Jesus Was a Feminist

Lately, as is my wont from time to time, I have been rereading the gospels. As I've been doing so I came to the rather surprising conclusion that Jesus was advocating a sort of feminism in much of what he said.

Take for example his admonitions against adultery and divorce. Taken within the context of the times and the rights of women at the time, I think it's quite clear that these admonitions are in fact pragmatic pronouncements meant to help women in a time when they had very little ability to support themselves without male patronage in the form of a father or a husband. In fact, an adult woman of the time only had the options to live as a beggar or a prostitute if she was turned out of her father or husbands house. From this perspective, the prohibition on adultery, a prohibition that I had previously taken to be little more than typical of jewish prudishness about sex, made a lot more sense. The law, after all, is aimed at a male audience, so in a sense the prohibition on adultery is saying to men not to take sexual liberty with a woman and then leave her to fend for herself and your offspring, because to do so is to condemn her to poverty and prostitution. The same is true of the ban on divorce, that is, it is wrong for a man to set his wife aside because without him the realities of the times doomed her to a life of ignominy.

Doing a little googling, I found out that I was not the first person to come to this conclusion. I found the following excellent article which I think sheds a lot of interesting light on the sexual mores found in the New Testament, and which I think put some of the more offputting and strange ideas to be found in the gospels into a better light:

http://www.godswordtowomen.org/feminist.htm

Also interesting were several statements in the gospel of thomas about making the female male and dissolving the distinction of male and female into spirit.