Pastor T. Marvene Wright
My Testimony: Jesus, The Liberator
By Pastor T. Marvene Wright
The Word Center Church of Los Angeles
It is liberating to know that Jesus came to set all people free. Although, as we look across the world, women are still marginalized in many places, the Bible shows us signs of emancipation.
When we read the Bible, often times, the text presents a very subordinate image of women. However, I can share with you some very significant scripture that exemplifies women in a place of freedom, authority and dignity.
In fact, if we look at the passage in Genesis 1:27-28 we find, “And God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. And God blessed them; and God said unto them: ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that creepeth upon the earth’ (Holy Scriptures Masoretic Text).
God created them with equal dominance. However, after the fall, woman became subject to man, which was not God’s original plan. God made a helper suitable for man. Whatever the man is not, she is. The scripture reveals that she was equal, but opposite.
The New Testament reflects the patriarchal society in which it was written. The names and stories of men were remembered. The names of women, according to the etiquette of the time were not mentioned.
Wife’s duties consisted of caring for her husband and her home. Religious duties of women were limited to the home. In the wider Greco-Roman world, the role of women in society was also limited to the family and the home, but there is some evidence of limited emancipation.
In the book of Luke, his writings present parallel references to men and women. By placing these parallels in his writings, it helps to acclimate people’s thoughts to see the importance and validity of women in society, as well as in ministry.
A few of the parallel examples in Luke are: Zechariah and Elizabeth; Simeon and Anna, a prophet; widow of Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian; a centurion and a widow; the queen of the South and men of Nineveh; a man with an unclean demon and Simon’s mother-in-law with a fever; a woman with a crippling spirit and a man with dropsy; and a mustard seed planted by a man and yeast mixed by a woman (Losie, 1993).
Luke also has special material about women which show them breaking through stereotypes and emerging into discipleship. One example is in the story of Mary & Martha. Martha is not engaged in the “ministry of the Word,” but in the traditional role of “serving tables.” A woman’s honor derived from her ability to manage her household.
It was also honorable for a woman to maintain solidarity with other women in the household. Mary is commended for attending to the ministry of “the Word” as a disciple. “Sitting at the feet” is the posture of a disciple. Mary breaks the traditional role in Jewish culture.
Jesus has come to set the captives free, bring eyesight to the blind, and liberate any one in bondage. As we continue to practice the Word and not culture, our eyes will be opened to walk in freedom and allow women to walk in the “freedom” God has granted all of His children.