I recently received an email from a woman asking for Scriptural proof that that God does not want women to be treated as second class citizens. She could have sent this email to a lot of Christian sites and they may have sent her back Scriptures that they believe support the idea that women should be treated completely equal with men.
The most common Scripture passage used to try and say the Bible supports equal rights for women is found in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians:
“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 3:28 (KJV)
The advocates for woman’s rights hail this verse saying that it teaches that God intends for there to be absolutely no distinction and thus completely equal rights between men and women. But is this passage from Galatians God’s complete revelation on the subject of gender? We will explore the answer to that question later in this article.
I have changed the name of the woman who wrote me to Lauren in order protect her anonymity as she gave me her real name in the email. What follows are several statements from her in the email and my response to her showing her from the Bible what God’s Word says on this issue.
“I am raising daughters that have been in an environment that teaches them that women are second class… Do you know any podcast, bible verses, bible studies, websites, etc that can guide them back to trusting the Bible as God’s word and that the verses are not intending women to be second class citizens?”
First, we need to define what treating someone like a “second class citizen” is. In common language usage today treating someone like a second-class citizen would be to show disdain for them or mistreat them in some way. If we were talking about treating with disdain or hatred we can easily show that Biblically speaking this is wrong. We are to be kind to all people no matter what their race, gender or ethnicity is. We are also to treat others as we would want to be treated as Christ exhorted us in what has become known as “The Golden Rule”:
“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12 (KJV)
But often times this rule that we should treat others as we would want to be treated is vastly abused by many to cancel out entire sections of the Scriptures.
I get people writing me all the time saying “You only believe the way you do because you are a man and it is advantageous to you to believe in Biblical Gender Roles. If you were a woman you would not so easily believe in such things.” You know what my response is to such assertions? I tell them if I was a woman like my mother or my daughter or many other godly women I knew growing up I would absolutely believe the way I do about Biblical Gender Roles. I don’t believe in Biblical Gender Roles because it is advantageous to me as a man – I believe in Biblical Gender Roles because that it is what the Bible teaches.
Trust me, it is not easy living counter to the culture you live in. It is also not as easy as women think to be a man especially in this day when masculinity is attacked and women no longer respect men. Marriage has become more of a battlefield today than it ever was thanks to feminism poisoning the minds of women. Many men have just given up and given the reigns to their wife and they do whatever she says and whatever makes her happy. That is taking the easy and cowardly way out.
Returning back to the subject of women being treated as second-class citizens – we are not talking about mistreating women in the sense of treating them with disdain, dishonor or unkindness by Biblical standards.
The key phrase in my last statement is “by Biblical standards”. Our culture has a whole different set of standards by which women are said to be treated with disdain, dishonor and in an inhumane way. Before I speak to this let me give a dictionary definition of a “second class citizen” according to https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/us/second-class_citizen:
“A person belonging to a social or political group whose rights and opportunities are inferior to those of the dominant group in a society.”
So, if one social group of people has inferior rights and opportunities to that of some other dominant group than they are said to be treated as second class citizens.
American and Western culture in general have devised a new standard of treating someone as “less than a person” or treating someone in “an inhumane way”. The standard is equal rights. If a culture has different classes of people with different classes of rights then they are said to be treating those people with hatred, disdain and in an inhumane manner. No one is allowed to question this modern definition of treating someone in an inhumane way.
In fact, in America we have sacrificed the doctrines of our Christian faith as well as our marriages and many other things on the altar to our false god of equality. It is ok if we worship the Christian god too, as long as our service to the god of equality comes first.
So now the question then becomes does the Bible advocate for women to be treated as second class citizens to men according to the dictionary definition I just gave?
The answer simply put is YES. The Bible does in fact advocate for women to be treated as second class citizens to men if “second class citizen” simply means they are to have less rights and opportunities than men.
In fact, women occupy the second of three social classes of humanity that God designed.
The Three Social Classes Ordained by God
Contrary to modern Western and American ideals about equality God’s original design of mankind features a social order with three classes of people.
God’s First-Class Citizen – Man as God’s Image Bearer
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Genesis 1:27 (KJV)
There are a great number of Christian theologians that misread this famous Biblical account of the creation of man and woman. This passage does NOT teach that God created “them” (male and female) in his image. It clearly states “in the image of God created he HIM”. Many Christian teachers (even non-feminist teachers) have tried to argue that because “man” can refer to mankind that this can mean “So God created mankind in his own image”. That is absolutely true that sometimes “man” (or Adam as it is in the original Hebrew) can refer to an individual man or mankind in general. The problem with this interpretation in this particular passage is found in the second phrase with the word “him” which is a translation of the Hebrew phrase “eth haa-‘adam” which literally means “this same man”.
