8 Biblical Differences Between Wives and Slaves

Webster’s dictionary defines a slave as “a person held in servitude as the chattel of another”.   The word ‘chattle’ refers to a human being that is owned by another human being.  By our modern definition of slavery, we cannot comprehend the concept of a person being owned by another person without that owned person not being a slave.

On one side of this debate about the Biblical treatment of wives we have Christians who claim that there is absolutely no similarity at all between the husband/wife relationship and that of a slave owner to his slave while on the other side we have atheists and other humanists who claim that the Bible makes women into slaves.  What do both of these sides have in common? Jesus said it best in the Gospel of Matthew:

“Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.”

Matthew 22:29 (KJV)

The truth is that the Scriptures teach us that is possible for one person to own another person without that owned person being considered a slave.  In other words, from a Biblical perspective while all slaves are owned by other people, not all people who are owned by other people are to be considered slaves.

Wives and Children Designated by God as Property and Slaves Allowed as Property

The Bible shows us that God designed two social classes of human beings that were to be considered the property of men.  He allowed a third social class of human being that could also be taken as property as well under certain circumstances.

In the 10th commandment God mentions a man’s wife, along with his male and female slaves amongst those things which are his property:

“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

Exodus 20:17 (KJV)

In the following passage we see that God gives children to their fathers as property:

“3 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)

The English word “heritage” is a translation of the Hebrew word “Nachala” which literally means “inherited property”.

God authorized Israelite fathers to sell their daughters as indentured servants for a period of no longer than six years.  This is shown in the following passages:

“7And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do. 8 If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her.”

Exodus 21:7-8 (KJV)

“And if thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee.”

Deuteronomy 15:12 (KJV)

The passages above show that neither male nor female Hebrew indentured servants could be kept indefinitely unless the male Hebrew willingly wanted to stay and serve (see Exodus 21:5-6) or the woman was taken as a wife by the man who purchased her either for himself or one of his sons.   Otherwise after 6 years male Hebrew indentured servants had to be freed and female Hebrew indentured servants had to be allowed to be purchased back by their male relatives or by another man wishing to take them as a wife.

And for those who think these daughters sold as maidservants could be used for sex outside a covenant of marriage, I would refer the reader to the following prohibition against fathers selling their daughters for this purpose:

“Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness.”

Leviticus 19:29 (KJV)

So, it is clear that God did not allow Hebrews to sell or buy their fellow Hebrews as slaves.  They could only could only purchases the services of fellow Hebrews as indentured servants for a limited window of time.  However, it is equally clear that God did in fact allow the Hebrews to purchase the children of foreigners within their land as slaves or they could purchase slaves from the nations around them.

“44 Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. 45 Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. 46 And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour.”

Leviticus 25:44-46 (KJV)

And in the New Testament Paul gives the following command to slaves:

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)

The word “servants” in the KJV passage above is a translation of the Greek word “Doulos” which actually means “slaves” and this is how most of the modern translations translate this verse.

This brings us back to wives.  We have already shown from the 10th commandment that it includes wives with male and female slaves as the property of men.  But the ownership of a husband over his wife is seen even clearer in the original Hebrew language of the Scriptures. The noun form of the Hebrew word ‘baal’ which means ‘owner/master’ is used eleven times in the Old Testament to speak of a husband’s relationship to his wife.    The word ‘baal’ is used an additional 11 times in verb form to refer to a woman coming to be ‘owned’, or married, to a husband.

The passage below from the book of Deuteronomy uses both the noun and verb form of the Hebrew word baal to illustrate a husband’s ownership over his wife:

“If a man be found lying with a woman married to an [verb ‘baal’ ‘owned by’]  husband [noun ‘baal’ ‘owner’], then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.”

Deuteronomy 22:22 (KJV)

In the New Testament the Apostle Peter refers back to this concept of a woman being owned by her husband when he admonishes wives to follow the example of the women of past generations like Sarah who “obeyed” her husband calling him “lord”:

“5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: 6 Even 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 3:5-6 (KJV)

Now having proven from the Bible that wives are actually considered by God to be property just as slaves are, we will go on to show that the responsibilities of owners toward these two types of human properties are very different.

8 Biblical Differences Between Wives and Slaves

As we have previously shown from Exodus 20:17 and Leviticus 25:44-46,  wives and slaves are both considered by God to be the property of men.  And both wives and slaves are commanded by God to obey their masters in everything as Colossians 3:22, Ephesians 5:24, 1 Peter 3:5-6 tells them to do.

