Jesus? A Feminist?

Some of you may be thinking that these words just do not go together. There’s no way that Jesus was a feminist. Trust me, I understand the surprise. Unfortunately, some Christian churches preach the complete opposite. In those churches the Bible is used to oppress female voices rather than liberate and raise up those voices that are pushed away.

Jesus was not in the business of oppression. He actually supports women and empowers them in a culture that kept women in a very small box.

I have been to churches that promote male superiority. I have sat in those seats. I hear the arguments that Christianity cannot coexist with feminism. I hear you.

It is important to remember that a root concept of Christianity is to do as Jesus does. Jesus was a radical person in the time that the Bible was written. He is one who empowered women and gave them responsibility that was unheard of at the time. 

To illustrate this point, I want to talk about one passage specifically. 

In John 4, Jesus talks to a woman from Samaria who has gone to a well to get some water. Samaritans were considered “outcasts” by Jews of the time. No Jew associated with them, especially not a Jewish male (Jesus) associating himself with a Samaritan woman. Jesus’s followers, “marveled that he was talking with a woman” (John 4:27 ESV). In addition to this, the text says, “It was about the sixth hour” (John 4:6 ESV), which means noon time. Women typically would go to draw water in groups and in the morning because it was cooler in the day, but this woman went in the hottest part of the day and was alone. Although it is not specifically inferred, readers can assume that even among the women in the community she was an outcast. Seen as an outcast by the Jews. An outcast in the female community. Yet, Jesus saw her as something else, a strong woman with a story to tell.

At first, the woman is skeptical of Jesus’s motives. Afraid of the being looked down on because she is a Samritan, because she is a woman. The two talk about her past, a past in which she finds shame in. Instead of using it as a weapon, Jesus uses it to bring clarity to her. After speaking for a while, Jesus tells her He is the Messiah for the first time. This is a big deal. He entrusts her with information that is vital to His ministry. Information that He knows she will share with others that will bring people to believe in Jesus.

The text says…

“Many Samaritans from the town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony”

John 4:39 ESV

Because of the woman’s testimony. Her voice was loud, her story was told.

He spoke to the woman, the same way He spoke to His male disciples. She was not spoken to like she was a possession. She was spoken to with gentleness. Jesus treated her the same as a man, trusting her with something that would make a great impact on the faith of many people. He knew her story would speak volumes.

In this culture, women were seen as less than. They could not be trusted, expected to live a quiet lifestyle following the male figure in their life without question. Seen as a possession, rather than a woman. In this story, Jesus actually welcomed the push-back from the woman instead of condemning her for questioning a man. Jesus empowered women rather than empowering the dominant narrative of oppression preached throughout the towns. A narrative that is still pushed in some churches today. This passage is just one of many found in the gospels that show these qualities. Other examples that defy cultural female norms include Luke 8:42-48, 10:38-42, John 20:11-18 and more. There are also many scholarly articles, videos, and books out there that give a lot more context and research.  

Jesus was all about treating women as equals. He not only treated women in a radically equal way, but also all other outcasts of the society in those times. I understand where the hurt comes from. I understand where the oppressive narrative resides. Female oppression is not Jesus’s ministry. It is actually the opposite. 

One thought on “Jesus? A Feminist?

  1. As a Christian, I really enjoyed reading about Jesus in this perspective! Thank you for sharing because that is how I view Jesus ,as well!


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