God’s View of a Woman

What follows is the transcript of a spoken message I delivered to a church in Chile. Keep in mind that the Chilean culture tends to have a very low view of women.

After tonight’s message, if this recording gets out of this room and someone hears it in your country, I will be declared a heretic. I may even be in danger of my life.

Further, after tonight’s message, some of the men in this room may not want me to come back. The women, however, will want me to move here!

Note the following passages:

And THE WOMEN also, which came with Him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the tomb, and how His body was laid. (Luke 23:55)

These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with THE WOMEN and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brethren. (Acts 1:14)

Let’s take a trip back to ancient Israel and look at how women were viewed before Jesus came. Generally speaking, the Jews had a dim view of women. Jewish women were not allowed to receive an education. Hence, they were largely uneducated. Their only training was in how to raise children and keep house.

Women were also largely excluded from worshiping God. In Herod’s temple, there was a special court that stood on the very outside. It was called the court of the Gentiles. The Gentiles could go into that court, but they were limited to that area alone.

Five steps above the Gentiles court was the women’s court. The women were limited to that one area. Fifteen steps above that was the Jewish men’s court. Thus men were given far more privileges to worship God than were women.

A woman had no voice in her marriage. Her father decided whom she would marry, when she would marry, and why she would marry. A woman couldn’t divorce her husband under any condition. Only a man could initiate a divorce.

Jewish women were to be seen as little as possible in public. In fact, young men were warned about talking to women in public. So much so that it was a shame in ancient Israel for a man to talk to a woman in public. Consequently, most women stayed out of the streets.

Women were regarded as inferior to men. They were regarded as property just like cattle and slaves. Jewish males prayed a daily prayer of thanksgiving. This prayer shows how poorly the Jews looked upon women. It goes like this:

Praise be to God. He has not created me a Gentile.

Praise be to God. He has not created me a woman.

Praise be to God. He has not created me an ignorant man.

This was man’s view of a woman in first-century Israel. It was not much better in other cultures. In fact, ever since the Fall of humanity, women have been regarded as second-class citizens—inferior to men. But something happened that changed all that.

Jesus came.

In Jesus Christ we find God’s view of a woman. Not man’s view. Not the American view. Not the European view. Not the Asian view. Not the African view. Not the South American view. Not even the Chilean view. But God’s view.

Jesus Christ is God made flesh. As such, He embodies all of God’s opinions. In His earthly life, Jesus was the visible expression of God Himself. By His actions and His words, we discover God’s view of a woman. And that view was utterly contrary to the prevailing view of His day.

Consider this. When God decided to make His entrance upon this planet, He visited a woman. He chose a woman to bring forth the Eternal Son, the Messiah—the Anointed One for whom Israel had waited thousands of years.

The life of God was first placed in the womb of a woman before it got to you and to me. And God was not ashamed.

Sisters in Christ, this is your Lord’s view of a woman. Take your high place.

But that’s not all. As Jesus ministered, He ripped down all social conventions that were pitted against women. On one occasion, He rose to the defense of a woman caught in adultery. He became her attorney and saved her life. And God was not ashamed.

Jesus was noted for palling around with sinners. He supped with prostitutes and tax collectors. We are told in John Chapter 4 that He met a woman, and He did something that shocked the disciples. He talked to her in public. And He was not ashamed.

Not only was she a woman, but she was a divorcee. But not only was she a divorcee, she was actively living in immorality. Yet not only was she a woman, a divorcee, an adulteress living in sin, she was worse than a Gentile. She was a Samaritan—a half-breed. (A Samaritan was a person with whom Jews were never to talk.)

Your Lord talked to this divorced, adulterous, Samaritan woman in public, and He forgave her of her sins. And He was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

But that’s not all. Jesus Christ had a custom of using women in His parables and making them heroes. He talked about the woman who searched and found her lost coin.

