Luke and Gender
In the fourth chapter of The Story Luke Tells, Justo L. Gonzalez presents a fascinating sketch of how Luke's narrative portrays women. His thesis is that “among all the writers of the New Testament, it is Luke who includes the most frequent references to women and their place in the history of salvation” (45). Luke’s telling of the Nativity focuses more on Mary while Matthew’s narrative focused on Joseph (46). Luke presents frequent parallel stories, one focused on a male figure and the other focused on a woman (47), with some of them praising what the woman has, but the man lacks (51). His Gospel account provides the most detail about the women who followed Jesus and funded his ministry (52-55) while the narrative of Acts describes several prominent women of the early church (55-57). Luke’s witness is especially useful to preach in our world today. As women seek more equality, politics talks of equal pay, and the recent exposure of Hollywood’s sexual assault epidemic, the Church is called upon to witness Jesus’ love and acceptance of women, particularly in an age more traditionally repressive to women than our own. Early on, women played an essential role in the faith community, despite having few rights in society. Jesus made his first Easter appearance to several women whose testimony was invalid in law courts of the day. In the face of discrimination, assault, and harassment, the love of Jesus can speak powerfully to the value of women. As pastors and church leaders, we ought to be quick to support the ministry gifts of our women, affirming their callings and their contribution to the faith community, just as Luke does in his narrative of the church so long ago. We can listen to Luke as he tells us of the profound love of Jesus for women and the vital contribution they make to the faith community.