I’m sorry for how long this post is. It’s just that I need to respond. Whether they be atheists or the ignorant on the fringes of christianty, I keep reading posts from people who say that Christianity keeps women down. First of all, I’ve done several posts that give dozens and dozens of verses to show that the religion that bears the name of Jesus the Christ can in no way be used to justify degrading or demeaning women in any way. I’m not saying that some men haven't tried it. But these men cannot use Jesus’ teachings to justify their behaviours. And if you think that it’s Christianity that keeps women down, what do you make of the recent news account telling us that Canadian Universities - those bastions of feminism and secular fundamentalism - are the worst offenders of pay inequity between men and women in Canada?
How about some facts?
The OT records a creation order whereby women were equal to men in stature. After, and because of the fall, by the time of Jesus’ arrival, man’s corrupt self-love had demeaned and diminished women to little more than chattel. A Rabbinic traditional blessing stated, in part: “I thank God that I was not born a heathen, nor a woman.” The prophecy “he shall rule over you” was completely fulfilled.
Jesus came to restore the proper order of Creation. Jesus’ behaviour is free from disdain for women that was then widespread in Judaism. For example, Jesus had a long discussion with the Samaritan woman and even revealed to this “loose” woman His mission and messiahship. In contrast to the practice of Jewish teachers of the law, Jesus had women among His followers who were able to join in being instructed by Him (Luke 10:38-42). His proclamation - “Come to Me ALL who are weary,” was and is truly valid for all.
Jesus’ parables contain many examples from the world of women (Matt. 13:33; 24:41; Luke 15:8-10; 18:1-8; Mark 12:41-44). In contrast, Rabbinic parables used women - if at all - almost exclusively in a negative light. Jesus’ teaching is free from every form of open or concealed disdain for women. Unlike Rabbinic teaching which warned of males being seduced by women, Jesus warns against the male tendency to seduce women (Matt. 5:27-30). The Rabbinic tendency was to view women as morally inferior to men. Instead Jesus emphasised the wickedness of the human heart which affects both sexes equally.
Jesus preached against not just the supposed moral superiority of men but also their legal superiority. In Mark 10:2-12, Jesus condemns every kind of divorce and ties the OT permission to divorce to man’s hard and evil hearts. Jesus emphatically protects the woman from the devaluation that was bound up with the Jewish divorce practise and legalised polygamy.
Through His absolute love command (Matt. 7:12; 22:34-40) Jesus threw out once and for all, every kind of male egoism or oppression of women. Jesus did not just take women seriously as people who have the same value as men, but in an unprecedented way He turned His attention to suffering and morally despised women. He protected these women without denying their sinfulness (Luke 7:36-50; John 7:53-8:11). Women as well as men could experience Jesus; healing power (Mark 1:29-31; 5:25-34; Matt. 9:18,23-25; 15:21-28; Luke 8:1; 13:10-17). Jesus even set aside the Jewish Sabbath regulation to heal a woman during a synagogue service (Luke 13:10-17). Answering the objections of Jewish leaders, Jesus called this woman a “daughter of Abraham.” This is a tremendous honour that is NEVER found in the Talmud. “Truly I say to you . . . harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.” (Matt. 21:32).
Jesus points to women as spiritual examples. He praises the faith of the widow (Mark 12:41-44). He shows amazement at the faith of the Syrophoenician woman (Matt. 15:21-28), He praises the queen of Sheba’s quest for truth (Matt. 12:41,42), and He sets up the importunate widow as an example for His disciples (Luke 18:1-8). Women responded to Jesus’ character with great love and respect as would any woman whose husband modelled Jesus’ attitude toward his wife. Jesus protected women again and again against men’s lack of understanding. He defended the woman who anointed His head with oil. He backed the woman of ill-repute who anointed His feet with myrrh. He corrected His disciples when they harshly discouraged the women who wanted to ring their children to Jesus. Jesus allowed women healed by Him to join His band of followers and accepted the assistance of women. Jesus did not see this as weakness.
Husbands often come to me bemoaning their wives lack of respect and support. I’m forced to think, “Is it any wonder? If the only reason for respect is because they demand it of them, what else should these men expect?” Jesus’ unique attention to women was met by them with responsive love and support which put the disciples to shame. At His crucifixion, while John the only male was present, several women among His followers were nearby or within sight during His final hours. The faithfulness of these women continued after His death. They rose on the first Easter morning to anoint His body and so were honoured to be the first witnesses of the resurrection. In this way, not just the earthly Jesus Christ, but the resurrected Christ demonstrated with mighty power that with His coming, a new era for women had broken in. In Jesus, God’s valuation of women as man’s equal companion appears with total clarity, and made obsolete the tendency present then and still present even today to regard women as of lesser worth.
In Mark 9:35 Jesus shows, that in God’s kingdom there is still both authority and subordination, the man leads and the woman is led. Yes the wife is to give unconditional respect as per Ephesians 5:33 - BUT - in place of arbitrary domination on the part of the husband, he is to reign in unconditional love, in a humble servant leadership which is to be seen entirely as a service given TO the wife. We men are the spiritual leaders of the home. What does that mean?
A Spiritual Leader Models For The Family:
Our job is to show our family what those things look like. If we, as husbands and dads don’t do our job properly, our children, like so many others will view Christianity and Hypocrisy as synonymous.
Anybody can go to Church
Anybody can read the Bible
Anybody can Pray
Only someone in an intimate, healed and forgiven relationship with Jesus
wants to live and love as He lived and loved.
THAT is what our children need to see from us.
They see it most obviously in how we love our wives.
“But what about the Bible saying that women are to be subordinate to men?” says the sceptic.
In 1st Corinthians 11:3 a woman’s subordination to man is compared to the subordination of Christ to God.
Think about that!
Obviously the subordination of woman has nothing to do with a one-down position. It would be absurd to suggest that the subordination of Christ to the Father means that Christ is of less value to God the Father, for Jesus is God.
Since the headship model finds its origin in God the Father over Jesus the Christ this removes any justification for a man to lead his wife in anything but a loving and tender and equal manner.
Creation is not considered complete by God until the creation of woman and it is not considered good by God without the creation of woman. The term “helpmate” is the same term that God uses of Himself in sustaining us during our lives so it is definitely NOT a one-down connotation.
Finally, whose job is it to make sure that the other is obeying or submitting properly? (Ephesians 5:22-25, 33). In verse 33 we notice that husbands are to treat their wives with unconditional love and that wives are to treat their husbands with unconditional respect. That means that there are no excuses or scenarios whereby we can absolve ourselves from loving and respecting each other. Empirical data from studies shows that love, for women and respect, for men are the two greatest needs for women and men respectively, in marriage. Notice that Paul doesn’t say, “Women, make sure that your husband is treating you with love.” And notice that Paul doesn’t say, “Men, make sure that your wife is treating you with respect.”
None of us can say to God, “My behaviours are the fault of my spouse.”
We are both, individually accountable to God.
I have no doubt that many, many women have run into christian men who have treated them poorly. I’m not trying to excuse that behaviour. On the other hand, there have been many, many women who have been treated poorly by secular men, or men in general. We men really do not do relationships well.
The important thing however is this. Jesus will not fail you. Jesus will never reject you. Jesus is the one to follow. Never, ever put your trust in humans of either gender. Do not blame Jesus for how sinful humans treat you.