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"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:28 ESV
When former Ambassador Nikki Haley recently revisited her comments about current social and health conditions for women worldwide, it framed a sad situation and showed that many bad practices and traditions concerning women have never changed.
As Christians, when we look to the tradition-steeped justification for treating women as anything less than equal, we should see what Jesus saw, that it is not as the Scriptures intended.
Our Lord broke with many of those old Hebrew traditions concerning the social status of women as He tried to show the Hebrew male the better way.
To revisit the circumstance of those times, through barter and contract between families, most Hebrew women at that time were sold into marriage by age 13* and dead by age 30. They were regarded as being little more than slaves, and most of their married life was spent in the home, uneducated, and reconsidered a possession (personal property) of her husband.
Our Lord Jesus considered women to be equal and was quite clear about it through personal example, and by direct confrontation with the wrong-minded traditions of Hebrew males:
1. Rather than treating women as homebound and uneducated slaves, Jesus permitted women to travel with Him and the Apostles.
2. As their Rabbi, (remember the prevailing culture) He taught women as well as well as men, counter to a culture the discouraged any education of women.
3. Women were not to be given any positions of anything that even closely resembled authority, yet Jesus depended upon the specific ones He has asked to organize meals and certain other social functions.
4. His largest break with the Hebrew male traditional interpretation of the Law concerning adultery, which considered an unmarried woman to be the "property of her father" and considered a married woman to be the "property of her husband", thereby making adulatory a "sin of property". In short, that defined the action of a man who had sexual relations with another man's wife as having constituted a "trespass of another man's property."
Leading many example, Jesus treated women as equals. Further, by direct confrontation, Jesus made it clear that women were to be rightfully considered as equals to men, and no longer to be viewed as a man's "possession" under the Law concerning adultery.**
Although the vast majority of the Hebrew males disregarded this position that Jesus took, the early believers who followed the way of Jesus did honor His statements on the practice of equality. This is evidenced by the high number of women disciples among them, and in how quickly soon these women believers were given more equal status (privileges) than any other women in the Levant.
Our Lord decisively responded to the inequality of that tradition, and It follows then, as believers in this age, that we should also act decisively in demanding that all women everywhere be treated as equals.
Let us do more than we have done, and let us be more than we were.***
* "The Hebrew Culture - Marriage"
** Note: At that time, men were only accountable for adultery when involving another man's wife, otherwise no accountability for men at all for such consensual acts with any unmarried women. On the other hand, tradition had distorted the Law to hold women accountable unto death for any sexual act other than that with their husbands.
*** Although the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 have successfully addressed inequality in work/wage compensations for 80% of American women, 20% are still earning 22-cents for car repairs, etc, compared to that being charged to men. We can do better than this.
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Being a woman in the teaching and preaching ministry I have had a share of stigma from some of my brothers and sisters. Your indepth research presented here provides music to my ears.
The Lord knows how unfair it feels, but then I know that your assessment of Jesus upgrading women is very accurate.
I do become frustrated with Solomon and Paul about comments they have penned. For instance, how can a man marry a thousand wives, some pagan, and then kvetch about being irritated with/by women?
Paul gets heavy into the Hebrew view of women and then ascertains that "in the Spirit...there is no male or female."
I often point out that the Ephesians writing was to give the relationship of husband and wife, (wherein the female is submissive in the earthly relationship) to our relationship with Jesus as The Bride and The Groom, AND that in the Church there is only one Male and the rest of us are The Bride.
I appreciate your article.
There is insight for us to see when Jesus sternly addressed the Pharisees and teachers of Mark 7:5: "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! Mark 7:9 NIV
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