We've all heard the story out of John 4:…
3 Jesus left Judea and started for Galilee again. 4 This time he had to go through Samaria, 5 and on his way he came to the town of Sychar. It was near the field that Jacob had long ago given to his son Joseph. 6-8 The well that Jacob had dug was still there, and Jesus sat down beside it because he was tired from traveling. It was noon, and after Jesus' disciples had gone into town to buy some food, a Samaritan woman came to draw water from the well.
Jesus asked her, “Would you please give me a drink of water?”
9 “You are a Jew,” she replied, “and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink of water when Jews and Samaritans won’t have anything to do with each other?”[a]
10 Jesus answered, “You don’t know what God wants to give you, and you don’t know who is asking you for a drink. If you did, you would ask me for the water that gives life.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you don’t even have a bucket, and the well is deep. Where are you going to get this life-giving water? 12 Our ancestor Jacob dug this well for us, and his family and animals got water from it. Are you greater than Jacob?”
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again. 14 But no one who drinks the water I give will ever be thirsty again. The water I give is like a flowing fountain that gives eternal life.”
15 The woman replied, “Sir, please give me a drink of that water! Then I won’t get thirsty and have to come to this well again.”
16 Jesus told her, “Go and bring your husband.”
17-18 The woman answered, “I don’t have a husband.”
“That’s right,” Jesus replied, “you’re telling the truth. You don’t have a husband. You have already been married five times, and the man you are now living with isn’t your husband.”
19 The woman said, “Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. 20 My ancestors worshiped on this mountain,[b] but you Jews say Jerusalem is the only place to worship.”
21 Jesus said to her:
Believe me, the time is coming when you won’t worship the Father either on this mountain or in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans don’t really know the one you worship. But we Jews do know the God we worship, and by using us, God will save the world.23 But a time is coming, and it is already here! Even now the true worshipers are being led by the Spirit to worship the Father according to the truth. These are the ones the Father is seeking to worship him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship God must be led by the Spirit to worship him according to the truth.
25 The woman said, “I know that the Messiah will come. He is the one we call Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 “I am that one,” Jesus told her, “and I am speaking to you now.”
27 The disciples returned about this time and were surprised to find Jesus talking with a woman. But none of them asked him what he wanted or why he was talking with her.
The way I was told the story as a kid, Jesus dared talk to a slut. You see the teaching held that the woman had choice in her many marriages, and in her current relationship believed to be non-marital. Slut. Whore. Makes the compassion of Jesus shine a bit brighter, polishes His halo a little more, makes His holiness all the more perfect because her purity is trash.
Why did we have to do that? Why is female purity questioned far above male purity?
1. She was already a Samaritan. That fact alone would made many-a-God-fearing-Jew sit up and take serious notice of who this blasphemous Christ was.
2. She was a woman. Of ill-repute or not, the very idea of a Rabbi conversing with a person bearing a vagina was nothing short of alarming. The passage the takes special time to mention that the disciples said nothing when they came back to find Him chatting it up with a lady shows that perhaps they had grown somewhat accustomed to His radical demonstrations of love (perhaps).
3. She was a woman out in the middle of the day. Drawing water — often thought to be a woman's job — was usually done at sunrise or sunset. The heat of the day was not the time to be hefting heavy jars up an down again and again. Her isolation was evident.
So we know she's an isolated Samaritan woman.
What's with the whore-mongering?
Could someone explain to me when a woman had a choice in who she was sent to marry? Did her first husband have 4 bros who all died in succession, forcing the family lived up to the OT holiness code, and her 5th perhaps was just a rich guy who took her in? Could it be that as a widow or divorcee, she was so despised by her community, that she performed sexual favours for a man who would offer food? Anything to stay alive?
Just as plausible as the "slutty adulteress living in sin with a SIXTH dude". The Sunday School version I was taught was that she had divorced 5 times — DIVORCE!!!! — and her choice to live with a man unmarried made her… a slut. Anyone think to ask: "Where are the dudes here? If the woman is really that slutty, and her sleeping around that BAD… why wasn't it just as bad for the men?"
With the amount of gender inequality across the globe throughout the centuries, why is it so vastly important to emphasize the plausible sluttiness of a woman whom Jesus loved? Are we that afraid that we'll miss the sin? Ooops… there it goes! He let her off the hook again. Do we have to invent reasons as to why this woman was more ostracized that she already was?
This piece has been around a few years, but still rings true. Speak it, Woman-With-A-Name… we might not know it but your declaration is far braver than any slut-shaming.