He spoke of the woman who was unrelenting in the presence of the unjust judge who honored her for her persistence. He spoke of the widow who dropped all the money she had into the temple treasury and praised her for doing so. And He was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

Once Jesus was dining with a self-righteous Pharisee. And in walked a woman. But this was not just any woman. She was a woman of the streets—a prostitute. Upon seeing the Lord, she dropped down to her knees and did something unsettling.

In the presence of Pharisees, this woman unbound her hair and poured costly perfume upon the feet of our Lord. This unclean woman touched Jesus Christ in public. She wept, washed His feet with her tears, and dried them with her hair.

This scandalous and improper act mortified the self-righteous Pharisees. At that moment, these religious leaders lost all respect for Jesus and doubted that He was a true prophet. But your Lord was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

But that’s not all. Your Lord allowed an unclean woman to touch the hem of His garment, and He was not ashamed. In fact, He praised her for it. He also gave a Canaanite woman who was viewed as a dog in the eyes of Israel one of the highest compliments He ever gave anyone. He also healed her daughter, and He was not ashamed.

In the Lord’s last hours on this earth, He stayed in a small village called Bethany. It was there that He would spend His last days before He gave His life on Calvary. In Bethany, two women whom Jesus loved had their home: Mary and Martha. They were His friends, and they received Him. And He was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

When Luke writes his Gospel, he refers to the twelve disciples with the shorthand phrase the Twelve. The Twelve lived with the Lord for three-and-a-half years. And they followed Him everywhere.

But Jesus also had a group of female disciples. Luke also used a shorthand phrase to refer to them. He simply called them the Women (Luke 23:55; Acts 1:14). Interestingly, Luke used this phrase the same way that he used the Twelve. 

They were the Lord’s disciples also—the female counterpart to the Twelve. The Women followed the Lord wherever He went, and they tended to His needs. And He was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

But there’s more. The greatest disciples of Jesus Christ were not the Twelve. They were the Women. The reason? Because they were more faithful.

When Jesus Christ was taken to die, the Twelve fled. They checked out. All the disciples (except John) said, “See ya!” But the Women stayed with Him. They didn’t leave.

They followed Him up to Calvary to do what they had been doing all along—comforting Him, taking care of Him, tending to His needs. And they watched Him undergo a bloody, gory crucifixion that lasted six long hours.

To watch a man die a hideous and horrible death is something that goes against every fiber that lives inside of a woman. Yet they would not leave Him. They stayed the entire time. And He was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

Following His death, it was the Women who first visited His burial. Even after His death, they were still following Him. They were still taking care of Him.

And when He rose again from the dead, the first faces He met—the first eyes that were laid upon Him—were the eyes of women. And it was to them that He gave the privilege of announcing His resurrection, even though their testimony wouldn’t hold up in court. And He was not ashamed.

Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

On the day of Pentecost, the Women were present in the upper room, waiting for Him to return, along with the Twelve.

Unlike His male disciples, the Women never left Him. They followed Him to the end. Their passion for and dedication to Jesus outshined that of the men. And God was not ashamed.

Throughout the Lord’s life, it was the Women who tended to His physical needs. It was the Women who looked after Him. It was the Women who supported Him financially during His earthly ministry (Luke 8:1-3).

It was the Women who cared for Him up until the bitter end as well as the glorious climax. Not the men. The Women were simply indispensable to Him. And He was not ashamed.

But beyond all these wonderful things that the Lord did in showing us how beautiful women are in His eyes, He did something else. He chose you—a woman to depict that which He came to earth to die for—His very Bride. And He is not ashamed.

Sisters, rise to your high place. This is God’s view of a woman.

Brothers, honor your sisters in the Kingdom of God. For God honors them. When our Lord pulled Eve out of Adam, He didn’t take her out of his feet below him. Nor did He take her out from his head above him. He took her out of his side.

