40 Problems: Is the Bible sexist towards women?

better-than-women questionA common complaint skeptics have is that they say the Bible teaches that men are superior to women. But is there any truth to that claim? Here’s this week’s problem:

There are numerous scriptures in the Bible that clearly pronounce that a man is superior to a woman, which was consistent with the times it was written. Consider the following scriptures:

1 Corinthians 11:3:

But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

1 Corinthians 11:8-9:

For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.

But times have changed. Societies the world over have bent over backwards to give women equal status and opportunity. Most marriages are now viewed as a 50/50 venture, a two-person team, as opposed to a master and a helper. The sticking point is that a real God and those he allegedly inspired would have foreseen this ultimate evolution of societal mores.

I want to start with the challenger’s final point where he says a real God would’ve foreseen the evolution of the value of women in society. Simply answered, He did. In fact, He created that ideal in the first place. If you ever want to know what the Bible teaches about God’s ideal for humanity, read the creation account in Genesis 1-2.

equalityIn that time, we see man and woman living together in harmony and there is equality between them. The woman helps the man as he goes about his work tending the garden and they function as a team. So, God created the ideal of man and woman living in equality together, helping one another.

In fact, Genesis 1:27 is where the Christian worldview derives the value of men and women. It says:

So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

So, on the Christian worldview, both men and women have intrinsic value. You are valuable because you are human and bear the image of the One who is infinitely valuable.

It is only after the fall of man that we see the inequality that develops between men and women. It is good that humanity has made significant progress back towards the ideal God originally set up. In fact, it is the Christian worldview that elevates women back to the fullness of their value.

In the verses the challenger cites from 1 Corinthians, Paul is speaking about the roles of men and women. This in no way impacts the value of men and women as noted earlier.

It’s true that the Bible tells us the husband is the leader or head of the family, but this does not mean “dictator.” In Ephesians 5, Paul defines specifically what that leader role looks like:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25)

Men are to love their wives sacrificially. They are to lead through servanthood. That’s a complete 180 from how the world defines a leader. So it’s important to get the context for how a man is to be “the head of the woman.” It’s actually a very tall order that places a big burden on the man’s shoulders. It doesn’t make any sense that someone sexist towards women would place such a huge responsibility on men and hold them accountable for it.

Also, just a few verses earlier, Paul states what the baseline is for marriage:

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)

Husbands and wives are to submit to each other. This mutual submission forms the basis of a loving, lasting relationship.

There are also quite a few verses throughout the Bible that places women on equal footing with men. (I.e.: Ex. 20:12, Proverbs 18:22, Proverbs 31:10-31)

So, does the Bible really teach that men are superior to women?

Not at all. The inequality comes from human selfishness and greed. But God clearly tells us what His ideal is for men and women: different in role, but equal in value and worth.

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