Women and Men ARE Equals in Jesus Christ

 

Part THREE

 

 

Jesus’ View of Women

 

 

By Craig Bluemel

 

 

Recently, in response to a study in this series, I received a letter from a dear sister I will called ‘Submissive.’  Submissive writes:

 

Hi Craig!

 

This article was excellent and empowering.  I give thanks for your and your wife's perseverance.  Luckily, I have not experienced feeling like a second-class citizen in Church.  I think the Church I attend is pretty good on that.

 

However, I have yo-yoed between guilt and feelings that say, “Hey, wait a minute.  I have been bamboozled.”  It is hard to figure out what the ‘spirit’ of the word ‘submissive",’ is supposed to mean in everyday life for a woman.  Does submission mean contributing my support, like any good team member on a team?  With regard to their female relatives, wives, and friends, I have a hard time believing that God expects men/husbands to have carte blanche say-so.  I don't believe His idea of the two becoming one is that the woman has to fit her square peg life into the round-hole agenda of her husbands daily habits and life's desires.

 

Our last marriage counselor motivated me to read the scriptures more about marriage and not gloss over them.  The good thing is that I realize that while I have made mistakes, I am not crazy nor were my ideas about marriage so way off.  Yet now I am feel funny about his counseling, because it seemed that the counselor never really called my husband on the carpet as he did to me.

 

My husband has a really strong will that acts as a double-edged sword.  What initially appeared to me as discipline or level headedness when we were still dating has now, after many years, translated in our marriage to inflexibility and selfishness.  I also yo-yo between Just casting my husband’s problems (my care) on God and going about my business with the obligation to pray for him.

 

With our last counselor, I kept complaining that it takes three wills to make a marriage work, my will, my husband’s, and God's will.  I felt secure about my will and God's will.  Lately, I am not sure what is really going on in my husband's head.  It seems like he is working some formula to meet God's minimum expectations on his interaction with me.  I can't put my finger on it.  I think as long as I don't rock the boat and just let him live his life with as few interruptions from me, the marriage will linger and limp along.  He told me two months ago that he did not want to be married to me.  However, he has not filed the papers.  Our marriage has been a struggle from the start with few moments of joy.  Please pray for me to see clearly and not distort my husbands intentions.

 

Paul, inspired by God, is clear about his position on the marriage relationship by stating a husband should love his wife the way that Christ loves the church.  It is innate to every normal woman's heart to look up to her husband.  I can only speak for myself.  Now I recognize that Christ is perfect and the church, made of humans, is not.  I recognize that the husband has a higher level of responsibility in imitating "Christ.”  The wife has a high challenge also.  The church can interact with someone who loves, acts, and talks perfectly. 

 

It makes my insides crawl at the thought of having to be unconditionally submissive/under the control of someone who won't act the way Jesus does.  I am an African-American woman and this archaic type of ‘wifely submission’ to her husband seems tantamount to modern slavery.  Why should I purposely put myself into a form of bondage after all that the slaves and right-minded, justice oriented white Americans did to abolish that satanic institution?  The reasoning behind abolition was the same as equating male and females.  We are all equal in Christ- with all its benefits and responsibilities.

 

Before, under the auspices of being submissive, I was blaming myself for not always conforming, or fitting into the spousal mold that fits with my husbands paradigm.  I am almost rebellious like I woke up from being drugged.  Yet, I don't want to swing in the other extreme.  I am in a phase now of leveling the balance between the need to love my husband, and the necessity of loving myself.  At first, I felt bad because I see him many times as the enemy.  However, one still has to be nice and bless one's enemies.  Your series helps me understand that he is not getting over me, but that I am empowered through Christ. 

 

Anyways, enough of my rambling.  Thanks for the article and stay strong in the Spirit!

