Jesus Christ has done more to elevate the status of women to a position of high honor and respect than any man alive or dead. Does that statement surprise you? History is replete with examples of how men used their superior size and strength to intimidate, dominate and, at times, abuse women. There are some cultures and religions today that still treat women on level beneath men. And, there are far too many cases of women being abused by men verbally, psychologically and physically. History has not been kind to women. But Jesus changed all that.
The cultural attitudes toward women in Jesus’ day were deplorable. There was no such thing as equal rights. Women were treated as second class citizens. Until Jesus came along. He restored value to women and treated them with honor and respect. You can see that in the way Jesus obeyed his mother (and foster father Joseph) (Luke 2:51). You see it in the way Jesus addressed his mother in a respectful tone “my dear woman” (John 2:4).
It was evident in the way he treated other women like the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:1-42. No self-respecting Jewish Rabbi would give a woman, let alone a Samaritan woman with a nasty past like this one, the time of day. But Jesus did. He held out to her hope and help as he gave her the water of life – himself. There were women who had bad reputations around town that the Jewish leaders looked down on and despised. But not Jesus. Jesus held out forgiveness to a woman who was known around town (you can read the story in Luke 7:36-50).
He gave another woman a second chance at life. She was brought to him after she was “caught in act of adultery.” The Pharisees didn’t care about her. They only wanted to use her situation to trap Jesus. But they were no match for the love and grace of Jesus. He challenged them to be the first to throw a stone at her only if they themselves were without sin. Of course, no one could claim that, so they all, one by one, dropped their stones and left. When Jesus was all alone with the devastated woman, he gave her something no else would – grace, love, forgiveness and a second chance, “I’m not here to condemn you. Now go and leave your life of sin.” Jesus didn’t judge or condemn these women. He treated them with respect. He even cared for his mother’s needs while dying on a cross (Luke 19:25-27), placing her needs above his own.
In the same spirit of love and respect the New Testament teaches men how to treat their mothers and women in general. It teaches that a real man never intimidates, dominates or abuses any woman – ever! Peter instructs husbands to be considerate to and treat their wives with respect as co-heirs of the gracious gift of life found in Jesus.
Fathers are to model for their sons how a real man treats a woman. He does that by example; by the way he treats his mother, his wife, his sisters, his daughters and all women. He teaches his sons
old-fashioned values such as holding a door open for a lady, or stepping aside to let women go first. He shows his sons how a man protects and provides for his wife and daughters. And he demonstrates how a man takes care of his mother and father in their old age. A real man holds high standards for the way his sons treat women.
And a real man demonstrates the love of Christ in front of his boys. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Chris loved the church, and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). Jesus gave the highest value possible to women by laying down his life for them. He considered them worth dying for. There is no greater love, no higher value, do deeper respect than that. That is how husbands are to love their wives. That is how men are to treat their mothers, wife and all women.
That God Christ died for all the times we failed to show his kind of honor to our mothers, our wives and other women. Thank God his forgiveness wipes the slate clean and gives a chance to start over with a fresh start. And thank God he gives us the desire and ability to show our world how real men treat women – with honor, high value, dignity and respect.