Does the Bible teach that women are to be subordinate to men? Women-Injustice#4; Justice#15

Does the Bible teach that women are to be subordinate to men? Women-Injustice#4; Justice#15 May 5, 2021

In the last several posts I have argued that discrimination towards women may well constitute the greatest issue of injustice in the world today. Tragically, I suspect that most evangelical men are not grieved over this suggestion for two reasons.

  • I suspect that most evangelical men in the west are simply unaware of the gravity of the situation. Unfortunately, many are too dismissive of the facts when they are presented.
  • Many evangelicals hold to a conviction that the Bible affirms the subordination of women. This leads many to not only dismiss the facts but to be callous to them. In addition, anyone who speaks in defense of women must be wary of being labeled a “liberal” and a “feminist.”[1]

To dismiss injustice because, “Well, it is a shame that a woman does not get paid as much as a man, but her place is in the home anyways”; or, “Well, we cannot get caught up in debates about injustice towards women because then we will get caught in the snares of the radical feminists,” is inexcusable!

I addressed the first issue over the course of three posts (See “Women, Injustice, and the Bible #1; #2; #3).

In this post, I will begin a look at the biblical view of women.

Before I do so, allow me to reiterate a few closing remarks on the issue of injustices towards women.

What if we were to say that wage discrimination against women serves as an indicator of an overall conviction that women are considered lesser than men? And what if the conviction that women are lesser than men not only leads to abuse against women but often has genocidal ramifications? Yes, genocide.

The fact is that globally abortions are far more likely to occur because the child is a girl. In addition, millions more females as compared to males are exposed to death after birth.

This doesn’t even address the fact that females are exposed to slavery and sexual abuse at a significantly higher rate than males. Abortions, infanticide, slavery, and sex trafficking are indications of a pandemic afflicting hundreds of millions of females around the world.

It is ironic, then, that evangelicals, who have become well known for their opposition to abortion,[2] are relatively silent when it comes to injustices against women.


But doesn’t the Bible say women are to be subordinate to men?

Before I even begin to respond, allow me to note the absurdity inherent within the question. The question, as stated, serves to minimize, or even reject altogether, the presence of global injustices against women.

Tragically, many evangelicals run behind the conviction that women are to be subordinate to men and are either dismissive or are unfazed by the global injustices encountered by women! This is unacceptable!

The fact is that it should not matter whether or not the Bible affirms the subordination of women. Injustice is still injustice. And speaking up against injustice is the call for the people of God!

The biblical argument for gender equality is actually quite simple: God created both male and female in His image (Gen 1:26-27). An “image” in the Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) world, which Genesis says that both male and female reflect, commonly represented the deity. Thus, in the ANE culture, the king being made in the image of the gods served to reinforce his position of superiority, while the rest languished in fealty.

Genesis 1:26-27 counters this by employing royal language to depict the formation of all humanity. In doing so, Genesis affirms that all persons, male and female, are royalty and were made to reflect the image of God,

It is here that some contend that a distinction in role and authority was introduced after the fall of humanity in Genesis 3. I will respond to this assertion in my next post.

At this point, I would simply note that a biblical theology of gender must account for the coming of Christ and the advent of the kingdom of God.

If in the kingdom of God, there is a restoration of the equality between male and female—after all, few would dare to contend that there is the subordination of women to men in the New Jerusalem—and if that kingdom has begun in Christ, then gender discrimination has no basis among God’s people today.

In other words, any distinctions between the male and female[3] that may have been introduced after the Fall, are abolished in the new covenant, which is why Paul says, we are “one in Christ.”[4]

Over the course of the next several posts, I will add to this thesis and I will respond to the most common arguments presented in favor of female subordination (e.g., Genesis 3 says that God made women subordinate as a result of sin; Paul says that men are the head of women in 1 Corinthians 11; Peter says women are “weaker” in 1 Peter 3.)


I recognize that many of you may not agree with the position that I put forth here. In the following posts, I will explain the significance of my conclusions and their implications for the church. I only ask that you read honestly and openly. I do not suppose this to be simply a matter of opinions so that you believe what you believe and I will believe what I believe. Oh, how I wish this were so. If it were so, we could each go to our separate churches and carry out our beliefs: no harm, no foul.


Unfortunately, there is much more than mere beliefs at stake. Women are oppressed throughout the world. Though we might want to think that the oppression of women is a foreign matter, the facts speak differently. Gender discrimination and the abuse of women is very much a domestic problem for us in the West as well.

Though you may well have high respect for women and may not consider yourself prejudiced against women in any manner, the fact is that we live in a society where being a woman means to be subject to harassment, abuse, and a host of other inequities. For the sake of our mothers, our wives, our sisters, and our daughters, as well as for the sake of the kingdom, I implore you to give serious thought to these issues and to consider what I say.


Proverbs 31 The Ideal Woman

In closing, a brief note on the portrayal of the ideal woman in Proverbs 31:10-31. Not only does the text not say anything about her being subservient or obedient to her husband, but it affirms that she buys land (31:16) and engages in business affairs (31:13). Her works are to be praised at the gates—where business is conducted (31:31). She helps the poor out of her own means (31:20). She also runs a household by managing servants (31:15). In addition, she has strength (31:17) and wisdom (31:17). And her children and husband praise her (31:28).

To be continued . . .


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[1] The kind of rhetoric that dismisses the other side by labeling them (e.g., “liberals” or “feminists”) is unacceptable. One of the more popular books espousing women’s subordination among evangelicals is titled, Countering the Claims of Evangelical Feminism. Never do the authors state why feminism is bad. It just apparently is. It creates an “us” v “them” mentality—as though the “them” are not Christians likes “us”. This is too common a ploy by evangelicals. And it makes a mockery of the Gospel and the Kingdom.

[2] Note: evangelicals have not always opposed abortion. It was until the late 1970’s that abortion became on the leading causes of the evangelical movement. Prior to 1978, many evangelical leaders supported abortion. Note this is 5 years after Roe V Wade.

[3] I will note in my next post that the distinctions between male and female are the result of sin and not God’s mandate. Genesis 3 merely notes that conflict will arise between male and female.

[4] Cf Rom 12:5.

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