Jesus and the Value of Women
I recently shared a message with some ladies at a conference based on what I learned from Captain Marvel. I know–that sounds ridiculous, but it has been one of the most impactful messages I have shared.
The movie is now available on dvd if you missed it on the big screen. (If you have kids, I recommend reading some Christian reviews before you decide if it’s appropriate for them.) I loved it, and I want to share some of those thoughts with you today as we continue in our series, Biblical Women Just Like Us.
Jesus and the Value of Women
When the Captain Marvel movie first came out, there was a lot of buzz about it being a feminist movie. In fact, the lead actress, Brie Larson, made the comment that they expected it to be the “biggest feminist movie of all time.”
I have to admit, I had a little trepidation about the movie beforehand simply because of her statement. I didn’t want Captain Marvel to be political; I just wanted to enjoy the movie.
The comic book character Captain Marvel arrived in the late 60s, right on the heels of one of the feminist movements in America. She is a powerful female super-hero. The character has been through several transformations over the years, but it is no surprise that Disney chose to tell her origin story now–as the feminist movement is seeing a re-surge in momentum.
Captain Marvel is a story of redemption, sacrifice, and protecting the innocent. It’s also a story of self-discovery and breaking out of boundaries placed by others. Rather than feeling put off by some political agenda, I felt myself cheering her on as I watched her bullied by those who didn’t think she could measure up in roles traditionally assigned to men.
So, I asked myself, “Why?”
Why has there been this surge of feminism in recent years? Why do women feel the need to be empowered, especially in a first-world country where we already have so many rights and freedoms?
Why this need?
Women want validation, approval, significance, and empowerment, and they are willing to fight for it. So, I really began to pray and think about why women feel this way. And I was reminded of a few things.
My daddy left us when I was twelve. I will admit, I was left feeling neglected and rejected. I struggled with insecurity for years. Then I think of all the women I know who have been abused, neglected, or mistreated. Their pain and suffering are very real.
Yet within the church, we mostly avoid the idea of feminism because of its secular nature. Most of the feminist agenda today is focused on sexual freedom, the right to choose a career over an unborn child, or belittling men and viewing them as inferior in an effort to regain the respect women think they deserve.
I get it. Many women have not gotten the jobs they deserved or equal pay (although, to be fair, there are many factors that affect that outcome besides gender). Lots of women have been objectified and mistreated by men. But the world’s message that we overcome by independence, knowing our own power, and trusting in ourselves is not the answer.
How do we respond?
Rather than hiding from or disavowing these issues, the church needs to address the needs of women with grace and truth. Too often, we react with knee-jerk opposition, instead of addressing the issues with biblical application.
Some responses from “Christian” circles have been blog posts and books which encourage women to just stand up for ourselves, finding our purpose and identity in self; but we will never be empowered by depending on our own weak, sinful flesh.
Rather, let’s look to Scripture to define who we are as women and what that means for our significance and value.
In the Old Testament, women were highly valued members in a patriarchal society. They participated in worship and community (Psalm 68:25, 1 Samuel 1) including public reading of Scripture (Deuteronomy 29:11, 31:12), established businesses (Proverbs 31), held leadership roles (Judges 4:4), and did manual labor (Ruth 2:7). Women were listened to by men ( 2 Kings 22:14-20) and considered a blessing (Proverbs 18:22, 19:14).
By the time Jesus came on the scene in the New Testament, much of that had changed. Because of the influence of Greek and Roman culture and the sin nature of all people, women had been excluded from worship except for the women’s court. They were not allowed to even touch the Scriptures (Jews for Jesus).
According to the traditions of the religious leaders (man-made laws), it was a disgrace for a man to be seen talking to a woman in public. Men could divorce women for any reason, but women did not have the same standard. Women were little more than servants, considered on the same level as criminals. Their testimony was not even considered valid in court.
Then Jesus came on the scene and turned their cultural expectations upside down.
Jesus and Women
Jesus validated women. He treated them as He treated all people–with love and respect. He gave women approval, significance, and spiritual power that the men and religious leaders deemed inappropriate. He spoke to women, offering healing, forgiveness, restoration, approval, and comfort.
Indeed, Jesus went to the cross, not just for men, but also for the women whom society deemed of less significance than animals. And therein lies our value. We are all unworthy–man, woman, and child alike–yet Jesus has validated our worth with His very life.
Over the next few weeks, I want to share with you some of the interactions Jesus had with women and how we as Christian women find our value in Him alone.
Yes, the need for women to feel validated and significant is very real–just as it is for everyone. But we don’t have to fight the status quo to have our needs met, nor do we have to hide our face in the sand and pretend these needs don’t exist. We need only turn to Jesus.
For more encouragement from women in the Bible, check out my latest book, Just Like Us: Wisdom from the Women of the Bible.
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