 

Your sister in Jesus,

 

Submissive

 

Jesus’ treatment of women to sets the standard for all Christian men to follow, standing out as a testament for all to weigh themselves against; below is an example:

 

Mark 14:3-9 Jesus himself was now in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper.  As he was sitting at table, a woman approached him with an alabaster flask of very costly spikenard perfume.  She broke the neck of the flask and poured the perfume on Jesus’ head.  4 Some of those {men} present were highly indignant and muttered, “What is the point of such wicked waste of perfume?  5 It could have been sold for over thirty pounds and the money given to the poor.”  And there was a murmur of resentment against her.  6  But Jesus said, “Let her alone, why must you make her feel uncomfortable?  She has done a beautiful thing for me.  7 You have the poor with you always and you can do good to them whenever you like, but you will not always have me.  8 She has done all she could––for she has anointed my body in preparation for burial.  9 I assure you that wherever the gospel is preached throughout the whole world, this deed of hers will also he recounted, as her memorial to me.”  Phillip’s New Testament

 

The murmur of resentment against this woman by the religious men present was not motivated by their overwhelming desire to help the poor.  The woman herself was obviously living in poverty, but these self-righteous gasbags were so jealous of her, that the pious rage boiling within spilled over into the whole being, blinding the eyes of their understanding with a despicable slime of hypocrisy and distain toward the meek and lowly servant of Christ. 

 

For her, experiencing their distain and dislike was probably all too familiar; long ago, she had died to the world, lost all traces of hope, resigning herself to a life in which no one would ever care for or cherish her wayward soul.  Then she met the Master.  He didn’t blame her, nor did he cast shame upon her sinned stained heart; instead of casting stones, he stood with her in true justice, brought truth to break the bonds of sin, and shared a love with her that eclipsed anything she’d ever felt from any man… ever.  No matter what insults came at her, nothing would hinder this single-minded act; her costly gesture of love was tantamount to giving Jesus her entire life’s savings. 

 

A fragrance much sweeter than the expensive perfumed oil poured forth from the heart of this forgiven child of mercy, whose appreciation for the Lord was best expressed by the aroma of her affection for Jesus.  She loved him without shame, without regard for herself; she was cleansed and loved, and perhaps for the first time in her life, she’d come to find a measure of wholeness and worth thru the kindness and compassion that our Lord had bestowed upon her.  The greedy, self-righteous, self-serving indignant expression of these Jewish men punctuates how worthless their faith and their religion were.  Their words and actions demonstrate the lack of love, and proves they were not upset about the cost of the perfume, but the fact she lavished it upon Jesus, and none of them got any benefit whatsoever. 

 

Certain aspects of the aforementioned scripture passage stand out as noteworthy because each point demonstrates the example of Jesus, and how the Master treated women.

 

1.      Jesus allowed the woman to approach him and openly express her affection with other men present.  Any good Christian husband honors his wife’s feminine expressions toward him, and he is never to be embarrassed by her affections for him when others are present; she is his first love, and he relishes her.  No one else on this earth matters when she is with him, and when she desires to give her love to him, or she desires to have his love and affection expressed to her, she is assured that her heart is always valued above others by him and she feels secure in this. (Mark 14:3)

 

2.      Jesus stood up for her against the verbal criticism of his religious peers, just as any Christian husband would and should defend the honor of his wife, never allowing others to criticize her.  He should never allow in-laws or anyone else to critique his wife without immediately stepping in and drawing the line in the sand; he follows this commandment of God, to let each man have his own wife, cleaving to her, leaving father or mother, brother or sister, to give her his undying devotion.  They are no longer two, but are called to be one flesh. (Mark 14:6)

 

3.      Jesus cared about her emotions, and insured that she was not made to feel, ‘uncomfortable,’ by the attitudes and words of others.  Husbands should always nurture their wives emotions, and make her feel comfortable and secure.  For his wife, the husband diligently applies himself to keeping the embers of love burning red hot, never allowing the love between his wife and him to get lukewarm or cold.  The opposite of ‘uncomfortable,’ is to be, ‘comforted,’ and a Christian husband values his wife’s need for his romantic affections.  (Mark 14:6)

 

4.      Jesus praised her affectionate expression, calling it, “a beautiful thing.”  A husband should always praise his wife, especially in front of others.  She lives and breathes and has so much of her being in his words; he doesn’t let one day pass without telling her how much he loves her, and how ‘beautiful’ she is, and how much he appreciates her, and thanks her with cards, notes, or spoken words to express his gratitude for all the things she does for him.  He understands his wife’s need for praise, and he works hard at making each day one that will be filled with words affirming her value, esteeming her worth, and insuring that she never questions how much he needs her.  (Mark 14:6)

 

5.      Jesus acknowledged and praised the woman’s deed for what it had cost her, knowing what it would mean for her to have him openly acknowledge that she had done, “all that she could,” instead of blaming and criticizing her for what she had done wrong.  (Mark 14:8)

