The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Does God Love Women Less?

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It’s not hard to find passages of Scripture to support the idea that God views women like objects. The ancient Jewish culture obviously favored the male gender and when God handed Moses His Laws in the wilderness, He could have done something to balance the scales. Instead we see women being declared unclean and driven out of the camp every time they menstruate as if they’ve committed some kind of crime. Who came up with the idea of making women bleed every month in the first place? God. Who then declared that periods should be viewed as filthy and a reason to temporarily exile women from the main community? God. Thanks for loving on us.

But it gets better. God’s Law said that if a woman gave birth to a son, she was to be considered unclean for forty days afterwards. But if a woman gave birth to a girl, well then it’s extra disgusting and she is considered unclean for twice as long (Lev. 12:2-5). Being “unclean” meant women couldn’t touch anything sacred, nor could they go to the sanctuary. Apparently God didn’t want to associate Himself with dirty females.

We all know women can’t compete with the physical strength of men in battle, so they have to use their brains and go for the weak points of their opponent. We all know a man’s most vulnerable spot is right between his legs. In the heat of a battle, if a woman saw her husband losing to some assailant, she might rush in to try and help. But if she grabbed the assailant by his genitals, God’s Law decreed: “You shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity” (Deut. 25:12). So while David gets praised for coming home with a bag full of foreskins, women are getting their hands chopped off for trying to defend their husbands. Nice.

If feelings of jealousy came over a man and he imagined that his wife was cheating on him, then God set up a whole ceremony in which the woman had to drink poisonous water and agree to being cursed even if she was innocent. Unless God chose to perform a miracle, the natural effects of drinking such poison were as follows: “her abdomen will swell and her womb will miscarry, and she will become a curse” (Num. 5:27).

With so many accounts in the Bible of women being grossly abused without God intervening, it can be easy for Satan to make Christian women today feel insecure about God’s view of them. After all, where was He when women were being offered to a gang of rapists in Sodom and again in Judges 19:25? Where was He when women were being persecuted for barrenness, or held responsible for the gender of their child when God knew perfectly well that neither event was something they could control? Why was it okay for men to jump in bed with concubines and for David to demand sex from Bathsheba and for Solomon to collect 700 wives and yet if a man even suspected his wife had more than one lover, she had to drink poison? If a woman didn’t show evidence of being a virgin on her wedding night, she was punished, and yet women today know that such “evidence” is a fickle thing that some legitimate virgins would not have been able to produce. Why was God so hostile towards women? Why did His Laws encourage male chauvinism and smile on women being treated like chattel? How can we look at all the nasty ways God let women be treated in the Bible and conclude that He doesn’t think less of them today?

Are you feeling insecure about God’s love for you just because you’re not a man? If you feel like you keep stumbling over verses that prove that God hates women, it is because you are mentally filtering for such verses. Approaching the Bible with the assumption that God looks down on females will make every negative verse about women jump out in your face while blinding you to all others. In order to get a more accurate view of the Bible’s contents, you need to approach it with the correct assumptions. God is clear that He loves both men and women equally. Assume this is true and start looking for evidence that supports it as you read. Whenever you find God saying something nasty about women, look for something nasty He says about men. Whenever you find a Law that seems unfair towards women, look for one that targets men. They exist in abundance. Men not only dominated ancient Jewish society, they also caught the most heat from God. Yes, men got to be the heads of their households, but that also meant they were held responsible when their family members ran amuck. Let’s take another look at the anti-women examples we cited earlier and see if we can’t balance things out a bit.

First, let’s tackle this business about women being declared unclean for natural secretions. The old “dirty menstruation” Law is well cited, but we never hear about the Laws addressing male secretions. Any time a man discharged semen, he had to bathe himself and his clothes and both were considered unclean for the rest of the day. A man with any kind of unusual discharge or blockage involving bodily fluid was also considered unclean and he even had to bring a sin offering to the priest to atone for such events even though he had no control over them. A man discharges semen far more often than one week a month. How embarrassing to have to announce to the world every time you had an ejaculation. At least women had each other to hang out with during their monthly cycles, which would have become widely coordinated in the close wilderness community of Exodus. But men’s discharges would have occurred on a much more random schedule that were personal to the individual. A man prefers to keep such events private, but God arranged things so that men had to announce their unclean status publicly so that others would know to stay away from them. So much for privacy.

When we take another look at the jealous husband laws that God set up, we see that He is actually protecting women by making them go through the poisonous water ritual. Jealous men are not known for being rational and reasonable. Once an innocent woman was assumed guilty back in the days of Moses, she would have had no one to defend her in a culture that favored men. Recognizing the problem, God set up a trial system where He would make the final verdict of guilt instead of leaving the matter in human hands. God promised to perform a public miracle if a woman was innocent and thereby shut the faces of her accusers. Certainly it would have been nerve-wracking to have to drink a cup of poison. In such a moment, a woman would have been forced to put her faith and hope in God alone to protect her—a very healthy exercise for any soul to go through. Yet because we know how just and loyal God is, we can be sure that many women experienced Him publicly defending them and performing miracles on their behalf. These women would have returned home with renewed confidence that God loved and cared for them in a very personal way while their husbands would have had to deal with the embarrassment of falsely accusing them.

