The woman who was caught in the act of adultery in John 8 was brought to be stoned… alone.
We know it takes two to tango, but the religious men (experts in knowing and teaching the law) were breaking the law themselves. It was a barbaric expression of male chauvinism that “forgot” to follow the full extent of Leviticus 20:10, “Both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.”
Jesus challenged the Pharisees not because they followed the law, but because they twisted the law to only benefit themselves.
Unfortunately for a lot of the 49.6 percent of the population of the world (women) discrimination, prejudice and misogyny is still the norm.
Jesus on the other hand saw the 49.6 percent differently, and in turn used his manhood differently. He celebrated women. Empowered woman. Gave them more than just a day.
His earthly ministry was supported by female entrepreneurs. Successful ladies who had more money than Jesus and his twelve. They were the ones who provided the finances for their food and travels. And Jesus had zero issues with that. He had no macho pride to hinder it. Actually, they are the only financial supporters mentioned by name. They also served meals, preached the good news, healed the sick and accompanied Jesus as leaders.
But there is a lie that still runs through the veins of male-dominated-Christianity, “Men are more powerful and God has given them control.”
It’s not a new deception.
It’s the rape culture in “spiritual” form.
The rape culture is a complex of beliefs that encourages male aggression and supports violence against women. This sounds like an exaggeration to some men (and yet it still rages on the inside). And as a female friend of mine shared, “I can’t imagine finding a woman in this decade who hasn’t been propositioned in a way that felt menacing, groped against her will or even had a guy say dirty comments at her as she walked the street.”
As wild as it is to write it, we need to understand that Jesus was tempted with this himself. As a young, single, rugged-looking, sought-after speaker, Jesus was faced with thousands of women who approached him for healing, for attention, for worship. Some of them were attractive. Some desperate. Others, interesting and engaging. And even one, who was known for her sexual sins, showered him with oil while kissing his feet.
Jesus could have slept with any one of them. He could have forced himself. He was tempted to take advantage and speak crap about them while hanging out with his twelve buddies. The Bible is explicit, “We do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet he did not sin.”
Unfortunately, there are living and breathing examples of church leaders who have used their charisma and power to seduce and abuse. To devalue and discredit. To stone with their words and rape with their gaze (and even worse).
In Jesus’ lifetime, Jewish rabbis began every temple meeting with the words, “Blessed art thou, O Lord, for thou has not made me a woman.” However, the Perfect Teacher took a different approach.
We read Scripture without realizing that addressing women directly, and in public, was extremely unusual for a Rabbi to do. As Philip Yancey wrote, “For women and other oppressed people, Jesus turned upside down the accepted wisdom of his day. He violated the mores of his time in every single encounter with women recorded in the four Gospels.”
When the woman broke perfume over his feet and washed them with her hair, or the woman with the issue of blood touched his robe, or he took the hand of the dead daughter of Jairus, or Mary sat at his feet listening to his teaching, whenever those things happened, they defied all the normal rules of society.
And Jesus is what God has to say about women.
Jesus taught that women were equal to men in God’s eyes. That they could receive forgiveness and grace. That they could be among Christ’s personal followers. Full participants in the Kingdom of God. And these ideas were revolutionary!
They continue to be.
Occasionally, male leaders in the church fight hard to push for the “guidelines” set by the Apostle Paul concerning women. Yet at the same time they ignore the incredible legacy Jesus left for the role of a woman with authority in ministry. Paul himself made the most stunning invitation to us (the male husband) to, “Love your wives as Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for her.” Which is the highest standard and the greatest sacrifice (and the main verse we men need to focus on).
Author Danny Silk is aware,
“The church should be the safest, freest, and most empowering place for women. But the fact remains that the patriarchal paradigm still exists in the church.”
It is ironic that with the low status of women in his day, the first Christian preachers of the Resurrection were not men, but women. Jesus did not appear first to Peter, or even the beloved disciple John. He appeared first to Mary, and the women who followed him and served him. Mary, who saw him first, became the first person ever to let other people know, “He is alive!” – The ultimate message of Christianity. She was the first ambassador of the New Covenant. And I believe Jesus deliberately appeared to her first; he was sending the church a message spoken through actions not just words. A message he is still sending today.
I have five strong and beautiful sisters. I was raised by a funny, God-fearing, hard-working mother. My best friend in the world, and wife of 11 years, is a gorgeous, caring and educated English lady. I have been surrounded by powerful women pastors my whole life. And I am grateful to God for their tenacity and example.
The image of God is incomplete without their compassion, their strength, and their radiance. In the words of Albert Benjamin Simpson, “The heart of Christ is not only the heart of a man but has in it also the tenderness and gentleness of a woman. Jesus was not a man in the rigid sense of manhood as distinct from womanhood, but, as the Son of Man, the complete Head of Humanity.”
There is a nasty symptom of the rape culture that is still pulsating through media, entertainment, politics and the family of God. It’s time to recognize the temptation to exploit and abuse, and the ungodly desire to control and dominate.
I will continue to write about the extravagant grace that is available for abusers, for pedophiles in prison, for abusive husbands and rapists. God knows we need it. But we need to start showing dramatic grace for the victim, the hurting and the innocent.
It starts with abusers owning their abuse. No excuses. No justifications.
It moves to the victims walking in radical forgiveness. At their pace. With our support.
It ends with the Church not hiding its weakness. And taking responsibility for its faults.
Christ is the standard and Christ cares about women’s fair wages. He is committed to their honor in leadership. He has given them a platform of influence and transformation. And our homes and churches need to be the safest, most empowering place for all of them.
God the Father wants the rape culture (in talk, behavior and thought) eliminated.
Let’s begin with self-awareness.
Let’s have the honest conversation.
And boys, let’s be godly men who use manhood differently.
As Jesus did.
“I look forward to the day when women with leadership and insight, gifts and talents, callings and prophetic leanings are called out and celebrated as Deborah, instead of silenced as Jezebel.”
– Read more on the ultimate book on Jesus and Women by Sarah Bessey: Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women.