Does Scripture dishonor women?

advice header image

Does Scripture dishonor women?

May 19, 2008 |John Thomas
Question

I find it difficult to understand why woman have been given such a degrading position in the Bible. In Judges 19, for example, a guy tosses out the woman to be raped so his guests would not be touched. Then there is no admonishment toward him for doing it. Even Esther was about her one night with the king. Ruth was another example.

Women's value seems totally placed on child bearing. I know this was a different era, but God's Word should still be applicable for today. What if you aren't a wife or a mother?

I don't want to be a pastor; I'm not a feminist, but I struggle to find why women have been given such a lowly place in God's Word. It's all about how great men are and how silly and abused women are. The OT is bad enough; the NT isn't much better. Women come across as foolish. I just want to try to understand.

By the way, why didn't Deborah make the hall of faith in the Bible?

I love God and His Word very much. I know I'm not the only God-fearing woman who doesn't understand. Maybe you can help me.

Answer

For starters, if you want to try to show that women have been given a degrading position in the Bible, you're going to have to find some different examples than the ones you listed.

If you had read Judges 20, you would have discovered the raping of the woman in chapter 19 was considered such an atrocity it caused a massive war in retaliation, resulting in a huge dead body count (mostly males), and in which the offending tribe was thoroughly pummeled by God — on behalf of a woman.

Esther's life is so heroic her story is canonized in Scripture! She is clearly presented as anything but a one night stand with the king. She is a symbol of Christ, a woman whom God used to deliver His people the Israelites from impending doom. She answered a call from God to marry the man He had chosen for her and weaved her heroic actions with His divine sovereignty to bring rescue to His people and glory to His name — through a woman.

Ruth (another woman whose life is canonized) refused to abandon her widowed mother-in-law, pledging to care for her until death. God honors Ruth's sacrificial love and courage by bringing her an amazing husband and turns her tragedy into triumph. It's a beautiful, redemptive love story of two people whose descendants included David and the Son of God, no less — because of the courage of a woman.

The Hebrews hall of faith (Hebrews 11) is a.) not an exhaustive list of heroes, but rather a highlight of a few important headlines of Jewish history, and b.) includes two women (Sarah and Rahab) and c.) also mentions Barak, whom without Deborah would have never made the list. Again, Deborah proves the exact opposite of your point about the degrading position of women in the Bible. A nervous and scared man, Barak, is led into victory by Deborah — an Israeli prophet, judge and yes, woman. (The war ends, by the way, with a tent peg being driven into the head of the bad guy by, guess who? — a woman!)

Every woman you listed proves the exact opposite of your point. Scripture records for us the heroic and courageous actions of many women. That fact is even more remarkable given the cultural context in which much of the body of Scripture takes place is patriarchal. Not only are women mentioned, but many of them are honored for their heroism and devotion to God. There are way too many for me to list here.

But the very best way to see what God thinks about women (or anything) is to watch the life of Christ. He was God in flesh-and-bones. He lived a perfect life. His treatment of people is perfect. Every woman He interacted with was done so with unspeakable affection and flawless perfection. As you read the gospels, do you get any indication whatsoever that He degrades women, or that He sees women as silly or foolish? Even with just a cursory reading I think you'll find just the opposite.

Far from being degraded, lowly, abused, or seen as foolish and silly, women play an extraordinarily prominent role in the life and ministry of Christ. Women followed Him everywhere, and why shouldn't they? He heals them. He protects them. He defends them. He weeps with them. Even in death, He cares for them.

You say you're not a feminist, and I believe you. But somewhere along the way you picked up a dose of secular feminist thinking about the Bible and probably didn't even realize it. Pray for discernment as you interact with Scripture (and as you hear others talk about Scripture). Like Mary Magdalene (the first person to whom the resurrected Jesus revealed Himself) and countless others, you will discover throughout those pages the most pro-woman Person in the universe.

Blessings,
JOHN THOMAS

Copyright 2008 John Thomas. All rights reserved.

If you have a question you'd like us to consider for this column, please send it to editor@boundless.org. Please note that all questions we select for this column may be edited for clarity and privacy and become the property of Focus on the Family.

Donate

Like what you see?

If you’ve enjoyed this article, will you consider giving a tax-deductible gift to Boundless right now? We’re a donor-funded ministry, and we rely on friends like you to help keep us going! DONATE NOW »

References
  • .

THE BOUNDLESS BUZZ

Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and get a free video episode from That The World May Know: The Path to the Cross from Focus on the Family.