Women In Christianity
The importance of women within early Christian and ancient Jewish societies could be categorized in three epochs which are: during Old Testament times, during Jesus ministry, and after execution of Jesus.
During Old Testament times, role of women’s were severely restricted and women were treated inferior to others. Restrictions were like unmarried women’s weren’t allowed to go out of the home without their father’s permission, married women’s weren’t allowed to go out of the home without their husband’s permission, women’s weren’t allowed to appear in court trials and public revenues, they weren’t allowed to talk to strangers, and they had to be doubly veiled when they left their homes. Women were also treated as sexual predators, deceitfully and worthy of special punishment.
During Jesus ministry, he preached a revolutionary message about gender roles. Christ dethroned many centuries of Jewish law and custom. He constantly treated men and women equally. He outraged several Old Testament regulations which state gender inequality. He repudiated to follow the behavioral rules implemented by the three main Jewish religious groups of the day: the Pharisees, Essenes, and Sadducees. The actions of Jesus of Nazareth towards women were thus revolutionary. Some examples of Jesus actions are: he subbed ritual impurity laws, he communicated with foreign women, He taught female students, he employed terminology which treated women as equal to men, he accepted women in his inner circle, he appeared first to one or more women after his resurrection, mostly women were present at Jesus's execution, he told parallel male and female stories, and he expressed concern for widows.
After the execution of Jesus, the construction of churches steadily reduces the status of its women members. The four Gospels in the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) and other Gospels that never became part of the official canon as it dealt mainly with the life of Jesus. The remaining hundreds of letters which were in circulation within the early Christian movement deal mainly with the development of Christianity after the execution of Christ circa 30 CE. Some of these are mainly some of Paul's letters made it into the New Testament.
The latter epistles comprise of two mutually exclusive practices which are as follows:
- The promotion of Christ's revolutionary message: In the Christ message, men, women, prostitutes and the hated tax collectors, etc. were treated equally.
- The rejection of Christ's message: In the Christ message women's roles are once more restricted as women were restored to their former inferior status as seen in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament).