In an ever changing world which thrives on progressivism, there are talks concerning religion and its consequences. What is believed to be a consequence is sexism. Now more than ever, religion has been accused of suppressing women’s rights, preventing women’s suffrage, and segregating women. With the rise of feminism, women are beginning to question the validity of the Bible and just how much God is concerned about equality.
In 1895 and 1898, a…Bible (if you can call it that) was published by a feminist by the name of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Now Stanton was actually a very educated woman and an extraordinary leader, though I disagree with some of her causes and beliefs of manhood. She arranged for her, and 26 other women, to begin reworking the Bible, and commenting on “sexist passages”. Stanton believed that what she did was a work of God, by reworking the Bible in order to promote feminism, believing that the English translations of the Bible (despite the fact that she admitted she had no knowledge of biblical languages) were degrading to women.
I can understand what kind of issues arise from the Bible. I remember reading the Bible and thinking that Paul was a sexist for saying women couldn’t speak in the church or that they couldn’t be elders. I remember when I thought that God promoted rape, incest, and sex slavery from the stories of the Old Testament. I remember when I thought the creation story described in Genesis 1 and 2 was promoting the idea of male superiority and female degradation. One could easily read the Bible and come to the conclusion that God is a sexist, misogynistic deity. That is why we must address this question: Is God a male chauvinist?
Now, personally I hate that people believe that men are the only ones capable of chauvinism, but for the sake of this question I will allow the wording. There are three accusations I want to deal with regarding whether God is indeed a sexist and whether God should be honored by women.
1) Creation of Woman
This one is a common issue that I constantly hear from my younger peers. “Why did God create Eve second?” (or) Why didn’t God just make them both at the same time?” I can understand why someone would look at a text that says that God creates women solely to be a helper for man, but no one discusses how she is created. The amazing thing that takes place in Genesis 2, is a mystery to us to this day. God takes a rib from the man, and forms woman out of it. Then, the story continues in Genesis 2:22-24 (ESV), “And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man He made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
I don’t see a picture of sexism, but rather a picture of extreme equality. Some might say, “But look! The man named her Woman. Isn’t that sexist?” Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of Hebrew would say no, purely because when it says that God made woman, the Hebrew was simply “man with a womb”. However, God inspired man to call her Woman. What’s the difference? This time, the word meant “out of man’s flesh”. If they are of the same flesh, then that means they would have to be equal, and man recognized that in the presence of God. God, from the very beginning, established that though woman was different, and though she had different characteristics, she was still equal. In fact, she was to be treasured. So much was she to be treasured, that a man is to abandon everything for her, so that he might be one with her.
Genesis doesn’t promote sexism. Women were created with different roles, and with different characteristics. I have yet to meet a sane, logical, and intelligent human being who can argue that women should stop being uniquely women. Women are beautifully made by God and were made to be equal to man in worth, despite the differences. Man’s rib (his side) signified that woman is not to be superior, or inferior, but rather with equality. God defined woman as a helper fit for man, but He did so by establishing that she was unique, and He even set a rule that man was supposed to treasure her.
2) Sexism in the Old Testament?
One of the worst things that anyone can do is base their theology on experience. People ignore the differences between a command from God, and the actions of a “Bible hero” they learn about in Sunday school. There is only one man upon whose life’s actions we can base our theology on, and that is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Our understanding of women does not come from the actions of ungodly, pagan, and carnal men that the Israelites were fighting against. Nor do we believe that women are any less equal. Lot was not exemplifying godly character when he was willing over his daughters to be raped in the stead of his guests, Jacob was not exemplifying faithfulness to God when he practiced polygamy, and David was not worshipping God when he slept with one of his soldier’s wife.
Also, one accusation that is typically raised is that God allowed for women to be made sex slaves in Numbers. However, in the context of the passage, that was not the case. A pagan named Baalam sought to prophesy against Israel, but God wouldn’t allow it. So, Baalam told his king to send out the finest women of their kingdom to woo the hearts of the Hebrew men and win them over to paganism. Moses, when seeing that many men committed adultery, and a Levite slept with a woman in the tabernacle, ordered that the men and women that committed adultery would be killed. However, God commanded Moses to spare the younger (most likely teenage) women and to “keep them for yourselves.” Some people interpret that to mean that God allowed Moses to keep sex slaves, but in reality this phrase meant to raise the women as if they were children of Israel.
We know this because in Leviticus (the very book liberals hate), God commanded the Israelites to treat people taken captive from other countries as their own, and to raise them in the statutes of God’s laws. These women who were spared by God, were not spared to be sex slaves but to be accepted as God’s children. This just proves that God has mercy on women, and demands that they be respected. He even instructed Moses in the story recorded in Numbers to treat the women with dignity among the camp, and that they should marry. Not only is God not racist, but He is definitely not sexist. Despite the actions of ungodly, carnal men (and I stress that these were men who didn’t understand God fully), God is good to women.
3) Women Can’t Speak?
This is the loudest accusation from feminists, “Christian” feminists, and several women preachers. The most hated texts in the New Testament probably would have to be 1 Timothy 2, 1 Peter 3, 1 Corinthians 14, and Titus 2. Why?
“Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.”
1 Timothy 2:11-15 (ESV)
“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the Word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.”
1 Peter 3:1-2 (ESV)
“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church…If anyone does not recognize this, He is not recognized.”
1 Corinthians 14:33-35, 38
and finally…(brace yourself egalitarians)
“and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the Word of God may not be reviled.”
Titus 2:4-5 (ESV)
So, why did God command it this way that women are to be submissive to eldership, keep silent in the church (in terms of teaching), and be submissive to their husbands? Because men and women both submit to Christ. Christ and the Church is described in the Bible as a married couple, and different (shocking). The Church submits to Christ, and that is why wives submit to their husbands. It is a gospel issue, plain and simple. It is not because Paul was sexist, or because His view was cultural, but because He was dedicated to the Scriptures and was inspired by the Spirit to write that. So does that make God sexist then? No. Because it is not sexist, it can’t be considered chauvinistic.
God doesn’t enforce this because He is against women. In fact, He loves women enough to be able to instruct them and give them a specific command in love and tenderness. From the texts, one can see that God deeply cares for women and how they are presented, because it is an issue of the gospel and what is best for families. Children need moms more than the moms need their careers, men need women (maybe even more than women need men), and women must be good examples of the gospel. This is the gospel: Christ loves the Church, and gave up His life for it; The Church, thereby, submits to Christ out of love, knowing that Christ is their comforting shepherd. The same way in married life.
God is not a male chauvinist, misogynist, or sexist. He values women, esteems them, and demands that they be loved and protected. May God help people to see that the only way to bring true equality and true femininity is through the message of the Bible and the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria.