A Gospel for Liberals
Considering the historical     Jesus in light of today’s most controversial social Issues

Jesus Was a Feminist

As recently as 1998, for example, the Southern Baptist Convention, representing 16 million Americans, adopted a resolution requiring women to “graciously submit” to their husbands, and, a year later, affirmed their policy prohibiting women from becoming ministers.  This attitude, that women are less than men, stems, in part, from the Genesis story in which Eve is blamed for introducing sin into the world, much like the Greek myth of Pandora who opened a box to release sorrow, sickness, and death.  Afterward, Yahweh says to Eve, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children.  Yet your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.” This dominator perspective of women is carried over into the Christian scriptures in words attributed to the apostle Paul, “Wives should be subject to their husbands as to the Lord, since as Christ is head of the Church and saves the whole body, so is a husband the head of his wife; and as the Church is subject to Christ, so should wives be to their husbands, in everything.” This, more than anything else, seems to be the basis of the Southern Baptist resolution, which states similarly, “A wife is to submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ.  She, being ‘in the image of God’ as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his ‘helper’ in managing their household and nurturing the next generation.”

In truth, it is widely held that the words attributed to Paul in Ephesians were written by somebody else, and directly contradict his notion that, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” It is clear that Jesus himself accepted women into his circle of companions and treated them as equals.  Yet, as time proceeded, the role of women in his life became more and more obscured by Christian writers reinserting the patriarchal dominator viewpoint, until, as in the case of Ephesians, an entire work is written and attributed to Paul to contradict his more authentic and egalitarian writings.