Christian Egalitarianism’s rebellion against male authority

An underlying root problem with Christian Egalitarianism is a belief system that is completely at odds with Biblical authority. Christian Egalitarians believe they are simply rebelling against male domination and oppression of women, but in reality they are rebelling against the design and authority which God has established.

The Bible establishes many different types of Authority

We are to submit to our civil authorities

“13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.”

I Peter 2:13-14(NASB)

We are to submit to our Church authorities

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not [b]with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”

Hebrews 13:17(NASB)

We are to obey our employers

“Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God;”

Colossians 3:22(KJV)

Children are to obey their parents

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.”

Ephesians 6:1(KJV)

Wives are to submit to and obey their husbands

“Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”

Ephesians 5:24(KJV)

We obey God, when man’s rule conflicts with God

“We ought to obey God rather than men.”

Acts 5:29(KJV)

This issue of authority is one of those areas where the fallacy of Christian Egalitarianism can be clearly seen. We understand that countries, states, cities, churches and businesses need leadership. There must be a chain of command for these organizations to properly function. In each of these areas, there are executives to give direction to the organization and settle disputes.

But Egalitarians say, in perhaps the most foundational of all human groupings, that of marriage, there is no head, no leader. For them it is a partnership of equals with no one to set the direction, or settle disputes. They have no problem with the Bible telling us to submit to our government authorities, or our managers at our jobs. Christian Egalitarians would certainly not have a problem with the Biblical teaching that children should obey their parents.

But when it comes to wives submitting to and obeying their husbands, they are ready to reinterpret or remove those passages, and deny any authority within marriage.

I believe the reason for the rejection of male authority in the home by Christian Egalitarians is that it hits them where they live. Governments can (and should) only exercise limited authority, as well as our employers and churches. But in the home, if the Bible is read at face value, the women is to submit to her husband in “everything”(Ephesians 5:24).

This scares people, such authority could be abused. So they deny it and say no one should have to be under such absolute authority of another human being, or so they think.

It must also be pointed out here that no human authority has absolute power.  Not a king, not a president, not a governor, not an employer and not even a husband.  Each human authority has it’s sphere of power and responsibility and its limits.  Only God has absolute authority.

For instance a husband while being his wife’s head, cannot order his wife to break the  speed limit.  That is a law set by the civil government, and it is within their sphere of authority to make such a law. A husband cannot order his wife to cover up him committing a murder or raping or abusing people as these things violate both the laws of God and the laws of man.

If a husband is physically abusing his children or his wife or is asking his wife to violate the laws of man (as long as those laws don’t violate God’s law or usurp the boundaries God has placed on all authorities) or the laws of God then she has not only the right, but the responsibility to resist him and go to his authorities(whether civil or church) for them to exercise discipline upon him.

A wife has the right to be freed from the tyranny of husband who physically abuses her or her children or threatens her life or the life of her children.

See this post I wrote on this subject “Does the Bible allow divorce for physical abuse?”.

What they do not realize is, man’s authority over woman is not meant to crush her, but to protect her, just as God lovingly but firmly leads us as his people.

I hope that Egalitarians reading this will prayerfully reconsider their beliefs, and truly think them through from a Biblical perspective. God gives us authority for our good, not for our demise.

Only by submitting to God’s authority in all areas of our life, whether they are civil authorities, church authorities, our managers at work, as well as the authority that God has established in the marriage and in the home can we truly find peace and be pleasing to God.

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Why does the Bible call Woman the Weaker Vessel?

Why does the Bible call Woman the Weaker Vessel?

potter-making-clay-jug-s

In my last post in this series on Christian Egalitarianism I alluded to the Bible calling woman “the weaker vessel”.

I understand that when we say “weaker” that seems like an insult to many women. But God’s Word does not see it that way:

“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”

I Peter 3:7(KJV)

Most people are instantly drawn to the word “weaker”, but let’s first look at the word “vessel”. We need to understand that as human beings we are born into “vessels”. Our souls are equal, but our vessels are not. Our vessels are made for different purposes.

Consider the similarities and differences between this minivan and then the military truck next to it.

photodune-1783948-silver-van-s Military truck

Do we think that a person driving a minivan is any less than a person driving this tough military truck? Of course not, it is only the vehicle or “vessel” they are driving.