Sisters, you are fellow heirs in the Kingdom of God. You are fellow priests in the church of God. You are honored. You are cherished. You are valuable. You are needed.

You are His friends, His followers, His daughters, yea, His own kin.

So sisters, take your high place . . . this is God’s view of you.

Related:

Rethinking Women in Ministry

Does Christianity Have a Feminine Feel?

A Farewell to Self-Righteousness: In Honor of Our Sisters in Christ

My Most Popular Posts (Surprising!)

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Comments

  1. Cornelia says

    Frank,
    I stumbled on this piece through Google search. My search phrase was a question: “does God really put down women in the Bible?” Your message was one of those that came up. I believe God wanted to assure me that I am not alone in my quest to understand the basis for the maltreatment and disregard for women all over the world. Presently, I live in Namibia where 17 women were killed by their boyfriends in a spade of 6 weeks in 2014 because of domestic violence. Women and girls are facing huge challenges despite being in church. It has been a huge burden to me as I think everyday how best I can help. I have always known anyway that the first thing a woman needs is not a husband but Jesus Christ. But women often think the other way round. Your message was beautiful and timely for me. You are my mentor from now on.

  2. Lauren says

    I know it’s been a couple years, but thank you so much! As a woman it is so hard to feel important or like we are valued in God’s eyes just like men. I even started developing a hatred towards God because I felt as if he looked at women as inferior to men. Thank you so much for opening my eyes to this! This has helped me so much.

  3. says

    Today is June 16th, year 2013. I am back again, back to breathe for just a few moments. This writing is my go-to-place for catching my breath in Love’s peace in being born as a female physical body. To know this Love who overwhelms us, wherein there is no label, no gender, no divide, no suspicion, no agenda, only Love in us and through us, we must overcome the eyes of the flesh, eyes that see flesh. I often wish that I was born a male person so that I could express Him in a voice that is respectable and heard, heard for other than “the emotional heart of a female.”

  4. says

    On January 30, 2012, I made a comment when I first read this writing. When I have been approached, many times, by brothers with the male superiority complex, for being a sister who expresses Christ through online writing, I come here to catch my breath. I don’t know why, but I am not a person who tears up easily, at least I always thought so, but you prove wrong about that, Frank. Sometimes, being wrong is a wonderful gift.

  5. Michelle says

    I read this when it was published (and it made me cry) and read it again yesterday, and again, had tears in my eyes.

    So often being a woman in the church feels like death by a 1000 paper cuts – so many small marginalizations, diminishments, silencings, so many demands on my time without giving me or my sisters a corresponding voice in the community.

    This is like water to a thirsty soul. You’re doing healing work here. Thank you.

  6. says

    Frank, I’m really late on this one, but I’m curious which female leaders (authors) you read in today’s era of Christianity? And would you co-author with one of them? Or perhaps let them guest blog here on your blog with you?

    • says

      I’m open to co-authoring with a female author as well as a male author should the Lord lead that way. On the female front, Francine Rivers would be my first choice. ;-) If they were still alive, I’d be honored to coauthor with Ruth Paxson or Mary McDonough. Right now, I’m working on a written project with Felicity Dale. Several women have guest-blogged here before and I’ve interviewed a number of female artists and authors as well. But I rarely feature guest posts, though I’m often asked. And I’m selective on who I interview as I get asked that a lot too. Heather Goodman, Melissa Norris, and Stephanie Bennett were the latest guest posters here.

      I only read books that are germane to my research or if the Lord specifically puts a book on my heart to read or if I know the author personally and they ask me to read their work for an interview and I have the time to do it. I’m a very slow reader so I don’t read many books word-for-word. The gender of the author isn’t a factor in any of this. This month I’ll be reading a book by Helen Shores Lee & Barbara Shores. A few months ago I read parts of a Francis Rivers book and a Patricia Cromwell book, both of which I enjoyed. I have a stack of new books sent to me by publishers by both female and male authors, but I haven’t had a chance to look at them yet.

