How to Treat Women
by Derrick G. Jeter
The great Vaudeville performer and pop philosopher, Sophie Tucker made this astute observation:
From birth to eighteen a girl needs good parents. From eighteen to thirty-five a girl needs good looks; from thirty-five to fifty-five a girl needs a good personality, and from fifty-five on she needs cash.1
Well, I don’t know where you are on Sophie’s scale, but I’ve yet to meet a woman, at any age, who didn’t need cash—or at least plastic!
Mothers, this is your day. I don’t know if you’ll receive cash or flowers or a home cooked meal—with the dishes washed—or whether you’ll have to clean the kitchen, but I want to celebrate you. On this the one day of the year when mothers finally get the respect and honor they so richly deserve for all they do the other 364 days of the year. I want to celebrate this day by saying a few things to the men in your lives—your husbands and/or your sons—to tell them how they ought to treat women. There are five ways, each coming from the life of Jesus and how He treated the women in His life.
In John 4, Jesus and His disciples were traveling from the southern region of Judea to the northern region of Galilee. In the middle lay a no-man’s-land, as far as the Jews were concerned, because it was a region populated by Samaritans—people of mixed Assyrian (Gentile) and Jewish blood who worshiped not in Jerusalem but on Mt. Gerizim. A typical Jew would walk miles to the east before turning north just to avoid having to walk through Samaria—but not Jesus.
Stopping at Jacob’s well to rest, at about six in the evening, Jesus encountered a woman of questionable character—she had been married five times and is now living with another man who wasn’t her husband (John 4:6, 17–18). As she approached the well, Jesus said to her, “‘Give Me a drink’” (4:7). During that day, for a Jewish man to be speaking with a woman, and a Samaritan as well, was a shocking as what I said the other night when Christy and I were buying a new computer. A woman mistook me for one of the store clerks and asked if I could check her out. I turned to her and said, “I’d love to check you out, but they won’t let me.” It was inappropriate for Jesus to speak with a women (see 4:27), but Jesus didn’t care.
Jesus said to the woman, “‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, “Give Me a drink,” you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water’” (4:10). What Jesus is offer this women is salvation without any prerequisites to change her lifestyle. This illustrates the first way in which we as men should treat women—accept them as they are.
Besides “I love you,” “You are accepted” must be the three most powerful words in the English language. Put that into practice today.
Later, Jesus’s good friend, Lazarus, who had supported His ministry, died (John 11:14). Lazarus had two sisters, Martha and Mary, whom Jesus loved (11:5). Coming into Bethany, where Lazarus and his sisters lived, Jesus is met by Martha and she said to Him, “‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died’” (11:21). Jesus tenderly gave her words of reassurance, “‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die’” (11:25–26).
Martha ran to tell her sister, Mary, who was in the house grieving, that Jesus had come (11:28). Jesus had wanted to meet with Mary privately—a taboo in Jewish culture for a single rabbi to meet with a single woman in privately—but when those who heard that Jesus had come they left the house with Mary (11:29–31). The people were wailing, but Mary made the same comment Martha had when she saw Jesus, “‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died’” (11:32). This time, Jesus wept with Mary.
Men, here is the second way we should treat women—show tenderness in grief. Crack open that tough hide and let your heart beat with compassion, the women in your life will not think the less of you—they’ll esteem you more.
After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:39–44), and one week before His own death, He and His disciples were dining with Lazarus, Martha, and Mary (12:1–2). While Jesus was reclining at the table—they ate at low tables and reclined on pillows on the floor—Mary took an extremely costly bottle of perfume, like a twenty-five gallon bottle of Channel No. 5, and poured it on Jesus’s feet (12:3). The treasurer of this little bunch of itinerate preachers, Judas Iscariot, protested, “‘Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii [the annual salary of a typical worker], and given to poor people?’” (John 12:5). Turning to Judas, and I love this response, Jesus said, “‘Let her alone’” (12:7).
