The Red Couch: Introducing Jesus Feminist



Come here and sit with me. There’s plenty of room and I’ll even share a throw pillow with you. I want us to be good and comfortable as we delve into our first book Jesus Feminist. When the Red Couch team started contemplating what this book club would look like, we knew almost immediately what book we would read first.

The bright yellow book by our very own Sarah Bessey.

In Jesus Feminist, Sarah offers a thoughtful review of biblical teaching and church practices. Hers is a prophetic voice of what is and what could be for those who want to live out their giftedness and calling. It is precisely because of her faith that Sarah describes herself as a feminist. She invites us along on the journey. In fact, she invites us to sit outside under the stars and commune around a bonfire.

That’s not so different from the Red Couch, is it not?

As I said in my own review, “Jesus Feminist bridges the gap between all of us, men and women, married and single, young and old, conservative and liberal, and so on. No matter what you believe about feminism, Bessey offers a fresh look at the Bible’s view of women and invites us to have a better discussion.”

That’s not to say there isn’t room for disagreement or constructive criticism. While I personally feel Jesus Feminist is a game changer and hope you’ll feel the same way, my head is not stuck in the sand, nor do I avoid discussions with those who believe differently. In fact, the Red Couch is about creating room for these very conversations.

“Feminist” is a charged word. Chances are we define it differently. Chances are we can point to both positive and negative examples. Chances are we don’t always recognize what feminism has brought to the table. It is easy to forget how very little room there was for women in the first place and that much work still needs to be done.

None of us approaches this topic empty-handed. Men and women alike, we have heard the stories, received the messages, observed treatment (or experienced it ourselves), studied, prayed, discerned. We may come to very different conclusions and this does not mean that one side is RIGHT and another is WRONG. (Even if we feel that way deep down inside.) What I try to develop in myself is an openness to listening and an openness to changing my mind. Above all, I try to season my conversations with grace. I want people to walk away from me feeling heard, even if we ultimately agree to disagree.

So let’s have that better discussion. As you read this month, consider what you believe about feminism and faith. Think about what you were taught and what you’ve experienced. Contemplate the role of women in the church, the workplace, the home.

Maybe you already consider yourself to be a Jesus Feminist. Maybe you don’t. That’s OK. We’re in this together.

Come back Wednesday January 29 for a discussion post led by Sarah Caldwell. On Twitter, the official Red Couch Book Club hashtag is #redcouchbc, for those interested in discussing and sharing quotes in the meantime. Don’t forget our February book is God Has a Dream.


Gifted to Lead: The Art of Leading as a Woman in the Church– Nancy Beach

How I Changed My Mind About Women in Leadership– ed. Alan Johnson

The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible– Scot McKnight

Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women– Carolyn Custis James

Making Paper Cranes: Toward an Asian-American Feminist Theology– Mihee Kim-Kort

Making a Way Out of No Way: A Womanist Theology– Monica Coleman

A Year of Biblical Womanhood– Rachel Held Evans

She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse– Elizabeth Johnson

Beyond Sex Roles: What the Bible Says About a Woman’s Place in Church and Family– Gilbert Bilezekian

Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity Without Hierarchy– eds. Ronald W. Pierce, Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, and Gordon D. Fee

Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center– bel hooks

*Recommended by Sarah Bessey, Rachel Held Evans, Suzannah Paul, and Katherine Willis Pershey

What’s on your mind as we begin to read Jesus Feminist?

Disclosure : Amazon Affiliate links included in this post.  If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site.

Leigh Kramer
Leigh Kramer is on a quest; she’s living life on purpose. Her to-do list might look something like this: leave life in the Midwest for Nashville, Tennessee, followed by San Francisco, quit steady job as a social worker to chase her dreams of writing, suck the marrow out of life’s in-between places and revel in the now at every turn. Leigh shares this journey through words of transparency, heart, and just a dash of pluck at and on Twitter at @hopefulleigh.
Leigh Kramer

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  1. I am looking forward to reading this book! Having taught Psych of Gender for 7 years at a Christian university (Trinity Western University), I am always looking for good resources. I might add a few other resources, as well–some forerunners of the ones noted: a wonderful, insightful book by Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen, “Gender and Grace”; an earlier question and answer type book, “The Feminist Bogeywoman” by Rebecca Merrill Groothius; surprisingly (perhaps sadly) relevant to today, written in 1982, “Women at the Crossroads: a Path Beyond Feminism and Traditionalism”; and a more recent one (by a male author!) “Finally Feminist” by John Stackhouse.

  2. I’m so in! I need to finish reading it, but I’m so excited!

  3. I read the book in two days. I find it an interesting take on how to view the role of women in biblical times. I am a woman in a historically male profession and I am not shy about my faith so it tends to come up rather frequently. I have tried to explain to many that women would have played a more prominent role in the Bible had the same been written today but the recording of society back then was different. I really enjoyed the take on feminism in this book for another reason as well. I am tired of the in fighting of women with the traditional church structure. This book can be used as template of how those relationships can be reworked.

  4. I just finished Jesus Feminist and I felt like I time-travelled to my crazy-book-reading- teenage years. I haven’t devoured a book this fast in years. SO,THANK YOU! Thank you Jesus for this book club. I feel SO rejuvenated. SO inspired. SO challenged. Redemption is written all over.

  5. I’m in…excited to finish the book and discuss!

  6. Yay, I bought a journal last night to take notes as I read. You have no idea how much I love buying a new journal. LOL

  7. Byrdie Funk says:

    I’m all in! This couldn’t be more timely.

  8. Amy Hunt says:

    I’ve read my book through and have three poised to send to friends. Practically every other page is dog-eared and that’s something I very rarely ever do. This book has me thinking and it connects with so much of what God has already been speaking to me. I am excited to engage with others around it in deep ways.

  9. The name keeps ringing in my ears. At first I read it as Jesus, the Feminist. And I liked that. But in reading it, I realized Sarah was referring to herself as a Jesus kind of feminist. And I love that.

    So excited to read this with everyone.

  10. Claire De Boer cjdeboer says:

    Me me! Is it bad that I’m only about 10 pages in???!!!! Love that you’re doing this LoveLeigh! xo

    • Bethany Olsen Bethany Olsen says:

      I am about 10 pages in as well! And I picked up the book tonight to get further but ended up reading from the beginning again because I loved the first few pages so much.

  11. Hannah Sachs says:

    This book has truly shaped my convictions regarding feminism into convictions based on justice and love instead of hurt and anger. For me it was such a refreshing read! Looking forward to hearing everyone’s experience reading it.

  12. Bethany Olsen Bethany Olsen says:

    BAM. I’m in. I need to finish the book!

  13. Oh yay!! I want to sit in the red couch too! I read the book last month and wrote a review (, but have been longing to talk with friends more and process it all… So I’m excited about this! Thanks for sharing your throw pillow, Leigh!

  14. Sarah Silvester says:

    I got given my copy for Christmas and held off starting till now! I’m so excited.

  15. I read this book when it first came out (and enjoyed it immensely) but I’m looking forward to reading it again and joining the discussion on the cozy red couch! You took the words right out of my mouth, Leigh – this book is a game changer! So excited!

  16. Becky Roode says:

    I actually sat down with the book last night and devoured it. I could not (and did not want to) put it down. Sarah’s writing went beyond what I expected. This is truly a special book. I’m really looking forward to the discussions to be had.


  1. […] learn more about Jesus Feminist, read the Introductory post. Don’t forget to peruse The Nightstand, which contains resources for those wanting to read […]

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