Mary Magdalene was the first to see the risen Christ, and in American Christianity today we debate whether women should be allowed to be in the forefront of the church.
Mary the Mother of God took the radical, courageous step of agreeing to birth the Messiah, and the most dominant adjective used by the Christian church today to describe her is “humble.”
The longest conversation Jesus has in the Bible is with the woman at the well, and many Christian churches seriously claim women shouldn’t speak in church.
The only disciples that could stand in the agony of the cross with Jesus—Peter denied him, all the men fled—were women, but many Christian churches tell women they are fit only for teaching Sunday school and singing in the choir.
The financial supporters of Jesus were women, but even Christian churches that “allow” female priests pay them discriminatory less money.
When Jesus was presented with a choice between valuing women’s cultural role as domestics or their role as disciples (the Martha and Mary story), he chose their role as disciples, but many Christian churches continue to view women as mere supporters of men’s work.
When Jesus’s supporters tried to depict his mother as “the womb that gave you birth and breasts that suckled you,” he corrected them, praising Mary for being a follower of God, yet the only day most Christian churches ask women to stand up and be recognized is Mother’s Day.
Jesus’s most powerful encounters of inclusivity involved women—touching the bleeding woman, for example—but most Christian churches erect a brick wall excluding women from ordination, leadership, and recognition.
Jesus was a radical supporter of women. The church is not. For years this failure wasn’t a problem, as no cultures came close to Jesus’s position. But as the valuing of women culturally has grown, the church’s overwhelming failure to follow Jesus—yes, there are exceptions, but most churches twist themselves in knots to escape Jesus’s lessons—becomes starkly unacceptable. If the Christian church cannot return to Jesus’s views, it will not survive in a more just world.