So in Genesis 1:27 the Scriptures are telling us “God created Adam in his own image, in the image of God created he this same Adam. Male and Female created he them.”
This passage tells us two very important truths. God created man (male human beings) in his image and also that he created women as well. It does not say he created women in his image, only that he created women.
And if there was any doubt as to the correct interpretation of this passage God gave the Apostle Paul this divine commentary on Genesis account:
“For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.” I Corinthians 11:7 (KJV)
God’s Second-Class Citizen – Woman the helper to man
“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” – Genesis 2:18 (KJV)
In Genesis chapter 2 we see that God did not want Adam to be alone and so he created a helper for him. Now a helper can be one in authority (like a manager who helps his workers), a helper can be an equal partner or a helper can be a subordinate. So which kind of helper did not create Eve to be? The Genesis account tells us that Adam named her type “woman” and later he even gave her personal name which was Eve. This was a sign that she would be a subordinate helper, not an authority helper nor an equal partner. Throughout the Old Testament this is maintained when we see that men ruled over women and that husbands could override any decision of their wives and fathers could override any decision of their daughters (Numbers 30).
Multiple New Testament passages confirm that woman was designed by God to be a subordinate helper to man.
“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; 2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.” I Peter 3:1-2 (KJV)
“22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” Ephesians 5:22-24 (KJV)
God designed woman to be man’s subordinate helper in many ways. She helps him by bearing and caring for his home and his children (1 Timothy 5:14). She helps him by being a faithful companion (Proverbs 31:11, Malachi 2:14). She helps him by bringing him sexual pleasure (Proverbs 5:15-19). But another way she helps her husband is simply by being “the weaker vessel” (1 Timothy 5:14) and needing his leadership, provision and protection. A man cannot fully image God as he was designed to do without being a husband and father and woman helps him in this way to fulfill image God to his fullest capability.
So, if you are asking “Why did God make women to be second class citizens?” the answer is found in a passage we just stated above:
“For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.” Ephesians 5:23 (KJV)
Not only was man made to image God and thus bring glory to him but marriage between a man and woman was made by God to model the relationship between God and his people. So, by fully embracing their status as second-class citizens to men women help men to fully image God and also model the relationship between God and his people.
To our equality obsessed world this makes no sense but this is why we as Christians are called to honor women for being the second-class citizens God designed them to be (I Peter 3:7).
Let me put this another way. God could have made a partner for man that was his equal in every way. In fact, God could have created man as a hermaphrodite (with both sexes) and then humans could have just chosen any other human as partners. They could have equally broken up the division of having children, caring for the home, leading, providing and protecting. If what I just said sounds familiar it is because this is exactly what our culture does today. We promote homosexuality and gender equality – both ideologies which are in direct contradiction to God’s Word and his design.
But if humans existed in pair bonded relationships as equals this would not have properly modeled the relationship of God to his people. Only if there were two genders with one dependent on the other for their leadership, provision and protection could the relationship of God to his people be properly modeled.
God’s Third-Class Citizen – Children as God’s inheritance to man
“Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. 4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. 5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” Psalm 127:3-5 (KJV)
While man does not create life in exactly the same way God does – God wanted man to have a taste of his ability to create life and in this way, he blessed man with the ability to father children.
Children help both men and women to fulfill their God given God given roles by having someone who needs their care and support. Children help men to exercise their father role in the way God is father to his children.
Summary of God’s three ordained social classes
Now let’s summarize the three classes and how they relate to one another. Men are to be the image bearers of God. One of the ways a man images God is by loving his wife as Christ loved his Church. Another way a man images God is by loving his children as God loves his children. Women are to show respect and deference toward men in general and specific obedience and submission toward their father and later their husband. Children are to show respect and deference to adult men and women and they are specifically to obey and honor their father and mother. This is God’s original creation design and order of humanity.
A fourth social class allowed by God because of Sin
Sin’s entrance into the world resulted in crime, laziness, poverty and war. These four human conditions would necessitate that God allow for a fourth class of citizen which is that of a slave.
