A common misperception is that Christianity has a harsh view of women…that the faith puts women in a subservient or lower category than men.
The institutional church has done exactly that, practicing a patriarchal model, keeping women in subservient roles to men, especially in leadership roles.
But the Person who is central to Christianity was quite the opposite:
Jesus was revolutionary in the way He treated women
Ruth Liefeld: “The most striking thing about the role of women in the life of Jesus is that that they are there at all.”
He did not prescribe a special role for women…He treated every woman He met with respect and extra care.
Look at the way He treated His mother.
He honored her throughout His life, even to the end of it.
She was at the cross.
“John, take care of mom.” Jn. 19:26-27
He taught that women were equal to men in the sight of God.
Women could come into His presence unbidden
The woman who anointed His feet and washed with her hair Jn. 12:1-8; Mt. 26:6-13; Mk. 14:3-9
The woman of the street who anointed His feet Lk. 7:36-50
Women sat in His teaching circle, in the place of a disciple Lk. 10:38-40
The “daughter of Abraham”: a unique appellation for the day! Lk. 13:15-16
He gave her a label with high status and regard.
In Christ, all believers have a new relationship with God. Gal. 3:28
Biases, condescension, subjugation, discrimination, all are put aside.
Women of all ages: Jairus’ daughter was 12 (Mk. 5:35-43; Mt. 9:18); poor widow (Mk. 12:41-44; Lk. 21:1-4)
Women directly received God’s forgiveness and grace (they didn’t have to go through father or husband)…
He never disgraced, belittled, reproached, or stereotyped a woman.
He did not nag at them, flatter or coax or patronize, never made jokes about them, took their situations and their questions seriously.
The woman with hemorrhage Mk. 5:25-34
“Your faith has made you well.” (:34)
Woman at the well Jn. 4:1-42 (:27 the disciples were amazed He was talking to her!)
Woman caught in adultery Jn, 7:53-8:11
Mt. 15:21-28; Mk. 7:24-30
In this passage, Jesus rejected the pharisaic legalism of the day. He brought salvation for the whole world (Jn. 3:16). Yes, He came first to His own people, offering them an opportunity to receive Him—thus, this apparent “chronological” priority of the Jews (Matt. 10:5-6).
This occasion also illustrates a fundamental error in the attitude of Jesus’ disciples. They wanted to send her away—she was annoying them (and she was not a Jew!) His words at first reflect their faulty sentiment, only to repudiate it (as a rebuke to them) a few moments later. In His response to her, He affirmed her great faith, illustrating for His followers that faith in Him, not religion, heritage, or law, is the answer to the common need of all mankind for healing and hope.
Jesus dared to have women as close friends in a society that frowned on that.
Martha and Mary Lk. 10:38-40
She was with Him to the end Mk. 15:40; Mt. 27:56; Jn. 19:25; Lk. 23:49
He touched women in their moment of need:
Peter’s mother-in-law Mt. 8:14-15; Mk. 1:30-31
The crippled woman Lk. 13:10-13
He restored the dead son to the widow of Nain (Lk. 7:11-17) and Lazarus to Martha and Mary (Jn. 11:1-44)
Jesus encouraged women to exercise their gifts outside cultural norms.
He did not have them in the inner circle (Mt. 10:1-4; Mk. 3:13-19; Lk. 6:12-16; Acts 1:13
but He allowed them to have leadership positions.
Women could be in His entourage, traveling along with them, providing financial support Lk. 8:1-3
Mary of Magdala is almost always mentioned first in the list of female disciples. She may well have been one of the leaders.
They were prominent in the post-resurrection activity:
Last at the cross Mk. 15:47
First at the tomb Jn. 20:1
He appeared to women first.
First to proclaim the resurrection Mt. 28:8, 10
He gave the Great Commission to all Mt. 28:19-20
At the first prayer meeting Acts 1:14
There is no competition as to who gets to be in charge; there is no elbowing for prestige or position or power…but rather a commission that calls for humility and servanthood.