in pursuit of critical and compassionate living and thought. in surrender to courage & delight of Christ.
As a kid I wondered why God’s only divine child, sent to live on this earth, was a son, and not a daughter. What difference would it really make, I thought, if he had just had a daughter? Maybe my ten-year old theology was shoddy, or maybe I had the wisdom of childlike faith, but I couldn’t help but think: the trinity, and God’s characteristics would have all been the same, non?
But regardless, now I can’t help but wonder, what would Jesus’ ministry, reception on earth, and the significance of his behaviours have been like if he had been a woman?
Would I have seen how radical and even provocative Christ’s love, care, and respect for women was? Would the world have the permanent historical evidence that the Son of God would without apology or hesitation cross cultural boundaries and common “wisdom” to give women a position of honour?
Like when a Jewish man claiming to be the Son of God let women who he was not wed to walk publicly with him, even travel with him when it was frowned on by religious authority to do so? When this would have necessitated them traveling long distances and (shockingly) staying in the same shelters for the nights as him and his male followers instead of their relatives homes? (Matthew 27: 55-56; Mark 15:40-41; Luke 12:1-3, 23:49; John 19:25)
When he called these women travelling with him not just followers, or onlookers, or the wives and widows of his closest, but disciples – going out of his way to be clear to include “his sisters and mothers” as he pointed to the crowd who would otherwise assume he referred only to the men? (Matthew 12:46-50)
When, in the temple, Jesus broke Sabbath laws to heal a poor woman crippled for eighteen years and call out these religious teaches as not being God’s way? (Luke 13:10-17) I wonder, would we have thought her healing important enough to break church code? Would we have said to ourselves, ‘surely after eighteen years another day wouldn’t matter’?
When the Rabbi gave women front-row seats to his teaching in a culture that didn’t allow them spiritual education? When he not only allowed, but encouraged and articulated his approval of her doing so? (Luke 10:42) And allowed them to engage in the conversation (John 4), even blessed a woman in the instance she talked back? (Mark 7:24-30) And publicly call him my teacher? (John 20:16) Had I been one of them, I can only imagine, if in my pleasure and excitement to learn I would have been speechless in thanks and awe, or eagerly expressed myself in this new freedom to tell and ask all?
When the well-respected man called women his friends? (John 15:15) When he cried in front of them, and for them? (John 11:33-34)
When a man whose “reputation at stake” was a life or death scenario and yet he was perfectly alright to shame crowds who punished women mercilessly, and could do the same to him…and not even say a word to justify himself? (John 8:1-11)
When the man who could feed five thousand with a prayer allowed his ministry funds to come largely from the pockets of women? (Luke 8:3)
When the healer let society’s most defiled women approach him, touch him, ask for her, address her, talk to her, approve her, and then not even cared to go through the customary washings for having been defiled by her, instead continuing to walk around in the presence of religious leaders and devout followers “unclean”? (Mark 5:25-34; Matthew 9:20-22; Luke 8:43-48) I wonder, was this not more powerful than what words he could have preached in this crowd? I wonder, for those who followed him – did they follow him in this act too, and allow their clothes to brush her dirty arms as she walked back through?
When in the time of the greatest possible agony in all history, he thought first to appoint someone to care for his mother? (John 19:26)
When he named a female apostle? (Romans 16:7; Also note Priscilla and Phoebe in the early church) Even though many still deny her inclusion today, her name even being translated into a male one, when most early and contemporary Biblical scholars consent she was a woman? I wonder, would we have had the confidence in this woman to live as Jesus knew his apostles would – as poor nomadic preachers likely to be attacked, imprisoned, and physically assaulted – knowing this would likely be much worse for a woman, and rather than pity or protect her, appoint her, commission her? Would we have been doubtless about her bravery?
When instead of vilify a woman as everyone else would have (even still today), he offered everlasting life to her who knew nothing of “lasting” covenants, married and divorced without say many times? (John 4) When he sat with this woman deemed “scandalous” privately? I wonder, why we see the significance of her person in her being Samaritan – an ethnic group the Jews did not associate with – when what surprised the disciples was not that Jesus was talking with a Samaritan, but rather a woman? (John 4:27)
When the Son of God chose to reveal himself risen – fulfilling the most precious prophesies and ushering in the New Kingdom of God – first to his female disciples only? (Mark 16:9)
Can we imagine how incredible it must have been at that time in history that God sent an angel to speak to Mary directly, and first, before her husband, to tell her of the Son to be born? What beauty there is in the history of women that God revealed so many of his watershed moments in bringing forth the New Covenant of Grace through Jesus to women first?!
If Jesus had been a woman, we would have assuredly still seen God’s love for women – but would we have seen how radical it is? Would we see a love for women that would put even our most devoted teachers, preachers, and disciples, and our sincerest rules and religions of love and respect to shame? Would we be humbled to follow his footsteps in crossing uncomfortable lines to uplift those in our world who are thought of as “less than”, or pitied, condemned, or restricted? Would we have as much evident cause to think twice about what we determine is a “good enough” position for such people? Would we excuse that things “are better than they used to be” to appease a call to pursue and facilitate everyone’s fullness of obedience in calling and fullness of life? Or would we be more afraid of what society or the church would call us – the heretical, heathen, worldly, ‘feminists’, ‘man-haters’, ‘whipped’, shit-disturbers, and unsatisfied? Are we willing to offend our senses for an offensive Gospel? Would we have understood God’s message through Jesus the Divine Child of God in male flesh, that God sees and knows all those throughout history that will be left out, marginalized, denied, oppressed, misunderstood, undervalued for one reason or another and that God is firmly on their side when no one else is?
O Mary, did you know, that the son you have delivered, would soon deliver you?