Christianity elevated the status of women more than any other religious or political system during the first century. Jesus’ disciples included several women (Luke 8:1-3), a practice very rare among the rabbis of his day. Not only that, but Christ’s first recorded disclosure of his own identity as the true Messiah was made to a woman (John 4:25-26). This woman, Mary of Magdalene, was an outcast Samaritan. Not even Jewish women would talk to her.
Moreover, Jewish tradition enforced women not to talk to outsiders or teach them their religion. Women themselves were not even allowed to teach. Rabbi Eliezer wrote in the 1st century: “Rather should the words of the Torah be burned than entrusted to a woman. Whoever teaches his daughter the Torah is like one who teaches her obscenity.” Jesus overthrew centuries of tradition. He taught Mary, the sister of Martha.
In Mark 5: 25-34, Jesus ignored ritual impurity laws. He cured a woman who suffered from menstrual bleeding for 12 years. In Judean society of the day, it was a major transgression for a man to talk to a woman other than his wife or children. It was also considered unclean to heal a woman in this way.
Furthermore, the gospels indicate that Jesus cursed a woman from an indwelling Satanic spirit (Lk 13:16). Then he called her a daughter of Abraham, implying that she had equal status with the sons of Abraham. This was an honorable phrase and once again elevated the status of women.
There were many times where Jesus was looked down upon by the Pharisees because he would talk to women. You might be familiar with the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and anointed him with an alabaster of oil. Jesus highly exalted this woman in front of the Pharisees. He said, “this woman has come and repented of her sins before me. She has shown me more hospitality than you ever did. Woe to you hypocrites.” This is an excellent reference to demonstrate God honoring a woman prostitute in front of the religious elite.
The Scriptures also apprise readers that women were present at Jesus’ execution (Matt. 27:55). Many women who followed Jesus from Galilee were present at his crucifixion and the men had fled the scene according to John 19:25. Some skeptics say that whoever wrote the Bible did so with a bias male dominance. However, why would the Bible admit that men ran from God at the time of Jesus’ greatest trial? This example illustrates that the women had greater faith than even the disciples.
I believe these examples prove that Jesus had high regards for women. What are your thoughts? If you believe he did, why do you think there are so many misconceptions today? If you don’t think Jesus had high regards for women, could you explain why? Thanks!