In the same way that a minivan is made to carry a family, women have vessels that are designed by God to carry and care for children. Just as this military truck is made tougher for hard work, and it will take a much bigger beating than a minivan, so too a man is built stronger and tougher than a woman, and his body is built for work, as opposed to caring for children.

But just as man and woman are both human beings, both of these are automobiles.  Just as a man and woman both have hearts and lungs and almost all the same organs(except for reproductive organs), both of these vehicles have engines, transmissions and tires that make these vehicles move using the same basic principles.

But would anyone be insulted if someone told them their minivan was not as tough as this truck? Of course not! Each vehicle is built for a very different purpose, just as God has built men and women’s bodies for very different purposes.

Many commentators have tried to go out of their way to say here in I Peter that “weaker” does not really mean “weaker”, but that is exactly what it means in the Greek. But also notice that God calls husbands to honor their wives as weaker vessels.

What God is saying is this – “Men I want you to recognize that your wife is not as strong as you, both emotionally and physically. You need to be considerate of those qualities, and appreciate those qualities for the many ways they help her to be a good wife and mother. Don’t belittle her for being weaker or more fragile than you, but instead honor her position as your wife and the mother of your children.”

I truly believe this is the truth that God is trying to communicate to husbands, if we take I Peter 3:7 literally, as we should.

Speaking of the “weaker vessel” some Christian Egalitarians have tried to say “ezer” actually means “power” or “strength”. While it may take on that meaning in certain contexts we must also understand that words take on different meanings within their context, and we have to look as a whole to see if women in the Bible are presented as symbols of strength and power.

When Barak begged the prophetess Deborah to go with him into battle she said:

She said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the honor shall not be yours on the journey that you are about to take, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh.”

Judges 4:9(NASB)

She did not want to go, and when she said the honor would not be his, but that God would hand their enemies “into the hands of a woman” this was meant as a slap in the face to the Barak and his men.

“O My people! Their oppressors are children,

And women rule over them.

O My people! Those who guide you lead you astray

And confuse the direction of your paths.”

Isaiah 3:12(NASB)

When God said through the prophet that Israel’s oppressors were children, and women ruled over them, that in no way conveys that women were symbols of strength and leadership. It was a slap in the face to Israel, to say they were so weak that children oppressed them, and women ruled over them.

While God praises many godly women in the Bible, women are never presented as symbols of strength and power in the Bible. Instead the Bible emphasizes the love of women as well as the compassion and care that women do so well.

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Christian Egalitarianism’s rebellion against male authority

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Why did God make woman so opposite of man?

Why did God make woman so opposite of man?

CompareManWoman

In my last post in my series on Christian Egalitarianism, we showed why I believe KENEGDO in Genesis 2’s “help meet” means that woman was made “opposite or different” than man.

Just look around you today and you will see our culture trying to minimize or deny the significant differences between men women, both physiologically and psychologically. They deny God’s natural design and order as Paul speaks about in Romans 1:

“18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

Romans 1:18-20(NASB)

How can anyone say with a straight face that men and women are equal outside of their common humanity and their souls? Let me remind you of these differences I stated in the last post:

Men have external sex organs Women have internal sex organs
Men’s bodies are built for strength and endurance(they have more muscle mass, tougher skin, more red blood cells and experience less pain because have fewer pain receptors in their skin) Women’s bodies are built for beauty, comfort and caregiving and they are more sensitive to pain than men are.
Men are systemizers Women empathizers
Men have tougher skin Women have softer skin
Men see less colors Women see a broader range of colors
Men have faster reflexes and can track moving objects better Women are better at multitasking
Men are competitive Women are cooperative
Men are task oriented Women are relationally oriented
Men are risk takers Women are more cautious

 

It can be “clearly seen, being understood through what has been made” (Romans 1:20) that women and men were designed for very DIFFERENT purposes and roles. To deny this is to deny a self-evident truth.

I believe based upon Romans chapter 1 that we as Christians should not stand silently by as groups claiming the Christian name, seek to minimize or deny God’s distinct design of and his roles for men and women. We should be angry at such a perversion of God’s purposes, just as he shows he was angry when men perverted what he had made.

As an American, I believe in the right of every person to believe what they will. But as a Christian we are called to defend the truth, and call out false teaching where we see it. Most Christians, and especially Bible believing Pastors, need to stand up and call out this teaching for what it is – heresy pure and simple.

I believe the answer to why God made woman so opposite from man can be found in this verse:

“Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.”