 

6.      Jesus assured her that he would never forget her deeds, and would openly memorialize them to others for all time.  Husbands should show continual recognition whenever their wife puts forth her best efforts to show her love for him.  (Mark 14:9)

 

It is common knowledge, that in Mark and Luke’s gospel accounts, women were very much a part of Jesus’ life and messianic ministry.  This is very important and relevant to the topic of this expose, because in the Semitic communities of ancient Jewish Palestine, notably in the synagogue protocol, women were not highly regarded as a vital, integral contribution to the spiritual welfare of the people.  In Luke’s gospel however, careful mention is made of them, with particular attention given to the details of their role before, during, and after the crucifixion of Jesus.

 

L    Mark 15:40-41 There were some women there looking on from a distance, among them Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of the younger James and Joses, and Salome.  These were the women who used to follow Jesus as he went about in Galilee and look after him.  And there were many other women there who had come up to Jerusalem with him.  Phillip’s New Testament

 

L    Luke 23:49, 54-56 And all those who had known him, as well as the women who had followed him from Galilee, remained standing at a distance and saw these things happen… It was now the day of the preparation and the Sabbath was beginning to dawn, so the women who had accompanied Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph, noted the tomb and the position of the body…  and then went home to prepare spices and perfumes. On the Sabbath they rested, in obedience to the commandment.  Phillip’s New Testament

 

The women who followed Jesus exhibited greater faith and courage than did the Lord’s eleven cowardly disciples, who were hiding.  Here we get a glimpse of a New Testament type, with these women disciples being symbolic of Christian women in the churches today, who are discerning believers and who take special note of the, “position of the body,” of Christ, treating their brothers with the same grace in death as in life.  Aside from my own dear wife, one sister I have come to have the highest regard for is Anita; she reminds me so much of some of the women we read about in the book of Acts, whom the apostle Paul and others mentioned in high esteem for their devotion to God’s people.

 

My personal testimony is the same and I have had several Christian women note my afflicted, pain riddled, physical affliction, taking care to acknowledge how the suffering affects me as a brother in the Lord, and how it affects my ‘position’ in the body of Christ.  Without their careful, gentle, healing words and prayers, I am certain I would not be writing this article.

 

When the women disciples first reported the resurrection to the apostles of Christ, explaining what they had just witnessed at the empty tomb, the Lord’s eleven handpicked disciples were shocked in disbelief.  These men reacted in similar disrespectful fashion as many men in today’s churches, speculating it was only the futile ramblings of the female imagination. 

 

Only Peter, the married disciple, responded to their report, but he too was full of unbelief.  Being one of the twelve who was married, you have to wonder if Peter’s initial reaction to the women’s report about the resurrection of Jesus had more to do with the unmentioned advise of his wife!

It reminds me of Submissive’s comments about her husband’s, “inflexibility and selfishness,” and how, like these disciples of Christ, he wants only to, “meet God's minimum expectations.”  What would be recorded in the gospel accounts as pages of inspired scripture had these men disciples demanded, “to have carte blanche say-so,” as she mentions in her email?  Isn’t their unbelief and attitude towards women the same as what we see in some churches today?

 

L    Luke 24:10-12 It was Mary of Magdala, Joanna, Mary, the mother of James, and their companions who made this report to the apostles. 11 But it struck them as sheer imagination, and they did not believe the women.  12 Only Peter got up and ran to the tomb.  He stooped down and saw nothing but the linen clothes lying there, and he went home wondering at what had happened.  Phillip’s New Testament

 

` The Man Christ Jesus `

@ His Example of Treatment toward Women in the Church @

 

The life of the man, Jesus the Christ stands for prominent precepts of truth in scripture:

 

L    Obedience to the will of God.

L    Mercy for the repentant sinner.

L    Justice for those who are oppressed by religious hypocrites.

L    Humility in his example of servitude.

L    Forgiveness for his enemies.

L    Love shown impartially, which is patterned after the Father’s perfect love. 

 

The life that Jesus lived was motivated by one, all-consuming desire, which was his individual commitment to please God, his Father, seeking to do only His will. 

 

L    John 13:15-17 Jesus said to his disciples, “I have given you this as an example so that you may do as I have done.  Believe me, the servant is not greater than his master is and the messenger is not greater than the man who sent him.  Once you have realized these things, you will find your happiness in doing them.”