But this is where the similarity between wives and slaves ends and the differences begin. Below are eight Biblical distinctions between wives and slaves.

1.  Slave owners don’t have to sacrifice themselves for their property – husbands do.

“25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it

Ephesians 5:25 (KJV)

2.  Slave owners don’t have to teach God’s Word to their property  – husbands do.

And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

1 Corinthians 14:35 (KJV)

3. Slave owners don’t have to act as human instruments of God’s sanctification in the lives of their property –  husbands do.

26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”

Ephesians 5:26-27 (KJV)

4. Slave owners don’t have to love and care for their property as they do their own bodies – husbands do.

“28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church

Ephesians 5:28-29 (KJV)

5. Slave owners don’t have to give their bodies to meet the sexual needs of their property (nor should they) – husbands do.

“3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.”

I Corinthians 7:3-4 (KJV)

6. Slave owners don’t have to honor their property – husbands do.

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)

7. Slave owners don’t have to give their property the fruit of their labors – husbands do.

Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

Proverbs 31:31 (KJV)

8. God did not design men to be the property of other men.  God did design women to be the property of their husbands.

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. For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. 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.

1 Corinthians 11:7-10 (KJV)

Conclusion

We have shown conclusively from the Bible that contrary to modern humanist notions of equality, God has actually designated wives and children as the property of their husbands and fathers. And again, contrary to modern egalitarian views of what marriage should be, God commands wives to regard their husbands as their masters and like slaves to be obedient to their masters in everything. The obvious exception for both wives and slaves in their obedience is if their masters command them to sin against God.  It is only in this case that they can and must disobey their masters as Acts 5:29 tells us.

The truth from the Scriptures is that there are indeed some similarities between wives and slaves but there are also significant differences between wives and slaves.

God created the relationship between a husband and wife to mirror the loving relationship between himself and his people.  A wife is to be regarded as her husband’s most precious possession, one that he cares for and would protect with his very life.

Another significant difference between wives and slaves is husbands as their wife’s owner and master are required by God to give their wife the fruit of her labors as Proverbs 31:31 states.   A slave is not entitled to enjoy any fruits from his labors.

Now this principle must be taken into account with the entire witness of the Scriptures.  In Ephesians 5:24 wives are commanded to submit to their husbands in “everything”. And yes, that would most certainly include finances.  Every dollar that comes into their home comes under the spiritual authority of the husband whether that is income from his work, his wife’s work or inheritances that either of them may acquire.  Even if the wife does not work outside the home but instead is a keeper in the home her work there has great value.

What this means is that whether a wife works outside the home or is a keeper of the home the husband should allow his wife to have fruits from her labor.  Practically speaking that means allowing her some discretionary use of money to buy things for the house or herself personally that she would like to buy.

Finally, on the topic of slavery. It is only because of the effects of sin in the world that God allowed for the practice of slavery but he commanded it to be done under humane conditions.  For a more in-depth look at the reasons and conditions under which God allowed for the practice of slavery see my article “Why Christians Should Not Be Ashamed of Slavery in The Bible”.

Shellfish, Mixed Fabrics And Slavery – Oh My!

This is the second part of my YouTube series entitled “A Defense of Living Biblically”.  In this next part I take on an statement by Rachel Oates that is a very common attack by atheists and sadly even some Christians asserting that we cannot really follow the Bible.  These attacks have even been used in some television shows over the years including the new television series “Living Biblically”.  This video is also available as an mp3 audio download in my audio section here.

After watching this video I suggest reading these articles that I have previously written on methods for properly interpreting the Bible:

How to Correctly Interpret the Bible

What is the distinction between the Moral, Ceremonial and Civil laws of the Old Testament?

What are the Moral Laws of God in the Old Testament?

Also on the controversial topic of slavery that I covered in this video please see the article below that I previously wrote on that subject:

Why Christians Shouldn’t Be Ashamed Of Slavery In The Bible 

Does the Bible Teach that Women are Second Class Citizens?

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.

LAUREN’S STATEMENT:

“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?”

MY RESPONSE:

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.

LAUREN’S STATEMENT:

 “We attended home church and was told that women are to be submissive to their husbands, and not speak in the church.”

MY RESPONSE:

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.

LAUREN’S STATEMENT:

 “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.”

MY RESPONSE:

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).

LAUREN’S STATEMENT:

“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.”

MY RESPONSE:

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.

