As a Bible teacher, I get a lot of questions about the Bible. Shocking, I know. Because of this, I try to read broadly; the next question could be about anything from text criticism to the identity of the whore in Revelation 17. I also try to note which kinds of questions I’m asked most frequently, so I can pay more attention to those issues in my reading.
One such question which has come up frequently in the last several months goes to the tune of “why is the Bible so
sexist?” It’s a good question. Is the Bible sexist? It might seem to be. If you type that question into your search bar, you’ll get a lot of results, most of them from bitter unbelievers. I didn’t take time to do a thorough survey, but I did read some of the articles defending the Scripture from the claim of sexism, and they tended to be a little glib about the whole thing. I’m sure someone has written a great piece about the issue somewhere, but it is nevertheless a worthwhile question to address here.
The simple answer is no. I imagine this is hardly sufficient for the hordes of SJWs with their pitchforks in their hands, and so some work is needed to flesh this out. Unfortunately, while it takes very little time to construct an emotional accusation against the Scripture, truly understanding the Scripture takes time and effort. If I were to list passages as this author did, and then attempt to explain them properly, this post would grow to an unbearable length. Instead, I hope to take several posts to unpack some of the laws and episodes in the Old Testament (primarily). I intend to show that when these texts are understood properly, in their literary, historical, and canonical context, they cannot possibly be understood to demean or lessen women. Quite the opposite. It is my conviction that the Scripture honors women as image-bearers, equal to men in worth and dignity, and that while it deals with the sexual mores and norms of its day, it does so not by capitulating to them, but by radically challenging them.
I should give a disclaimer at the front of this: I intend to deal with questions of sexism in the Scripture relating to the treatment of women by Old Testament laws and narratives; I won’t be directly addressing questions about the roles of women in the family and the church. There have been a great many scholarly and faithful defenses of complimentarianism, and I’m grateful for the men and women who have done great work there. My concern is with the interpretation of a number of specific texts, and how those texts interpret our view of Scripture as a whole. Once the spadework is done, I believe we’ll find that the Scripture commends a view and treatment of women as “co-heirs in the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7).