“If a countryman of yours becomes so poor with regard to you that he sells himself to you, you shall not subject him to a slave’s service. He shall be with you as a hired man, as if he were a sojourner; he shall serve with you until the year of jubilee. He shall then go out from you, he and his sons with him, and shall go back to his family, that he may return to the property of his forefathers. For they are My servants whom I brought out from the land of Egypt; they are not to be sold in a slave sale. You shall not rule over him with severity, but are to revere your God. As for your male and female slaves whom you may have—you may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you. Then, too, it is out of the sons of the sojourners who live as aliens among you that you may gain acquisition, and out of their families who are with you, whom they will have produced in your land; they also may become your possession. You may even bequeath them to your sons after you, to receive as a possession; you can use them as permanent slaves. But in respect to your countrymen, the sons of Israel, you shall not rule with severity over one another.” Leviticus 25:39-46 (NASB)
While God allowed for slavery he also specifically gave rules regarding the humane treatment of slaves and the conditions under which slavery may occur. The version of slavery that occurred in North and South America neither met the conditions allowed for slavery or the treatment of slaves. See my article “Why Christians should not be ashamed of Slavery in the Bible” for more on this subject.
Is a woman’s second-class status only applicable if she is married or living with her father?
Some might think by the passages I mentioned previously that a woman’s second-class status only applies to her if she is married or perhaps is still a young woman living at home with her father. Such thinking is flawed and does not take into account the entire witness of the Scriptures. Yes, God allows and even praises celibacy in both women and men (I Corinthians 7). However, celibacy is God’s exception to his first command to mankind to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28) and to keep this command men and women must marry, have sex and have children.
Even if a woman feels called by God to celibacy in his service this does not remove her second-class status. Paul’s divine commentary on the Genesis account of the creation of man and woman makes this clear.
“3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.
5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.
7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. 8 For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. 9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.
10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.”
I Corinthians 11:3-10 (KJV)
This is one of the most controversial and most un-preached passages in modern churches today. Why? Because it blows away our entire “equality based society”. Men and women are equal in their humanity because woman was taken from man. However, Paul explains why women were to wear head coverings in worship services – because they were to reflect the order of God’s creation. Notice there is no mention in this passage of marriage or the relationship between a husband and wife. Instead this speaks to the social order between men and women in general. This is why women regardless of their marital status are to wear a sign of authority on their head when they come to worship.
“We attended home church and was told that women are to be submissive to their husbands, and not speak in the church.”
If you had church services in your home (as many churches do) then your husband would be right in teaching that you and your daughters should remain silent and simply listen during the spiritual instruction given by the men. This is actually very clearly taught in the Scriptures.
“11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.” 1 Timothy 2:11-13 (KJV)
Now does these mean women can never speak in their home because it is also used for church services? No. Paul even commands that elder women are to teach younger women in the Lord when he writes:
“3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” Titus 2:1-5 (KJV)
So, it is perfectly Biblical for elder women in the Lord to conduct women’s Bible studies in their home or maintain blogs online with other women as long as this occurs under the authority of their husbands. The women teaching should teach what is in accordance with their husband’s teachings and the women attending should do so with their husband’s permission.
“Some of the men in the church were not very caring and loving husbands and they did not honor their wives. Last year I realized that my efforts to be a proverbs 31 wife has led me to have a relationship that is not what I consider to be what God wants. My husband is verbally abusive, self-centered, and has neglected his role as Father and Husband.”
Who determines if a husband is acting in a caring or loving way toward his wife or honoring his wife? I can tell you who does not determine this. Neither his wife nor his children. Ultimately it is God himself who judges whether your husband is caring and loving to you and honoring you in the way God expects of him. And how does he determine God’s will in these areas? By examining the Scriptures and how God loves his wife.
Now this is not to say that men should not listen to the counsel of other men whether it be their fathers or their pastors or other spiritually mature men in the Lord. The Scriptures tell us “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:14). Also, men should hear their wife’s concerns but men must weigh their wife’s concerns by the Word of God. Is what she is asking for within the commands or example of God’s love toward his wife? Maybe. But is it also possible that how a wife feels her husband should care for her and love her is not warranted or commanded by the Scriptures? Could she actually be selfishly ambitious for a type of love that God does not entitle her to?
For instance, what is verbally abusive? If a man simply raises his voice to his wife is that verbally abusive? You won’t find that anywhere in the Scriptures. If a man calls his wife foolish for acting or talking in a certain way is that verbally abusive? No – in fact we have the example of one of the most righteous men in the Bible doing just that with his wife and the Scriptures tell us he did not sin in doing so (Job 2:10).