Conclusion

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)

The American Idol of Equality

The Bible does not support the modern American concept of equality. In fact in some ways American ideas about equality are completely at odds with the Bible. But the unfortunate truth is that over the past century most American Christians have willing laid down their Biblical faith on the altar of their new god – the god of equality.

It is a sad fact that in 2016 more Americans believe in gender equality than believe in God. According to a 2015 Pew survey, 86 percent of Americans believe in God while another Pew survey reveals that 91 percent of Americans believe in advancing the social equality of women.

“Pew Research Center surveys are not the only ones that have found a long-term decline in the overall share of Americans who say they believe in God. For example, 86% of Americans said in a 2014 Gallup poll they believed in God or a universal spirit, down from 96% in 1994 and the lowest figure since Gallup first asked the question in 1976.”

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/11/04/americans-faith-in-god-may-be-eroding/

“…the highest levels of support for gender equality are found in Canada, Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. Roughly nine-in-ten or more in these countries say gender equality is very important.”

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/03/08/strong-global-support-for-gender-equality-especially-among-women/

And it is not just gender equality.  Whether it be income equality, education equality, racial equality, sexual orientation equality, healthcare equality and host of other “equalities” it is undeniable that the American culture as well as the rest of western countries have bowed their knees to the god of equality.

How should Bible believing Christians react to our culture’s emphasis on these various equality ideologies?

When it comes to this issue of equality we have two choices as Christians.

We can let our beliefs about equality dictate our beliefs about the Bible

Sadly many professing Christians in America and around the western world have chosen this first approach to the subject of equality. While their beliefs in equality are absolute – their beliefs in the Bible as God’s perfect and inspired word are not. Any part of the Bible that contradicts with what their god of equality stands for are dismissed as “cultural” or “temporary” for Biblical times only. Others teach a false Gospel that Christ came not just to die on the cross but to bring about social equality.

We can let our beliefs about the Bible dictate our beliefs about equality

Fewer Christians today than at any point in the history of Christendom believe that the Bible stands as the inerrant Word of God. Yes as Bible believing Christians we understand that we are not under the civil laws, sacrificial laws, cleanliness laws, dietary laws and priestly laws that God gave to Israel as theocracy.  But God’s lasting moral law was enforced and strengthened under the new law of Christ in the form of the New Testament.

We believe what the Apostle Paul wrote when he said this about his writings as well as those of the other Apostles:

“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.”

I Thessalonians 2:13 (KJV)

We know that the New Testament stands as the final revelation of God built upon the moral law of the Old Testament.  When accept this fact, then we will accept that the New Testament not only left certain inequalities intact (like slavery) but it also enshrined and reinforced other inequalities such as the social inequality of men and women.  Any honest reading of the New Testament reveals this to be true.

Now that we have established that Bible believing Christians must view the subject of equality through the lenses of the Scriptures we will now look at some hot button areas of equality in American culture today.

What does the Bible say about racial and gender equality?

The Bible teaches that all human beings, men and women and people of all races are equally human.

“24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;”

Acts 17:24-26 (KJV)

All human beings regardless of their gender or race are equally as human as the first man Adam was and we ought never to regard a person as being less than human because they are a certain gender or race.

The Bible teaches not only the equality of our common humanity but also our spiritual equality as believers in Christ regardless of race, creed or gender:

“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)

Does the Bible support the concept of equal justice before the law?

Yes it does. The Bible teaches that all people are to be treated fairly in the eyes of the law:

“You shall not distort justice; you shall not be partial, and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous.”

Deuteronomy 16:19(NASB)

So if a rich man commits a crime and poor man commits a crime they both should face the same justice. If a man commits a crime or a woman commits a crime they should face they justice.  If a black man commits a crime or white man commits a crime they should face the same justice.

What does the Bible say about income equality?

The Bible talks about workers being paid the wages they agreed to be paid but it does not say workers or people in general must be paid equally.  An employer and an employee agree to a wage.  But that employer does not have pay more than the agreed wage because he pays other employees more.

In one of Christ’s parables he talks about a land owner who needs his fields harvested quickly in Matthew 20:1-15. The land owner goes out into the town looking for workers to agree to work in his field that day.  He starts off early in the morning finding some workers and they agree to work for a denarius which was the typical wage for a 10 hour work for field workers.

But he needed more workers for his fields so throughout the day and even towards the end of the day the land owner kept going out and getting workers.

