I had a friend ask me once, “The Bible is super misogynistic. As a woman, how are you okay with that?” Misogyny is defined as the hatred of, aversion to, or prejudice against women. Feminists have accused God to be a misogynist or a sexist God. They argue that women in the Bible are objectified, are properties of men, and they do not have equal rights with men and are insignificant to be gods. They have argued that God is chauvinistic or the Bible is patriarchal, an oppressor of women.
Many who have held this idea close actually use scripture to make their arguments. Christopher Rollston wrote an article titled “The Marginalization of Women.” In His article, Christopher argues women in the Bible were usually viewed as second class. To build on this argument, he uses the following points to make his case;
The 10th commandment calls men not to covet their neighbour’s house, wife, servants, ox, donkey or anything that is your neighbour’s (Exodus 20:17). Christopher argues that the wife is classified as her husband’s property; thus, she’s listed with the slaves and work-animals. He is concerned that the commandment does not include “You shall not covet your neighbour’s husband,” and thus assumes they were addressed to men and not women.
The book of proverbs addresses men, “my son,” but not women, “my daughter. Although there’s a whole chapter in Proverbs that outlines the characteristics of a “noble wife,” Christopher is concerned with the omission of a text that emphasizes a “noble husband.”
Others have been disturbed by the idea of a woman created for man (Genesis 2:18-23) to be a helper, and no man was created for woman. Paul’s call to women to be quiet and submissive, not to teach because Adam was made first and Eve second (1Tim. 2:11-13), this gives them more reason to argue on God’s disregard for women.
What then does the Bible say about this? How can we rightfully see the place of women in scripture?
Women created by God, in His Image
Looking back at the creation story, we see God created both male and female in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:27). Women, like men, share in the image of God. We see God not only creates a woman but one with beauty, one whom the man loves and adores. The poetry of praise Adam spits at the sight of Eve (Genesis 2:23) only reflects the beauty God made in Eve.
Yes, the woman was made to be a helper to the man, because the animals were not fit for this role. She was also made to be a companion for man, and man a companion for her. In her article, Let Me Be a Woman, Elizabeth Eliott helps us appreciate both manhood and womanhood biblically. She writes, “The first woman was made specifically for the first man, a helper, to meet, respond to, surrender to, and compliment him.
God made a woman from the man, out of his very bone, and then He brought her to the man (Genesis 2:21-23). When Adam named Eve, he accepted the responsibility to “husband” her—to provide for her, to cherish her, to protect her. These two people together represent the image of God—one of them in a special way the initiator, the other the responder. Neither the one nor the other was adequate alone to bear the divine image.” How glorious is it that our difference in gender and ability reflects a character of God? We know God’s characteristics work together, and if we take out one, He ceases to be God. If then we look at our gender differences through a biblical lens, we only behold the Glory of God.
God’s favour on women in the Old Testament
In the Old Testament, we see how God does come through for women. He delivers them from their enemies, from shame and gives them victory. God answers Hannah’s prayer by giving her a son (1 Sam. 1:10-20), favours Esther, and she is appointed queen (Esther 2:15-18). God gives victory to Deborah after a failed male leadership (Judges 4) and saves Rahab and her family for she saved the two spies sent by Joshua (Joshua 6:22-25).
Jesus inclusion of women in His Ministry
Women played a significant role in Jesus’ Ministry, as examples with His teachings (Mathew 13:33, 22:1-2, Luke 15:8-10) and recipients of it. Jesus demonstrated a high value for women. He had compassion on women, respected them and even protected them. Women disciples accompanied Jesus during His ministry (Luke 8:1-3). In a culture where it was prohibited to speak with women, Jesus speaks with women (John 4:27), and this surprises the disciples. He healed women (Luke 13:10-17, Mark 5:21-43). Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene first after His resurrection and sends her to share His resurrection to the disciples (John 20:1-18).
Female Submission and Male Leadership
Paul, in his epistles, calls women to a life of submission (Eph. 5:22, Col 3:18, 1Tim. 2:11, Titus 2:5) and men to lead. This leadership is not a lordship to the woman, but one that is following Christ’s leadership (Eph. 5:23) whereas the woman’s submission is likened to the joyful submission we have to our Lord (Eph. 5:22). Both leadership and submission ought not to be burdensome but joyful and godly. They display the image of the beautiful and glorious relationship of Christ and His bride, the church. This means that women are not inferior to men, but equals (Galatians 3:28), only with different God-given abilities.
A creator designs his creation to function as it pleases Him, that is how God made us, different in abilities but with one purpose, to please Him. Women are vital in the Bible and the society today. Is God a misogynist or sexist? No! Is He an oppressor of women? No! God would not abandon, oppress or mistreat His creation. He is a good God who does whatever He pleases (psalm 115:3). God values women as equally as He values Men. He took the time to create them with His hands. In fulfilling our distinct divine roles, we acknowledge his glory and turn it to praise. Let us then seek to glorify God.