  7. says

    2 things come to mind when I read this, and when I think of Christ and women. First, when Jesus came to Earth, He came to set men free from the bonds that held us. Many believed it was to be the Roman army, I am of the mind it was our own finite regulations. When we accept Christ as Savior, we decide someone else is not good enough, they are not allowed to be with us when we worship, their baptism was not seen by me therefore, they cannot share the bread and wine with me in communion. We become very selective. We tend to bind ourselves in chains that we made.

    Second, I think of just what God has used since Jesus came here. He never once said He would use only the best ingredients to make his soup, at least not by our standards. He chose what we consider to be the worst of the lot to be His disciples. One of the earliest Church leaders was a woman, and not only a woman, but a former hooker! The lineage of Jesus included a “lady of the evening”! God has done so many things that we do not think He would do. We work so hard to try to put God into our terms, fit into our definitions, that we tend to lose sight of just who we are really speaking of! The simple idea of a woman even needing to take their place of honor, shows just how finite we really are.
    God never called a shepherd; indeed, He called a young man whose heart was available, he just happened to be a shepherd.

  8. Michelle says

    I have been a follower of christ for many years and I use to feel that the Bible left women out. Then I wondered “maybe it is because Eve was the “mother” of sin and women are not seen as men. I WAS WRONG and what a relief it is to have been wrong. When you said God chose us to depict the very reason the Lord came to earth for – I broke down in tears and realized how much Jesus Christ and God loves women and how important he thinks we are and this whole time I new he loved me but I didn’t realize how important he sees us…We are his daughters!

    THANK YOU

  9. says

    There is so much in our culture that demeans womanhood. My ears cringe when I hear jokes about “cave men” so too when someone puts down this high calling of motherhood. Thank you for this post. It was very uplifting and an encouragement to press on and take my “high place”!

  10. Todd Zeller says

    Frank, I really love all you said. Great points! Wondering though, in everything I’ve read of yours, what is your take of women in leadership? Women Elders? Something I wrestle with?

  11. Luke says

    I read this post a week or so ago and shared it on Facebook. I came back and read it again when I saw it on Rachel Held Evans’ blog. I teared up both times.

    A few years ago I heard a sermon where the pastor mentioned “some of you someday might be pastors–or pastor’s wives–” Ever since then from time to time I’ll think maybe I should become a pastor–or pastor’s husband.

  12. says

    Great post. What a great reminder…we all matter to God. I’m so thankful I serve on a church staff where I am afforded the same opportunities as men. I know quite often thats not the case.

  13. Tracy Schlotterback says

    This article touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes. It spoke to me so much I shared it with all of the ladies in my home Bible study group. Thank you for reminding us how God sees women.

  14. Christopher Deitz says

    Dear Frank:

    I really like your blog, and liked your piece on “Gods View of a Woman”.

    My good friend and I had a discussion about women in leadership and pastoral/preaching roles in the evangelical church that we both attend. The mindset of our church is that, biblically, women should not hold these positions. I disagree. (I have learned much and have been spiritually enriched by a women pastor who headed the church that I attended before I moved to this city.)

    What is your opinion of “Women behind the Pulpit”?

  15. says

    This is beautiful. There is so much coming out of the church at the moment that makes me feel sad, but you make me feel as though it is possible to be Christian after all.

    Catherine

  16. Heather says

    I love this post, found through Rachel Held Evans, but I do want to urge you to consider your interpretation of John’s Woman at the Well. Nowhere does it say she was living in sin or was immoral, just that the man she was living with was not her husband. Moreover, it does not say that she was a divorcee but that she had 5 husbands. It is possible that she had married short-lived men or that she was currently living with a brother/uncle/male relative. I know this may seem far-fetched, but I do think we tend to cast aspersions on women in the bible without doing a thorough reading. Scripture even calls Magdalene one possessed by a demon. Not a prostitute. And yet — for centuries she has been labeled so. Yet another way church tradition has worked to keep women in line.