I Corinthians 11:9(KJV)

We can see from both Genesis 2 and I Corinthians 11 that God created woman for man. When we understand this principle, then we understand that God created a helper for Adam, who was not just his mirror opposite, but someone whose opposite attributes would complement Adam.

Adam needed someone who would be able to bear and care for his children, he need someone to care for his home while he hunted and worked the fields. God not only made woman with the natural ability to become pregnant and after birth be able to feed the child from her breasts, but he also gave woman the emotional ability to empathize and work with children in a way most men are incapable of doing.

A woman should never be mocked for being emotional (as some men do), because this a gift from God which enables her to be the perfect mother, as well as great caregiver to the sick and elderly.

But God did not just give women breasts for feeding children, he gave them breasts for the pleasure and comfort of man. Human females are the only mammals who have constantly protruding breasts, even when they are not pregnant or nursing children.

Because men are so visually wired by God, he made a woman’s body for beauty, not for toughness and endurance the way a man’s body is built.

But besides these practical differences, God also created woman for spiritual and symbolic reasons. God created man in his image, to exercise God’s leadership, provision and protection qualities. But man needed a person, not just some animal, which would allow him to exercise these traits. Woman was perfectly designed by God to fulfill this role as the recipient of man’s leadership, provision and protection, and to provide him with the perfect helper and companion.

God could have made men and women much more similar than he did. He could have made women just as strong, and with the exact same nature and abilities, but he did not. God purposefully made woman weaker and more fragile (both emotionally and physically) than man, so that she would need his leadership, protection and provision.

In my next post in this series on Christian Egalitarianism, I will talk in more detail about the Bible calling woman “the weaker vessel”.

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Why does the Bible call woman the weaker vessel?

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What did God mean when he called woman a help meet for man?

What did God mean when he called woman a help meet for man?

wife gives her husband a meal 

Previously we discussed Egalitarian beliefs surrounding the word “Ezer”. This word is used in the Hebrew language that the Old Testament was originally written in. Most English translations of the Bible translate the Hebrew word Ezer as “helper” or “help”.

Ezer occurs 21 times throughout various Old Testament books. In most of these instances, Ezer is referring to God as man’s “help” or “helper”. Here are a few examples:

“But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God: thou art my help [EZER] and my deliverer ; O LORD, make no tarrying .”

Psalm 70:5(KJV)

“My help[EZER] cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.”

Psalm 121:2(KJV)

In both of the above passages, as well as most of the other passages where Ezer is used, we can see that Ezer seems to be referring to help coming from God. However there some passages where Ezer does not refer to God’s help, but to man’s help.

Isaiah 30 is a prophesy talking about Israel looking to Egypt for help, but this would be a futile attempt according to the prophet:

“They were all ashamed of a people that could not profit them, nor be an help[EZER] nor profit , but a shame, and also a reproach.”

In this case, EZER is referring the fact that the Egyptians would not a “help”, or EZER, to the Israelites.

So while most instances of EZER refer to God’s help, it sometimes also refers to men helping other men. But for the Egalitarian, the most important use of EZER in the Bible comes at the very beginning, in the creation account when God created woman:

“20 And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help [EZER] meet [k’enegdo] for him… And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

22 And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

Genesis 2:20-23(KJV)

The Egalitarian interpretation of Ezer from Genesis chapter 2

Below are some typical Egalitarian interpretations of Hebrew word Ezer:

“Ezer is used 20 times in the Old Testament: seventeen times to describe God and three times to describe a military ally or aide. “Help” or “helper” is an adequate translation, but English has different nuances than the Hebrew does. In English “helper” implies someone who is learning, or under a person in authority. In the Hebrew “help” comes from one who has the power to give help—it refers to someone in a superior position. That is why God can help Israel: he has the power to do so. God helps Israel because they do not have the power to help themselves.”

Source: http://www.cbeinternational.org/blogs/does-it-really-mean-helpmate

“Adam was regarded by his Creator as incomplete and deficient as he lived at first without the benefit of a proper counterpart. He was without community. God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen 2:18). So, as Ecclesiastes 4:9-11 expressed it, “Two are better than one….” Accordingly, in order to end man’s loneliness, God formed “for Adam [a] suitable helper” (Gen 2:18)-or at least that is the way most have rendered the Hebrew word ‘ēzer.

