Last summer I wrote an article on certain problems within the legal profession that particularly impact women who are mothers. In the past, I have never been terribly interested in women’s issues. It probably wouldn’t have been accurate to characterize me as a “feminist.” But in doing the research for that article, I learned a lot about women’s issues and they are becoming particularly interesting to me.
Last fall, I wrote for a while in this blog on issues involving women. I got sidetracked with blogging about issues involving the secularization of Christmas and the work of missionaries. But I would now like to get back to a focus on women’s issues for a while. I have several specific issues to explore in the near-term.
Such issues are very relevant to a blog about Christianity and the law. I’ll briefly describe a few reasons why this is the case.
Jesus taught about the sacredness of human life. He did not teach that women’s lives were less sacred than other humans. Indeed, Jesus spent time with women, even when others around him shunned them. He respected women and taught them about the Kingdom of God. He also healed them when they were sick and defended them against attack from others.
These points are particularly noteworthy in that Jesus lived in a very patriarchal society. Women were nobodies in his culture and in the power structures of his day. That concept cannot be emphasized enough.
Nonetheless, women were not nobodies to Jesus. He very much bucked the norms of his culture and even violated deeply entrenched taboos to include women in his ministry. Women were a deeply entrenched part of his inner circle, not just merely peripheral acquaintances. We know that women (who were not related to him) were part of his group as he traveled. (That fact would have been especially scandalous in Jesus’s culture.) We also know that Martha and Mary were close friends of Jesus. Women were among the few that stood by Jesus at the end of his earthly life as he suffered on the cross. Interestingly, when Jesus rose from the dead, he did not first reveal his resurrection to men. It was women who first learned the good news of Jesus’s triumph over death.
Despite the teachings and example of Jesus, our secular Western culture continues to advance male privilege in a number of subtle--and sometimes not so subtle--ways. Secular laws sometimes reflect or even enable such privilege in various ways. As a result, in my view, as a Christ follower, it is important to note and advocate against disparate treatment of women even in non-Christian settings.
Luke 23:55-56 (The Message)
The women who had been companions of Jesus from Galilee followed along. They saw the tomb where Jesus' body was placed. Then they went back to prepare burial spices and perfumes. They rested quietly on the Sabbath, as commanded.