another Christian feminist group was formed, Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE), by former EWC members who could not agree with the direction of welcome taken by EEWC-CFT.

This issue still invokes heated discussion in many major Christian denominations.

Anne Eggebroten responds:

Members of EEWC-CFT are comfortable in an organization with lesbian members as well as with lesbians in leadership positions, but our main emphasis is Christian feminism.  See our self-description under “About EEWC-Christian Feminism Today” on this website.

Our primary bold claim is that the Bible—often thought to put women down—actually supports the equality of the sexes.  Whereas “our society and churches have irresponsibly encouraged men to domination and women to passivity,” God’s Word has been a powerful force bringing justice.

In marriage, we support mutual submission— not headship of the male.

In our churches, we promote active discipleship for all Christians, not leadership roles for men and secondary roles for women.  “We advocate ordination of women and full expression of women’s leadership and spiritual gifts” (from the “Who We Are” section on our “About” page).

We also want to see “inclusive images and language for God”—not just masculine images such as FatherKing, Lord, and Son.  “Inclusive language” means words that include both women and men.  Phrases like “the brothers,” “men of God,” and “our Father” imply that God is male and that Christians are men. Such words exclude women, even if women are expected to understand that they are included.

At the time of our founding in 1974, we were not aware that any of our members were lesbian.  That discovery came later as some individual members learned more about their own sexuality and then came out to others.  During the 1970s and ‘80s, American society and the Evangelical Women’s Caucus (the organization’s name before 1990) struggled with the issue of homosexuality; in the political realm, debate continues today.  In 1978, two of our members, Letha Dawson Scanzoni and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, published a ground-breaking book, Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?  Another Christian View (San Francisco: Harper and Row).  Many Americans, including some members of EWC, came to understand homosexuality not as a perversion but as another form of human sexuality.

In 1986, during the business meeting of a conference in Fresno, California, EWC passed three resolutions: one on racism, one on domestic violence, and one supporting the civil rights of gay and lesbian persons.  This last resolution caused us to lose many members; our Minnesota chapter left EWC and founded a new organization, Christians for Biblical Equality.

Today we continue to work for our original Christian feminist goals.  Our membership includes heterosexual couples as well as same-sex couples, parents, grandparents, single women, divorced people, and men.  Like Christian churches that call themselves “inclusive,” “welcoming,” or “more light,” we welcome everyone and do our best not to reject anyone.  Of course, there are some who do not feel comfortable in a community like this; they join other Christian feminist organizations, and God uses them to reach Christians who need an approach to biblical feminism different from ours.

EEWC-CFT’s statement of “Who We Are”:

 We Are Christian Feminists

  • EEWC affirms that the Bible supports the equality of the sexes.
  • We believe that our society and churches have irresponsibly encouraged men to domination and women to passivity.
  • We proclaim God’s redemptive word on mutuality and active discipleship.
  • We value inclusive images and language for God.
  • We advocate ordination of women and full expression of women’s leadership and spiritual gifts.

We Are Inclusive

  • EEWC is evangelical because our formation was rooted in the belief that the Gospel is good news for all persons.
  • EEWC is ecumenical because we recognize that faith is expressed through a rich diversity of traditions and forms of spirituality.
  • We offer a community of safety for all who have experienced abuse, marginalization, or exclusion by Christian churches.
  • We have discovered that the expansiveness of God calls us to be an inclusive community.

We Welcome You

For further reading:

“Who We Are” on this website under “About EEWC-CFT.”

Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?  Another Christian View by Letha Dawson Scanzoni and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1986).

“Handling Power: Unchristian, Unfeminine, Unkind?” by Anne Eggebroten.  The Other Side 22.10 (1986).

Becky Kiser and Anne Linstatter
Rev. Rebecca Kiser serves as a pastor in the Presbyterian Church, USA. She describes her faith life as “… like one of those funnel gadgets, being raised in the extremely narrow end of fundamentalism, then moving into the gradually widening scope of the evangelical, through orthodox Reformed theology, and now probably more progressive." Dr. Anne Linstatter is a professor and founding member of EEWC-CFT. She teaches on women and religion at California State University, Northridge. She describes herself as a writer, mother, (somewhat) radical feminist, and born-again Christian. She collected and edited personal stories for her book, "Abortion—My Choice, God’s Grace: Christian Women Tell Their Stories." Her commentaries appear on Women’s eNews and Christian Feminism Today, as well as on her blog Martha y Maria: Women’s Lives, Women’s Rights.

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