Now, there is nothing pejorative about the translation “helper”, for the same word is used for God, but it is also variously translated as “strength”, as in “He is your shield and helper [=strength] (‘ēzer)” in Deuteronomy 33:29; 33:26.

But R. David Freedman has argued quite convincingly that our Hebrew Word ‘ēzer is a combination of two older Hebrew/Canaanite roots, one ‘-z-r, meaning “to rescue, to save,” and the other, ģ-z-r, meaning “to be strong,” to use their verbal forms for the moment.”

Source: http://walterckaiserjr.com/women.html

 

A Complementarian response to the word “Ezer” in Genesis chapter 2

The Bible tells us that woman was created as an EZER KENEGDO, or a “help meet” for man. Modern translations often translate this as “helper suitable” for man. For Egalitarians this phrase is one of the cornerstones of how they interpret the entire Bible as it relates to God’s intention for men and women.

Let’s first address the “Ezer” in the room. I agree that “help” or “helper” does not always mean the person doing the helping is a subordinate. For instance, maybe someone is new cashier at a store and they need their manager to come over and “help” them with something that does not make the manager any less their authority because he is helping them.

So when God called Eve Adam’s helper, that in and of itself did not mean she was his subordinate. Ezer does not refer to position, it refers to function. The person helping someone may be an authority, an equal or subordinate.

But what is the full context surrounding the “help meet” of Genesis chapter 2? Context and Scripture interpreting Scripture are critical. While “Ezer” does not tell us Eves position (as an authority, an equal or a subordinate) to Adam, the surrounding context DOES tell us her position.

In Genesis 2 Adam names the animals, an act of authority given him by God. Then he names his wife “Eve”, another act of authority.  In the Scriptures while mothers sometimes named their children as Leah did with Issachar(Genesis 30:18) we see that fathers always had the final say in naming and sometimes overrode the names their wives gave to their children as in this case:

And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.”

Genesis 35:18 (KJV)

So when we look at mothers naming their children – the naming of their child was in essence a suggestion which had to be validated and finalized by the father.  The father always had the final say in the naming of a child because of his authority over both his wife and his children.

Furthermore, in Genesis 3:16 God said:

“Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”

Egalitarians are quick to say that Genesis 3:16 proves that Adam and Eve were meant to be equal originally, and that him ruling over her was only because of sin in the garden and was temporary until Christ came, this where they try and use Galatians 3:28 to say Christ “restored” what they believe was the original equality between men and women:

“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 problem with the Egalitarian interpretation of Galatians 3:28 is that it written by the same Apostle Paul who wrote these words:

“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. “

I Corinthians 11:3(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)

And one of Paul’s fellow Apostles (Peter) wrote:

“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbandsEven as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.”

I Peter 3:1 & 6(KJV)

So in one passage Paul says there is no male or female in Christ, yet in all these other passages he says men are the head over women, and wives are to be in subjection to their husbands. Some Egalitarians have actually said Paul was simply being inconsistent with his own teachings – a direct attack on Biblical inerrancy.  Others explain away the phrasing in these passages, write parts of them off as scribal additions that were added many years after the Apostles died.

So going back to Genesis 3:16 where God said Adam would rule over Eve, he also mentioned Eve conceiving children in pain. It is clear from the context that “the pain” was the curse, not Eve’s ability to bear children. So it is an incorrect interpretation of Genesis 3:16 to say everything in it, including man ruling over woman is all part of the curse.

In fact Ephesians 5:22-24 shows that man’s ruling over woman is meant as a beautiful picture of Christ ruling over his Church, not as part of the curse of sin.

So if Galatians 3:28 does not get rid of God’s distinct roles for men and women, what is it referring to?

When we look at Galatians 3:28 in it’s larger context, we can see what is really is talking about:

“7 Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”[ So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith…

26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 3:7-9 & 26-29(NIV)

Rather than obliterating God’s gender roles as Egalitarians suggest Galatians 3:28 does, it is a statement referring to the oneness of all those of faith from Abraham to Christ.  We are all the children of faith, if we believe as Abraham did. God fulfilled his promise to Abraham that all nations would be blessed by his seed(Christ).

So spiritually speaking, there is no difference between a man and woman, a Jew and a Gentile, a slave or a free man, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.  However physically speaking, while we live in this world these differences still exist. You have to write off a lot of Scripture to say this passage gets rid of God’s divinely created gender roles.

