Carried Weight

31

I am sincerely exasperated with the idea that Jesus hates women. I am still more indignant that many in the Christian church continue to perpetuate it, whilst having the audacity to blithely believe in their own righteousness in doing so. I marvel at how a community can display such reverence for the Word, which they claim is the foundation of their very belief system, and continue to believe such things. For the Jesus found in the Bible never trampled upon women. Rather, He uplifted them.

What a shocking idea. What a grievously forgotten truth.

When I first read about the ongoing Carry That Weight movement at Columbia University, where senior CU student Emma Sulkowicz is carrying her mattress around campus until her alleged rapist is expelled, the image that came into my head was Christ carrying the cross.

Herein lies another matter in which the Christian Church has too often been inconsiderate, ungracious or really simply unjust about: justice for and toward women. The wounds that women carry because of what the Church has done, or lacked in doing, are many and varied. There are the cuts of condescension, where little girls or even grown women have been discouraged or derided for their hopes and ambitions. There are the bruises and lacerations of judgement and condemnation, because clergy and congregations loved their appearance of righteousness and purity more than they loved the hurting or struggling young women behind the the words ‘pregnant,’ ‘abortion’ or ‘harlot.’ There are broken bones, many spiritual and physical, from hypocritical partners at home and equally hypocritical shepherds of the flock in the chapel, refusing to acknowledge women’s humanity. Not only is this abuse, it is often justified by twisting the same Word of God being reverently preached in the churches shutting women out.

Too many clergymen and congregations read the biblical passage “Wives should submit in everything to their husbands” and are appallingly satisfied to stop there, prematurely announcing that it is biblically sanctioned to impose second-class citizenship upon women. No wonder so many people are cynical toward Christianity on the basis of its stance on women. Too many people who are supposed to be representing Christ do a terrible job of it.

Does no one else read the rest of the passage? Immediately following the exhortation to women of the Church is the exhortation to men of the Church.

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to The Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives submit in everything to their husbands.”

But the passage continues:

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her...In the same way, husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.” (Ephesians 5:22-29)

Submission, in this case, is not forced, but instead proven worthy of being freely given. Christ’s love as depicted in the Gospel is one where He describes and considers humanity His bride. What cuts us also cuts Him. So it must be concluded that what has wounded women has wounded Him.

“He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief…Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” (Isaiah 53:3-4 ESV)

This is how He has loved humanity. This is the very center of the Gospel. This is the very center of Christianity. And this is, as such, how He loves and commands women to be loved. It is strange that so few have made the connection so obviously provided to them, literally in the scriptures.

Christ’s love toward humanity was one that served, one that uplifted and one that healed. How, then, if He commands women to be loved the same way, can it mean allocation to second-class citizenship? How can it mean abuse, if He commands men to care for women as for themselves? How can it mean Jesus hates women?

Women at Columbia University are carrying the weight of victim-blaming, lack of intervention, undeserved shame and humiliation and grief of abuse. According to the Gospel, Christ carried and has been carrying the weight with them since He carried the cross. And He calls all, especially His Church, to carry that weight with them, for that is what He deems the demonstration of love, and therefore the manifestation of justice.

The Christian God of the Christian Word does not hate women. The Christian Church is still attempting to unlearn hate and learn love, and therefore justice. But the Jesus of the Bible loves women. And He has carried, is carrying and will always carry their weight alongside them.

What does your spiritual background say about women? What do you believe?

Do you have the impression or belief that Christianity is an anti-women religion?

Do you believe spirituality or religion, regardless of type, is an oppressive force upon women?