The status of women in history and modern times has been formed and influenced in whole, or in great part, from the religious beliefs of the times. It is not surprising, considering the almost total gender domination of church leadership by men, that this status is somewhere between property and personal slave, to those men. Also the gender domination of power in all levels of society has virtually assured that this status has remained firmly entrenched even in our “enlightened” modern society. With women possessing no power, this religious prejudice is carried into almost every aspect of most women’s lives.
It may be by neither law, nor truth, that women are inferior by their nature but the evidence that they are denied equality in almost every level of society, and in every culture worldwide, is undeniable. Even a cursory study of the attitude Jesus had for the women in his life will reveal, not condescension or apathy, but respect, love, in equal measure to their male counterparts. Women are not inferior in the sight of God, but in the primitive, ignorant, and oppressive view of a male-dominated world.
Statements About Women by Religious Leaders and Commentators
♦ “Rather should the words of the Torah be burned than entrusted to a woman…Whoever teaches his daughter the Torah is like one who teaches her obscenity.”
♦ “Do you not know that you are each an Eve? The sentence of God on this sex of yours lives in this age: the guilt must of necessity live too. You are the Devil’s gateway: You are the unsealer of the forbidden tree: You are the first deserter of the divine law: You are she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God’s image, man. On account of your desert even the Son of God had to die.” St. Tertullian
♦ “What is the difference whether it is in a wife or a mother, it is still Eve the temptress that we must beware of in any woman……I fail to see what use woman can be to man, if one excludes the function of bearing children.” St. Augustine of Hippo
♦ “As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of woman comes from a defect in the active force or from some material indisposition, or even from some external influence.” St. Thomas Aquinas
♦ “If they [women] become tired or even die, that does not matter. Let them die in childbirth, that’s why they are there.” Martin Luther
♦ “Woman’s identity cannot consist in being a copy of man, since she is endowed with her own qualities and prerogatives, which give her a particular uniqueness that is always to be fostered and encouraged… To all in our age who offer selfish models for affirming the feminine personality, the luminous and holy figure of the Lord’s Mother shows how only by self-giving and self-forgetfulness towards others is it possible to attain authentic fulfillment of the divine plan for one’s own life.” Pope John Paul II, 1995
♦ “Most of these feminists are radical, frustrated lesbians, many of them, and man-haters, and failures in their relationships with men, and who have declared war on the male gender. The Biblical condemnation of feminism has to do with its radical philosophy and goals. That’s the bottom line. Jerry Falwell
♦ “…God, by creating Adam first (Gen. 2:18; 1 Cor. 11:8) and also by creating woman for man (Gen. 2:18,20,22; 1 Cor. 11:9), has set the gender-based role and responsibility of males in the most basic unit of society (the family) to be that of leader, provider and self-sacrificial protector (also cf. Eph. 5:25; 1 Peter 3:7), and likewise has set the gender-based role and responsibility of females to be that of help and nurture (Gen. 2:18) and life-giving (Gen. 3:20) under male leadership and protection (cf. 1 Peter 3:7)…” The Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood
♦ “…make dads the godly leaders [of the family] with the women in submission, raising kids for the glory of God.”
Randall Terry, Operation Rescue
♦ In the beginning God made man male and female. He made Adam first, and then made Eve from Adam’s rib. This order of creation subordinates wives to their husbands in marriage, and women to men in the church. As an act of submission to their Creator women are commanded to submit to their husbands and to male leadership in the church. Women are not allowed to teach or have authority over men in any formal capacity in the church.”
Reformation Fellowship of the East Valley, Mesa, AZ
♦ “Women are vessels of excrement”
(Please note: Though widely quoted we cannot verify that this is an actual quote by Augustine)
The Women Of Ancient Israel
Women in ancient Israel had their position in society defined in the Hebrew Scriptures and in the interpretation of those scriptures. Their status and freedoms were severely limited by Jewish law and custom in ancient Israel:
♦ Women were restricted to roles of little or no authority.
♦ Women were confined to the homes of their fathers or husbands.
