King Cobra, Author Vishnukanayathil (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

Their wine is the poison of serpents, and the cruel venom of cobras”(Deut. 32: 33).

Across time and across the globe, women have been harassed, threatened, imprisoned, violated, and put to death for seeking equality with their male counterparts.

There have been political, cultural, and religious reasons given for this inequality.  But at heart is the matter of poison.  Not a chemical or biological agent of warfare (though there is a kind of war being fought), this is instead an insidious poison of the mind.

Simply put, many consider half the population of the earth – the female half, the very mothers who bore them – less worthy than the other, male half.  This toxic belief corrodes nations and cultures, along with relationships and individuals.  It establishes and enforces a power differential in favor of the male members of society which is a temptation toward abuse.

More than that, the inequality violates the laws of God.

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1: 27).  

“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).

Sin has, throughout history, distorted the relationship between men and women.

Though the Old Testament prophetess, Deborah, more than capably judged Israel; though women were faithful at the cross, and the first to arrive at the empty tomb; though Mary, Persis, Priscilla, Tryphena, and Tryphosa were just a few of the women who ministered in the early church; and though God pours out His spirit on sons and daughters alike (Joel 2: 28-29; Acts 2: 17-18), Christianity has not been immune to this distortion.

There has been a great deal of emphasis on the submission of wives to their husbands (Eph. 5: 22-24; Col. 3: 18), and very little on the requisite love by husbands for their wives (Eph. 5: 25-26, 28-29, 31; Col. 3: 19, 1 Pet. 3: 7).

This skewed emphasis by the church has done greatest damage – both spiritually and physically – in regard to abuse.  Over the centuries, women have again and again been counseled by their priests and ministers to remain in abusive marriages, even at the risk of their lives.  For many of these women, the poisonous belief that they were of less value than men proved lethal.

Abuse is, of course, biblically prohibited.  Submission to another flawed human being was never intended to supersede the right of self-defense [1].

Nor does forgiveness by the victim necessarily restore trust.  That may be lost forever.  Certainly, an abused woman is not required to return to a situation she perceives as dangerous.

Christianity is the antidote to this and other poisons like it.  Male and female, let us live our faith as Christ would have us do.  Let us treat one another with kindness and respect that the warfare between the sexes may end, and the world may see in us — men and women alike — the image of Christ.


[1] The Christian concept of “headship” (Ephesians 5: 22-33) is best assessed vis a vis the servant leadership modeled by the Lord (Mark 10: 42-45).

Originally posted 5/30/12




Filed under Abuse of Power, Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Justice, Rape, Religion, Sexual Assault, Violence Against Women

22 responses to “Poison

  1. You make a strong case Anna 🙂

  2. Excellent post Anna. It has been my observation over these past four decades that the homes that are the most stable,indeed the marriages that are the most enduring, are those of Christians that prefer their spouse before them.
    I cannot fathom how anyone could read then scriptures and come away with the conclusion that the Bible gives them the “right” to have control or dominion over another person.
    Love conquers all, and love says to me that my spouse is to be elevated above myself and my personal wants and needs. When she in turn feels the same towards me, the scriptures become real and alive as we are living them and not just reading them.
    Blessings to you my dear friend.

    • As always, thank you for your input, my friend. By living out the mutual love described in Scripture, you and your wife express the sentiment far more eloquently than any words of mine can. May God bless you both.

  3. Anupriya

    Well written Anna 👏👏

  4. I haven’t looked this up recently so please forgive the errors in details, but the verse just before “women submit to your husbands” has been separated from and put in the end of the paragraph before it. It says “Submit one to another.” Since the original scriptures had no paragraph divisions this is an “error in translation.” “Submit one to another” is the heading of the paragraph below it. It sets the tone for interpreting what follows. To me this is obvious. Why isn’t it obvious to Bible publishers?

    • You make an excellent point. In fact, Ephesians Chapter 5 begins with the entreaty by Paul that we should ALL be “imitators of God” and walk in love as Christ, Himself, did for us.

      • If we husbands love our wives as Jesus loves us we will be seeking their highest good no matter what it costs us. Where then is domination? Where is ordering around? These are selfish concepts antithetical to the instruction of loving our wives in the same spirit Jesus loves us. The problem is men and women don’t understand the verses. There is a superficial understanding followed by flawed interpretation resulting in blaming God for something He did not say.

      • It is wonderful to hear this from a good husband. Many of us who survived abuse need the reassurance.

      • I am a flawed selfish husband, but this is my goal.

      • If you are having trouble interpreting “flawed and selfish” I asked my wife just now if I was a good husband, she said yes. I know how far I fall short of being like Jesus to my wife and so my comment that I am flawed and selfish.

      • We are all of us, men and women, flawed in comparison with Christ. All we can do is keep trying our best. 🙂

  5. absolutely true – those verses from Galatians are two I often quote to make the point of equality…

  6. As ever, your offering is wise and timely…God is love, and love is fair and just…it couldn’t truly be itself if required to differentiate between the deserving and the less-so…love recognizes no such distinctions…any ideology that adheres to the contrary is disingenuous and destructive… thank you for consistently and loyally speaking up in the name of love and protest against injustice, Anna. 🙂

  7. Thank you, Anna. Insightful and always stirs my spirit.

    Your brother~

  8. The head of the house is the one who serves the house with love – so much love that he will sacrifice everything for the house, including his life as exemplified by Christ himself. The irony is that the headship that the scriptures confer on the man is almost akin to servitude in the sense that the man puts himself last. He leads from behind. He calls the shots in agreement with his bride. He takes the blame when they are both wrong. His head rolls first in calamity. It has no place for abuse or condescension.
    This is a powerful and insightful post, Anna. Do you have any post addressing the biblical grounds for divorce?

    • You’ve expressed this so beautifully, Gbolabo. ❤ I have not specifically addressed the Christian grounds for divorce. However, I did a 4-part series titled "Christian Marriage and the Misuse of Scripture". Actually, I am planning to re-post that in near future. Meanwhile, you can find the series by running a search on the topic of Christian marriage. Hope that helps!

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