Guests: and

Relevant Passages: Jude 4-5; Ruth; Esther; Luke 1, 7

Women in the Bible have become increasingly visible in recent decades, in part because of the influence of secular feminists. The biblical passages most often used to “keep women in their place” are Genesis 3 (“your husband will rule over you”); 1 Corinthians 14 (“women should be silent in the churches”); and 1 Timothy 2 (“I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man”). By contrast, the passages most often used to grant equality to women are Genesis 1 (both male and female created in the image of God); Galatians 3:28 (in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male and female); 1 Cor. 7:3-4 and Eph. 5:21 (mutual submission in Christ). In addition, however, the stories of women in Scripture shed significant light on what women can or cannot do in God’s “sinful” world. Even the feminine images for God in Scripture can point us towards a greater appreciation of equality for both genders.

The women and the feminine imagery:

Deborah (Judges 4-5)
Mary, Jesus’ mother (Luke 1)
Mary Magdalene (Luke 7)

Feminine images for God:

mother hen (Matt. 23:37)
giving birth (Isa. 46:4b)
nursing mother (Isa. 49:15)

Discussion Questions:

  1. Male dominance in Scripture. If God really does favor gender equality, why is male dominance such an obvious feature of Scripture?
  2. Male dominance today. Is male dominance in Scripture the primary reason why believers have been reluctant to move toward equality of the sexes or are there other less-distinctly religious reasons?
  3. Dominant women in Scripture. Of the women mentioned in Scripture, which ones are most likely to help us move toward equality? While there are explicit statements in Scripture which can be used to keep women in subjection, are there any narratives which would clearly mandate on-going submission for women?
  4. Feminine imagery. Is it possible to think of God as both/and rather than as masculine or feminine? Why is our human experience such a limiting factor in this respect?

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