When we were selecting our magazine themes for 2022, I was surprised to discover we had never had a Mutuality issue about Jesus. We’ve covered Paul at length (see the Spring 2021 issue “Making Peace with Paul”). We had an issue about Mary a few years ago (see the Winter 2019 issue “Rediscovering Mary”). We’ve tackled Genesis (Winter 2014), Old Testament women (Summer 2013), New Testament women (Winter 2016), and so many other vitally important people and topics.
Surely Jesus has been active and present throughout all of our previous Mutuality issues. With this Winter 2022 issue, though, we’re bringing Jesus front and center. My prayer is that this issue will help you develop a deeper, more robust theology that values women, knowing that Jesus is our ultimate model of women’s biblical equality.
Where Is Our Focus?
I don’t know about you, but I love in-depth discussions about women’s biblical equality. I may not have studied Greek or Hebrew at a graduate or even collegiate level, but my word-loving self loves reading various scholars’ writings on often-controversial words like kephalē, ezer kenegdo, authenteō, and diakonos. These scholars’ work is so important to our biblical understanding of women and men in the world. They make a tangible difference in how women are treated in their churches and homes.
Sometimes, though, I wonder if we focus too much on all the little nuances, forgetting the bigger message: Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has come, died, and risen so that all of us may live! (Yes, women, too!)
Paul and Jesus
Do you have the same level of passion for figuring out how Jesus perceived women as you do for figuring out how Paul viewed women? Have we become too laser-focused on Paul’s teachings about and interactions with women? I can hear some readers now, protesting that Jesus was never as explicit or expansive in his teachings for women as Paul was. Plus, Paul’s writings are the ones most commonly used to beat women into unreciprocated submission to the men around them. Even I sometimes find myself acting as if the only teachings on women that matter are the ones in Paul’s letters.
But this is not the case!
Jesus’s teachings on women may not be obvious to us modern readers. Our familiarity with Jesus’s teachings perhaps leads us to believe we’ve gleaned all we can from them. Yet we as egalitarians are firmly committed to reading and interpreting all of the Bible within its cultural-societal context, to the best of our ability. We spend so much time teasing out Paul’s writings to better understand what he was truly saying about women. Let’s give Jesus’s teachings the same amount of devoted attention.
Jesus and Women
As we use God’s good gifts of curiosity, wisdom, language, translation, and deduction to discover the exact meaning of Greek and Hebrew words as well as Paul’s letters, let’s not forget our firm foundation of Jesus Christ’s love and redemption. This issue of Mutuality ties our egalitarian scholarship to the Rock of our Christian faith. In our discussions on every little nuance from Eden to Paul, we must occasionally pause to appreciate the uniting foundation beneath all of our feet. Jesus’s life and teachings guide our commitment to the full equality of women and men in the home, church, and world.
Jesus taught women. Jesus freed women. Jesus commissioned and sent women. Jesus loved women. The articles in this issue will, I pray, help us discover just how much Jesus was for women.