Fred Smith told this story in his book, You and Your Network:
Ron came into the kitchen and found his two young sons hassling his wife to the point of tears. He walked up behind the two, grabbed them by their necks and bumped their heads together. The blow was just hard enough that they both fell to the floor with big knots rising on their foreheads. While they lay there he said, “Stop hassling my woman. Fortunately for you, we were marred before you got here, and fortunately for us, we’re going to be marred after you leave. Now stop hassling her.”2
Gentlemen, here’s the third way to treat women—protect them from criticism.
A week after this event with Mary and Judas, Jesus hung on a cross. As the oldest, it fell to Jesus to take care of His widowed mother. So while on the cross, as Mary’s heart broke in anguish as she wanted her beloved Son die, Jesus said to her, “‘Woman [a term of honor], behold, your son! [referring to John the disciple]’” (John 19:27). And to John he said, “‘Behold, your mother!’” (19:28).
Even in death, Jesus shows us the fourth way to treat women—care for their needs.
Three days after Jesus’s crucifixion He rose from the dead. Mary Magdalene, who had come to the tomb to finish the embalming, saw that the grave was empty and ran to tell Peter and John (John 20:1–2). After the disciples inspected the empty tomb, Mary stood outside weeping, until Jesus called to her, “‘Mary!’” (20:13, 16). She turn and embraced Him (20:17). Then Jesus made Mary, this woman who had formerly been possessed by seven demons (see Luke 8:2), the first evangelist—the first person to proclaim the good news of Jesus’s resurrection—“‘Go to My Brethren and say to them “I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God”’” (John 20:17). And then Mary ran off shouting to the disciples, “‘I have seen the Lord’” (20:18).
Whether it is raising a family, helping you get through school, or struggling with you as you build a business or a practice, practice this fifth way to treat women—recognize them as partners in important work. There is nothing more significant we can engage in than in telling others about the hope that comes from the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and Jesus gave the very first assignment to a woman.
This isn’t exactly theologically correct, but in praise to mothers Erma Bombeck’s got it just about right in her article, “When God Created Mothers.”
When the good Lord was creating mothers, He was into His sixth day of overtime when the angel appeared and said, “You’re doing a lot of fiddling around on this one.”
The Lord said, “Have you read the specs on this order? She has to be completely washable, but not plastic; have 180 movable parts . . . all replaceable; run on black coffee and leftovers; have a lap that disappears when she stand up; a kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair; and six pairs of hands.”
The angel shook her head slowly and said, “Six pairs of hands? No way.”
“It’s not the hands that are causing me problems,” said the Lord. “It’s the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have.”
“That’s on the standard model?” ask the angel.
The Lord nodded. “One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks, ‘What are you kids doing in there?’ when she already knows. Another here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn’t but what she has to know, and of course the ones here in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and say, ‘I understand and I love you,’ without so much as uttering a word.”
“Lord,” said the angel, touching His sleeve gently, “come to bed. Tomorrow—”
“I can’t,” said the Lord. “I’m so close to creating something so close to myself. Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick . . . can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger . . . and can get a nine-year-old to stand under a shower.”
The angel circled the model of a mother very slowly and sighed. “It’s too soft.”
“But tough!” said the Lord excitedly. “You cannot imagine what this mother can do or endure.”
“Can it think?”
“Not only think, but it can reason and compromise,” said the Creator.
Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek. “There’s a leak.”
“It’s not a leak,” said the Lord. “It’s a tear.”
“What’s it for?”
“It’s for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness and pride.”
“You are a genius,” said the angel.3
And all of God’s children said, “Amen.”
1. Sophie Tucker, quoted in Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart (Nashville: Word, 1998), 442.
2. Fred Smith, You and Your Network: Getting the Most Out of Life (Waco, Tex.: Key-Word Books, 1984), 173.
3. Erma Bombeck, “When God Created Mothers” (May 12, 1974), in Forever, Erma: Best-Loved Writing from America’s Favorite Humorist (New York: Guideposts, 1996), 16–18.