“A priest can achieve great victories with an army of women at his command.” — Mary Elizabeth Braddon
Feminism is the pursuit of political, economic, cultural, personal, and social rights for women. It comes in several forms, they include radical feminism, cultural feminism, socialist feminism, and cultural feminism. But regardless of which form, the ultimate goal of feminism in any form is to identify and remedy the inequalities that face women. However, many people disagree that this is the goal of feminism. This mostly comes as a result of misunderstanding what feminism is. These opponents believe that feminism is the emasculation of men, rejection of chivalry, and forerunner of the demise of society. But simply put, this is false.
Feminism is the fight for equality… Anything opposed to equality is not feminism, but bigotry and denseness in disguise. So don’t be mislead by internet trolls misappropriating feminism nor sexist men attempting to define movements they know little to nothing about.With that being said, feminism often gets a bad rep, an inaccurate one nonetheless, but a repetitive false theme.
So taking into consideration this true definition of feminism, the question is does the Bible support feminism and feministic values. To answer this question, let take it from the top… The Book of Genesis.
In the beginning, God created…
So I’m sure you’re familiar with the story of Adam and Eve. (If not see the quick overview below)
In Genesis, God creates man. He then creates the animals and gives the man, Adam, the assignment to name them. Only after Adam has completed this assignment does God tell him that he will make a helper for him. God then creates a woman, Eve, from the rib the man.. The word woman effectively means wombed man or man with a womb. This is where the concept of gender is created. The man and the woman are assigned to live together in the Garden of Eden. In this garden, there is a tree of life and death. God instructs Adam not to eat from the tree, or else be condemned to death. Adam then conveys this message to Eve; howver, he adds in additional false details. The story takes an unfortunate turn when Eve encounters a snake (Satan) in the garden. Satan then deceives Eve and tells her that God does not want her and her husband to become like God and that they won’t actually die if they eat the fruit. Eve takes a bite and tells Adam what the serpent told her. Adam then eats the fruit as well. After the two disobeyed God, God then rendered punishment to the two. (This punishment will be discussed later.)
Just by looking at this quick overview of the story, we see that God made Eve from Adam’s rib. Not his head. Not his feet. But his ribs. The middle section of his body. This alone can be viewed as symbolism as a woman being man’s equal. But perhaps you reject this notion and symbolism doesn’t suffice… So I’ll continue.
After Adam and Eve disobeyed God, God punished both the man and woman.
The punishment issued to Eve is as follows:
Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. – Genesis 3:16
So let’s break that down.
- Increase in Sorrow and Sorrow in Conception: This is the establishment of pain in the process of childbirth. I believe this also includes monthly menstrual cycles. This may also be seen as an increase in the sensitivity to tragic events. Now although women are seen as “emotional”, it’s important not to take this simply as as a negative thing. Consequences are both good and bad. Generally, women are more empathetic and sympathetic than men. This is both a blessing an a curse. But most of all, a difference between men and women.
- Desire for her husband: A desire is a wish or a want. It is a woman’s nature to want companionship and marriage. Granted not every woman wants to be married, but this is particularly interesting to me because even if every man in the world married a woman, there would still be women left single
- Ruled by her husband: God did say rule didn’t he? But FIRST, lets look at a few definitons..
Rule (verb) – The exercise of power or authority over (an area and its people)
Ultimate (adjective) – being or happening at the end of a process; final:
So now let’s put that all together.. in context and using common sense. Regardless of martial status, every woman was reprimanded with sorrow and desire for a husband. Now when it comes to being ruled over, the bible specifically says the woman, Eve, the WIFE, will be ruled over by her HUSBAND, the man, Adam. Not any man. Not all men. but by her HUSBAND. This chosen word choice says so much. It shows us that this is in reference to a marital and familial unit. And even when looking at this statement, it is important to note that rule is often limited to a certain realm. Here that realm is the family. Additionally, ultimate requires a process. The husband (not the man) does not dictate what, when, where, or how his wife is to act or determine if she can make decisions, but he has the final decision in this familial unit. He’s a part of the process, not THE process. He has the last say. Not the biggest, greatest, of only say… And again, this is in reference to the FAMILY… Not the entire world.
So when placing the story of Adam and Eve in context, we see that this is about familial gender roles.. not social, political, or cultural inequality.
Although Eve brought the apple to her husband to be eaten, she did not force him to eat of it. We have two individuals who made their own choices.. resulting from their own will.
Adam was also issued reprimand and so was the serpent.
Sounds fair to me.
Score: Bible, 1. Anti-feminism, 0.
But doesn’t the Bible prohibit women from speaking in church and taking leadership roles???!
Now perhaps, that isn’t enough sway you. And maybe its because you know about the letters Paul wrote in Corinthians which tells women to shut up and that women should not take leadership positions, right?…
So we’re going to break this down too. The text is below…
Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. – 1 Corinthians 14: 34-35
Paul says let “your women”… so exactly who is the “your” he was addressing?
In 1 Corinthians Paul is addressing the church of Corinth. Corinth’s worship services were somewhat disorderly and Paul was attempting to give Corinth instructions for services. Many people claim that Paul was telling women that they had no authority to speak in church at all and that they should go home and answer to their husbands. Although this visually seems correct, it’s a part of a bigger picture. So again, we must place this in its proper context.
Right before the aforementioned verses, Paul gave Corinth several instructions. These instructions includeded , but ere nor limited to, head coverings, prayer, and eating in church. When it comes to women, in 1 Corinthians 11:2 Paul specifically says the following.
