Seeing Jesus in the Movement for Gender Equality

Photo courtesy of Sky News from the March4Women.

Differences — perhaps the most divisive part of our lives, as people, is the fact that we are all different. What does it mean to be different? Humankind has consistently struggled with this. From individuals to whole societies, differences mark us at every level of our lives. Gender is just one of the labels we use to differentiate one another; and yet, there are some differences which are not so important.

In his myriad travels and stories he tells, Jesus reminds us time and again that many differences we uphold or condemn are not so important. From the story of the Good Samaritan to the people with whom he associates, such as the “sinful woman” who anoints his feet in the gospel of Luke, Jesus deliberately crossed social boundaries to show how little our all-important differences matter in the eyes of God.

So why must we insist upon brandishing our differences like trophies or weapons? Jesus dedicates himself to breaking down those walls we have built between ourselves, even gender. Mary Magdalene is often considered to be Jesus’ favorite follower and the one who understood his teachings the best, thousands and thousands of years before the concept of gender equality was even considered. He valued his followers’ eagerness to learn and their openness to God’s love above such trivial things as the shapes of their bodies or the clothes on their backs. After all, it is not our bodies, but our spirits, which enter the Kingdom of Heaven. And if God is not concerned with gender, why are we?

Judging is best left to God. It does not matter to Jesus how someone looks, talk, or identifies, but that these differences enable us to better love and understand ourselves, and in doing so, better love and understand others. Of all the teachings of Jesus, unconditional love persistently stands out. Love is the gift God gave to the world. Jesus goes out of his way to show love for those we believe are critically different from us. The Gospels even declare that God is love — not only for our friends and neighbors, but for our enemies as well. Love for all people is his commandment to us. In obeying him and finding ways to celebrate all the colorful configurations in which people are made, may we become not only better neighbors, but better Christians.

By Katie Feuerstein, Gender Justice Organizing Intern

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