Women and Religion Series: What Did Jesus Christ Think About Women?

This article is written as a personal opinion piece from a female member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This piece is not endorsed by the Church, and reflects the opinion of myself.

As James E. Talmage notes, “the world’s greatest champion of woman and womanhood is Jesus the Christ.”  Because the Church purports to be a Christ-centered church, it is important to understand the role and identity of women during his ministry. It is a common misperception that women are wholly missing from the Bible; however, although they do not receive nearly as much direct attention, it cannot be derived that women were less important to the Saviour’s ministry based on their page presence. 

Women marked the entrances and exits of Jesus Christ during his mortal ministry. Mary’s faith in the Gospel of John preceded the first public miracle, which was to turn water into wine at a wedding under Mary’s responsibility. When Mary respectfully expects her son to perform a miracle, he replies, “Woman, what have O to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come.” Although to the modern reader this may appear unclear or even harsh, linguist J. R. Dummelow, points out the usage of woman here denotes upmost respect, as the Greeks would have used the term to delineate a lady or queen. When this phrase is combined with this understanding, along with the inspired Joseph Smith translation of the verse, it reads as, “My lady, whatsoever you ask of me in faith, I will grant it unto you.” Mary in turn directs the servants to obey Christ, and the Jesus’ first public miracle is performed.

Not only has a woman’s faith preceded one of the Saviour’s first public miracles, but also it was a woman who first saw the Saviour upon his return after being resurrected. This scene is depicted also in the Gospel of John, and illustrates a powerful example of how valiant women can receive powerful spiritual manifestations. Upon realizing that Christ’s tomb was empty, Mary ran to get the Apostles Peter and John, and it wasn’t until they left and Mary was alone at the tomb that the Saviour appeared. He called her by name, and after she recognizes him, bears her testimony, and is instructed to testify of his return. This experience emphasizes the Saviour’s regard for women, and the responsibility endowed to women to witness and testify of Christ. This responsibility is still a strongly emphasized calling in the modern Church.

It was also a woman to whom the Saviour first acknowledged himself as the Christ, to a Samarian woman at Jacob’s well. During the Saviour’s final hours on the cross, he reached out to one person – his mother, by asking John the Beloved to care for her as though she were his own. Continually, Jesus protected, served, and was served by women.

In addition to women marking the grand entrances, exits, and returns of the Savior in the New Testament, they also serve as disciples that were integral to Christ’s ministry. Women travelled, met, and prayed with the Apostles, gave substance and assistance to Christ during his ministry, provided their homes as gathering places for Church members, and participated in the temporal and spiritual salvation of souls. Although the formal organization of women is not clearly depicted, there are a few examples of women who acted as these disciples.

Martha and her sister Mary are two of these female disciples depicted in the New Testament. As Martha served Jesus temporally, her sister sat at his feet and listened to His teachings. Despite the cultural and societal norms of the day for women to only provide temporal assistance, the Saviour taught Martha and Mary that they played an important spiritual role in His mission as disciples, and invited them to partake of salvation, a role and gift that could not be taken away from them. Martha additionally is used as a mouthpiece to testify of Christ.

Other female disciples that travelled with Jesus and the twelve Apostles include, but are not limited to, Joanna the wife of Chuza (Herod’s steward) and Susanna. The Apostle Paul also wrote of women in Church positions and in the home that were “well reported of good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she relieved the afflicted, if she diligently followed every good work.” An example of such a woman that is Tabitha of Joppa, who is praised in the scriptures and can be found in the book of Acts. Other examples include Priscilla, Mary, and Lydia. 

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© Miss Lauren Kyle
Maira Gall