Jesus Christ and the Dignity of Women
The Loss of the Original Dignity of Women
God creates Woman to join Man in the dignity (i.e. “worthiness) of His image and likeness in perfect complementarity and marriage to become one flesh (Gen 1-3). Man recognizes Woman’s inherent dignity, naming her Eve (i.e. the “mother of the living”) and they are elevated to the dignity of being co-creators with God. Satan seeks to separate Women from Man, tempting Eve, who willingly eats the forbidden fruit. Adam (i.e. “man”), derelict in his duty to protect her, accepts the fruit from Eve. Divided and ashamed, neither Woman nor Man accepts the blame for their Sin. Freely choosing to Sin by siding with Satan and rejecting God, the Original Dignity of Woman (and Man) is lost.
The Modern Degradation of Women (and Men)
Satan continues to divide Woman and Man from God and from each other in the modern world. Satan has degraded women through the invention of dozens of “genders” (in opposition to God’s simple and profound design of female and male), the idolization of self-centered women’s “rights”, the promotion of sterilization, promiscuity and abortion, the rejection of the beautiful vocation of marriage and motherhood, and the promotion of the “war on women” making men the “enemy”. Men have been degraded as being non-essential to women and the family, by men’s own unmanly abuse of women and children, by pornography and promiscuity, through delayed adolescence and by the modern world’s rejection of manly virtues (e.g. chivalry, sacrifice, chastity, fortitude, etc.).
Jesus Christ and the Restoration of the Dignity of Women
In Jesus Christ, the dignity of Women is restored. Jesus Christ:
Elevates women in the Old Testament – With the Father from the beginning (John 1:1) in the Trinity, Jesus calls women throughout the Old Testament to holiness and heroism including Eve, Sarah, Rebekah, Abigail, Ester and Judith. Highly unusual, Jesus’ genealogy includes five women: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, King David’s wife and Our Blessed Mother Mary (Matt 1:1-16), underscoring the dignity of women as viewed by Christ and the Apostles.
Reasserts the essential dignity of Man – Confirms the masculine in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Divine Spouse of Mary. St. Joseph protects and provides for Mary and Jesus, underscoring the essential role of the husband and father in the family. Jesus establishes the role of men as priests and leaders through His purposeful selection of only men as the 12 Apostles. The majority of Christ’s documented healings and teaching parables emphasize men. Christ presents heaven as a Kingdom led by Him, with 24 elders. Dignified men are essential to Christ’s plan.
Returns Woman to Original Dignity in Mary – God prepares a perfect vessel for the Incarnation through the Immaculate Conception of Mary (CCC 491). Respected by God, Mary, full of Grace, accepts God’s request (Luke 1:38) to the highest dignity of being Theotokos (the Mother of God). Jesus is obedient to Mary (and Joseph) and Our Lady’s request at the Marriage at Cana leads to the launch of Christ’s public ministry (John 2:1-11). Mary’s dignity is reconfirmed in the Assumption (CCC 966) and in the Blessed Mother’s crowning as Queen of Heaven (CCC 966).
Purposefully offers dignity to women – The ancient Greek and Hebrew cultures were male-dominated (e.g. Sirach 42:14) and women were often mistreated. In contrast, Christ’s outreach and ministry to women is documented in the Gospels in which 17 women are identified by name. Jesus:
Directly engages women despite “scandal” – Jesus speaks directly with women, sometimes causing scandal even among His disciples (e.g. The Samaritan woman; John 4:1-42). Simon the Pharisee is scandalized by a “sinful” woman touching Jesus’ feet (Luke 7:36-50). Jesus engages the ritually unclean woman with a hemorrhage who touches His garment (Luke 8:43-48).
Preaches directly to women – Jesus is the first to call Jewish women ”daughters of Abraham” (Luke 13:16) and voices His concern about women (Matt 24:19).
Interacts and heals all kinds of women – Jesus interacts and/or heals women: women with demons (Luke 8:2), rich women (Luke 8:3), poor women (Mark 12:41), foreign/Gentile women (Matt 15:21; John 4), young women (Luke 8:40-56) and old women (Luke 7:11).
Teaches women to be disciples – Mary of Bethany sits at Jesus feet as a disciple and Jesus affirms her choice (Luke 10:42). Martha, her sister, also affirms her role as a disciple in a similar confession as Peter of Christ’s Divinity (John 11:27).
Publically applauds women’s faith – Examples include: the widow (Luke 4:26), the Canaanite woman (Matt 15:21), the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8), the sinful woman who anoints Jesus feet (Luke 7:50), the woman with a hemorrhage (Matt 9:22), the widow’s mite (Mark 12:41-44), parable of lost coin (Luke 15:8-10), the unjust judge (Luke 18:1-8).
Defends the dignity of/and protects women – Like His father, St. Joseph, protected Mary, Jesus defends the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11) and the sinful woman (Luke 7:36-50). He stands against the practice of Jewish men to divorce wives for any reason (Matt 19:3-6). Jesus says “prostitutes” will enter heaven before Pharisees (Matt 21:31). He gives Mary, first Joseph, and then, from the Cross, John, to care for Mary (John 19:27).
Reinforces the dignity women find in chastity, marriage and motherhood – Jesus uniquely elevates both motherhood and chastity in the Virgin Mother. He calls women to sexual purity: the sinful woman (Luke 7:36-50), the woman caught in adultery (Luke 8:1-11) and implicitly corrects the multiple “husbands” of the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-42). He upholds the sanctity of marriage and the sinfulness of divorce (Matt 19:1-8) and the beauty of children (Matt 19:13-14).
Inspires women to become evangelists – Mary proclaims the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), Elizabeth calls Jesus “Lord” (Luke 1:41-45) and Anna tells of Jesus being the redeemer of Israel (Luke 1:36-38). The Samaritan women evangelizes (John 4:7-26). Women disciples are witnesses to the Crucifixion (John 19:25), women are told by angel(s) to proclaim the Resurrection to the Apostles (Matt 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-2; John 20:1-13) and Mary Magdalene is the first to encounter the risen Christ (John 20:14-18; Mark 16:9-11; Matt 28:9-10).
Inspires the Church to uphold the dignity of women – The Apostles uphold the dignity of women in Christ (Gal 3:28), women play an active role in the growth of the Church (Acts 9:36; 12:12), the Church teaches that women “possess an inalienable dignity” (CCC 369; 2334) and of the complementarity and essential interdependence of women and men (CCC 2335; 2333, 2393).