Beyond Beyonce': Feminism, Celebrities and the Church

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Chelsen Vicari serves as the Evangelical Program Director for the Institute on Religion and Democracy.

Let's see: twerking, stripper poles, and skimpy costumes. Another MTV Video Music Awards (VMA) show has come and gone. But unlike VMA 2013's Miley Cyrus spectacle that elicited national outrage, this year's Beyoncé gyrations to dirty song lyrics fetched supreme praise. Cue the double standards.

This disconnect comes down to Beyoncé's use of the f-word: FEMINIST. For women, especially those of us in the Church, lured by this nice-sounding word, Beyoncé's performance serves as a reminder that feminism is all talk and no progress.

I'm pretty sure that in our Women's Studies 101 classes we learned that using headless female backsides as props is not a fight for women's rights. The sexualized objectification of women is despicable, but unfortunately it has become one of feminism's main tools. This must be why feminist writers have declared Beyoncé's performance "the most powerful pop-culture message" of our lifetime.

Before wishing VMA audiences goodnight, Beyoncé nodded to her Christian faith saying "I just thank God for this moment. I love y'all so much." This juxtaposition of feminism and faith might not be a shock anymore, but is it what God had in mind when He calls us to modesty, humility and self-control?

Feminism is being revived in the Church, especially among young Evangelical women. The trendy "Jesus Feminist" movement touts a message that "women are simply people too" but in many cases reflects the same double standards of the feminist movement.

The problem with the Feminist movement in the Church starts with an overemphasizing of women's sexuality as the only form of liberation. It is this obsession, re-branded as "reproductive freedom" that drives popular "Jesus feminists" to point to Jesus to advocate for taxpayer funded abortifacients, and at times, sympathize with abortion. This distortion, though popular, is simply not Scriptural.

Borrowing from the pro-abortion rhetoric of mainstream feminism, feminist evangelical and blogger Jennifer Crumpton wrote, "No one wants abortions. But life is extraordinarily complex and often very unfair to women, especially poor women, on many levels." Crumpton also wrote that women's "right to control our own bodies and make decisions about our own reproductive systems is an economic issue." Sound familiar to Beyonce's right to control, or in this case objectify, her own body?

Trying to fit the Bible into feminism doesn't work. As Mollie Hemingway over at the Federalist rightly noted, "It's not magically made OK when one woman co-opts the meaningless term 'feminist' and slaps it next to it."

Yes, some men have twisted Scripture to oppress or harm women. But as I have said and will continue saying, these men are not accurately reflecting the Gospel. The charm of feminism is that makes us feel as though we have control, when in reality it is controlling us. As Christian women, we chose to become servants of Christ.

Women—Christian or Atheist alike—certainly are people too. But we don't need to embrace feminism's double standards. Christian women are already liberated not by ideology or a worldly status, but by Jesus Christ. "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery" (Gal. 5:1)

Chelsen Vicari serves as the Evangelical Program Director for the Institute on Religion and Democracy. She earned her Masters of Arts in Government from Regent University and frequently contributes to conservative outlets. Follow her on twitter @ChelsenVicari.