Our mental views of God shape our attitudes toward God. Misbeliefs about God hinder engaging with God to pursue spirituality. If you think there may be a God, I am convinced you will not regret pursuing more of a connection with your Creator than regretting having a closer relationship with your partner, children, or friends. In this series of Posts the Bible is referenced because that is from where views of God are often formed. What if you discovered God wasn’t gender bias in male/female roles even according to the Bible?
- Genesis doesn’t suggest God ordained separate gender roles and women are the helpers. The English implication of the word “helper” translated from the Hebrew word ezer isn’t in the Bible (Gen: 2:18). Ezer is used for God and implies or often is translated as “strength” (Deut. 33:29). Genesis 3:16 “…and he will rule over you” warns what sin can do in relationships. God is not prescribing but describing roles between the sexes when problems.
- The Bible doesn’t condemn any of these women serving in authority roles. Miriam, a prophetess, served the Israelites along with brothers Moses and Aaron (Ex 15:20, Micah 6:4). Deborah led Israel against the Canaanites (Judges 4-5). Esther protected the Israelites from Haman’s evil intents. Women prophetesses included Anna (Luke 2:36) and Philip’s four daughters (Acts 21:9). Both Priscilla and Aquila taught Apollos (Acts 18:26).
- Paul doesn’t order women to never speak in meetings (I Cor. 14:34). Paul had just affirmed women praying and prophesying (I Cor. 11:4-5). Women with their new found freedom were being instructed about the importance of peaceful ways if people are going to learn. Paul says that a woman must not teach or have authority over a man but Paul had in mind erroneous teachings (I Tim: 2:11-15). Paul uses the first couple as an example of what must be avoided – Eve prevailing upon Adam to go against God’s ways. Paul would not disallow a woman to rightly exercise her teaching and leadership gifts. Paul said roles are according to one’s gifts and doesn’t mention gender (I Cor. 12:4-11).
- Mutual submission is a way of life for all followers to imitate Jesus (Eph. 5:21). Verse 22 in the original manuscripts says: “wives to your husbands as to the Lord.” The verb missing is often added from verse 21: “wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” If wives are in subordination to their husbands, then we must also say church members are in subordination to one another (v. 21). No one needs a mediator between them and God. Men aren’t told to submit to their wives, but women aren’t told to love their husbands in this passage. Women don’t need male leadership in marriage; women need men who have the heart of a servant (5:28-29).
- God’s ideal has always been “no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male nor female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28).
As it turns out, one doesn’t have to give a disclaimer to the Bible that God supposedly suggest roles between the genders that can be interpreted as sexist. Beliefs have consequences. To believe the Bible teaches wives are in subjection to their husbands in a way husbands aren’t to their wives can create an environment more conducive for the atrocities women face at the hands of men throughout history. Mutual submission is impossible for men to twist to justify their subtle or blatant mistreatment of women. Men often interpret leadership as making final decisions when there is a stalemate. Jesus suggested we lead by serving, so perhaps the man should always submit to the woman’s final decision. Truly, in any dyad relationship there are many creative ways to resolve impasses such as going with the decision of the one with the most expertise in the area of conflict.