Did the Jesus of the Bible revolutionize the role of women?
The question to me isn’t whether or not Jesus was married, it’s why the Church has completely manufactured a completely different reality in relation to the teachings that can be found in the Bible in relation to women. If I were a woman, I feel like I’d be angry enough to confront anyone with an ear in the Church, especially those who still believe that women are second-class citizens in the eyes of the God of the Bible. In fact, feeding the fire of the debate in relation to whether or not Jesus had a wife only takes the attention away from the truth about how Jesus truly seems to have revolutionized the role of women in both society and the Church.
As often happens when I’m researching an aspect of Christianity, I find myself in quite a different place than when I started, as I uncover truths that are far more surreal and tragic than I ever imagined. Such is the case when adding my two-cents to the discussion regarding whether or not Jesus had a wife. As readers know, I’m not a Christian other than by the indoctrination received as a child, yet I have a deep and profound respect for the revolutionary that the Jesus of the Bible was. If one wants to read in-depth discussions on this topic, look to “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln, as well as “The Woman With the Alabaster Jar” by Margaret Starbird.
Jesus’ stance on the role of women in society and the Church was quite revolutionary. As astonishing as I find the church’s continued ability to manufacture any truth they wish in an ongoing effort to maintain power over a rapidly-decreasing population of followers, burying the role of women is one of the most egregious crimes they’ve committed. There are more than a few historical instances and obvious passages in the Bible that contradict the staunchly patriarchal and misogynistic position the Church has held since its early days, yet no one ever hears of it.
Again; was Jesus married? If one looks with an objective eye, it seems unlikely that he was, but that seems like a small detail when compared to how the Jesus of the Bible single-handedly transformed women’s role’s in society. But, to put this in the proper context, we need to be clear on what exactly the Bible/Church’s stance on women was before and around the time of Jesus Christ. In short, Jewish society, as vividly confirmed in the Bible, firmly believed that women were the same as property, without any rights whatsoever.
Husbands had the right to order their wives and daughters into slavery; something the God of the Bible demanded of some of his followers on more than one occasion. Polygamy was the norm, and women, no matter how badly abused by their husbands, were not allowed to divorce. Furthermore, women were denied education, they weren’t allowed to speak until spoken to, they were given as spoils of wars that the God of the Bible ordered, and the list goes on far to long to quote here. In Genesis 30:14-20, the God of the Bible even rewards woman named Leah for giving her slave to her husband as a wife. And that is just the tip of the iceberg in relation to this sordid tale of polygamy, slavery, and adultery.
Out of nowhere, a rebel appears named Jesus who possessed a profound respect for women, which is clearly evidenced in more than a few passages in the Bible. Strangely enough, no one hears of these revolutionary views that Jesus held and practiced; what the Church trumpets are the writings of Paul of Tarsus, which, throughout time, has provided Conservatives so much material with which to oppress women.
Entire nations have been destroyed and countless women have been persecuted because of the Bible. Perhaps this has never been more abused than the Conservative’s use of the writings of the Apostle Paul of Tarsus. Paul has thirteen New Testament books attributed to him and his writings are some of the earliest Christian documents. Although it’s widely accepted by scholars that some of the later writings of Paul of Tarsus were forgeries with the single intent of justifying later beliefs, women’s role in the Church as well as their place in society has largely been determined by the words in these books.
What I have a difficult time comprehending, is why the words of Jesus himself are largely ignored when it comes to the topic of women and women’s roles in the Church, but the words of the Apostle Paul form the basis of continued oppression in relation to women’s supposed role in society and their own church. Galatians 3:28 clearly states that “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Seems quite clear to me. And the list is quite extensive in relation to the empowerment of women. In fact, early Mystery religions, Earth religions, even the revered Egyptian spiritual system…they were all very goddess-based. There is evidence in the Gnostic Gospels and the Dead Sea Scrolls as well, yet…these critical points are ignored.
Under Emperor Constantine (312-337), Christianity became a legal religion. While some scholars debate whether Constantine’s conversion to Christianity was authentic or simply matter of political expediency, Constantine’s decree made empire safe for Christian practice and belief. Unfortunately for women, Greek dualism portrayed flesh as evil…so in order to make Jesus more holy and untouchable, he couldn’t have a wife.
