Today is International Women’s day, a day to celebrate the wonderful women in our lives, and around the world, who support and inspire us. A day to remember the changes that powerful women have made across history, and appreciate all that has been achieved economically, politically and socially.
In today’s western society women are quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with. We are standing up for our rights, and for those that have no voice. We are becoming expert jugglers within the home and work environment. We are pioneering new and innovative ideas. We are nurturing and empowering the people around us. We are championing causes and breaking new ground. We are powerful on our own and even more so as a collective. We have passion, boldness, dignity and grace, and are a perfect compliment, as well as being equal to, our male equivalent.
But things have not always been like this for women, and there are still many, many women suffering in parts of the world even today.
For these precious women I believe that it is our duty to stand up and speak out for them. To try our best to make the relevant changes that will give them the rights they desperately deserve, and to help bring them into a place of safety and freedom.
I have recently finished reading a book by the incredible Danielle Strickland called ‘The Liberating Truth.’
In the first half of the book Danielle highlights gender-based violence and prejudices that have gone on for centuries, and continue to do so today. She goes on to explain the history behind cultural behavior, and unpicks scripture to shine a light on misinterpreted bible verses. She introduces us to Jesus ‘The Feminist’ and shows us how He brought powerful change that empowered the women He encountered, which in effect impacts our lives today.
So how did God intend women to be viewed?
Back in Genesis, at the beginning of time, God created man, in His image, and He saw that it was not good that the man should be alone. It says that He created woman to become a ‘helper’ for Adam and to solve this problem. Eve was the answer to the problem.
Today, we may interpret ‘helper’ as someone who ‘serves’ or is ‘less than’ but in The Bible this is not so. The Hebrew word for ‘helper’ is ‘ezer’ which is a word that is sometimes even used for God, noting that He is our Helper. We would certainly not view God as inferior to humans, so therefore we can conclude that the word used in Genesis has the same meaning. The correct interpretation of the word ‘helper’ would be ‘ideal partner.’
God intended us to be ‘the ideal partner’ to compliment and be equal to men, but not long after the fall things changed drastically for women. We can see time and time again throughout the whole of The Old Testament that women were treated as second classed citizens and were seen no where near as equal to men. There are many devastating accounts in The Old Testament of oppression, abuse, rape and murder that left a distinct mark on womankind.
Along came Jesus!
When Jesus came along He challenged those mental and cultural, behaviours and patterns and instead treated women with dignity and respect. This was very different to how they had been treated in the past, within their male-dominated society.
We can see in the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10; 38-42) that Martha was busy with the typical role of a woman, ‘Martha was distracted with much serving’ (EVS) and was too involved with what she thought she needed to do to sit and have time with Jesus.
Mary, however, decided to adopt the supposed male role, and sit at Jesus’ feet. ‘She sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching’ (EVS)
Martha asked Jesus if He thought it was fair that Mary had left her to do all the work by herself, and she even asked Jesus to tell Mary to help her.
Jesus gently responded that He could see Martha was upset about the amount of things she needed to do, but that there was only really one thing needed, and Mary had ‘chosen the better thing’. Mary had made that decision for herself and Jesus had applauded her for liberating herself from her expected duties.
We also know that amongst Jesus’ disciples were a number of women, married and unmarried. The Bible names some of them:
Luke 8: 1-3 – Mary, Joanna and Susanna who helped to provide for them with their own resources.
Mark 15: 40-41 Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome who were followers of Jesus and had cared for his needs in Galilee.
In a culture where women were not allowed to leave their household, and men were thankful for not being born a woman, it is incredible to learn that Jesus welcomed them into His inner circle.
There are many other stories of Jesus’ encounters with women, including The Samaritan woman at the well, where Jesus liberated her from her past, causing her to tell her whole village about Him (what an evangelist!). Not forgetting the courageous woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ robe and was instantly healed from a disorder that caused her tremendous grief and made her an outcast.
Finally, after the crucifixion, Jesus rose again and reveled himself for the first time to Mary Magdalene, before He went to the rest of the disciples (John 20: 1-18). This was not an accident, but an intentional decision to not only talk about the importance of women but to show it too.
Jesus came to liberate women the world over and as a follower of His, I want to carry on His legacy and help set the captives free, are you with me?
One way you could help is by coming along to an event I am involved with at the end of April called Press Red. Through this conference we hope to raise awareness for gender-based violence and highlight the organizations that are working to help put a stop to it. For more information please go to www.pressred.org.uk