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Friday, March 07, 2014

Does Christianity Discriminate Against Women? [Part 1]

In recent years the accusation that the Bible is anti-female has arisen more and more frequently. Because the Scripture uses the masculine gender to refer to God, it is labelled sexist. Because the Bible teaches that although men and women are equal in God’s sight they have different roles in His service, it is called discriminatory. Because the Old Testament relates how certain women were victimized, it is accused of endorsing the abuse of women.

Are these charges justified?

Whole books have been written about this subject, so it is impossible to give a complete answer here. However, we can examine the three main objections listed above and see if they are truly valid.

Objection #1 — The Bible Describes God in Masculine Terms

Some people assume that the use of a masculine pronoun is meant to imply that men are closer to God or more like God than women are. There is no Scriptural support for such a view, however, and indeed much Scripture to contradict it. Right from the very beginning, the Bible establishes that both men and women are made in the image of God: “So God created man in his own image, male and female he created them”.

Although the term has fallen into disfavor today, ‘man’ or ‘mankind’ in this context does not refer just to the male gender but to male and female both — the whole human race. Women are made in the image of God, just as men are. Again, in the New Testament, Paul told the Galatian church that among them “there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”.

Before God, men and women are absolutely equal in spiritual worth and privilege.

Is God a man, as opposed to a woman, as we understand the terms? The Bible tells us very plainly that “God is spirit ...”. Physically, He is neither male nor female, but is a spirit being.

Is God unable to understand or identify with women? Quite the opposite: God created women, and made them everything that they are. Every positive attribute that women possess, every quality that we regard as uniquely feminine, came originally from God Himself. In fact, women characteristically possess certain Godly characteristics and spiritual strengths that men do not, and vice versa. Men are not naturally “more like God” or “closer to God” than women.

We do not know all the reasons why God would refer to Himself using the masculine pronoun, but there is no biblical justification for saying that this degrades women or excludes them from fellowship with God.

As for some who lament the omission of an earth-mother figure from Scripture, we must kindly suggest that the reason for her absence is because no such deity exists: “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god”.

RJA

Republished by permission of the author

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