And this brings me to one of the most misinterpreted, egregious lies perpetrated by those in power. What comes to mind when you think of Mary Magdalene? Polls show that most think she was nothing more than a prostitute but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Mary Magdalen was a devoted follower of Jesus, and became a part of Jesus’ inner circle. She accompanied Jesus throughout his ministry, even witnessing his crucifixion. According to the Bible, she also witnessed his burial (if one takes the stories of the Bible as fact, rather than a series of mythological tales, of course) and in “Mary Magdalene,” Mike Galli also states that according to all four Gospels in the New Testament, she was the first person to see the resurrected Christ. If Jesus was married, virtually all scholars agree that the most likely candidate would have been Mary Magdalen.
In early Christian writings, Mary Magdalen is even referred to as “the apostle to the apostles.” In apocryphal texts, she is further portrayed as a leader of the early Christian movement, a visionary, who was loved by the Jesus of the Bible more than any other disciple.
In the “Sins of Scripture” I’ve never found this point explained more powerfully:
“It is a shame that by denigrating the woman called Magdalen during Christian history, the church destroyed the healthiest female symbol in ancient Christianity. There is no evidence in the Bible to support the familiar claim that Magdalene was a prostitute. That charge was fabricated beginning in the second century of the Common Era, when Greek dualism portrayed flesh as evil. This flesh-and-blood woman at Jesus’ side was perceived by the dualists as a threat to his holiness.”
Below, I outline passage after passage that outlines my point. It’s one thing to follow a religion that most haven’t even read the book that explains it, it’s another thing to kill innocent people throughout history and throughout the world because of it, but it’s another thing entirely when the women who follow this religion don’t claim the power that the Jesus of the Bible fought so hard for them to claim.
Anyone who claims to be a true Christian but views women as subservient to men are, at minimum, knowingly or unknowingly following the writings of Paul of Tarsus (which have since been proved to be false and written as a ploy to retain power over women in the Church) rather than the words of Jesus of Nazareth. It’s incredible that those who claim to follow Jesus and will devote their entire lives to his cause, even if it means killing, are actually following this Paul of Tarsus; the patron saint of male chauvinism instead!
If one truly looks at the truly revolutionary stance that the Jesus of the Bible practiced and taught in relation to women, there would be far more women in power in the Christian Church and society as a whole. Seek the truth and claim your power.
Top 10 Examples: Women in the Christian Church
1. In Matthew 9:18-25, Mark 5:25-33, Luke 8:43-47, Jesus shows an immense sympathy and respect for women.
2. In Matthew 13:33, Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a woman (heaven, by the way, is not mentioned, even once, in the Old Testament).
3. In Matthew 15:22-28 and Mark 7:25-30, Jesus healed the daughter of a woman who spoke directly to him. Remember, a woman even speaking to a man without being spoken to could lead to death for the woman.
4. In John 12:1-8, Luke 7:36-50, John 11:54-12:11, Mark 14:3, and Matthew 26:6-13, there are similar stories of a woman (Mary) anointed Jesus with expensive oils shortly before his crucifixion. In “Sins of Scripture,” this is Mr. Spong’s defining argument for Jesus having a wife. Why? Those present spoke not directly to the woman, but to Jesus. In that time, that kind of behavior would only typically happen if the women in question were a wife or family member. This popular image of Mary comes from confusion between her and two other women: Martha’s sister Mary and an unnamed sinner in Luke 7:36-50. Both women wash Jesus’ feet with their hair and it was Pope Gregory the Great who declared that all three women were the same person. It wasn’t until the Summer of Love in 1969 that under intense pressure, that the Catholic Church quietly reversed course on this point.
5. Matthew 27:55-56 tells of the women present at Jesus’ crucifixion, including Mary Magdeline.
6. In Matthew 28:1-10, Jesus didn’t make himself known until after he appeared to several of his women followers! This doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to us, until you put it into context…this would have gotten anyone else executed for treating women in that way. I can’t stress enough that how seemingly simple acts of the Jesus of the Bible were so revolutionary that it undercut the very fabric of society. Could this be why the Jesus of the Bible was executed? I’m convinced that women are more of a threat to the men in power than some random male saying he’s king.
7. In Mark 10:2-13, Matthew 5:20-32, and Luke 8:43-47, the question was posed to Jesus about women (who were strictly forbidden to divorce) and divorce. Jesus’ reply was far more equality-based than anyone cared to acknowledge: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”
8. In Luke 13:11, Jesus heals a woman on the Sabbath (a holy day in which no work can be done, including miracles, it seems).
9. In Exodus 15:20, Judges 4:4, 2 Kings 22:14, 2 Chronicles 34:22, Nehemiah 6:14, Isaiah 8:3, and Luke 2:36, there are specific references to a “prophetess,” which, as you may have guessed…is a female prophet.
10. In John 20:10-18, the Jesus of the Bible rose from the dead an appeared first to Mary Magdalene….a woman. Oops.
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