How Jesus Relates to Women

16 12 2010

In keeping with my last post – emphasizing what’s similar about men and women over what’s different – here’s an extended quotation by Leanne Payne from her (excellent) book “Crisis In Masculinity” (in which she quotes extensively from Dorothy Sayers).

[Men and Women as Persons, Not Classes]

Dorothy Sayers, writing about the need to see ourselves as persons first, not as classes, states:

Over-emphasis on a class - any difference that distinguishes us - tends to lead to conflict, power struggles, and dis-integration - whether it's rich vs. poor, male vs. female, or any other difference.

“All categories [such as gender], if they are insisted upon beyond the immediate purpose which they serve, breed class antagonism and disruption… and that is why they are dangerous….”

She goes on to ask: “Are all human beings created to do the same work?  No, of course not… We [men and women] are equal in creaturehood – different in functions we were created to perform.”  But it is pernicious for us to examine “my role as a woman” and “woman’s function in modern society” before we’ve examined our roles as persons.

Many of us understand the truth of what Dorothy Sayers is saying, and some can even verbalize it quite well.  But in most women’s hearts a battle – though a quiet one, one that we usually do not understand – continues.  Centuries of man’s flight from woman, and of erroneous ideas about the place of Christian woman, find quite a foothold in our imaginations and in our deep hearts.  We have monitors within that militate on the side of the law, not on the side of grace and freedom.  Though we read of the extremely active role women played in the early church, we still cherish the false notion that dying to self means dying to our power to do and to be….  At the very least we risk the imbalance of the masculine and the feminine, both in ourselves and in our relationships with men, and fail to see ourselves as Jesus sees us.

[How Jesus Related to Women]

“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 has never 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.

“But we might easily deduce it from His contemporaries, and from his prophets before Him, and from His Church to this day.  Women are not human; nobody shall persuade that they are human; let them say what they like, we will not believe it, though One rose from the dead.”

The way Jesus related to women is astonishing - especially considering the culture in which he lived. (This is the woman at the well - John ch. 4)

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3 responses

22 12 2010
Lisa K

This is really great, Tim. So ridiculously true. I wish guys & gals (myself included) would spend more time figuring out ways to honor each other rather than wound each other. I think that reflecting on this topic is a good start… & a lot of people don’t because they think it isn’t a big issue. I’m glad that you give it the merit it’s due.

25 03 2011
Bob Kanary

I like Dorthy Sayers (and the Inkling group to which I link her), and have read all the Peter Wimsey novels. You already have a positive nod from me. I am composing a sermon on Jesus meeting the Woman at the well. Your thoughts are intriguing. She is never given a name, but neither is the blind man in John 9. Maybe this was meant to protect something. Of course, Martha, Mary, Lazarus, Peter, Mary (Mother), Nicodemus, Pilate, are named. But interestingly, the author never names himself either. I never thought of it, but this may carry some significance as well.

26 02 2012
ana

I enjoyed your picture choice and post, I will sharing it with others. Thank you!

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