If we are Christians, we are indeed special; we are daughters of the King of kings and Lord of lords. That is true liberty!
Both the Bible and the Lord’s church are under intense scrutiny. Hot news topics include race, religion, and sexual orientation or gender identity. Many radical feminists claim that the Bible, Jesus, Paul, etc. are biased against women. Is this accusation true? How do we help our children, especially our daughters, distinguish the truth from the lies being told today?
In Genesis 1, we read that God created the world in six days. Each created thing was made by a perfect and holy God, and God deemed everything that He had made very good (vs. 31). On the sixth day, God made mankind in His image. Genesis 1:27 notes: “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Eve was created in God’s image as surely as Adam was. In chapter 2, Moses focuses on the sixth day when God created Adam and his helper, Eve. Was Eve an afterthought of God to remedy Adam’s need for companionship? Certainly not! God made Eve from Adam, a helper fit, comparable, to him (2:20). Adam saw Eve and remarked, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (2:23). After naming the animals, Adam was elated to find someone just like him. Is it possible that Eve was the last thing God created? She made the man and creation complete.
If Eve was created in God’s image as a helper comparable to Adam and equal to her husband in her spiritual worth to the Lord, what happened? Both secular and Biblical history reveal that the status of women throughout time has been low. Why? It certainly was not God’s plan or purpose but rather the result of Adam and Eve’s sin in Eden. After her sin, God told Eve, “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” (Genesis 3:16). Bearing children was not Eve’s punishment but rather the birth process would become much more difficult. Also, God had already made man the head of the home because of the creation order; God created Adam first (1 Timothy 2:13). Perhaps one of the consequences of Eve’s sin would be that the relationship between men and women would change for the worse. Men would begin to treat women not as God had created them to be treated but as second-class citizens with a lower social status.
In many ancient cultures, women were not treated with the dignity and respect that men received. Girls did not attend school. Women did not usually go out in public alone, nor did they speak publicly. Remember the story of Pandora and her box? Greek poets attributed the world’s troubles to the antics of a woman. Men often had complete control over their women, had ownership of all their possessions and could divorce their wives for any reason. Women were considered in many cultures not worth much more than slaves.
Sadly, such was even the case for many Jewish women. While some of God’s “chosen people” may have deserted His plan for the home and family, God, “who cannot lie… [and] who is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Titus 1:2, Hebrews 13:8), continued to care for and bless women.
For example, in the Old Testament God required that husbands give their wives a certificate of divorce (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). The husband could not cast her out of his home and leave her destitute. The certificate protected an innocent wife from harm. God blessed women who chose to serve Him. He gave the brave Hebrew midwives families of their own (Exodus 1:21). He saved Rahab from Jericho and blessed her with a place in David and Jesus’s genealogy (Matthew 1:5ff). God blessed women such as Sarah, Rebekah, Leah, Rachel, Ruth, and Hannah with children. He permitted five daughters to inherit their deceased father’s property in Canaan (Numbers 27:1-11). God used strong women such as Deborah and Jael to lead His people in their conquest of Canaan (Judges 4), and He blessed the women who cared for His prophets Elijah and Elisha (1 Kings 17; 2 Kings 4).
What about the New Testament? It is true that some Jewish leaders did not view women highly. A common morning Jewish prayer included thanking God that a person was not born a Gentile or a woman. Jewish tradition did not permit men to talk with women in public. Jewish rabbis did not accept female students. Jesus was not the typical Jewish man. He was the Christ, the Son of God. He always did the things that pleased His Father (John 8:29), including treating women with respect and kindness. Jesus had close female friends like Mary and Martha (John 11:5). Jesus had female disciples: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, and others, who traveled with him, providing for the Lord with their own money (Luke 8:1-3). Jesus healed sick women, cast demons out of women, and raised women and/or their family members from death (Luke 7,8). He allowed a sinful woman to talk with Him and touch Him (Luke 7:36-38), and He had no problem talking with women in public. Jesus’s conversation with a Samaritan woman in John 4 is a powerful example of His view of women. He talked to her, drank from her water jar, and revealed to her that He was the Christ. Jesus loved His mother and made sure she would be cared for after His death (John 19:26-27). It was a small group of women who saw the Lord first after His resurrection (Luke 23:55-24:10).
Women played a vital role in the early church. They were among the 120 meeting with the apostles in Jerusalem (Acts 1:14). The book of Acts lists women such as Lydia, Priscilla, and Mary, mother of John Mark, who were faithful Christians. Philip, the evangelist, had four prophesying daughters. Paul, the so-called anti-female apostle, commended many women in his epistles who were faithful servants of the Lord (e.g., Romans 16). He encouraged husbands to love their wives as they love their own bodies, and to cherish their wives as Christ loves and cherishes His church. He commanded husbands to leave their parents and cling to their wives as they become one flesh (Ephesians 5:25-31). Paul brought his readers back to God’s original intent and purpose for men and women from creation.
Everywhere that Christ has been preached, the lives of women have been enriched, not suppressed. Simply compare New Testament Christianity to religions such as Islam which still oppresses women today. Paul wrote to the Galatian Christians, “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” (Galatians, 3:27-28). Imagine the joy and sense of worth first century women must have felt knowing that they were precious to the Lord. Ladies, if we are Christians, we are indeed special. We are daughters of the King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6:15)! That is not oppression; that is liberty!
[Some ideas for this article were taken from “Christianity: The Best Thing That Ever Happened to Women” by Sue Bohlin, http://probe.org/christianity-the-best-thing-that-ever-happened-to-women/.]