At the end of the day he paid all his workers the same wage for that day even though some had only worked the last few hours of the day while others had worked all day long.  This was the response of the first workers he hired who agree to their wage of a denarius:

“10 When those hired first came, they thought that they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they grumbled at the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.’ 13 But he answered and said to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’”

Matthew 20:10-15(NASB)

Some have tried to misinterpret this story as teaching that workers must all be paid the same when clearly that is not the case. This story from Christ is actually a powerful example of the natural private property rights that God has given to mankind. Notice what the landowner says to the workers – “Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own?”

The landowner by paying the men who worked only an hour the same as those who worked 10 hours was paying his workers unequally.  The men who worked at the end of the day got an entire day’s wages while those who worked all day got the same wage.

As Bible believing Christians we should NOT support “equal pay for equal work” laws as these laws violate the natural private property rights that God has given to man.

A business owner has the right to do what they will with their own property including determining the hourly wages of their employees. If a manager chooses to pay blonde people more money per hour than brown haired people or men more than women that is his right as Christ said “Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own?” We may not agree as workers with how our employers decide our wages but at the end of the day if we agreed to that wage we are not to be envious of another person making more money.

This is the complete opposite of how Americans are taught to view their employers.  We have people suing all the time for unequal pay and this is a violation of the private property rights of the owners of these companies.

On the larger issue of income equality Christ said this:

“7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me.”

Mark 14:7 (NASB)

Both in the Old and New Testaments we are encouraged to help the poor.  But the fact is that there will ALWAYS be poor people and there will always be rich people and sometimes there will be those in between. But we will never eliminate poverty in this world.

The giving to the poor in the Old and New Testament was always a temporary thing. And in some cases the poor would have to work for their food.   A man’s giving to the poor was commanded by God and enforced by God – not the government of the nation of Israel.  They did not have tax collectors going around assessing people’s land and taking from them and redistributing to the poor. It was PRIVATE charitable giving, not government taxation and redistribution of wealth as we have in America and other western countries.

Also the giving to the poor was never meant to encourage laziness – in fact the Apostle Paul warns against church giving food to people who are able bodied and could work:

“10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”

II Thessalonians 3:19 (KJV)

In the New Testament the specific formulas for charity given to Israel as a theocracy are done away with and giving was to be completely based on one’s free will:

“7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”

2 Corinthians 9:7 (KJV)

There are many passages throughout the Scriptures that talk about the protection of private property.  In fact in many places in the Old Testament we see laws proscribing remedies for the violation of private property rights. Theft of private property was seen as a much more serious thing than we see it today.

“15 Thou shalt not steal…

17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.”

Exodus 20:15-17

Civil government is never granted the right to tax for income redistribution purposes.  To do so is tantamount to legalized theft. The poor are to be supported by private free will charity, not government confiscation of private property for the purposes of trying to bring about income equality.

Socialism and Communism are in direct contradiction with the natural private property rights God has given to man.

So here is the point about income inequality from a Biblical perspective.  The Bible clearly respects private property rights as well as the right of workers to be paid the wage they agreed upon. An owner of a company may pay his workers different wages that they have agreed to and they are not to be envious of what he pays their fellow employees.  The government does have the right to tax but this right should never cancel out a man’s private property rights.

Does the Bible support sexual orientation equality?

The Bible does NOT support the right of gays, lesbians and transgender people to engage in these lifestyles nor does it say that Christians cannot discriminate against these people in offering services to them(like florists, photographers, etc.).

The Bible clearly condemns these types of lifestyles as sinful:

“Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”

Leviticus 18:22 (KJV)

“The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.”

Deuteronomy 22:5 (KJV)

Does the Bible support healthcare equality?

I would refer you back up to the income inequality section. No the Bible does not require that we offer free healthcare to anyone any more than it requires us to guarantee free food and shelter to all.  Now should people, especially the wealthy donate to hospitals and help take care of the poor? Yes.

“17 Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. 18 Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good [a]works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.”

I Timothy 6:17-19 (NASB)

But again this should be of their own free will.  It should not be based on government confiscation of property and redistribution of wealth.

Does the Bible support education equality?

Again I would refer you back to the section on income inequality.  We do not have a God given right to other’s people’s money to pay for our education. As believers and followers of the Bible we value education.

“A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:”

Proverbs 1:5 (KJV)

But let’s be honest that just like equality – education has become an idol in American society.

“And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.”

Ecclesiastes 12:12 (KJV)

We have thousands of young people believing they are entitled to a free college education when they are NOT.  In fact it can be shown that education standards have dropped while education costs have skyrocketed because of this philosophy that everyone must go to college.  Universities and colleges are flooded with people who should not be there. I have two words for you – it is called “skilled trades”.

Does the Bible support equal rights for all human beings?

