Wednesday, 24 July 2013


The Gospel of Jesus Christ has revolutionised how women are treated. Jesus Christ was a radical in the way He treated women. He honoured women. He gave them respect. Women's sense of worth took on new bounds of pure dignity. Rather than being relegated to menial tasks to serve unappreciative men, Jesus Christ shocked everyone by entrusting His mission to women as well as to men. Indeed, the first people to witness then proclaim His resurrection were women. So deep has the Gospel permeated the Western World, that we now take it for granted the inherent dignity that women deserve. And above all, the Gospel of Jesus Christ has dramatically reinstated God's intention for marriage for women

At the time of Christ's earthly mission, women were treated, excuse me, mistreated, as little more than objects. They were frequently physically, sexually, and financially abused. They were generally not equal partners in marriage. Outside of Israel, women entered marriage for various reasons but rarely for anything noble. In fact, study Roman history around the time of Caesar Tiberius and you'll be horrified to discover that women were  "subservientem" (utterly subordinate ones). This is why Christ's statements about marriage in Matthew 19, for example, were utterly shocking to His original audience. We sometimes think that marriage today has become a relatively disposable commodity, but back in the First Century, divorce was rife! 

Matt. 19:3 ¶ And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 
Matt. 19:4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,
Matt. 19:5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?
Matt. 19:6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Marriage from the beginning, said Jesus, was designed by God to be between a male and a female (Mat. 19:4) so that a woman would be "held" (provided for, protected, cherished, and loved) "fast" (permanently close) by her husband (Mat. 19:5). When Jesus declared that God had joined a man and a woman together, He was making a powerful statement about the abuse of women through unjustifiable divorce.

This Gospel teaching about the indispensable role of women and the purpose of marriage to ensure that  they can flourish is expounded by Christ's apostles in their epistles. The concept of love in a marriage (which we now take for granted) is taught by Paul in Ephesians 5. He charges husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the Church. If husbands do nothing more than strive to fulfil this charge, they will  go a long way to ensuring that their wife reaches her potential happiness! The Apostle Peter similarly charges husbands to honour their wives, strive to understand them, and treat them with gentleness - so that their prayers may not be hindered! (1Peter 3:7). So highly does God consider His female image bearers that He warns husbands about spiritual barrenness if they don't honour (to treat and value as most important) their wives.

This elevation of womanhood by Christ and His Gospel doesn't start with the redemption of marriage though. It goes back to how a woman is to be treated before she's married. A very important part of nearly every wedding vow is to live together after the holy ordinance of marriage. That is, before marriage a man is not to treat the woman he will marry as if they are married. In fact, the Apostle commands men to treat women they are not married to as either their mother or their sister!

1Tim. 5:1 ¶ Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers,
 older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.

Young men, just because you're engaged to a young lady doesn't mean you can treat her as if she is your wife! You are commanded by the Gospel of Jesus Christ to treat her as a "sister". Until you marry, your fiancĂ© is your sister not your wife! Don't do anything with her that you wouldn't do with your sister. This level of man to woman respect is desperately needed today and sorely lacking. Every time a man sleeps with his fiancĂ© he is teaching her that it's OK to sleep with someone you're not married to! 

The Gospel instructs for women to be with tenderness, respect, honour and dignity. Showing common courtesies such as opening doors, stepping aside, assisting with arduous physical tasks is not old fashioned - rather, if more men understand the Gospel in this matter, it should be fashionable.

Andrew Corbett

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