But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. – 1 Corinthians 11:5
In other words, it was customary for a woman to cover her head in church. If her head was not covered, it was the equivalent of having a shaved head. During this time, a woman’s hair signified her “glory”. It was taboo for a woman to shave or cut her hair because shaving and short hair were associated with pagan rituals contrary to Biblical practice. Women would also be punished by having their hair cut or shaved for committing adultery. So essentially, short hair or shaved heads equated women with sin having had committed a sin at some point.
So if women were and are prohibited from speaking in church at all, why would Paul first mention the protocol for women to pray and prophesy and then contradict himself and say that women should be silent in church…. The answer is simple… he didn’t.
When Paul says that women are to be quiet in church, he is not prohibiting their speech but instituting a protocol for how the should speak. The church of Corinth was disorderly. Paul was helping to iniate order. Paul also does this with several other types of church goers. See below.
If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. -1 Corinthians 27-28
Here Paul is saying that if more than 2 or 3 people are speaking in a foreign tongue, then it is fine for the foreign tongue to be spoken but only if there is an interpreter… If not, no foreign language should be spoken.
Paul also tells prophets to be silent speaking others are speaking. The women are not told not to speak at all, but to follow a specific protocol for speaking. I take this statement as a method not to belittle women. Although God holds women in high regard, men during this time did not. You can only presume the backlash a woman would face for questioning thing that they did not understand in front large groups of men. It has the potential to undermine women as a whole. As a result, it is very likely that telling a woman to “silence” her questions and ask her husband at home is essentially noble.
Score: Bible, 2. Antifeminism, 0.
What about making women marry their rapist?!
Another major argument that the Bible is antifeminist is the scriotures regarding the rape of women in Dueteronimy. The text read as follows.
If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days. – Dueteronomy
Sounds terrible right?! How dare God force a rapist to MARRY the woman he raped??!!!
But again, wrong… We have a hard time not seeing these types of things through a contemporary lens.
During Bblical times, a woman was seen as unfit for marriage if was no longer a virgi. She was used goods, tainted. And due to the culture of the time period, Women could noy buy land, or live a productive life without a man by her side. By forcing the rapist to marry the victim, he now is respnsiblbe for her wellbeing. He must be the one to sustain her.
Score: Bible, 3. Antifeminism, 0.
But the Bible refers to women as being weak!!
And here is another controversial scriouture.
1 Peter 3:7 King James Version (KJV)
Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
Here the bible calls women weak.. right? wrong.
The bible is issuing an assignment to HUSBANDS.. to honor their WIVES. This is again an assignment for marriages and familiar structure. It is the duty of a man to protect his wife. Women are more delicate than men. We are not as strong, tall, or fast. Biologically speaking, we are weaker “vessels”…but not weak.
Lets define a vessel.
a : a container (as a cask, bottle, kettle, cup, or bowl) for holding something
b : a person into whom some quality (as grace) is infused
This confirms what I mentioned above. Our containers, our physical bodies, that which houses our spirits are weaker than that of men. And this can been seen as logical considering our bodies derived from that of men. The verse goes further to say that the husband and wife together are heirs of grave… COHEIRS… it doesn’t say that the husband or the wife is the greater heir, but that they are joint heirs.
In 1 Peter 3:1, Peter says that a WIFE should submit to her OWN HUSBAND. Not the husband of other women. Not men in general. But HER HUSBAND.
Score: Bible, 4. Antifeminism, 0.
So did God treat women the same way society did in biblical times?
one of the most memorable stories about the status of women during biblical times is the story of the Adulterous woman in John 8 where a group of individuals brought a woman to God to be punished for adultery. Notice that although the man had also committed adultery, only the woman was brought forth. Both the man and the woman were caught in the act. Yet the crowd pressed for the woman to be stoned and even stated that the law of Moses (the word God gave Moses on Mt Sinai) provided such punishment. At this point were introduced to double standards. Yet these are not double standards put in place by God. These were the actions of those in society. In fact, Jesus stood up for the woman. The men continued to press Jesus to begin the stoning. So finally he spoke and told the men that whichever of them Was without sin should cast the first stone. And of course, none of the men were blameless ans they all retreated. god them forgave the woman and told her to sin no more.
Score: Bible,5. Antifeminsim,0.
But there were no female rulers or prophetesses of note in the Bible!
Although, her time in the limelight is very briefly described… this is one of my favorite Christian characters, Deborah.
Deborah isn’t talked about much in the Bible but she took on one of the greatest roles in eEgypt. Deborah was the only female judge in the Bible, a wife, a prophetess, a military leader.
Why would a God or a religion that allegedly belittles women, place a woman so high up? Why would a sexist God place a woman in position to command the military? The other judges mentioned in Judges were hardly role models: Jephthah sacrificed his daughter (Judges 11:29-40), Samson consorted with a prostitute (Judges 16:1), and Gideon agreed to the making of a pagan cult object that the Bible calls an ‘ephod’, but which is clearly different from the breastplate (also called an ephod) worn by priests later in Israel’s history, and seems to have been used for seeking oracles (Judges 8:22). Only Deborah had no stains on her resume.
Score: Bible,6. Antifeminism, 0.
And perhaps one of the most significant pieces that support the elevation and equality of women in the Bible is what happened after Jesus was crucified.
On the 3rd day after Jesus’ death, Jesus came specifically to Mary Magdalene and told her to tell the everyone that he had risen. In those days a women’s testimony wasn’t even valid In court. So why use a woman to carry such a big message? Jesus had other options. Plenty options. But yet, a woman was chosen. That simply shows that what society wont “use” or what society sees as “less than” will have purpose In God’s kingdom and to bring forth God’s vison.
So what’s my Final answer…
The Bible is indeed supportive of feminism. There is no biblical evidence that states that women are inferior to men but only a system of checks and balances within families.
Men and women are not the same.. They are co-heirs to the kingdom, and different in many ways.. yet equal in God’s sight.
with Godly #Girl Power <3,