Jesus was seen as an advocate of feminism and women’s rights.
Feminist views have often criticized different religions for the way women are treated. And they are absolutely right. Religious abuse illustrations can be cited in the United States, as well as internationally. What many feminist views do not take into account is that Jesus would have been one of feminists’ greatest allies.
Let us look at the culture of the Middle East, where Jesus lived. Jewish rabbis started every meeting at the temple with the words, “Blessed are You, Lord, because You did not make me a woman.” Women were excluded from religious life and rarely taught them Torah in privacy. Until Jesus began to publicly include many women as his disciples, which infuriated religious leaders. He taught multitudes of men and women, healed and promptly performed many miracles among both men and women.
Jesus also defied social laws regarding both sexes. At that time, there was a law that allowed a husband to divorce his wife for anything, for example, because dinner was not ready in time. Imagine the insecurity and cruelty that this law brought to women. And, as you might expect, the wife could never divorce her husband. Jesus, however, announced that both men and women had the right to divorce each other, but only in the case of adultery and yet he taught that divorce was certainly out of the way God created marriage to be.
Another social law of Jesus’ day was that a woman caught in adultery should be stoned to death. However, no penalty was reserved for the man. Knowing how Jesus treated women with dignity, they wanted to know how Jesus would handle it. Then, one day, several men dragged a woman, who was caught in bed with another man, other than her husband, probably a friend of them, to Jesus.
And they challenged Jesus to allow her to be stoned. They knew that they had put Jesus against the wall. If he would forgive that woman, he would be a weakling and an enemy of the law. If Jesus stoned her, they would confront the respectable treatment with which Jesus treated women and his teachings on mercy and forgiveness.
Jesus responded by saying that if there was anyone in that crowd who had never sinned, he should throw the first stone at the woman. Probably, not only what Jesus said, but also his presence affected the crowd. One by one he left that place. Jesus looked at the woman, who was sorry, and forgave her completely, as only God could do.
Author Philip Yancey comments: “For women and other oppressed people, Jesus turned the wisdom of his day upside down. According to the great biblical scholar Walter Wink, Jesus violated the morals of his time in all his encounters with women recorded in the four Gospels ”.
It makes sense to realize that it was women who loved him and stood at the foot of the cross of Christ, while most of the male disciples fled to save their lives. And he went to a woman to whom Jesus first appeared after being raised from the dead after his crucifixion. This is remarkable. Christ’s resurrection was a testament to everything Jesus said when he identified himself as equal to God.
Although women had little influence on the culture of that time, and no religious authority as someone who spoke on religious matters, Jesus gave them the role of speaking to others about His resurrection. Why? Perhaps Jesus wanted to make it very clear that it was for the sins of women and men that he died. Perhaps Jesus wanted women and men to know that he offers them complete forgiveness and can give them direction, peace and eternal life.