Jesus was a feminist

Autumn Hyatt

agreer@uccs.edu

 Let me point out the obvious: The Bible contains sexism. Here is another obvious statement: The Bible was written exclusively by men and from the perspective of men. 

     Here is another seemingly obvious, yet seldom noted, fact: there are multiple interpretations of every text, and this does not exclude religious texts, like the Christian Bible.  

     If the Bible contains sexist ideas, does that mean Christians should encourage the patriarchy and put men on a pedestal? From my research and from reading different interpretations of the texts in the Bible, I believe the opposite and even stand to argue that Jesus was a feminist. 

     For some context, according to the All About Truth website, the Bible was written over a period of 1400 to 1800 years between 8th century B.C. and 100 A.D. by more than 40 different authors. It is a compilation of 66 separate books. 

     According to eNotes, the events in the Bible took place across a huge span of land, but a few of the most frequently mentioned areas in the Old Testament are in Mesopotamia — thought to be where human civilization first began — and Egypt, where the Hebrews lived as slaves. The events in the New Testament took place in Rome.  

     In all of these locations, during this time, women were treated as second-class citizens as a condition of ancient societal structures. Women could originally be sold to the church to be “priestesses,” or they could be sold into prostitution, according to History on the Net. As cultures grew in wealth and power, so did men’s status in society, while women’s status declined. 

     Most women were excluded from education and government, and they were under their father’s control until they were “given,” or sold, into marriage, after which a woman’s husband would make all the important decisions for her while she had babies and took care of the home.  

     If men were the ones in charge and made all the rules, who do you think wrote all the books in the Bible? People are not without bias, and the cultural biases at the time put women at a lower status than men, which can be seen in historical contexts and in the works that were written at that time. 

     If the Bible was written from a woman’s perspective, it would be  different.  

    However, there is scripture that challenge the patriarchy. Jesus’ interactions with women show that he did not treat women as subordinates, like some of his disciples did. If you follow the Christian religion, you are likely aware that Jesus is supposed to be the person Christians mirror their lives after; Christians should not view or treat women as subordinates either.  

     Throughout the gospels — the first four books in the New Testament that serve as witnesses to Jesus’ teachings — Jesus constantly reprimanded the religious leaders, the Pharisees. In John 7:6-7, Jesus talked of the Pharisees, saying, “This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” 

     He says in this verse that people mess up and teach what they want to rather than always what God wanted them to teach. Apply this idea to the ways in which Jesus treated women versus the ways men in the Old Testament treated women, and you may also come to the conclusion that God does not want men to be viewed as superior, but rather men wanted to be viewed as superior.  

     After Jesus was sent down by God to grant grace on mankind, his first recorded miracle in the Bible was when he attended a wedding and turned water into wine. In John 2, Jesus said he was not ready to perform a miracle, but he did so anyways because his mother asked him to. His first miracle was performed to help a woman, not a man. 

     John 4 records Jesus talking to a Samaritan woman. This was a big deal because Jesus was a man and a Jew, and Jews did not talk with Samaritans at this time. This woman had also been married five times — she was not viewed highly in society, yet Jesus had a conversation with her and asked to drink some of her water. His disciples  marveled that he talked with the woman. 

     In Mark 5, Jesus left a crowd to heal a synagogue leader’s ill daughter, but before he is clear of the people, a woman with a bleeding disorder touched Jesus’ robe in hopes to be healed. Jesus felt this and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” The woman came forward and admitted it was her, and he told her, “Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.” 

     This may seem trivial, but given the historical context, it was a big deal. He risked precious time talking with and healing one woman in a throng of people while someone of much higher status waited on him.  

     In John 8, Jesus began preaching in a temple filled with people when some Pharisees brought a woman who was caught in the act of adultery to him, and they said to him: “Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?” 

     Jesus told the Pharisees, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” The Pharisees left one by one, and Jesus told the woman: “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” 

     God is also generally depicted as male. But according to Genesis 1:2, “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of waters.” God is also referenced as a “spirit” in John 4:24, John 3:6 and John 6:36.  

     Based off these scriptures categorizing God to a Spirit, it could be and has been argued that when God created humankind “in His own image,” in Genesis 1:27, it was not the physicality of man, the flesh, that was created in his image, but rather the implementation of a spirit.  

     Humans are the only creatures, as far as we know, that have consciousness, or self-awareness. Some argue this consciousness is a soul, some argue it is energy, and some argue it is caused by the structure and chemicals in our physical brains.  

     Whatever you believe, believing that self-awareness is what we have in common with God makes more sense, at least to me, than believing God has the physical traits of a human, specifically a man with a penis. This depiction fuels the idea that men are superior to women because God has the same genitals as a man.  

     God is referred to as “He” in the Bible because the entire book was written from the perspective of men who thought they were better than women, so of course they would use a masculine pronoun.  

     Jesus was also probably sent as a man because women had no status at the time, and it made sense strategically. If Jesus came in the form of a woman, he would not have had the same success he did preaching. 

     You can believe in Yahweh, Jesus, Zeus, Athena, Brahman or nothing. You can believe a magical unicorn is the main source of power in this world, or you can believe we are just in a simulation. You could even believe in all of these things simultaneously or nothing at all.  

     What you cannot do is use your faith or religion as an excuse to justify being an asshole toward anyone. And if you believe your God or deity or whoever truly encourages such acts, maybe you should reconsider what you decide to invest your time and faith in.  

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