“Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ. I praise and appreciate you because you remember me in everything and you firmly hold to the traditions [the substance of my instructions], just as I have passed them on to you. But I want you to understand that Christ is the head (authority over) of every man, and man is the head of woman, and God is the head of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1-3 AMP).
Some religious minded people say that the apostle Paul was a woman hater. That is, a misogynist. Of course, that is not true. We confuse the chain of authority in Scripture with the worth of an individual. A private in the army is a person just like the sergeant. The sergeant is a specific rank within the Army and Marine Corps that determines the authority of a soldier, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the worth of the individual.
From the beginning God made this distinction in the line of authority. In Genesis 3:16 we read, “To the woman He said, ‘I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth; in pain you will give birth to children; yet your desire and longing will be for your husband, and he will rule [with authority] over you and be responsible for you’” (AMP). God intended that the husband would take responsibility in the family and that he would rule with compassion and good judgment.
The hierarchy of God, Christ, Man, and Woman is meant to bring order and stability to our world. When these principles break down chaos usually follows. But how did Jesus view women while he ministered here on earth?
For starters, Jesus denounced the objectification of women. Jesus taught: “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; but I say to you that everyone who [so much as] looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28 AMP). If this principle taught by Jesus was consistently lived out in our world, the pornography industry would vanish overnight.
Jesus invariably treated women with respect, honor, and compassion. When Jesus encountered a widow and her dead son as he entered the city of Nain, we read: “When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep’” (Lk. 7:13 NKJV). Jesus touched the coffin and presented this son alive to his weeping mother.
Jesus stood up for women who were being used and abused by others. When some scribes and Pharisees dragged a poor woman caught in the act of adultery before Jesus to test him, Jesus told them to let the one without sin cast the first stone. They all departed, and Jesus comforted and admonished the woman, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (Jn. 8:11 NKJV).
One of the last things Jesus did while on the cross was to take care of his mother (John 19:26-27), and the first one to see the risen Lord was a woman (Mk. 16:9). Jesus always treated women with the utmost respect.
L. Scott Gage
S Hill Church of Christ