Jesus (Fill in the Blank) Women

Photo from http://celebrationpublications.org/blog/patmarrin/13/09/1486
Photo from http://celebrationpublications.org/blog/patmarrin/13/09/1486

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.’”

Source: sharefaith.com
Source: sharefaith.com

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

gesture-love-jesus-character-26846833

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

If “True Love” is True

Disney Maleficent Movie
Disney Maleficent Movie

My professor in one of my MA classes asked us, ” What do you think about romantic love?” I said, “I think romantic love is overrated.”

I was bitter but I was able to validate my opinion when Nicholas Sparks just filed a divorce. It was the worst heartbreak ever. If swallowing more personal heartaches could save his marriage, I would just to keep that fantasy.

If I am going to use my feminist lens, I think romantic love is used to oppress women. In fact the romantic love we know characterized by euphoric feelings is too modern. This true love is that kind of love that is pushed by Victorian era. The bourgeois ensured their bloodline by picking one woman for one man. It makes women long for male validation. It makes the ideal kind of love unattainable, inaccessible. It makes love an achievement when it should be free. As stated by Janis Ian, love was meant for beauty queens.

My academic reading reflects real life drama
My academic reading reflects real life drama

I don’t want people to think negatively about love but I am selling the principle of love in its basic and universal form. There are principles that are worth fighting for but the principle of love encompasses all principles that is good for humanity.

But what is love? My idea of love is theological and philosophical. They say love is a social construct. It means many things to many people. We are living in a world where we like to deconstruct ideas. But when someone tells you “I love you,” it’s one truth that you wish is absolute.

heart
found this on my way to school

I look back at the book of 1st Corinthians 13 and other passages in the Bible that show love to figure out if I am loving. I have heard this many times. When I was a kid, I whispered, “Oh that’s no-brainer! Isn’t it natural for a human being to love?” But growing old, watching people come and go, gaining experiences, losing trust, I just come to a conclusion love is expensive. I discover that only a few people can love me that includes my mom and dad and that my capacity to love others is also limited. And I have no problem with that. Knowing that only a few people can truly love me sets the bar on how I love people.

What I’d like to highlight in 1st Corinthians 13:  “It is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” “Self-seeking” means that we should not try to seek what we will gain or benefit from people. We love for the purpose of loving alone. If you are counting the rewards and perks of gaining people to love, that is not true love.

Love does not keep records of wrongs. Love does not have quota for how many mistakes the other makes. You just love and forgive those who make. We love not to prove that we are better, more righteous, smarter than the other. We choose love not to please ourselves but to please others.

Nothing is written in the book that love is mutual. As what Shakespeare said, “Love is not love that bends with the remover.”

The most beautiful and most difficult in the biblical view of love is the principle of sacrifice. Love calls for a sacrifice. When soldiers put their lives at risk, that is love.

Photo from Michael V  instagram
Photo from Michael V instagram

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. “ – John 15: 13

The way Christ demonstrates love……

Photo from: heiscomingblog.wordpress.com
Photo from: heiscomingblog.wordpress.com

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we laid down our lives for our brothers and sisters. “-1 John 3: 16

Love is expensive. Love is not as shallow as giving extra food, extra cash, extra time. Love is not giving what we have in excess. Because when it is just an extra of what we have, there is no sacrifice. In Mark 12: 41- 44,  between the rich people who gave large amounts of money and a poor widow who only gave two small coins as offering, the poor widow has put more treasury than all others.

In the course of love, we make ourselves vulnerable. Christ made himself vulnerable. He became human and died for our sins. We love the unlovable. We love even our oppressors. We love the ugliest. We love the people who exploit us. I  have to agree if people say that Christianity is a religion of death and martyrdom.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?– Matthew 5: 43- 48

It does not matter who we love but how we love matters.

When Jean Valjean was dying , he and Cosette in Les Miserables, sang : “To love another person is to see face of God” There are many religious people who are vigilant in criticizing others but they forget how to love.

“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. “-1 John 4: 8

So….Are you just a clanging cymbal?

Photo from Versifylife.com
Photo from Versifylife.com

Most of the time, I am.