Does the Bible Put Women Down?
Feminists and political correctness advocates often ask the question, “Does the Bible put women down?” The Bible, Jesus’ words and His actions give a loud, resounding “No.”
When the “Feminist Movement” gained strength in the 1960’s, it was a fight for equal jobs, equal pay and respect for women. Absentee husbands and dads were called to task for their commitments. The second stage was women engaging in bra-burning and buying the message that casual sex would break our invisible chains. Helen Reddy’s 1972 song “I Am Woman” became the iconic feminist theme.
Next, the Feminist Movement began viewing men as unnecessary extras to their lives and to child-rearing. And the Bible was suddenly regarded as a tool for men to keep women “barefoot, pregnant and chained to the kitchen sink.” Some became convinced that the Bible even gave men a license to abuse women.
How did God’s Word become embroiled in the battle? As biblical principles in schools, government and at home began to sink below the American horizon, the bad rap on the Bible expanded. Fewer people were exposed to its pages, and simply believed what they heard when verses were twisted or eliminated for the Movement’s purpose.
The Bible doesn’t belittle women or make them second-class citizens. Jesus told Martha to get out of the kitchen and come learn the Scriptures like her sister Mary (Luke 10:38-43). We could even say he followed a woman’s orders by making wine for a wedding at his mother’s request, although He didn’t think it was time for His miracles yet (John 2:1-10). Wow. Sounds like today’s kind of guy.
When He rose from the tomb, Jesus thought enough about women to reveal Himself to them first, before any of the male disciples (Mark 16:1-7, Luke 24:1-9). As people became Christ followers, women like Priscilla were highly regarded as leaders of the faith in spreading the Gospel (Acts 18). When no man among the disciples believed Peter was free from jail, God used a woman, Rhoda, to convince them he was really knocking at their door (Acts 12).
Jesus began instructing men to stop treating women like possessions. In Matthew 5:27-31 and Mark 10:2-12, He tells men to stop committing adultery and discarding women in divorce. Isn’t this exactly one of the things the feminists originally wanted…for men to be faithful and respectful?
By saying “Anyone who has not sinned cast the first stone,” (John 8:6-8) Jesus rebuked the double standard of a woman being accused alone for adultery when a man was also involved. Plus, He gave her a clean slate and took her into His group of followers.
Jesus addressed women in public, looking them in the eye, which was not the male standard at that time. The woman at the well was the first person He spoke with in Samaria (John 4:4-14 ). He used a widow’s contribution of her last coins to illustrate sacrificial giving instead of giving out of plenty (Mark 12:41-44); and chose a woman for his story comparing the wisdom of finding one lost coin to angels singing over one saved soul (Luke 15:7-9).
There are outstanding women in the Old Testament, too. Deborah, the Judge, and Esther, the Queen, were chosen to save the entire Israelite population from their enemies. Rahab, a prostitute, sheltered Hebrew scouts instead of notifying authorities of their whereabouts. The Proverbs 31 woman worked outside the home and dealt with merchants on her own, without her husband. Ruth started the bloodline of Jesus. Whole Bible books are named for Ruth and Esther.
However, these exemplary women are often overlooked because of verses in the New Testament that are taken out of context. At the top of the list is Ephesians 5:22-24 beginning with: “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” Granted, there are unfortunately some men in churches who abuse this idea of “submission” to keep women suppressed, even to verbally and physically abuse them.
The seldom-read next few verses, Ephesians 5:25-26, prove these men are wrong and in violation of Scripture. The apostle Paul continued Jesus’ respect for women by telling men to love their wives as they would love their own bodies and the church. What man will beat himself black and blue, or put himself in the hospital with broken bones?
Although men are generally assigned to be heads and leaders of the church, their scriptural role is to be a servant to the people, not a deliberate dictator. Paul states in Galatians 3:28-29, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
(Scriptures are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by the International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.)