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Does the Bible Demean Women?

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### Does the Bible Demean Women? By Sharon James If there is an unforgivable sin today, it is that of sexism. We are conditioned by modern presuppositions about equality to react against any role distinctions for men and women. When we read that God created woman as the "helper" (Gn 2:18), that "the man is the head of the woman" (1 Co 11:3), that wives should submit (Eph 5:22), or that only men are to lead the church (1 Tm 2:12), we instinctively think, How unfair! The issue is even more serious because throughout history men have used their superior physical strength to exploit women, and sometimes the Bible has been misquoted to justify abuse of women. It is sadly true that, since the fall of humanity into sin, male leadership has often been expressed in sinful oppression (Gn 3:16). It is also sadly true that, often in church history, the gifts of women have not been properly affirmed. Yet historically, wherever Christianity has spread, the status of women has improved. Those countries where women are most exploited today are those with least exposure to the gospel. The Bible teaches that men and women were made equally in God's image (Gn 1:27-28) and that all human life is sacred. Christians have been among the first to provide education and other rights for women. What about the intrinsic patriarchy of Scripture? Evangelical feminists (egalitarians) reject role distinctions. They argue that the Bible was written in a patriarchal context but that we have moved beyond that today. So marriage is an equal partnership with mutual submission (see Gn 2:24; Mt 19:4-5; Eph 5:31), and women should engage in every ministry in the church. But their efforts to explain away the "difficult texts" (for instance, 1 Tm 2:8-15) are unconvincing. Feminist scholars who reject the authority of Scripture simply say that the Bible is wrong on this issue. We should be willing to challenge contemporary presuppositions in the light of Scripture. Presupposition 1: Equality means sameness. Talk of different roles is discriminatory. Response: Equality does not mean sameness. The three persons of the Trinity are equal in deity but different in role. Presupposition 2: Difference in role relates directly to personal worth. Submission equals relegation. Response: Submission does not mean being of lesser worth. The Son submits to the Father, while being equal in deity, and His submission is His glory. Presupposition 3: Women will be empowered only when they have become the same as men (filling the same jobs and reaching the same status). Response: Women do not have to fill the same jobs as men in order to be empowered. This idea insults the large number of women who regard relational success as of greater importance than career success. The Bible honors those women who were wives, mothers, and homemakers (Pr 31; 1 Tm 5:9-10,14) as well as women who ministered and worked in other ways. If we abandon false presuppositions, we can see that the Bible affirms women. God wonderfully designed them to bear and nurture new life, equipping them in a multitude of ways (physical, emotional, psychological) for that task. The calling of wife and mother is an exalted one. The Bible also affirms the calling of single women (1 Co 7:34), those who are unable to have biological children: they can be “spiritual mothers" to many. God equips women with distinctive strengths that can be used not only in the family but also in many areas of ministry as well as in the workplace. Those men who lead the church are responsible for equipping other members, including women, for ministry (Eph 4:12). The NT mentions many women who were involved in important ministries. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna traveled with Jesus and the Twelve and supported His ministry financially (Lk 8:1-3). While all but one of the disciples was in hiding following Jesus' arrest, several women witnessed Jesus' death and prepared His body for burial (Mt 27:55). Jesus first appeared to women following His resurrection (Mt 28:1-7). The church at Jerusalem met at the home of Mary, mother of John Mark, apparently a woman of means (Ac 12:12). Paul commended Phoebe and other female co-workers (Rm 16); Euodia and Syntyche contended with him in the cause of the gospel (Php 4:3); Priscilla and her husband taught Apollos (Ac 18:26); women prayed and prophesied in the meetings of the Corinthian church (1 Co 11:5); godly widows were placed on an official list probably to receive aid and for a ministry of prayer and practical service (1 Tm 5:3-10). Many believe that female deacons were involved with mercy ministries (1 Tm 3:11). Elders were to equip mature women to teach younger women (Ti 2:3-5). Those who see defined gender roles in Scripture maintain that the Bible explains the meaning behind gender distinctions. Masculine strength can be for protection and provision. Many women are gifted with a "helper design"- relational capacities to nurture and care. These distinctive qualities, and the way we relate to each other, reflect something deep within God Himself. In short, a closer look at Scripture shows that women are honored and affirmed in the Bible. They are not second class in His eyes. Extracted from the Apologetics Study Bible.

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1 Sarah R = "It should be noted that when Paul gets to talking to the husbands in verse 25 he says, "Husbands, love your wives, just as also Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her." Such amazing love that Christ has for us that He gave His own life. That is the kind of love husbands are to have for their wives. We can see then that it is not that husbands should be allowed to beat, mistreat, take advantage of, or otherwise harm their wives and woman are just to "submit" to such treatment. Husbands are to love their wives more than they love themselves, to serve and protect and cherish their wives, and to model Christ in all they do. If this happens, then it is easy for a wife to "submit" because her husband has her best interest in mind."
2 Sarah R = "Christian denominations are split on the issue of women as pastors. The spectrum of beliefs goes from no women leaders at all, to women can hold any position for which they are qualified, to the in between: women can be pastors but not the main head pastor of the church. We do see women playing an important role in the ministry of Jesus as well as in the early church, which was for the time ground breaking and may imply progressive movement for women."
3 Sarah R = "I think what this article is missing is an exploration of spiritual gifts. I have seen women who have been gifted through the Spirit in the areas of leadership, preaching, teaching and administration, and men gifted in areas of mercy, helps, and service. I go back on forth myself on this issue but overall I think that if God has given someone the gift to lead or to serve, to preach or to counsel, they should use those gifts regardless of gender to bring God glory and honor."