Is Jesus sexist? I have often read that religion is misogynistic and oppressive.
I read a blog addressing to Christian women: feminism is not your friend. I also read a blog of a pastor, entitled Ten Women Christian Men Should Not Marry. The list included: The older woman, The Divorcee, The Feminist, The Gossiper/ Slanderer, the Immodest Dresser. If I have to make my own list of Ten Men Christian Women Should Not Marry, one would be The Judgmental Guy.
It disappoints me that this is how they see women basing it on their Christian faith. It also saddens me that through these views on women, people who do not belong to Christian faith fail to appreciate the good news. Why?
Because this is not how I know Jesus
More than quoting and memorizing Bible verses, I think what is worth examining is how Jesus lived his life on earth and how he treated women.
Jesus was radical on how He treated women in His time. He showed importance to women in the time that they weren’t much of value. Author Dorothy Sayers, a friend of C.S. Lewis, wrote:
Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man—there had never been such another.
Jesus made women special and relevant. Jesus let women join his ministry and traveled with him as written in Luke 8:1-3. Also he first appeared to a woman after his resurrection.
Most important to note is that Jesus challenged laws and norms that were not in favor of women during his time. I have often heard this criticism that the conservative Christian beliefs encourage women to suffer in unhealthy marriages because of the Bible verses pertaining to marriage and divorce. Matthew 19 states:
Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.
But if you read the entire chapter, you will understand that Jesus’ idea of marriage and divorce is intended for the protection of women. Women were disposable and dependent during his time. Men can leave their wives for any reason. Jesus deviated this norm when he said to the Pharisees that men could leave their wives only on the grounds of adultery. (Matthew 19:9).
I was reading a book Discover your Inner Beauty Queen , Godly Secrets to True Beauty. While I appreciate the author’s attempt to inspire women, I am bothered by the some degrading descriptions of women. On her book:
“When I first met Issa, her looks mirrored immoral lifestyle. Her tight clothes exposed her voluptuous curves. Her skirts, barely made it past her buttocks. Her hair hung seductively across her face. She exudes a lustful, almost indecent aura.”
I’d like to give the writer a benefit of the doubt for loosely using “seductive”, “lustful”, “indecent aura”, and “immoral” but I’d also like to reflect on what would Jesus do. What would Jesus say? How would Jesus react if he met this woman?
In the life of Jesus, he had met a lot of women who were not well liked but he welcomed them with forgiveness, compassion and without prejudice. Remember the woman who was caught in adultery and everybody wanted to cast stone on her but Jesus only said to the woman “ ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.’”
Jesus accepted women who were considered outcasts in the community. Another example of a woman who initially received prejudice was the woman who anointed Jesus’s feet with perfume (Luke 7). Jesus was pleased by the gesture of this woman and told her that her had faith saved her.
He talked to a Samaritan woman. It was not appropriate for a Jew to talk to Samaritan woman (John 4:4-30, 39-42). His help extended to foreigners and that was not conventional during that time. Jesus also helped a Canaanite woman, another foreigner, in Matthew 15:22-28 by healing her daughter who was demon-possessed.
The greatest proof that Jesus has always been egalitarian, is written on Galatians 3:28
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. – Galatians 3:28
As what President Jimmy Carter said you have an “ option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women.” We can cherry pick Bible verses to oppress women but I’d like to note that treating women with dignity and value is also Bible-sound.
A Message to All Women
You can also read: https://bible.org/article/christianity-best-thing-ever-happened-women