    • says

      Thanks Heather. You are correct. Scripture can be interpreted to degrade women and it has been for sure. But I see this a tad different, maybe. Let me explain. Given how things worked in the first century, it’s hard to imagine that all five of her husbands died. Also, most scholars agree that Jesus’ word that the man she was living wasn’t her husband was a reference to an inappropriate relationship. Hence why she changed the subject when the Lord put His finger on that point. I got into this in my “Diary of a Desperate Samaritan Woman” which you may find of encouragement. Regardless, the woman in Luke 7 was clearly a prostitute and this is what flipped the Pharisees out. Mary of Bethany (my favorite female disciple along with Mary of Magdala), on the other hand, didn’t have this sort of past and some people confuse her with the woman in Luke 7, which I don’t think is correct.

      But here’s the big point for me. To my mind, all of this simply magnifies the glory of Jesus as Merciful Redeemer and Deliverer and Forgiver instead of putting women down. Peter sinned many times, yet the glories of Jesus Christ was magnified in making Peter the lead apostle *despite* his continued failings. I spoke on this here. You may find it of encouragement. In a way, that talk is the male equivalent of “God’s View of a Woman,” but it applies to all of us. Would love to hear your thought on those two talks.

  17. jen says

    I never post on anything, anywhere. But this touched me, made me cry. I don’t even know if I’m a believer or not but I think this is the version of God that I feel is most true. Real, simple, powerful love for all persons, regardless of gender or race.

    Thank you.

  18. Max Rockastansky says

    See also Gabriel’s message to Mary:

    You are highly favored
    You are blessed among women
    Do not be afraid

  19. Mary H says

    Oh my gosh what an incredible learning experience you have given me today, and many others I am certain. Some instances I did not know of, and some I enjoyed reading about again. Kudos to you Sir, for bringing this subject and the passages to the forefront and sharing God’s view with the world. Thank you, thank you. My heart is full.

  20. Raquel says

    Hi. Thank you for posting your message about women. I’ve been thinking a lot about this, and as I Christian Venezuelan I also struggle with the believes that the Venezuelan church has about women. Greetings!

  21. Fearfully Made says

    “Sisters, take your high place. This is God’s view of a woman”. Thank you soooooo much 4 tis. I am blessed by it. Yesssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss! Love it! Love Jesus <3

  22. Emily says

    Thank you so much! Sometimes I feel so put down by what should be lifting me up. This was so beautiful and moved me to tears!

  23. Judy Gale says

    Thanks for such an encouraging word, Frank! I’m wondering: Of the four streams that you recently overviewed, which one would you say comes the closest to what you shared here?

    • says

      People in all four streams have resonated with this piece. While everything I write can be placed into the category of “beyond evangelical,” some of it finds resonation with most Christians, even non-evangelicals. Even non-evangelical Christians have expressed appreciation for this post.

  24. says

    Beautiful. Powerful. Inspirational. And Scriptural. AMEN!

    Thank you, Frank, for this lovely expression of the role of the woman. Thank you, GOD, that I am cherished, valuable, needed.

    How sweet it is to be in Christ – for both male and female alike!

  25. Robyn says

    Frank, thanks for reminding us that GOD created man and woman as partners. I am so thankful that Jesus demonstrated love equally among gender, race, nationality, abled/disabled, rich/poor, etc. May we as his followers love without bias or prejudice. And thank you to my Dad who demonstrated in our home a place of partnership for my mother, and as a daughter always made me feel valued and respected, causing me to find a husband with the same character, who now demonstrates that to our two daughters and daughter-in-law…who can find fault in the ways of JESUS :)

  26. Dylan says

    Loved this post Frank.

