Firstly, let me wish a happy Mothering Sunday to all the women with us today. Speaking as a sadly all-too-often ungrateful son, it’s so easy to take our mothers for granted. Today at least we have a ready-made opportunity to tell our mums how much we love them, or to thank God for all the love they gave us.
In some quarters, Christianity is perceived as being anti-women- but that is far from the truth. Not only does the Bible have plenty of narratives where the hero is a heroine (think Mary, Esther, Elizabeth, Lydia, Deborah and Hannah to name but a few) but the practice of Jesus and the teaching of the early church and the Bible as a whole laid the foundation for women’s equality.
Remember, in ancient culture and until not long ago in the west, women were seen as objects to be owned, used and of less value and importance than men. Into that dominant cultural narrative, the Bible proudly proclaims that women:
- Are, like men, made in the image of God.
- Are of equal value, dignity and importance to men.
- All have gifts with which to serve God as co-workers in his kingdom.
- If married, should be loved and cherished by their husbands with the same self-sacrificing love that Christ showed for his bride, the Church.
That isn’t to say that men and women are the same- that’s clearly not true, nor that they have the same roles to play in the home and church (I’ll speak to that in the autumn.) But to a world which still often classes women as less-than-men, the Bible has always taught a very different lesson. It’s just a shame it took the world and the church so long to catch on to what God has been saying all along!