Jesus the Feminist

Jesus couldn’t be a feminist…

 

Was Jesus a feminist?  Many Christians I have met would say no.  Usually there are three different thought processes going on behind the no’s that they give:

 

Thought process 1:

Feminism equals aggressive, man hating, women who would like to remove all men from the planet in favour of a woman only (I may be exaggerating slightly).

 

Thought process 2:

Jesus’ model was one of hierarchy, which requires women to be under the authority of men (you know, God’s “order” of things).

 

Thought process 3:

Feminism is a construct created in the early 20th Century and therefore unable to be attributed to Jesus, in much the same way that the early Christians couldn’t have been identified as socialists.

 

Jesus was a feminist…

 

I believe Jesus was a feminist.  Feminism for me is about a belief in the fundamental equality of women and men, the modelling of that in the way we live our lives and the fighting to see it actualised in every situation and place, worldwide.

 

Jesus was financially supported by women[1], He socialised with women[2] (virtually unheard of in His culture), taught women[3] (completely unheard of in His culture), gave women the responsibility of *first* sharing the fullness of the Gospel[4], and challenged the deeply held views of patriarchy[5] and dominance[6].

 

There are so many examples of how Jesus lived out a belief in the fundamental equality of women that if I tried to share them all this would be an extremely long post and there are many more competent than me who have written many excellent books on it.  So I will stick to looking at one particular instance in which Jesus showed His value of women.

 

Jesus and the bleeding woman[7]…

 

So Jesus is on the way to heal the 12 year old daughter of Jairus (a *very* important synagogue leader), as He rushes to the aid of this important man’s daughter, Jesus stops and starts to ask who is touched Him.  Can you imagine it?  Jairus, his aides, the disciples looking in disbelief – a child is close to death – and *He* wants to stop and ask who’s touching Him in crowded place.

 

So while everyone holds their breath in anticipation for Jesus to start walking again – to save the 12 year old girl close to death – He continues to ask who’s touched Him.

 

Then, this outcast woman steps forward, everyone knows her; she’s the unclean one.  She’s been bleeding for 12 years, and everyone knows it means that for 12 years, everything she touches, everything she sits on, everywhere she goes becomes unclean, so unclean that those who touch something she has touched also become unclean, even after bathing and washing their clothes they are still unclean until the following morning.[8]  And this bleeding woman with her disgusting uncleanness has been in the crowd, touching everyone…urgh.

 

But Jesus doesn’t shout at her, He doesn’t look at her with disgust or hatred like the rest of the crowd.  He empowers her to choose to own up.  She walks forward because, for the first time in a long time, someone notices her and gives her a choice.

 

So she steps forward and holds her breath and waits for Him to shout out her, to berate her for not honouring the Levitical code, and He opens His mouth to speak, and she winces and then He says,

 

Daughter, your faith has made you well.”

 

The crowd gasps, the disciples, Jairus and the aides are desperate to rush Him on to heal the child and the –no longer- bleeding woman stands there, tears silently flowing down her cheek as she is publically declared clean, healed and restored.  Empowered and honoured by Jesus, Jesus the feminist.

 

 

[1] Luke 8:1-3

[2] John 4

[3] Luke 10:38-42

[4] Matthew 28:5-7, Mark 16:1-7, Luke 24:1-12, John 20:11-18

[5] Matthew 23:9

[6] Matthew 20:25-30

[7] Matthew 9:18-26, Mark 5:21-43, Luke 8:40-56

[8] Leviticus 15:19-27

 

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