When it comes to sex in the Bible, many people will try to tell you that God turned a blind eye while women were abused. But this is not accurate. For every story of rape, we can find another story of men having their privates mutilated or their eyes gouged out. Both men and women suffered in the hands of oppressors and invading armies. Kings forced women to become part of their harems, but then men were forced to watch over the harems and they were first castrated to keep them from sharing in the king’s wealth. Both men and women were stripped naked and shaved by their captors. Both genders endured their share of shame, pain and assault. In the Bible we find many accounts of mass suffering, but also of God’s mass protection. Sprinkled between these accounts, we find stories of individuals experiencing God intervening in their situations. Plenty of these individuals were women. In Genesis 38, Jacob’s son Judah got a wife for his oldest son, Er. The wife’s name was Tamar. Er did evil in the sight of God, so God killed him, sparing Tamar from being stuck with him for life. Judah then tells his younger son to sleep with Tamar so she can become pregnant. This was a good thing for Tamar, because she would be able to continue her family line. But the second son, Onan, didn’t want to help conceive children who would be credited to his dead brother so when he was having sex with Tamar, he intentionally spilled his semen on the ground. This was cheating Tamar out of her opportunity to have children. It would have upset her, and it certainly didn’t slip past God’s notice for He struck Onan dead because of his shady bedroom behavior. Yes, God does care about women.

Though the male gender was treated as superior in many ways, God publicly favored women on many occasions. He chose to speak through both male and female prophets. It was the prophetess Anna who recognized baby Jesus in the New Testament and spent her days as a happy widow praising God in the Temple. Clearly God and Anna had a special bond. Then there was Deborah—a prophetess who people came to for advice from all over (Judges 4:4). When the men around her were too frightened to go to war, it was Deborah who led the men in battle against the army of Sisera and it was the woman Jael who sealed the victory by driving a tent peg through Sisera’s skull in her tent. God enjoys honoring all those who are aligned with Him in heart, no matter what their gender is.

We can’t defend the conclusion that God dislikes women when we read the story of Rahab. Here is a lowly prostitute who has clearly responded to the conviction of the Holy Spirit for she expresses reverence for God to Joshua’s spies in Jericho. As a result of her soul choices, God makes sure that she and her family are spared when the city is destroyed, and He records praise for her twice in the New Testament (Heb. 11:31, James 2:25). Does God like women? Yes He does–even the ones who sleep around.

Most of the genealogies listed in the Bible don’t mention women at all. But when Jesus claimed the role of Israel’s long awaited Messiah, He maintained the illusion that He was a genetic descendant of David–a line that includes several famous women: Rahab (the prostitute who helped Joshua), Tamar (the woman who got cheated by her brother-in-law and later tricked her father-in-law into sleeping with her so she could get pregnant), Ruth (a Moabite who gets a whole book written about her), and Bathsheba (the woman who David forced to sleep with him and the mother of Solomon) (see Jesus: The Illegitimate Lion of Judah). Does God like women? He certainly does. It was a woman Samaritan that Jesus spoke to at a well, it was a woman He saved from getting stoned, and it was a woman He publicly exalted for washing His feet. Many of the women exalted by God throughout the Bible were prostitutes—the same kind of women He commanded to be stoned in His original Law. Yet when He interacted with these women face to face in the New Testament, Jesus wasn’t railing at them for their sinful ways or giving them a wide berth. He loved on them. He remembered them. He paid them special attention.

It was a woman who first learned of Jesus’ resurrection. When prophesying the birth of Samson, Yahweh went directly to Samson’s mother with the details of her special child and later refused to repeat Himself to her husband. When barren Hannah was weeping in the Yahweh’s Tabernacle over her inability to have children, He blessed her with a son and we’re also told that Hannah’s husband was especially kind to her. Not every man in Bible times was a chauvinist jerk. Many men loved their wives dearly and treated them with honor. There are many Proverbs written by men that acknowledge what a blessing a wife of godly character is.

When listing off groups of people in the New Testament, it was traditional to list the most important person first. In Acts 18:2 we’re introduced to a man named Aquila and his wife Priscilla who were part of the apostle Paul’s inner circle of friends. Yet every time we hear the couple referred to after that first introduction, it’s Priscilla who is listed first. “Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus,” Paul writes in Romans 16:3. While Priscilla is given top billing, a rich woman named Lydia provides a refuge for Paul and Silas when they are released from prison in Acts 16:40. In Acts 9:36-40, a woman named Tabitha (or Dorcas in Greek) is praised for always doing good and helping the poor. When she falls sick and dies, God brings her back to life. Tabitha’s story then inspires many people to turn to the Lord throughout the region. Does God work through women? He certainly does.

In a society like America, where women have too many rights—like the right to murder their unborn children—it’s hard for us to understand how shocking the tenants of Christianity were to the Jews who lived 2,000 years ago. True Christianity teaches that both women and men have equal value to God, and that a person’s gender has nothing to do with their spiritual status.  Such a concept sounds very threatening to men who have been taught from the cradle to believe that they are far superior to women.  This is why we find the apostle Paul trying to put the brakes on the social advancement of women in the New Testament. Paul’s fear of women getting too much clout in the home or leading in church gatherings was a reflection of his own inability to imagine how order could be maintained in a society that was built on the premise that men were far superior.  When we stop confusing one human apostle with God Himself, we can stop overreacting to  Paul’s absurd rules for women and start having sympathy for his position.  You don’t get over cultural brainwashing in one second, and no human enjoys having his power over others suddenly reduced.  In Bible times, Jewish men simply weren’t comfortable with the concept of women leading.  But so what?  Ancient Jewish culture is hardly some golden standard that we’re all supposed to be living up to.  As a woman, there’s no need for you to be so personally threatened by the fact that the world has always been filled with biases and silly gender stereotypes.  It doesn’t matter how many Christian men today are still clinging to the idea that women are inferior–God says the genders have equal value to Him.  Who are you going to let define you in life: God or human beings?

FURTHER READING:
Gentle & Quiet: The Ideal Wife According to Peter
Boundaries in Marriage: Inappropriate Submission
Stop Comparing Yourself to the Proverbs 31 Woman
Who should be the spiritual leader in a Christian home?
Godly Submission: Guidance for Alpha Women
The Nazirite Laws: All Are Welcome to Draw Near

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