March is Women’s History Month, and there are many programs being put on to honor women and their many contributions to society. Whether many will admit or not, women have always been the backbone and pillar of support to mankind in general. Many times women don’t get their just due and the praise and respect they deserve, especially in the Christian faith. Matter of fact, there are denominations that oppress and suppress women and point to scriptures to back up their views. This may be why many people don’t want to be Christians, especially in this point in time where people may view themselves as progressive. The misrepresentation of the Bible and interactions between men and women lead many to think a woman’s place is under the iron rule of a man, but according to the Bible, nothing could be further from the truth. If someone is using the Bible to oppress women, then I submit they haven’t read the Bible at all. I said all of that to say this: honor women. Why? It is important to honor women because Jesus did.
People now may think themselves progressive, but Jesus was progressive before it was trendy. Jesus honored women in a time where it wasn’t popular to do so, and he pushed back on thoughts and teachings in a way that made him very unpopular with the men of His time. Although the coronavirus has thrown a wrench in everything, it is still Women’s Month, and what better way to celebrate it than to talk about why we should honor women? At the beginning of the month my pastor, Pastor Michael Ward, started the month off with a few sermons honoring women. One of the things that’s become apparent to me as I am reading through the Bible for the second time is this…. people don’t read the Bible. There are people who would swear that the Bible and Christianity oppress women, but that’s simply not true. The central figure in Christianity is Jesus Christ, so to be a true follower we must act how he acted, and Jesus loved and honored women.
One thing you’ll notice about Jesus, though he was a man of faith, He was also a man of action. Jesus celebrated women with his actions. In John 4:27, Jesus was seen talking to a woman, which may not seem like a big deal but it really was. Jesus was a teacher or rabbi, and during this time men like that weren’t supposed to talk to women. Women sat at the feat of Jesus and learned(Luke 10:39). Before we get to Jesus’s ministry, we have to acknowledge this huge fact… Jesus was born from a woman! God could have just beamed Jesus straight from Heaven to the Earth, but God, a God of meticulous detail, thought it important to trust the life of his only begotten son into the care of a woman. Jesus was submitted to Mary as a child and even before His ministry even got off the ground. Jesus submitted to Mary even though He said His hour had not yet come(John 2:1-11). Jesus never shamed women, no matter what they had done or what they had been accused of. When the woman with the issue of blood touched His garment, even though she shouldn’t have been out and she touched Him, Jesus did not shame her but instead called her “Daughter.”
In a time where men were most likely using their influence and teachings to oppress women, Jesus instead used his voice to uplift women and push back on some of the thoughts of the time. There was a time when the Pharisees came to ask Jesus his thoughts on divorce in an effort to trip Him up(Mark 10). Jesus said something profound that whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. If you go back and check there aren’t any instances of men being accused of committing adultery against women, but always instances of women being accused of committing adultery against men. A lot of the laws and thoughts were the product of a patriarchal society and time, but Jesus lays the fault and responsibility squarely in men’s lap. Jesus also challenged men to honor women with our thoughts, which was a step further than just honoring women’s bodies. In Matthew 5:27-30, Jesus said that not committing adultery with a woman was not enough, but that if a man looked at a women with lustful intent, he had already committed adultery with her in his heart. So men were not only challenged to honor women’s bodies but also to honor them with our eyes and our hearts and minds.
In his sermon, Pastor Michael Ward said a line that stuck out to me, “Before His death and after His Resurrection, Jesus never had any doubt about the place and role of women in His Kingdom!” That stuck out to me because it was so true. Jesus had women who traveled with Him and were His disciples, women funded his ministry, and women loved Jesus and He loved them. My pastor then went through a string of facts that are all found in scripture about women and Jesus and their interaction. Jesus cared for women, Jesus ordained women, women were the last ones at Jesus’s cross, women were the first at the tomb, first to hear the angel say, “He Is Risen,” first to see the Risen Christ, and the first commissioned by Christ to preach. Jesus did all these things so those who say they shouldn’t preach are wrong. People cite Paul saying women are to be silent in church but they do so out of context(1 Corinthians 14:34). I suggest folks do more studying and get to the heart of what Paul was saying, instead of taking a verse or two out of context and using it to oppress and suppress a group that Jesus loved and honored.
God made women, He crafted them, and designed them in such a way that are deserving nothing less than honor and respect. It is the duty of the Believer, at least the ones who aspire to actually follow Christ and do what He says, to protect, honor and cherish women. Those of the faith that have bought into the false Christianity that keeps women on the outskirts, have done incalculable harm to women and their views on the Church. It seems as if only in the past few years have we realized the harm that’s been caused and made attempts to correct it. We see more women rise to platforms and influence, and the passing of the microphone from men to women and leaning more into women’s thoughts and insights. Although Women’s History Month is almost over, Jesus celebrated women long before that, and it’s our responsibility to do the same.