Equality of the Genders

John MacArthur supports the “traditional view of women,” but he has a nice summation of the equality of the genders before God, in his book Different by Design.

The prevalent Jewish tradition about women did not come from the Old Testament, which makes it clear women are spiritually equal to men in that:

They Had the Same Responsibilities as Men: To obey God’s Law (in Exodus 20 the Ten Commandments are given to both men and women), to teach God’s Law (Deuteronomy 6:6–7 and Proverbs 6:20 indicates both are responsible to teach the Law to their children, which means both must first know it), and to participate in religious festivals (e.g., Exodus 12 and the Passover).

They Had the Same Protection as Men: Penalties given for crimes against women are the same as those for crimes against men (e.g., Exodus 21:28–32). God equally values the life of a man and the life of a woman.

They Took the Same Vows as Men: The highest level of spiritual commitment available to an Old Testament believer was the Nazirite vow, which was an act of separation from the world and devotion to God. Women as well as men could take that vow (Numbers 6:2).

They Had the Same Access to God as Men: God dealt directly with women in the Old Testament; He didn’t go through a man when He wanted to communicate with a woman. For example, the Angel of the Lord (a pre-incarnate manifestation of Christ) appeared to Hagar (Genesis 16:8–13) and Samson’s mother (Judges 13:2–5).

The New Testament, like the Old, teaches the spiritual equality. Galatians 3:28 teaches the absolute spiritual equality of men and women in Christ. The New Testament does not treat women as spiritual inferiors:

They Had the Same Responsibilities as Men: All the commands, promises, and blessings of the New Testament are given equally to men and women. We have the same spiritual resources and the same spiritual responsibilities.

They Had the Same Access to Jesus as Men: The first person Jesus revealed His messiahship to in the Gospel record was a woman (John 4). Jesus healed women (Matthew 8:14–15), showing them just as much compassion as He did men. He taught them (Luke 10:38–42), and allowed them to minister to Him personally (Luke 8:3). The first person to see the resurrected Christ was a woman (Mark 16:9; John 20:11–18).

He goes on to explain that roles between men and women were different, but I do not agree with his position on leadership and ordination being limited to men alone. When a woman is called by God into the ministry, she has an obligation to follow that leadership and calling as much as any man.

Patrick Morley, in his book Man in the Mirror has a chapter on how to be happily married and brings up roles.

If a man’s greatest need is to be respected, then submission is the appropriate response to a husband since the opposite of submission is resistance. The main problem with marriages on this topic is that men don’t know what it means to love as Christ loved the church. Biblical love is a decision, not a feeling. He adds four types of marriages in in a submit/resist and love/hate matrix:

  1. Love and Submit (Ozzie and Harriet Nelson): these couples share life together and share responsibilities. Biblical examples could be Abraham and Sarah or Mary and Joseph.
  2. Hate and Submit (Edith and Archie Bunker): this may be the most common type of marriage that is not working. The husband does not get it (Colossians 3:19, 1 Peter 3:7, 1 Timothy 5:8, Ephesians 5:28-29).
  3. Love and Resist (The Lockhorns comic strip, or the BBC’s Keeping Up Appearances): this is about a wimpy little guy dominated by a strong willed and screechy woman. Perhaps this has grown out of the feminist movement, but even a “housewife” is not immune to this. It is the man’s responsibility to love her irrespective of his wife’s response.
  4. Hate and Resist (JR and Sue Ellen Ewing): she nags him, idles the day away, contends with his authority, disrespects him, she is sarcastic towards him. He treats her harshly, doesn’t consider her feelings, and disrespects her. More than likely those in this type are already divorced, except for one partner hanging in there to make it work.

I’m not an expert on marriage but have been with the same godly woman for over 30 years.

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