Though out Christian history, patriarchy has always been a threat to the inclusive message of Jesus.
Whether it is the double standard of ethics related to bodily autonomy, purity culture, or the long over-do FULL affirmation of woman’s God ordained calling to be Pastors and Leaders of the church, women have always had to fight just to have a seat at the table.
However, the truth is, the Bible, and specifically the ministry of Jesus in the New Testament, is unambiguously “Pro-Woman;” no matter what the white male pastor of your home church or parish told you.
And if you STILL go to a church that does not fully affirm women, you DEFINITELY need to read on.
2000 year ago, a small marginalized ethnic minority found itself in the clutches of what was the largest Empire in human history to that point. From that small marginalized conquered people came a dark skinned, blue collar, religious leader named Jesus who spawned what would become the largest philosophical and religious movement in human history. But the context of Jesus’ ministry (and the subsequent ministry of what would be called “the Church”) being in the Roman Empire, matters greatly.
The Roman Empire, was decidedly NOT pro-woman.
Roman household codes expressed the ways in which husbands were to fully subjugate their wives, women had few, if any, rights under the law, and assault was commonplace.
Juxtaposed to this was the message of Jesus, whose followers were made up of a majority of women. Time and time again Jesus subverts the cultural norms of the Empire in favor of protecting women.
On the issue of divorce (which women could not seek and subsequently rendered women without protection or resources) Jesus sides with women.
While teaching about lust, Jesus did not place the blame on how women present themselves (as is so common in history and today); instead he placed the emphasis on men controlling their own sexual urges.
When met by an abused and socially ostracized woman of a different rival ethnicity, he crosses all social boundaries and restores her to her community
When confronted by a Lynch mob seeking to kill a women for perceived promiscuity, he saves her life and chastises the mob
He even engages women when they are ritually unclean in direct violation of the Old Testament and religious dogma of his time
But over the last 2000 years, the Church has found itself more and more in line with the very principles that the ministry of Jesus attempted to subvert. Where once the church represented the most progressive, pro-women, group in society, today churches tend to be one of the most oppressive places in society to be a woman.
Churches routinely hold women to a double standard as it pertains to their sexuality and bodies.
Churches (based on antiquated unbiblical theology) continue to deny women full access to pastoral ministry.
Churches continue to preach false and demeaning messages about women’s “place” in society and the home.
And though trends show the church is rapidly moving toward marginalizing these unethical practices, they are still too common.
So here are the three reasons why YOU need to make sure you’re going to a church that is decidedly pro-woman.
Jesus was pro-woman. It should go without saying but if we are going to be “Christians” (little-Christs) we ought to share Jesus Christ’s pro-woman stance (outlined above)
The Scriptures the seem to disregard or demean women in the New Testament are viewed as HIGHLY contextual by A VAST MAJORITY of scholars. This means that, regardless of what the average uninformed Christian might think about, for example, whether women can be pastors, the vast majority of people who know the MOST ABOUT THE BIBLE BELIEVE that the original authors of the Bible and the earliest Christians accepted women in the highest authority positions of the Church. Simply put, there are as many verses in the Bible describing women in pastoral roles as there are verses that SEEM to discourage women from being in positions of authority.
It’s 2022. The truth is, the Bible is a highly contextual document written in a time and to a people that are SIGNIFICANTLY different from us today. Whenever we consider the Bible’s instructions for life, we have to consider the ways in which the perspectives are confined to their context. There are many passages in scripture that effectively every Christian has chosen to consider “out-dated.” Which passages we choose to do this with generally have more to do with upholding our identity politics than legitimate scholarship.
So the question you need to ask yourself is,
“Am I a Pro-Woman Christian? Is my church a Pro-women church?”
And if the answer is “No” you need to ask whether you’re at a place that’s making you more like Jesus, or more like the Roman Empire he sought to subvert...
For more on the history of Women’s marginalization in the church read “The Making of Biblical Womanhood” by Beth Allison Barr