Store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven
where moth and rust cannot destroy and thieves cannot break in and steal

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Buddhism and “Don't Touch Me”

I can't find the site now but I ran across a post by a woman who went with her husband to the far east. Thailand or something like that. She relates how, at the end of a visit with some Buddhist monks, they just kind of waved good-bye “because Buddhist monks are not allowed to touch women.”
Wow, isn't it Christianity that usually takes the hit for seeing women as less than? And isn't Christianity based upon the teaching of Jesus?
Jesus, the One who allowed prostitutes to wash His feet and anoint Him with oil.
Jesus, the One who touched dead bodies to bring them back to life
Jesus, the One who touched grieving widows to comfort them
Jesus, the One who touched those with leprosy to make the clean
Jesus, the One who touched a woman with internal bleeding to bring her relief

Jesus, the One who touched and healed the blind and deaf, and demon-possessed, and lame and crippled. He touched these people and personally connected with them.
Jesus, the One who taught women and invited them in to His inner circle.
Jesus, the One who broke all these man-made rules about what to touch and not touch, the One who raised women to their original state of equality with men and then said, “Follow Me, be like Me, do what I did in your relationships with others.
In a world where even in the 21st century women are treated as second class (I read last year that those bastions of feminist movements, Universities, are the worst offenders for pay inequity), and social distinctions are as clear as ever, Jesus and His teaching give us, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for in our relationship with Jesus we are all one and the same,” (Galatians 3:28).

Because of Jesus, both the Old and the Newer Testament descriptions of Him show us that all people regardless of race, gender, class or status are equal in the eyes of Jesus the Christ. 

Nobody before Jesus attempted to promote such a concept. What's more, in complete contrast to Greek and Roman societies, Jesus inspired His followers (who now formed “the Church”) to “take care of widows.” In those days, if a woman did not have a husband or sons to take care of her, she did not have any means of support. 

In the Greek and Roman societies of the time it was very unlikely that men would be punished for even killing their wives. In complete contrast Christian men were taught to be ready to die for their wives, to be faithful to their wives, and in fact to model submission for their wives. Did you hear that last one? Unlike any other teacher before Him or since, Jesus told men then as He tells us today, that as the head of the home, as the leader, the teacher, rather than demand from our families the following, we men are to model for our families submission, forgiveness, patience, mercy and kindness and to remain with our wives for life, ensuring and providing for them tender loving care – not because they are somehow less-than, but because this is what it looks like to “Love one another as I have loved you.”This is servant leadership.

Islam, Buddhism, and all other man-made religions have rules about not interacting with women as equals; somehow blaming them for a man's impure thoughts. Jesus sets things right.

The Buddhist monks thought that not touching a woman would somehow keep them pure, but Jesus says to His followers, “Since you died with Christ, why do you submit to its rules, “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom with their self-imposed worship, their false humility, but they lack and value in restraining sexual indulgence.” Colossians 2:20-23


  1. Very timely. Thank you! I have just returned from a visit with my father-in-law where there is a budding Buddhist influence in the community there. I will print this out and send it to him.

  2. Patriarch is a problem in Theravada Buddhism as practiced in Thailand and elsewhere, just like it is in Christianity.

    There are Buddhist teachings, as well as Greek and Roman writings and practices, that support gender equality, just like the Christian teachings above. It is not unique to Jesus.

  3. Do you think it's possible to have a Patriarchal system that is not harmful to women?