What does KENEGDO mean in Genesis 2?

But what does KENEGDO really mean? This word when transliterated is “Neged” and generally means “in front of, or opposite to”. We can see other usages of this word these passages:

“Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite [Neged] him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?”

Joshua 5:13(NASB)

“I will set no worthless thing before [Neged] my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not fasten its grip on me.”

Psalm 101:3(NASB)

“There is no wisdom and no understanding And no counsel against [Neged] the LORD.”

Psalm 54:3(NASB)

Nothing in KENEGDO translates to a “helper equal to man” as Egalitarians often preach. Nothing in KENEGDO means equality.

I believe the best interpretation of EZER KENEGDO is “a helper who is man’s opposite”. That translation makes a lot of sense when you really think about how God made man and woman as I have mentioned many of these differences on this site many times.

Look at all these opposite attributes of men and women:

Men have external sex organs Women have internal sex organs
Men’s bodies are built for strength and endurance(they have more muscle mass, tougher skin, more red blood cells and experience less pain because have fewer pain receptors in their skin) Women’s bodies are built for beauty, comfort and caregiving and they are more sensitive to pain than men are.
Men are systemizers Women empathizers
Men have tougher skin Women have softer skin
Men see less colors Women see a broader range of colors
Men have faster reflexes and can track moving objects better Women are better at multitasking
Men are competitive Women are cooperative
Men are task oriented Women are relationally oriented
Men are risk takers Women are more cautious

I could go on with the many ways that men and women are indeed opposites, but you get the point.

But then you have to ask the question, why did God make woman so opposite of man? Was it just to give some variety to the world? In my next in this series on Christian Egalitarianism post we will discuss some reasons why God made woman so opposite of man.

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Why did God make woman so opposite of man?

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What did God mean when he called woman a help meet for man?

Patriarchy is Biblical in society, not just the home and church

Open Bible, with textured granite background.

I was raised in mostly conservative Baptist complementarian churches. I even researched my complementarian views in my early 20’s (along with everything else I believed). I questioned many things, read many comparative religion books as well as writings on equal rights and feminism in particular.

I came to the conclusion that the complementarian teaching I had learned was not only Biblical, but logical as well. I believed and saw that science confirms that man and woman, though they are both human, are designed with different purposes in mind. I believed (and still believe) that freedom within the bounds of God’s laws and commands makes for the best society. God’s designed society with order. Headship in marriage and in the church gives society that order.

I believed the best place for a woman was to be in the home, but I did not believe it was wrong for a woman to pursue an education and then a career. I did not believe it was wrong for a woman to be in leadership positions of business, politics or other places of society.

That was almost 20 years ago for me (as of the time of my writing this paper). What I did not realize is that I like most Complementarians had left some big questions unanswered.

  1. How can a woman pursue an education and a career without neglecting her first duty to her husband, her children and her home?
  2. How can a woman be in a position of authority over men, even in society? She can never be her husband’s authority, he is always her authority, Biblically speaking. She can never be her father’s authority either.   So for instance if a woman were to become mayor of the city she and her husband(or father) lived in, or governor of the state, they lived in, or President of the country they lived in – she would in essence be in authority over her husband – how could this be right or acceptable?

Then I came to realize that the complementarian views I had been raised with came about to soften the Bible’s teaching on the headship of man in society as feminism in American took root and these teachings became unpopular.

I realized that the complementarian beliefs that limit male headship to only the home and church were inconsistent with the Scriptures. God did not limit man’s authority over woman to only the church or the home, he meant for it to be present in the home, the church and society at large.

It is clear that God has designed a consistent pattern of authority to be followed in this world:

God the father is the authority of God the Son

God the Son is the authority of man

Man is the authority of woman

This does not change in this world. When God creates a new heaven and new earth, then this authority structure may be altered, but for now it remains.

I will talk on female prophets in another article but I will simply say this for now. A prophet does not always carry the same authority over others, sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t. Deborah did not want to be in any authority position over men, they asked her to go with them into battle because they lacked the courage God expected of them. She even said to their shame that God would give their enemies into the hands of a woman. Deborah did not sit at the gates of the cities or go into the cities exercising authority over the people, the people simply came to her for advice as she sat under a tree outside the city gates.

Never once do we see Deborah defying her husband or taking authority over him. Never once do we hear Deborah crying for women to have equal rights with their husbands, or to be given more positions of authority in their society.