There’s a lot of messages about women, especially when it comes to our Christian faith. There are labels that try to define what a woman’s role is or isn’t. There is debate that singles out scriptures (without deeper context) to silence women. Sometimes I read words spoken with great authority on social media. Maybe you’ve read these too and it makes you want to turn away. If this is what faith does to women, why would we want it?
But rather than turn away, what if we turned toward Jesus to listen to his words, to watch his example? Because, as followers of Jesus, this is where we find truth.
How did Jesus treat women?
Jesus was born and raised in a culture that placed women as “less than.” Though there were always exceptions, most women were seen as second class citizens. Jesus’ view and treatment of women was radically different. He would have been seen as revolutionary in the way he interacted with and befriended women.
Jesus saw women for their worth — not just as female, but as potential believers. God sent his son to save the world, and this included all the world. In his interactions with women, he never acted superior. He saw them as human beings. As valuable to God, and valuable to the work of the church, and valuable as friends. One way Jesus overturned the culture was to address women personally. He looked them in the eye. He talked with them. He asked them questions. This was surprising to those who observed his interactions.
Jesus healed, taught, and prayed for women. A Rabbi typically preached/taught only to boys and men, but Jesus surrounded himself with men, women, and children. He shared the Gospel. He spoke truth over them. He traveled with both men and women. He prayed for men and women alike.
His ministry was supported financially and spiritually by both men and women. One woman was set free from demons. She ministered with and supported Jesus’ ministry financially for the rest of her days. While most of the disciples fled, Mary Magdalene bravely kneeled nearby while Jesus suffered on the cross. She was also at the tomb the day Jesus was resurrected. Susanna and Joanna and others are named as financial supporters in scripture, giving money sacrificially because they believed in Jesus and his work.
In this culture, and this is true in many forms today, a woman’s culpability in sin was seen as one-sided. When Jesus saw a group of men with stones in their hands, having already judged a woman caught in adultery, Jesus first saw the woman for who she was, and then he addressed the sins of the men holding the stones. This was a sin that involved two people, not just the woman trembling in fear. And this was a sin with a story, maybe one that wasn’t clear to the judgmental men, but it was to the woman cowering in the dust and it was to Jesus, the one who would become her Savior. Jesus reminded the men they too were sinners, though their sins may have been private, they needed redemption too.
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).
We see this scripture played out as Jesus addressed women as “daughter.” Jesus was kind to women. He was inclusive to women. He saw them as family. He spoke these words to the woman who needed healing from an issue of blood. Her community saw her unclean due to her medical condition. Jesus let her know that she was not only healed, but he let her know who she was to him. She was “daughter.” She was family.
Jesus often asked those who were healed, physically and spiritually, to share their stories with others. He SENT women to tell others, like the time he sent the woman at the well. Her words brought others to Jesus.
Maybe you’ve been a bit frustrated as you’ve listened to all the definitions and all the labels tossed about when it comes to women and faith.
Look to Jesus.
Let all the labels and words fall away because there’s only one voice that matters. Jesus esteemed women in fellowship, in prayer, in service, in support and as humans. He honored women. He walked with women. He ministered with women. When I get a little distracted or someone tries to tell me that I need to be under this label or that, I put my eyes on Jesus and I listen for his voice. I rejoice because I walk with Jesus. I talk with Jesus. I get to share my story of who Jesus is, and I’ve had the hands of Jesus heal my physical body, my heart, and that’s all I need to know. I’m seen. I’m known. I’m loved. There is no “less than” in Jesus’ economy. We aren’t trying to please a human or to fit in their label or definition.
If that’s been something that’s caused you pain or you’ve been trying to convince someone of your value as a woman, remind yourself that you are a believer, a follower of Jesus, deeply loved and seen, and then keep going.
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