So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. – Genesis 1:27
What does the Bible say about women? Is the biblical view of women out-of-date and misogynistic? Though many view the Bible to be an irrelevant book in our “enlightened civil society”, that could not be further from the truth. When one honestly comes to the text of Scripture, they will find that not only does the Bible offer clarity to the discussion, it also offers a framework in which women can spiritually thrive!
The Bible is filled with verses affirming the value and importance of women. Some reject the reality of gender or view it to solely be a social convention. However, God clearly established two distinct genders from the very beginning of creation. Genesis 1:27 notes that men and women are both wonderfully and fearfully made in the image and likeness of God. Likewise, Genesis 2:18 describes God making the woman as a helper comparable to the man. Thus, women are not to be viewed as inferior nor are they to be any man’s property. Rather, men and women are equals in value and dignity called to love and serve one another.
Additionally, when Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, He offered redemption and restoration for the entire world (John 3:16). None of which would have been possible if it were not for Mary (a woman) being chosen as the highly favored one by God to carry and deliver the Savior. Therefore, women play an essential role in the narrative of redemption.
Galatians 3:27-29 states, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Therefore, God shows no partiality toward race, gender, or social status. We are all equals in the eyes of God through Christ. The fullness of His grace and mercy is extended to anyone who trusts in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Those who are in Christ Jesus are adopted as fellow-heirs. Thus, every man and woman saved by Christ is a son and daughter of the King.
Christ also broke the social barriers of His day on numerous occasions to honor and elevate women. In John’s Gospel, the Samaritan woman at the well is the first person to whom Jesus openly reveals Himself as the Messiah. This is significant for a couple of reasons. One, Jews did not commonly associate with Samaritans, but Jesus went out of His way to find her. Two, men would not usually converse with women, however, Christ not only converses with her, but it is also the longest conversation that Jesus has with anyone in the entire New Testament. Additionally, in Mark 5:25-34, Jesus counsels and heals a woman who was suffering from a vaginal hemorrhage for twelve years. In the Jewish custom, a person would be considered ceremonially unclean if they touched a woman with such an affliction. However, Jesus not only healed this woman, but He took the time to encourage her faith and make her physically and spiritually whole. Jesus even taught and allowed women to follow Him as disciples. Only men were allowed to study under the tutelage of the Jewish rabbis, but Jesus included women. The Bible also records that the first eyewitnesses of Christ’s resurrection were women (Luke 24:1-12). Thus, it is clear that Jesus loved and respected women.
Although men and women are equal in value, the Bible explains that they do not have the same function. That is to say that men and women are called to different roles in the home and in the church. Ephesians 5:22-25 states, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” In this text, wives are called to submit to their husbands and husbands are called to lead and love their wives. Many struggle with this text because they believe it makes the wives subservient to their husbands. However, biblical submission does not mean subservience, nor does it mean silence. Wives can and should speak their minds and offer sound biblical counsel to their husbands. Wives are called to be spiritual partners and co-laborers with their husbands. Biblical submission is a command for wives to respect and trust their husband’s leadership, not to be controlled or voiceless. When Jesus came to the earth, He became a man without ceasing to be God. However, He submitted Himself to the will of His Father (John 6:38). Though Jesus was equal to His Father in essence (divinity) He respected and trusted the leadership of His Father. This clearly shows that submission does not necessitate subservience.
Additionally, submission is a command given to all believers. Every Christian is called to submit to Christ’s Lordship. In Romans 13:1-7, Christians are also called to be subject to their governing authorities. Likewise, God structured His church where the congregation is placed under the authority of a plurality of elders (Acts 14:23, Titus 1:5, Hebrews 13:17).
However, the apostle Paul notes that only men can serve the church as one of the elders. 1 Timothy 2:11-13 states, “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve.” This does not imply that women are inept or incapable of teaching, rather it is not a part of their calling in the church. Though Paul does limit women from holding the office of the elders as well as functioning as the teaching authority, it does not follow that Paul viewed women as inferior or denied them the ability to co-labor in ministry. On the contrary, the apostle Paul completely supported women in ministry. In Romans 16:1-16, Paul went out of his way to celebrate and commend Phoebe (a deaconess) and many other women for their commitment to serving with him in ministry and sharing the gospel of Christ.
The Bible is clear that women have infinite worth in Christ and are recognized as equal partners called to a divine purpose in the home and in the church. I pray that my sisters in Christ would thrive in their calling as they bring honor and glory to God.