Is God / the Bible sexist?



Question: "Is God / the Bible sexist?"

Answer:
Sexism is one gender, usually male, having dominance over the other gender, usually female. The Bible contains many references to women that, in our modern minds, sound discriminatory towards women. Does this mean that God, and therefore the Bible, is sexist? We have to remember that the Bible describing an action does not necessarily mean that the Bible is endorsing that action. The Bible describes men treating women as little more than property, but that does not mean the Bible indicates approval of that action. Even in the instances where the Bible is giving a command regarding the treatment of women, it is not necessarily an indication of God’s ideal standard. The Bible is far more focused on reforming our souls than our societies. God knows that a changed heart will result in a changed behavior.

During the Old Testament, the whole world was a patriarchal society. That status of history is very clear - not only in Scripture but in the social rules that governed most societies in the world. By modern value systems and worldly human viewpoint, that is called “sexist.” God ordained the order in society, not man, and He is the author of the establishment principles of authority. However, like everything else, fallen man has corrupted this order. That has resulted in the inequality of the standing of men and women throughout history. The exclusion and the discrimination that we find in our world is not new. It is the result of the fall of man and the introduction of sin - which is rebellion against God. Therefore, we can rightly say that the term and the practice of “sexism” is a result of - a product of - the sin of mankind. The progressive revelation of the Bible leads us to the cure for sexism, and indeed all of the sinful practices of the human race.

To find and maintain a spiritual balance between the God-ordained positions of authority, we must look to Scripture. The New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old, and in it we find principles that tell us the correct line of authority and the cure for sin, the ill of all mankind, and that includes discrimination based upon gender.

The cross of Christ is the great equalizer. John 3:16 says, "Whosoever will," and that is an all-inclusive statement that leaves no one out on the basis of position in society, mental capacity, or gender. We also find a passage in Galatians that tells us of our equal opportunity for salvation. "For we are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. For as many of you as have been baptized (identified) into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:26-28). There is no sexism at the cross.

The Bible is not sexist. Why? Because it accurately portrays the results of sin. The Bible records all kinds of sin: slavery and bondage and the failures of its greatest heroes. Yet it also gives us the answer and the cure for those sins against God and His established order. That answer? It is a right relationship with God. The Old Testament was looking forward to the supreme sacrifice, and each time a sacrifice for sin was made, it was teaching the need for reconciliation to God. In the New Testament, the "Lamb that takes away the sin of the world" was born, died, was buried and rose again, and then ascended to His place in Heaven, and there He intercedes for us. It is through belief in Him that the cure for sin is found, and that includes the sin of sexism.

The charge of the sexism of the Bible is based upon a lack of knowledge of Scripture. When men and women of all ages have taken their God-ordained places and lived according to "Thus says the LORD," then there is a wonderful balance between the genders. That balance is what God began with, and it is what He will end with. There is an inordinate amount of attention paid to the various products of sin and not to the root of it. It is only when there is personal reconciliation with God through the LORD Jesus Christ that we find true equality. "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).

It is also very important to understand that the Bible's ascribing different roles to men and women is not sexism. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that God expects men to take the leadership role in the church and the home. Does this make women inferior? Absolutely not. Does this mean women are less intelligent, less capable, or viewed as less in God’s eyes? Absolutely not! What it means is that in our sin-stained world, there has to be structure and authority. God has instituted the roles of authority for our good. Sexism is the abuse of these roles…not the existence of these roles.


Recommended Resource: Knowing God by J.I. Packer.

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Related Topics:

What are the attributes of God? What is God like?

Why does God love us?

Why is God so different in the Old Testament than He is in the New Testament?

Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?



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Is God / the Bible sexist?