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In my June column, I contended that the Bible generally, but the Old Testament (OT) in particular, depicts women unfavorably, laying the foundation for a continuation of similar attitudes towards women in the contemporary church. I surmised further that some church leaders uncritically use these portrayals as building blocks to deny women full partnership in gospel ministry. In that essay, I suggested that Eve, the original mother, was blamed for humanity’s fall by disobeying God’s edict. She is considered in certain circles to have failed the “curiosity test” at the tree of life. But did she? Where would we moderns be without the exercise of intuition, creativity and curiosity, the impulse to investigate, to go beyond the superficial? This, it could be argued, flows from her refusal to accept the boundaries set for her.
In this sequel article, in hopes of learning some lessons for our time, I will contrast the tarnished OT female portrait with stories in the gospels about Jesus’ encounters and interactions with women. Unless one searches the gospels with dedication on this topic, the large number of encounters he had with women could escape notice. The women Jesus interacted with were quite diverse: poor and rich, obscure and well known, Jews and Gentiles, natives and foreigners, young, old and in-between. What united them was gender and a culture that set strict limits on their aspirations.
Lessons - Jesus - Associations - Women - Respect/empathy
While we learn several different lessons from Jesus’ associations with women, three stand out: respect/empathy, non-discrimination and affirmation in ministry. There are some, particularly within the male headship crowd, who argue that unfortunate biblical depictions of women are neither good nor bad because they reflect cultural norms of the time. Additionally, they stress, to object to how women were treated in scripture is to use “western views on women [as] standard and enlightened.”...
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