No it does not.  Now you might say “Wait a minute! You just said in an earlier section that we are to regard all people regardless of race or gender as equally human – doesn’t that mean that if all people are equally human they should have equal rights?” The answer my friends is no.

Now we can grant equal rights in certain areas like we did with race and religion here.  The Bible does not forbid us from granting these types of equality.

But there was nothing unbiblical about the racial and ethnic quotas that the US Government had from 1790 to 1965 when racial and ethnic quotas were outlawed as considerations for allowing immigrants into the United States. A nation has the right to preserve its cultural, racial and ethnic makeup through controlling what persons may immigrate to its country.

But if Americans decided to place restrictions or stop immigration from certain countries as we are considering today because of the war with Islamic radicals this is not an immoral action by Biblical standards.

Now unlike the issue of equal rights based on race or ethnic origin or religious liberty rights in the area of gender rights Gods has placed firm restrictions on this regardless of what civil governments decide.

While American law may grant women equal rights with men – Biblical law does not.  And unlike the issue of equal rights based on race or ethnic origin or religious liberty rights God has not left the issue of gender rights open.

Woman are to submit to their fathers and then their husbands when they marry:

“3 If a woman also vow a vow unto the Lord, and bind herself by a bond, being in her father’s house in her youth; 4 And her father hear her vow, and her bond wherewith she hath bound her soul, and her father shall hold his peace at her; then all her vows shall stand, and every bond wherewith she hath bound her soul shall stand. 5 But if her father disallow her in the day that he heareth; not any of her vows, or of her bonds wherewith she hath bound her soul, shall stand: and the Lord shall forgive her, because her father disallowed her.

6 And if she had at all an husband, when she vowed, or uttered ought out of her lips, wherewith she bound her soul; 7 And her husband heard it, and held his peace at her in the day that he heard it: then her vows shall stand, and her bonds wherewith she bound her soul shall stand. 8 But if her husband disallowed her on the day that he heard it; then he shall make her vow which she vowed, and that which she uttered with her lips, wherewith she bound her soul, of none effect: and the Lord shall forgive her.

9 But every vow of a widow, and of her that is divorced, wherewith they have bound their souls, shall stand against her.”

Numbers 30:3-9 (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)

Woman is to submit to Man in the Church

“34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. 35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”

I Corinthians 14:34-35 (KJV)

Woman is to submit to Man in society

“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)

So yes our American society has granted women equal rights with their husbands – but God has not. Another way of putting this is – the American government over the last century as legalized women rebelling against their husbands.

Christian women in America are faced with the same choice that Eve, the first woman, faced in the Garden of Eden:

“1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which theLord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”

Genesis 3:1-4 (KJV)

Will you as a woman take the forbidden fruit? Will you try and be equal with your husband as Eve tried to be equal with God?

Will you take advantage of the sin your government condones and rebel against your husband’s authority or will you resist that temptation and follow God’s law?

Conclusion

While the Bible supports such concepts that all people are equally human and equal justice under the law it does not support the modern American philosophy of equality.

The philosophies of socialism, feminism and humanism which are all children of the philosophy of equality are also in direct contradiction with the Word of God.

We all have a choice to make – will we worship the god of equality or the God of the Bible?

“Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”

Matthew 4:10 (KJV)

See the articles below that are related to this subject of equality:

Biblical Human Rights vs American Human Rights

Does the Bible teach the concept of “Human Property”?

Why Christians shouldn’t be ashamed of Slavery in the Bible

Did the Bible allow men to have sex slaves?

Did the Bible allow men to acquire women whose sole purpose was for sex? The real question that we are asking is did the Bible allow men to have sex with a woman without making her his wife?  Many people, even Christians, wrongly believe the answer to this uncomfortable question is “Yes”.  The reason they believe that is because of the existence of concubines in the Bible.

Concubines are wrongly thought by some to have been the Biblical equivalent of sex slaves. But a closer of examination of the Scriptures reveals that this is not the case. The term “concubine” in the Bible refers to a slave wife. There were two classes of wives in the Scriptures – free wives and slave wives.

A free wife was a woman born to a free man. She was acquired as a wife when a man approached her father and offered him the bride price.  If her father consented he would give her as a wife to that man usually accompanied by some kind of wedding feast.  While both free wives and slave wives were considered to be the property of their husbands a free wife held a greater place of social honor and her children had inheritance rights that were required to be honored. The concubine’s children had no inheritance rights unless they were granted under special circumstances.

How were slave wives acquired?

