By Dick Blackford
Why should the question of the equality of women ever arise? Be-cause some have misinterpreted the fact that the Scriptures give men and women different roles to mean that women are inferior. Men are in authority and women are in subjection. Some of the people who do this are men and may have wrong motives in wanting to “keep women inferior.” And some are women who are feminists who want to discredit the Bible and so have misrepresented it.
It needs to be established here at the first that we are talking about equality in the sight of God. That is really all that matters.
Men and women are different biologically, emotionally, physically, and sexually. Regardless of all these differences, they are equal in God’s sight. God gave them roles and responsibilities best suited to their natures.
Man’s Role: It was to the man that God gave responsibilities that involve the most physical strength. He was to dress and keep the garden (Gen. 2:15). His living would come by the sweat of his face” (Gen. 3:17-19). He is to be the provider (1 Tim.5:8).
Woman’s Role: Her responsibilities differ markedly from the man’s. Hers is the role of childbearing and a keeper at home (Gen. 3:16; Tit. 2:5).
How can they be on a competitive basis since they have different roles? They could only truly complete if their roles were identical. The reason we never see a baseball team compete with a football team is because they have totally different roles and rules to go by. It is only when the roles of men and women are blurred that competition enters the picture and problems develop.
Jesus And Equality
If God had thought women were inferior to men it is strange that five women are named in the genealogy of Jesus a very prominent and valuable document. This is highly “unusual from a genealogical point of view” since most ancestries were traced through the man (A.B. Bruce, Expositor’s Greek Testament I:62). There were a number of times when Jesus praised women or did favors for them. 1. Healed the son of the widow of Nain (Lk. 7); 2. Saved the life of the woman taken in adultery (Jn. 8); 3. Praised the widow who gave two mites (Lk. 21); 4. Healed Peter’s mother-in-law (Matt. 8); 5. Healed Jairus’ daughter (Mk. 5); 6. Healed the woman with an issue of blood (Mk. 5); 7. Honored his mother by making provisions for her (Jn. 19).
Jesus never belittled womanhood or slighted women in any way. There is nothing one can point to in his life that would indicate he thought they were unequal to men. One of the greatest favors he did for women was his teaching on divorce. In a society where women were treated as property, Jesus equalized the situation. In the ancient world a man could divorce his wife for the flimsiest excuse. “But if a woman repudiate her husband, she shall be drowned in the river” (Hastings Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels II:834). Women were always the victims in divorce but Jesus prohibited all divorce (except for fornication). His law applied continued from cover The Equality of Women . . . equally to women (Matt. 19:9; Mk. 10:12). Even the infidel, Edward Gibbon, author of the famous work on The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire wrote, “The dignity of marriage was restored by the Christians” (III:683).
Inspiration pays its highest tribute by recording that it was women who were last at the cross and first at the tomb. While all others forsook him in his darkest hour, apparently only these women were guiltless (Matt. 27:55,61; Matt. 28:1).
Paul And Equality
Some have thought that since Paul was celibate and placed a restriction on women that he did not believe in the equality of women. However, Paul was not against women and he argued for his right to marry (1 Cor. 9:5). He said marriage was honorable (Heb. 13:4). He desired that younger women marry (1 Tim. 5:14). At the close of a number of his letters he salutes and honors many women, women we would never have known had not Paul so esteemed them. It was Paul who advocated equality by telling us that in Christ “there is neither male nor female” (Gal. 3:28). There is no distinction in dignity, honor or blessings. And he forever etched in our minds that “there is no respect of persons with God” (Rom. 2:11).
Paul’s teaching on the marriage relationship shows Inspiration’s high regard for women. A husband is to love his wife “as his own body” (Eph. 5:28); “as Christ loved the church” (Eph. 5:25); he is to “nourish” and “cherish” her (Eph. 5:29). He is to leave his parents and cleave to his wife and become one flesh with her (Eph. 5:31).
Peter And Equality
It was Peter who said, “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him and worketh righteousness, is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:34,35). He also said the husband is to “honor the woman” and that husbands and wives are “joint-heirs of the grace of life” (1 Pet. 3:7).What could be more equal than that?
Headship And Equality
Since it is established over and over in both testaments that “God is no respecter of persons,” one is incorrect to think that God’s order of headship is somehow contrary to equality.
1. God has placed civil rulers over their citizens (Rom.) 3:10, but that doesn’t mean God loves rulers more than he does citizens for God is no respecter of persons.
2. God has placed parents in authority over their children (Eph.6: I), but that doesn’t mean he loves fathers and mothers more than he does their boys and girls, for he is no respecter of persons.
3. God has given elders oversight of the flock (I Pet. 5:2 Heb. 13:7,17), but that doesn’t mean he loves elders more than he loves deacons or any of the other members, for God is no respecter of persons.
4. God has made the husband the head of the wife (Eph. 5:23). He has said a woman is not “to teach or usurp authority over a man” (1 Tim. 2:12). But this does not mean he loves men more than he does women, for God is no respecter of persons! Headship has nothing to do with God’s love.
While women must accept the role God has given them it in no way means they are second class Christians or inferior in God’s sight. Both men and women need to accept this. And while some women have viewed Jesus and Paul as their worst enemies, they are actually their best friends. The teaching of Jesus and Paul (both of which are from God) elevates women to a position high above the extremists of their day and our day and any attempt to try to change that degrades women.
Guardian of Truth XXXIX: 3 p. 1
February 2, 1995