 

The words spoken by Jesus in John 13:15-17 were accompanied by his selfless act, stooping down to foot level of each disciple, washing away the filth of the flesh of each and every one of them, even the one that would betray him that very day.  Foot washing in ancient Palestine was a downright disgusting job!  There was no running water flowing from a nearby hose bib either!  Instead, the servant-slave of the household, as property of his or her master, carried a clay bowl or shallow pot of clean water to each guest, then washed and dried their feet, and returned to finish the task one person at a time, starting with the most prominent, and finishing with the very least esteemed.

 

As the servant’s wet hands touched the soiled feet he or she was assigned to wash, the H2o moisture aroused the foul stench of dried animal dung, urine, human sweat, and whatever else may have inadvertently attached itself as the traveler walked where all manner of stinking waste was deposited on the primitive paths and roads leading to each town or community.  This degrading form of servitude was at first rejected by one of Jesus’ disciples named Peter, whose chivalrous expression of respect for the Master came when he refused to have his feet washed, saying, “Master, do you wash my feet?” 

 

Jesus answered, “You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but it will be clear enough to you later.”  Nevertheless, Peter persisted, and he chided the Lord saying, “You’re not going to wash my feet—ever!”  Jesus looked up from his stooped position, in a gently but very firm rebuke said, “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing.”  Yikes!

 

There’s no doubt the resurrection of Jesus had a lifelong impression on Peter, the one who had formerly who challenged Jesus, and refused to have his feet washed.  Much later in his life, Peter’s letters reflect the change of heart and life he embraced.

 

L    1 Peter 2:21 Indeed this is your calling.  For Christ suffered for you and left you a personal example: so that you might follow in his footsteps.  Phillip’s New Testament

 

L    Peter 3:18 Remember that Christ the just suffered, for us the unjust, to bring us to God.  That meant the death of his body, but he was brought to life again in the spirit.  Phillip’s New Testament

 

L    1 Peter 4:1 Since Christ suffered physical pain you must arm yourselves with the same inner conviction that he had. To be free from sin means bodily suffering.  Phillip’s New Testament

 

In certain churches today, the same barrier between the male and female gender exists as it did over 2000+ years ago.  It seems hard to believe, especially given the reforms made by society to insure the equality of all people.  Are we, as Christian men, forbidding women from their desire to be foot-washing servants of Jesus, simply because of our male ego?  How about in our marriages men, are we acting as foot-washing servants of Jesus toward our dear, loving wives?  Do we regularly stoop as He did to do the filthiest chores in the house? 

 

When was the last time you offered to do the dishes or the laundry, cleaned the bathrooms, or vacuumed around the house for your wife?  Isn’t there a modern, daily, pragmatic application for us as husbands to sacrificially love our wives, as Christ did for his disciples and as he does for the church?  How are other boys, girls, men and women in or outside the church supposed to witness and realize that we are truly disciples of Jesus, if not by the love we express in words and deeds as men to our wives?  In John 13:34-35 Jesus said to his disciples:

 

John 13:34-35 “Let me give you a new command: Love one another.  In the same way I loved you, you love one another.  This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”  The Message Bible by Eugene Peterson 2002

 

If treating women this way sounds as nutty to you as it did to me when I first learned about it happening in churches today, be willing to take a long, hard look at your own churches’ practices, and see how it lines up with the teaching in scripture.  In fact, so ridiculous is such a practice in the civilized world, that I actually had to think of a name for the doctrine itself, since no godly man of faith I know personally would lay claim to such an abusive attitude and behavior. 

 

There are two ditches that the devil uses to divide the church, and both focus on the obvious outward distinctions between men and women.  On one end, there are the traditional, male dominant roles, which can and are abused by controllers in the church, which use their long-standing prevailing status as men leaders, to pontificate their own brand of Christianese. 

 

On the opposite end of this lopsided church spectrum, there exist women pastors/ministers promoting their own agenda in existential-oriented churches, redefining the role that women of faith would never adopt.  These are typically the secularized, intellectual types, not the kind one might associate with the fashionable female champions of the prosperity message hawking the Bible for their gospel of greed.  No, these I speak of are the women liberationist types, bent on putting men into a subservient position by aligning themselves with alleged ‘minorities’ such as exist in the homosexual community.  It’s a problem in certain circles I’m sure, but far less invasive than what I know to exist in churches that profess to use the scripture as the blueprint for building the house of God.

