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.
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 .
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. Continue reading