Christianity is the special friend of women. Christian civilization has exalted her almost infinitely above the position to which either paganism or Mohammedanism assigned her. This elevation is the natural outgrowth of the example and teaching of Jesus of
It's an argument over 100 years old, but it's time to update it for today. I believe Jesus outshines any religious founder in his treatment and love, dignity and value for women. In this series I want to compare him to several popular ones: Buddha, Mohammad (founder of Islam) Joseph Smith (founder of Mormonism) and C.T. Russell (founder of Jehovah Witnesses).
Let's compare Jesus' treatment of women with Siddhartha Guatama, the founder of Buddhism.
Siddhartha, later known as the Buddha, was a prince born near
One evening when Siddhartha was 29, he awoke among his harem. He noticed how the seductive bodies of the women around him did not allure him anymore. In fact, they disgusted him. Their bodies draped at awkward angles while they slept reminded him more of a heap of corpses than women he had dallied with the night before.*
In this moment Siddhartha wakes up, he is enlightened enough to want to change. He walks to his wife, Yashodhara, of 12 years, glances at her sleeping in her bedroom and bids her goodbye without waking her. Then he glances at his new-born son and abandons him as well. He deserts everyone (harem, wife and son) for his hunt for enlightenment.
In reading biographies of Siddhartha, I've found even the most tolerant ones note Siddhartha's feelings as a father. Karen Armstrong writes, “He had felt no pleasure when the child was born”, naming the baby boy “Rahula” or fetter.** Siddhartha feared that Rahula would chain him to the life and duties he despised. So he leaves his wife and son without a second glance.
Perhaps this doesn't seem so bad, but notice how spiritual enlightenment actually compete for Siddhartha's love. In the Biblical story, we never see God denying things that are key to our humanity. Jesus never commanded or endorsed a man leaving his wife or his child. Some might argue that Jesus says you must leave family in your devotion to him (Luke 9:59-62 or Mark 10:29-30), but if you closely read these passages you'll find Jesus never asks a person to leave his spouse or his children, only his parents, or home or lands. In other words, there is something God blesses and will not sever about marital relationships.
According to Jesus’ words a man and wife are “one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate,” regardless of spiritual quests, hunger for enlightenment or desire for experiences (Matt 19:6). I believe this is because Jesus knew that from the beginning (as he says in Mark 10:6) all humans are made to enjoy companionship, desire community, hunger to be loved and known (I Cor 13:12). God provides that in a spouse and he never asks us to desert our spouse in our pursuit of him. To leave a spouse is to cut apart what God originally created us to enjoy (Gen 2:24-25).