Slave wives were acquired in much the same way slaves were acquired in general. Sometimes slave women were captured as prisoners of war and later converted to concubines (Deuteronomy 21:10-14). Sometimes poor women whose fathers, brothers or husbands had died sold themselves as concubines so they could be taken care of.  A man could sell his daughter as a slave to another man (Exodus 21:7-11).  That man could either continue to use her only as a servant or he could convert her to his concubine or give her as a concubine to one of his sons. Once a woman was converted to the status of a concubine she had the right to have sex with her husband.  Being a concubine in many ways was a step up for a slave woman.

Also it was common for fathers to give their daughters slave girls (hand maids) as gifts as was the case with Rachel and Leah. In many households the free wives ruled over the slaves wives while ultimately the husband was the master of the entire home. Sometimes free wives would give their husband their hand maids to produce more sons as we see in the case of Rachel giving her servant Bilhah to Jacob and Leah giving her servant Zilpah to Jacob(Genesis 30:4-9).  It interesting to note that Leah stated God had rewarded her by reopening her womb and giving her another son “because I have given my maiden to my husband”.

Concubines sometimes served as surrogate mothers

The story of Jacob and his sons shows another interesting scenario when it came to slave wives. Some free wives would use their slave wives to act as surrogate mothers and after the children were weaned raised the children as their own.  This is why even though some of the twelve sons of Jacob were born of slave women they were all equally considered his rightful heirs.

Did slave wives have any rights?

Today when we think of slavery in any form we think of a person who has absolutely no rights.  In fact because of the abuses of slaves throughout history we think all slaves were treated as nothing more than animals.  But while God allowed slavery he also required slave owners to respect the rights of their slaves.

A female slave whether she was a concubine or not could not be physically abused by her master

“20 And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished…

26 And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye’s sake.

27 And if he smite out his manservant’s tooth, or his maidservant’s tooth; he shall let him go free for his tooth’s sake.” – Exodus 21:20 & 26-27 (KJV)

Both free wives and slave wives(concubines) had to be provide with food, clothing and sex from her husband

“7 And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do.

8 If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her.

9 And if he have betrothed her unto his son, he shall deal with her after the manner of daughters.

10 If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.

11 And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.” – Exodus 21:7-11 (KJV)

Whether a woman was born to a free man or taken as a slave if she were taken as a man’s intimate sexual companion she was to be treated as a daughter by her husband’s father and treated by him as his wife. She would have the right to have sex with her husband (“duty of marriage”).  The pledge of “food, clothing and bed” which was often used in Jewish wedding ceremonies was based on this passage from Exodus 21.

For more confirmation of the fact that concubines were not just slaves but were also considered wives see how Keturah is referred to as the “wife” Abraham took after Sarah died in Genesis 25:1-4 but then she is referred to as his concubine in I Chronicles 1:32-33.  Even within the context of Genesis 25 we can see she is considered one of Abrahams “concubines”(Genesis 25:5-6) all of which he sent away after giving their children gifts because he was giving his estate to Isaac.

The reason Abraham sent away his concubines and their children as he knew his death was imminent was to make it clear that Isaac was the only rightful heir to his estate being the son of his first wife who was the only “free” wife he had.

Were concubinage, slavery and polygamy sins that God overlooked?

In this post we have discussed some topics that are all very offensive to our modern cultural values. This is the part of the article where 99% of Christian writers will tell you that the practices of concubinage, slavery and polygamy were all sins God overlooked for a time but then God rid of in the New Testament.

The truth is that God never condemned the practices of concubinage, slavery or polygamy. He gave strict rules as to how these things could be practiced but he never condemned the practices themselves.

I invite you to look at these two articles that explore all the passages on slavery and polygamy in the Bible and you may be surprised as at what you find.

Why Polygamy Is Allowed And Even Blessed By God

Why Christians should not be afraid of slavery in the Bible

Conclusion

While it is true that many pagan nations may have had “sex slaves” the people of God in the Bible were forbidden from such practices. If a man were to buy a slave woman (or acquire her in war) with the intent of having sex with her had to make the commitment of a husband to her.  He could not simply have sex with her and have no intent of making her his wife.

While it is true that a concubine was indeed a slave the truth is she was a wife as well.  Another way of stating this is truth is that in Biblical times all concubines were wives, but not all wives were concubines.

We have proven here from the Scriptures that God did not allow men to have sex slaves. They could have free wives or slave wives (concubines) but they had to grant the basic rights of a wife to any woman whom they desired to have sex with.