Position of Women in the Bible-II

When we look at the status of women in the Bible, then, we’re looking at something which changes, depending upon where and when the reference took place.

The tendency is to ask, “How does this command concerning women compare with what our culture thinks today?”,  and on that basis,the Bible generally comes up short. But this is a false comparison, because the choice for the women concerned, the ones who would be affected by what God said through the prophets, did not have the choice of either the prophet’s declaration or today’s status. Their options were the prophet’s declaration concerning their status, or the prevailing status in their culture at the time.

When Moses set the conditions for divorce, they didn’t have the option of ‘no fault,’ alimony, and child support vs. a ‘bill of divorcement.” Their choice was between the ‘bill of divorcement,’ or simply being abandoned.  More that a thousand years later– that ‘s right, more than a thousand years— Jesus made it clear that God considered that the only legitimate  grounds for divorce was sexual infidelity. And if you read the narrative, it’s clear that even the disciples considered this radical.

Had God’s attitude toward divorce changed that much? Of course not. But, as the disciples reaction indicates– and these were the guys who believed in Him–people can only take so much change at time. And when confronted with change beyond their abilities, humans just bive up. So the real question becomes, “Which is better? A little progress, or none at all?”

And when we carefully examine the Bible’s teachings concerning the treatment of wome, in context, we will find that God always opts for progress, even a little progress, compared to the existing situation. at the time.

Having said that, there are some passages where the correct answer for today’s student is, “I don’t know.” That’s where I will have to be with “head covering” for women. I’m confident it’s not an essential matter one way or another, since those are explained repeatedly and in clear terms. My sense is it’s cultural, and I’ve seen several explanations for that. I’ve also seen counter-arguments for each of the specific cultural explanations. I’m not totally convinced of any of them, and to be honest, it’s not something I believe is worthy of a great deal of effort on my part.. Someone may find/have found the definitive explanation for this, and I’ll be happy when I run into it. In the meantime, I have other things

One of those, being a “fool who rushes in” is to take up your question concering the “hatred of gays,” next. Would you like to focus that a little more, or shall I just venture in and hang myself without assistance:)?


Position of Women in the Bible-II — 4 Comments

  1. you are giving me some really great insights here. you have obviously chewed these things over, and it is giving me something to gnaw on, too!

    well, with the “hatred of gays” one, i suppose my main question is, is being gay really a sin, or was it something that the culture could not accept at them?

  2. Ed, thanks for more on this vital topic of women in the Bible. For some reason it took me many years to realize how important this is to understand–it wasn’t until researching the topic of feminism for my book “Wresting With Reality” (now out of print but soon available for free downloads at “securingyourfuture.org”) that I saw the light, 15 years ago.

    The one Scripture that convinced me more than any other that the NT doesn’t deserve bad publicity regarding women is 1 Cor 7:4: “For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” The key word there is “likewise,” which means (in Greek as well as English) “in the same way.”

    So women have equal rights in marriage (specifically here, sexuality). A chauvinistic religion could never make a categorical statement like that!

    Then of course we have the exquisite way Jesus treated women–with respect to the point that He entrusted a woman with the first witness to His resurrection.

    This by the way is one of the evidences of the authenticity of the Bible and Christ’s resurrection account–because in the culture of the time, one woman’s testimony was not worth anything legally. Nobody would have made that up!

    • Thanks, Martin. My purpose was more just to answer the general question than to write an exhaustive analysis of women in the Bible. Your addition is greatly appreciated.

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