 

Recently I read a blog online, whereby a woman pastor of an Assemblies of God church chided the men for enabling the feminization of the charismatic church.  I was deeply impacted by her mention of this problem, and her tone was not that of a bossy woman with a grudge against the male gender.  My response to the men is, start being an example by seeking the kingdom of God first, by laying down your life sacrificially for your wife, and pursuing eternal purposes rather than your hobbies and favorite television programs.  Consider this scriptures from The Message Bible by Eugene Peterson 2002 below:

 

L    Romans 8:29 For God, in his foreknowledge, chose them to bear the family likeness of his Son, that he might be the eldest of a family of many brothers.

 

L    1 Corinthians 11:1 Copy me, my brothers, as I copy Christ himself.

 

L    Ephesians 5:2 Live your lives in love––the same sort of love which Christ gave us and which he perfectly expressed when he gave himself up for us as an offering and a sacrifice well–pleasing to God.

 

L    Philippians 2:5 Let your attitude to life be that of Christ Jesus himself.

 

L    1 John 2:6 The life of a man who professes to be living in him must be lived as Christ lived.

 

L    1 John 3:16 We know what love is because Christ laid down his life for us. We must in turn lay down our lives for our brothers.

 

L    Revelation 12:11 Now they have conquered him through the blood of the Lamb, and through the Word to which they bore witness. They did not cherish life even in the face of death!

 

No woman of God alive today has any problem yielding to the authority of a husband who walks, and talks by following the example set by Jesus Christ to his church.  Consider for a moment, what Submissive wrote in her email, “Paul, inspired by God, is clear about his position on the marriage relationship by stating a husband should love his wife the way that Christ loves the church.  It is innate to every normal woman's heart to look up to her husband…  I recognize that the husband has a higher level of responsibility in imitating Christ…  The wife, like the church can interact with someone who loves, acts, and talks perfectly…  It makes my insides crawl at the thought of having to be under the control and unconditionally submissive to someone who won't act the way Jesus does...  this archaic type of ‘wifely submission’ to her husband seems tantamount to modern slavery…  The reasoning behind abolition was the same as equating male and females.  We are all equal in Christ- with all its benefits and responsibilities.”  Amen sister.

 

In closing, I want to challenge Christian men and women to live a godly life, doing everything as if unto the Lord.  Flesh and bones will not inherit God’s kingdom, and in Christ, there is neither male or female, slave or freeman, but we are all subject equally to God.  The email from Submissive mentions the marriage counselor never called her husband on the carpet, and failed to make him responsible for the same change required of her.  The counselor was wrong, but nothing escapes the sight of God.

 

Galatians 3:26-28 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, and there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  New American Standard Bible - Updated Edition

 

Since God’s kingdom is not ‘flesh’ then for what reason did He create the first man and the first woman by making them outwardly different?  Jesus explains this in his teaching:

 

Mark 10:6-8 “But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.  New American Standard Bible - Updated Edition

 

The marriage relationship is a fleshly, outward, earthbound relationship and its bounds never usurp that of the individual spiritual relationship with God thru Christ.  God is spirit, and those worshipping Him do so in spirit and in truth (See John 4:23-25).  The truth does not allow husbands the right to dominate the wife, and it is too often abused for that purpose.

 

1 Corinthians 15:50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  New American Standard Bible - Updated Edition

 

One day each one of us will die, and that day and hour comes as a thief in the night.  Two men are working in the field, one is taken, perhaps due to aneurysm, and the other is left behind.  Or two women may be grinding at the mill; one is taken, as she drives home from work, and collides head-on with a semi truck, and she is taken, and the other woman remains and is left behind.  It’s never too late to enact change, and allow God to change your attitudes, behavior, and especially the way you treat others.  Consider the words of Jesus to each of us:

 

Matthew 24:35-46
Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.  But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.  For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.  For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away.
So will the coming of the Son of Man be. 
 
Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 
Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left. 
Therefore, be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.
 
But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night
the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert, and would not have allowed
his house to be broken into.
 
For this reason you also must be ready!
For the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. 
Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time?  Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. 
New American Standard Bible - Updated Edition

 

now you know & have no excuse not to change,

Selah


Links to the Entire "Women and Men ARE Equals in Jesus Christ” Series:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

 


 

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