Jesus and Sexism

By February 4, 2016Gender & Faith, Women

My post on Jesus and Sexism that ran this week on the Engage blog at bible.org:

Do you believe God made male and female different? Me, too (Gen. 1:27).

Does it concern you when people turn gender differences into essentialism, saying stuff like “God made women to nurture and men to do the thinking,” and call such binary thinking “biblical”? Me, too. (1 Thess 2:7; Luke 2:19).

Does it frustrate you when people say God made it a women’s role (as opposed to a man’s) to cook and serve food (Gen. 25:29; John 21:9–12; Acts 6:2–3)? Me, too.

Does it bug you when you see a speaker lineup for a Christian conference that leaves out minorities, including marriage conferences where only men teach? Me, too. (1 Cor. 11:11; 12:22; Titus 2:3).

Does it trouble you when people say “submission” is a “female word”? Me, too. (Titus 3:1; Eph. 5:21).

Does it make you cringe when people leave “gentleness” off the list of masculine qualities? (Gal. 5:23). Me, too.

Does it make you want to shake when people say women are the only sex vulnerable to deception (2 Cor. 11:3) and at the same time, that women are better at deceiving (see Gen. 27)? Me, too.

Does it concern you when people say women aren’t supposed to teach men anything about God (1 Cor 14:26)? Me, too.

Does it bother you when people teach that rape is sometimes the woman’s fault? Me, too.

These questions are especially on my mind because recently a blogger shined a light on the consistent sexism that is being tolerated by some of our most well known brothers in the faith. I’ve had a front row seat to some of the drama described, and what I know about the facts tells me that the writer is telling the truth. And this one sentence Jesus once said when people were denigrating a female who was serving him keeps running through my head: “”Leave her alone” (John 12:7).

The horror stories I’m hearing about sexism in the church are nothing remotely like Jesus. In the words of Dorothy L. Sayers in her speech/essay titled, “Are Women Human?” Sayers makes this observation: “Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man—there never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronized; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them either as ‘The women, God help us!’ or ‘The ladies, God bless them!’; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unself-conscious. There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could possibly guess from the words and deeds of Jesus that there was anything ‘funny’ about woman’s nature.”

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