One of the world’s greatest civil rights disparities is in the realm of discrimination against women (Stephens 2010). The religious politics of gender worldwide has become one of the most important issues facing global humanity and it is likely to remain an issue of increasing relevance for the foreseeable future (Juschka 2001). From antiquity, the church has used tradition and inadequate hermeneutical approaches to place girls and women to subservient positions. It is time fresh and systematic biblical interpretations are sought to provide sound biblical analysis on the subject of gender equality. In this piece of writing, equality between men and women are discussed from the point of view of the Bible.
The Position of the Woman Before the Fall
It is read from the Bible that both man and woman were created in the image of God. This is evidenced in the scripture below;
“And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over all the creepers creeping on the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Gen 1:26-27).
It is implied from the above that before God created man, he had in mind both male and female. Because he said, “and let them”, which cannot refer to one man. He created man first, but both man and woman were to exercise authority over the rest of God´s creation. This means that the woman was to help the man to do so as recorded below;
“And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him” (Gen 2:18). “Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created” (Gen 5:2).
It is clearly understood that the word “Adam” in its original sense, referred to both sexes. Both man and woman were blessed of God and given the shared responsibility to be fruitful and multiply as they take dominion over creation.
The Origin of Gender Inequality in the Bible
Subordination of woman began after the fall of man. This is evidently stated as thus; “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” (Genesis 3:16 KJV)
According to the above scripture, the phrases “and thy desire shall be to thy husband” and “he shall rule over thee” suggest that before the fall, the man and the woman were equal and were dependent upon each other in decision makings and for mutual support. The means that the original idea of God creating both man and woman was for them to mutually support or rely on each other. It was sin that demoted the woman from the position of equality with the man to subordination. Gender inequality and subordination of women have continued throughout scriptures and ages till the present times. The next edition of our newsletter would discuss the Old Testament scriptures and gender equality
It is seen that the issue of gender inequality is not God´s original plan. It came about as a result of the fall of man. Women, like men, also have much to contribute to the work of the Ministry and the development of our world. We must live with each other with mutual respect and care for one another irrespective of our gender.
Lord God, we come to you with the attitude of humility. Grant us the right attitude to live in harmony as men, and women as we cherish and embrace both our uniqueness and similarities as your children. May we see each other as reflecting your essence, in Jesus’ name. Amen and Amen!
Juschka, M. Darlene 2001. Feminism and the Study of Religion: A Reader. New York, Continuum.
Stephens, Dean 2010. UN Report Documents the State of International Gender Equality. Accessed 29.01.2013 http://blogcritics.org/politics/article/un-report-documents-the-state-of/#ixzz1cRSutnhm.