“As my daughters are growing up they are rejecting this unfair situation and are questioning the Bible. They see how there are many verses that are not in favor of women and that we are not as entitled as men… My daughters are losing interest in the Bible as they feel how can God want us to be treated unfairly and they also think that because men wrote the Bible that their sin and attitude about women is revealed in their writing.”
If I had a dime for every woman that wrote me over the past few years saying something like this “Thanks for confirming for me from the Bible why I never want to be a Christian” or “Thanks for helping me to leave the Christian faith your gender role teachings” I would be a wealthy man. The Atheist emails are especially humorous with their “I love your site – keep up the good preaching! You will convert everyone to atheists like me.”
I have had others write me things like “Please stop teaching these gender role doctrines. The Gospel is the most important thing people need to believe but people will never come to hear the Gospel if they first hear these gender role doctrines. Let them discover these passages on their own and decide for themselves what they believe. Stop putting a stumbling block for people coming to Christ.”
What are all these complaints really saying? They are saying that Christians need to leave behind anything in the Bible that conflicts with our modern culture. We need to teach people what makes them feel good and things that match the values of our culture or so we are told. A lot of big churches today do just that. Even many small churches do this. The sad fact is only a small percentage of Christian Churches today follow Paul’s example when he stated in Acts 20:27 “for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.”
The fact is the doctrines of Biblical gender roles are part of “the whole counsel of God”. Pastors and Christian teachers do exactly what the Apostle Paul warned them NOT to do:
“1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” 2 Timothy 4:1-4 (KJV)
What do most Pastors and Christian teachers do today? They teach only what their congregation’s itching ears want to hear. They have conformed themselves to the pattern of this world and the culture we live instead of transforming their minds and seeing the sin that the lays before them in our culture as the Bible exhorts us to do:
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2 (KJV)
We need to pray for preachers who will once again not be afraid to preach “Thus saith the Lord”.
But Christ didn’t treat women as second-class citizens!
The truth is that there are many Christian Pastors and teachers today that “preacheth another Jesus” (II Corinthians 11:4). The Christ they preach is a feminized Christ who is not Lord of all, but one who bows the knee to the false god of equality.
Some online articles try and point to the fact that Jesus broke some social norms of his age when it came to interactions with women and that somehow shows he was a feminist or rejected patriarchy as I have shown the Bible clearly supports.
Their supposed evidence for this is that Jesus encouraged women to sit and listen to him rather than doing house work while he taught (Luke 10:38-42), he spoke to a Samaritan woman (John 4:6-30) or that he had women followers who came along with his disciples.
None of these actions by Christ prove one iota that Christ did not in fact treat women as second-class citizens to men. What it proves is that he believed the men had had gone too far in forbidding women to hear the teaching of God’s Word (which many did).
Did Christ have even one of his twelve Apostles whom he commissioned to build his Church be a woman? No, he did not. Did Christ one time tell women they should be social equals with men? No, he did not. Did he tell women not to submit to their husbands? No, he did not.
But the biggest problem with saying Jesus Christ believed in treating women completely equal with men is the fact that his Word says otherwise! Remember that what the Prophets before Christ and the Apostles after Christ wrote came directly from God. Some Christians falsely believe that the words Christ spoke while he walked among men are more authoritative then the words he gave to his Apostles after he ascended to heaven. To attack the teachings of the Apostles like Peter and Paul regarding gender roles is to attack Christ himself who gave them his Word.
We have shown that those who use Paul’s statement that “there is neither male nor female“ in Galatians 3:28 and Christ’s actions in teaching women have built a false platform of support of equal rights for women. When we examine the whole counsel of God as found in the entirety of the Scriptures we see this is not the case.
If you are a Christian woman who feels as Lauren and her daughters do toward your husband, father or just men in general this is what you need to do. You need to heed the words of the Apostle James where he wrote:
“13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” James 3:13-16 (NIV)
As a woman who feels the way Lauren and her daughters do – you need to recognize your feelings for what they are when measured against the Word of God. If you desire anything God did not intend for you to have that is by definition selfish ambition. If you are desire the status that someone else has that is envy.
If you as a woman desire to be a first-class citizen – meaning to have all the rights and privileges of a man, then you have selfish ambition and envy in your heart. You need to get down on your knees and pray the prayer of David in Psalm 51:10 where he prays “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” You need to fully embrace your position as the weaker vessel and your place in God’s design.
If you are a father, husband or teachers of God’s Word you must have the courage to stand firm against the evil attitudes and ambitions in the women of our age.
“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”
I Corinthians 16:13 (NASB)