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Last week I blogged about why I believe we need to talk more about gender-based violence. Someone who I take inspiration from in addressing this issue is Jesus. I believe he was radical and proactive towards women’s rights. There are multiple occasions throughout the gospel where Jesus has acted counter-culturally and set the standard for how women should be treated.
In John 4: 1- 42, We see Jesus speak with compassion to the gentile woman at the well. She had been shunned by society because she had been married multiple times. Instead of treating this woman with hostility, Jesus made her feel so loved and valued that she was able to spread the good news he taught her to the very community that rejected her.
When a woman was about to be stoned for being caught in adultery, we see Jesus intervene in John 8: 1-11. He challenges the all-male religious leaders to look at their own sin before inflicting punishment on this woman. This spared the woman her life. It also demonstrates Jesus’s intolerance to inequality.
Jesus also challenges gender roles in Luke 10: 38 – 42 by encouraging Martha to sit with him rather than working on preparations for his visit.This may not sound radical, but women would be fully expected to carry out all acts of hospitability, and sitting with a religious teacher was ‘no place’ for a woman. Even today, women still feel the pressure to act as the ‘perfect host’.
In Mark 14: 1- 10, Jesus is quick to defend the woman who broke the jar of perfume to anoint him, he does not subscribe to treating the woman with the same negative judgement that the disciples do, instead, he tells the disciples, “She has done a beautiful thing to me… wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
There are two things I feel challenged by when I look at the way Jesus lived. Firstly, I do not want to conform to the way the rest of society sees and treats people. In order to eliminate gender-based violence, we must not assume a stereotypical perpetrator or victim. Rather, we must realise that this is a vast, universal problem that won’t go away until we decide to reshape how our culture sees women. Secondly, I want to be radical in how I treat other women. Show compassion, listen, create safe spaces so that more women have the strength to speak up. Just like our sisters, living in the Rohingya refugee camps, we have to do our best to create a culture in which women can speak up in and be heard.
If you feel challenged you can use these prayer points to help you reflect on some of the issues in these blogs:
You can also donate to support women and girls in Rohingya refugee camps here. Your donation could contribute to the safe spaces that are being made to address gender-based violence.
If you have been personally affected by anything you have read you get further support by visiting these websites:
As part of a year-long internship with the One Programme, Zoe Carruthers is working for All We Can as its Communications Officer. Zoe studied International Development and Media at the University of East Anglia and is passionate about social justice and womens' rights. Zoe is from Northern Ireland and is keen for others to discover what a beautiful place it is.