♦ Women were to be inferior to men, under the direct authority of men, their fathers before marriage, or
their husband after.
♦ Women were not allowed to testify in court trials.
♦ Women could not appear in public venues.
♦ Women could not talk to strangers.
♦ Women were required to be doubly veiled when they ventured outside of their homes.
The Glaring Truth
Women in ancient Israel had a status, not unlike that of women in Afghanistan, during the grossly oppressive rule of the Taliban.
An even sadder reality is that in many mainstream “Christian” denominations, if you remove the “double veils in public” aspect, there is very little difference in the treatment of women.
The Explanation Of Old And New
One of the most obvious and most ignored truths of biblical reality is that the word “testament”, as used in Old and New Testament, is interchangeable with the word “covenant”. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines covenant as: a usually formal, solemn, and binding agreement. In our modern world this is known as a “contract”. Logic defines “old” as what was, and “new” as what is. In the context of the Bible, the Old Testament is the former contract God made with man, specifically the nation of Israel. The New Testament is the current contract God has made with all mankind.
In the normal course of the affairs of honest contractual dealings in society, the institution of a “new” contract either nullifies or redefines an existing one, with the full force of the former, and the former contract is deemed no more than an historical reference. The doctrinal practice of mainstream Bible-based religion is a strange blending of the old and new contracts that dictates those doctrines. By enforcing some of the old contract’s provisions, and some of the new contract’s stipulations, while ignoring many of the old and most of the new contract’s aspects, they have in fact created a completely separate and totally illegitimate third contract. The treatment of women by the mainstream church is based almost solely on the provisions of the old contract which, of course, insures total domination by men resulting in the extreme deprivation of women in every aspect of their lives.
The God who was party to the Old Testament / Contract, became the man Jesus who was party to the New Testament / Contract. It is, therefore, absolute truth that doctrines / provisions of Jesus redefine the old contract with the nation of Israel and those past doctrines are of no effect, being replaced or fulfilled by the new. To deny this is to deny the power and authority of the Holy Spirit which guided Jesus in the formation of this new contract and must be strongly considered in the light of this doctrinal certainty:
Matthew 21:31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
The New Covenant and Women
The manner Jesus dealt with the women of his day gives undeniable evidence that the oppressive treatment of women, by the edicts of the old contract, was ended. Jesus nullified many centuries of oppressive Jewish law and custom. He clearly treated women and men as equals. He ignored numerous Old Testament edicts which specified inequality. He consistently violated the rules, concerning women, of the three major Jewish religious groups of the day: the Essenes, Pharisees, and Sadducees. The treatment of women by Jesus was nothing short of radical for his day. Here are just a few examples of that revolutionary change:
He taught female students.
Luke 10:38 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. 40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. 41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
He called a woman a daughter of Abraham as equal to men.
Luke 13:16 And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?
He accepted women in his inner circle.
Luke 8:1 And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, 2 And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, 3 And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.
He appeared first to a woman after his resurrection.
Matthew 28:1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
28:9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.
Women were present at Jesus’ death.
Matthew 27:55 And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: 56 Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children.
Mark 15:40 There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome; 41 (Who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him;) and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem.
John 19:25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
Jesus repeatedly expressed concern for widows.
Luke 20:46 Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts; 47 Which devour widows’ houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation.
He ignored ritual impurity laws.
Mark 5:25 And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, 26 And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, 27 When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. 28 For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. 29 And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. 30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes? 31 And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? 32 And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing. 33 But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. 34 And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.
He talked to foreign women.
John 4:7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. 8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) 9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. 10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
Jesus changes the male-favored doctrine of divorce:
Mark 10:11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. 12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.
After Jesus’ resurrection,a women receives the first apostolic commission of any human.
Matthew 28:5. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. 6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.
An Undeniable Conclusion
With just the evidence above, not considering the love and fairness Jesus expressed to all humanity, or his promise of salvation for all humans, the current treatment of women by the mainstream church is not the doctrine or the practice of the Son of God. Women are equal to men, they should be treated with equality and respect in all matters in this world, and no doubt, will be so in the true Kingdom of God.