Is God Sexist?

Is God Sexist?

While western society pretty much agrees that sexism is bad, the views among those who believe in God are much more diverse. Some churches teach that women should sit on their own side of the room, veil their faces, and not utter a word. Meanwhile, other groups have women running the church and overseeing the men. So is God sexist? Or does he want equality between men and women? Or does God want something else entirely?

People can seemingly find excerpts from the Bible in support of any of these views. But the Bible is actually very clear about how men and women should relate to each other. In this blog series, we will examine the most frequently quoted passages in context and see how they fit together beautifully to give us a complete understanding of what God desires for men and women today.

Equality in God’s creation

Let’s start right at the beginning of the Bible -- and the world. In Genesis, we find two accounts of creation. The first one tells the story of the creation of the world and all of humanity:

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Nothing else in creation receives the distinction of being created in the image of the creator. There is clearly something special about the human race. This distinction is evident in how man is to subdue the whole earth. Man is superior to every living thing because he is told to rule over it. But the translation of the Hebrew is misleading, because the Bible isn’t actually referring to just men here. This word for “man” is better translated “mankind”. So all of humanity, both men and women, is superior to the rest of creation. In their dominance over creation, men and women are equals.

But then, this image of God is divided into two parts: male and female. Both masculinity and femininity represent different attributes of God’s image. So while men and women are equals, they are also different. It’s not good to ignore, hide, minimize, criticize, or reverse these differences. Rather, these differences should be emphasized and celebrated because it’s how we bear the image of God! So God is not sexist for making us different from each other because the differences between men and women are actually what make us superior to the rest of creation and thus equal to each other.

After the first account of the creation of the world and mankind, we come upon the second account of creation which tells the story of how a specific and and woman were created. Up to this point, there was a theme of God saying that everything he created was “good”. But that comes to a halt when, for the first time, God says that something is not good: man is lonely and needs a helper. The man searches high and low, studying all of the animals to find a suitable helper. But remember that the animals are inferior. He can’t find a compatible helper among them. God must create a helper who is his equal. She is made out of flesh removed from man’s side. They are two people created from the very same substance, further evidence that they are equals. Coming from the same flesh is why when a man and woman mate, unlike most other animals, they experience a deep bond that lasts a lifetime.

Diversity in God’s creation

In this second creation account, woman was created after man to fulfill his need for a helper. