When I first started looking at the issue of women in the bible, I wasn’t attached to any particular set of ideas about women and men. As a child of our times a more egalitarian ideal made a lot of sense to me. But I also knew that we get a lot further by conforming ourselves to God’s ways than to our own ideas. I wasn’t closed off to the idea that a subordinate role for women was something I would need to make peace with.
In fact, it was trying to make peace with a subordinate role was what motivated me to study women in scriptures. I figured that if I could learn more about what God had to say and why, the idea of being under men would not be a source of pain, but would be a source of life, as all things which come from God are. Like many, many women I’ve heard from over the years, I wanted to have peace about this subject, but something deep in me kept rebelling at the idea that God had given me the role of less-than all my life.
If you read what I have written previously, you’ll see that the more I studied the matter, the more it became clear to me that using scriptures to demand that women take their place under men was an abuse of God’s word. At a bare minimum, it was blazingly clear that there is nothing in scriptures which would bar full equality between men and women. So, you can make an argument for a subordinate position for women from scripture. And you can make many, many arguments for the equality of men and women which rely not just on a few verses, but stories and themes found all through scripture. Both arguments can be made, so the real issue isn’t which on is biblical – they both are, if you just look at it a certain way. Either way is faithful to scriptures. As always, all that is left now is our own choices.
All of which still begs an important question. Why did God allow scriptures to be written in such a way that they were so easily manipulated to put women at a disadvantage? Surely God knew that this would happen and could have made things clearer – not left half His creation so vulnerable to abuse by those claiming to act in His name. Over the years I have heard from more than one young woman – usually a teen – who has just read some verse about how a woman was ritually unclean for longer with a girl child than if she had a boy child or some such. “Why does God hate me?” was the theme of those girl’s questions. Why would God allow verses that made young women think that God hates them? Continue reading