    Have always found that women have a very low view of themselves. Especially considering the institutional churches practice and teaching concerning women. I’m glad that there are those that are beginning to see that in fact there is no longer male or female, Jew or Greek. That we are all one in Christ! I pray that this truth will open up much more revelation amongst our brothers and sisters worldwide!

  27. Sharon Dreher says

    What a wonderful expression of God’s love for women. As a woman who has had leadership positions and have been rebuffed frequently, this was so refreshing to read. Thank You.

  28. Julie Davis says

    Thank you Frank, We need more men like yourself to stand up for women in this world to show that we are not second class or inferior as some would say.
    I think one of the main reasons that people find this issues so hard to deal with – plus why it effects our emotions so deeply, is that it has something to do with self esteem and sense of security in each of us. But when we all grasp and realise that we are all one ‘in Christ’ and there is no difference between male and female as the book of Galatians says, we can all affirm each other as God has made and called us.
    It hasn’t been that long ago since slavery was an accepted thing, and now all people realise how bad that was.
    Praying that the Spirit of God will continue to work in people’s hearts to reveal His truth regarding women’s freedom.

  29. Lori Alexander says

    This reminds me of 1Cor. 1:27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;
    Thanks for pointing out all the parables he used women in, I never realized that before or ever saw it before.

  30. Cheryl Eager says

    This is just beautifully written and describes the Christ I love and WANT to love because he first loved me!

  31. Nicole Cottrell says

    Frank, thank you for this. I, unlike many of my peers within the Evangelical church, have never questioned God’s goodness towards women. I have questioned His goodness towards me, Nicole, but not women in general.

    And then yet reading this, example after example, of Christ’s faithfulness, care, concern, and obvious love for women cements this fact all the more for me.

    I know many women who struggle with feeling that the God of the Bible really cares about women. I will be sending them to this post.

    • says

      Valeria: Beyond what I could have expected. Tears from both women and men in the room and some repenting for how they treated their fellow sisters. We had a meal aferwards in a home and for the first time (they told us), the men cleaned up and washed the dishes. This was revolutionary for these folks and something that Chilean men look down upon. God was clearly at work. It was amazing and humbling to me.

  32. Joe Betsill says

    Hi Frank,
    Loved this message. Do you by chance have this translated into Spanish? We live in Guatemala and probably like in Chile, women (especially the Mayan women where we live) are also treated as second-rate citizens here. I’d do it myself but my Spanish still isn’t good enough for that. I believe this would be such an encouragement for many of them. Thanks.

  33. Bonnie says

    Thank you, Frank. I’ve heard this and know it, but the way you delivered this message was absolutely beautiful. Not ashamed to admit I was crying!

  34. Rick L says

    Wow, great post, Frank, and couldn’t be more timely. I have shared this on my fbook because I think it is such an important message. Over the years He has been teaching me this important paradigm and I have learner/am learning to love my wife as Christ loved the church, by laying my life down for her and serving her. What an amazing transformation in our relationship, it has freed her to be the woman God called her to be and has helped her know how much God loves her. I had to repent of my thinking of her being subservient to me.
    So sisters, take your high place . . . this is God’s view of you, and it has become mine too, because of Jesus.

  35. says

    Amen, Frank. I hope this article finds its way to many women and plays a part in setting them free to see themselves as God sees them.

  36. Kat Huff says

    Frank, I sit here after reading your words and I feel like I am in slow motion, overwhelmed by the magnitude of the expression of Christ, of Love. I suppose I could go on and on, but I really just want to say to you, Thank you!

  37. says

    Wow Frank, the room surely became “Chile” at these words!

    How liberating for me to read this, particularly as a man… If God’s Spirit envelopes and gushes through my or any other person’s spirit, man or woman (or any other non-spiritual difference between people) – then she, he or I can just MOVE!

    Without first thinking:

    Wait a minute…I’m a man, and the Bible says…” (with a stern face)

    My spirit does not have “physically” distinguishable characteristics from others’ spirits! (reminder to self).

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