May 13, 2012

Christlike Attributes: Respect for Women


For this Mother's Day, I decided to blog about Jesus' interactions with women. I chose this because of several experiences I have had over the last few weeks in regards to how men have treated women. Sadly, most of these stories have not been of how men should treat women, but how they should not. Most of these men have either mistreated, belittled, abused, or even tried to kill these women. Even sadder is that the culprit of many of these cases was the husband, the supposed protector of the home. The result has often been that the woman, who is not at fault, blames herself for the actions of the man. Low self esteem on the part of the woman almost always follows.

The intriguing thing about Jesus is that he always tried to break the mold. He was raised in a world where men ruled, women submitted to husbands, and wives were property. It is ironic that much of the basis for this supposed claim of authority by men came from the Laws of God, the Law that Jesus himself, as Jehovah, gave to Moses and the other prophets. If anyone could interpret the Law on how men ought to treat women, it was Jesus, the very Lawgiver. I will share only three examples of how Jesus showed his perfect attributes, by how he respected and honored women.

The first example can be found in John 4 when Jesus talks with the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus and his disciples had been traveling through Samaria and they stop at Jacob's well. Jesus' disciples leave him as they enter the city, and as he sits at the well, a Samaritan woman comes to draw water. The interesting thing is that she comes at noon, or the sixth hour (4:6). Women would normally draw water in the cool of the morning when they could meet with the other women of the village and share a brief moment. Why would this woman come at noon? It is hard to say, but it is very possible that she came at noon because she was fearful of seeing other women. She was fearful of their gossip. She may have been hurt in the past and now found that coming at the heat of the day meant she could come alone.

However, on this day she finds Jesus there. She seems reluctant to even talk with him. To her surprise he asks for a drink of water. In a way you might expect a man to ask this (after all he had nothing to draw with), except that Jesus is a Jew, and she is a Samaritan. The rift between these two people was so deep that both groups completely avoided any form of contact (4:9). Even to walk on the land of Samaria was considered by some defilement. If this was not enough, we also find out that this women was living with another man (not married) and had had five previous husbands (4:17-18). Perhaps this was only one of the many reasons she chose to avoid the women of the village by coming to the well at noon.

So how did Jesus interact with this woman? How did he treat a fornicator, a five time divorcee, an outcast, and a Samaritan? Quite simply, he asked her to provide service to him (4:7), and then he taught her of her true worth. He taught her that she, as a Samaritan, could worship God (4:21-23). He taught her, by never once condemning her, that it was who she could become, not what she had done, that marked her value as a daughter of God. Then, he offered the greatest gift he could give, he proclaimed his divinity (4:25-26). Very few in the scriptures were privileged to have the Savior personally testify of his own divinity, yet this woman, who most would call a vile sinner, was given this priceless gift.

The second example is of how Jesus treated his mother, Mary. The scriptures record several interactions of Jesus and his mother, but I will only share one. Though short in narrative, the words that Jesus gave on the cross about his mother are a powerful example of how men should treat women. In his agony on the cross, Jesus looked to his mother, to comfort and support her. John 19:26-27 reads, "When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home." When he himself was suffering and dying, he looked to his mother, and made sure that someone would care for her emotionally, spiritually, and physically. There is no better example than this.

The third, and most powerful story is in John 8:3-11. This is the story of Jesus and the adulterous woman. Jesus and his disciples were in Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles. During the previous days, the scribes and Pharisees had been trying to entrap Jesus by his words or actions, but had failed miserably in each case. Now they had a foolproof way (or so they thought) to catch him, they would use the Law of Moses against him. A woman caught in the act of adultery was taken to Jesus and was cast before him. With a triumphant voice they asked how Jesus would respond. "Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?" (8:4-5).The ironic thing is that Jesus is the one who gave the Law to Moses. Does he not know the Law? Yet, as if he was rewriting the Law with his own finger, he stoops down and writes in the dirt on the pavement of the temple court. The silence only encourages them, he must have been caught, he is speechless! Yet, majesticlly Jesus replies, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." (8:6-7). Each man, condemded by his own acts, leaves the temple court. Jesus once again writes in the dirt and as he lifts his head he asks, "Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more." (8:8-11). The powerful message of this story is this, Jesus was the one who gave the Law of Moses. He knew what was required for those who broke the Law, and yet, he choose not to condemn her. Even more, he who was without sin, was Jesus himself! The only one who could cast a stone (by his very own decree) chose not to.  How powerful!

This Mother's Day, may we be as the Savior, and honor and respect women the way He did. In our interactions with women, let us be slow to judge, let us teach with love and by example, and let us forgive unceasingly. How grateful I am for a father who taught me to honor and cherish my mother. How grateful I am for a mother who literally was willing to sacrifice her life for me, for a mother who has always been a friend, and for a mother who has always loved me unceasingly. Happy Mother's Day!

2 comments:

  1. SharilynMay 13, 2012

    Daniel,
    A Mother's greatest gift is to see her children walk in truth. Daniel, you bring such honor and love to your precious mother, Dorene. I was touched by your profound comments on womanhood. I appreciate you taking the time to remind us of the Savior's respect and honor for womanhood. My husband follows His teachings and treats me with kindness, love, and respect. I am eternally grateful for him and my Savior.

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  2. Very nicely put together, and well said Daniel

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