Sadly, the Bible has often been misused to support the subjugation of women. Such abuse is never justified, and is certainly not endorsed by the Bible. It reflects the patriarchal nature of our society (and the sins of individual men), rather than any directive from God.

For those who may wish to challenge this mistaken approach when confronted by it, here are a few observations from the Bible.

In His Image

God created both men and women in His image (Gen. 1: 27). Women are not pets or some lesser form of being, useful only for propagating the species without contributing anything to it.

That woman is described later in Genesis as having been created from the rib of Adam (Gen. 2: 21-22) reinforces, rather than undermines, this equality. Adam describes Eve as flesh of his flesh; marriage is said to require that a man leave his parents, to be joined to his wife as “one flesh” (Gen. 2: 23-24).

Hearts, Minds, and Souls

Both men and women have hearts, minds, and souls with which to love and serve God (Matt. 22: 37). Women have no less an obligation than men to do this. A just and holy God would not have made this command applicable to women, had they not been as capable as men of complying with it.

Equally Responsible

Though the nature of their punishment differed, God punished Adam and Eve to an equal extent for their sin in eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 3: 16-19).

Whether the story of the Fall is interpreted literally or figuratively, it confirms God’s view of Adam and Eve as equally responsible for their infraction. And it offers an explanation, i.e. sin, for the distortion of the relationship between men and women [1].

Female Role Models

The Old and New Testaments contain a surprising number of female role models, including women in leadership positions and women active in the early church.

Esther was a Jewish queen who saved her people from destruction (Book of Esther). Deborah served as a judge, successfully working with her general, Barak, to defeat the enemies of Israel (Judg. 4: 4-8). Both Jael (Judg. 4: 21) and Judith (Judith 13: 7-8) took it upon themselves to kill enemy commanders.

Priscilla taught theology (Acts 18: 26), hosted a home church (Rom. 16: 3-5), and risked her life for the Apostle Paul. Paul, also, praised Phoebe (Rom. 16: 1-2) and Junia (Rom. 16: 7). Other women who helped Paul in his labors included Julia (Acts 16: 15), Mary (Rom. 16: 6), Persis (Rom. 16: 12), Apphia (Philem. 1: 2), Tryphena and Tryphosa (Rom. 16: 12), Euodia and Syntyche (Phil. 4: 2-3). The disciple Timothy’s mother, Eunice and grandmother, Lois are said to have instructed him in the faith (2 Tim. 1: 3-5).

This is only a partial list. Women, for instance, participated in the establishment of churches in Thessalonica and Berea (Acts 17: 4, 12).

Gifts of the Spirit

God pours out His Spirit on both sons and daughters (Joel 2: 28). Women have exercised any and all of the gifts of the Spirit including evangelism, prophecy, discipleship, and teaching.

The Equals of Men

At a time when the testimony of women was not accepted in court, Jesus treated women as the equals of men, going out of His way to include them in His ministry.

Jesus cast demons out of Mary Magdalene, who then became a devoted disciple. Jesus stopped to heal a woman hemorrhaging blood and, therefore, considered ceremonially “unclean”. He spoke about Salvation with a Samaritan woman who had been many times divorced. Jesus forgave a prostitute who washed his feet with her tears, and a woman caught in adultery who would otherwise have been stoned to death.

Women remained faithful at the cross [2]. It was to them that Jesus first appeared following His Resurrection.


Women like men are to be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8: 29). This means that we are to become like Christ in holiness.

If we suffer with Christ in this life, we have His promise that we will be glorified with Him in the next. This does not, however, mean that women must return to abusive situations at the risk of their lives. Any clerics advising such a course of action are badly in error.

All One in Christ

Paul explained that our status derives from Christ, rather than from some characteristic or achievement of our own. That makes the differences between men and women on which the world focuses spiritually irrelevant.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3: 28).

[1] Misunderstanding surrounds the Pauline viewpoint on authority known as “headship” (1 Cor. 11: 3; 1 Tim. 2: 11-15). The roles of men and women do not imply the superiority of one or inferiority of the other, as Paul pointed out (1 Cor. 11: 11-12).  Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves His church (Eph. 5: 25).
[2] The Apostle John was, also, present at the cross. Other apostles, however, had fled or were in hiding.

For more on the equality of men and women, see “Unbiblical, Part 1 – Submission v. Self-Defense” 3/8/15


Leave a comment

Filed under Christianity, Justice, Religion, Violence Against Women

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.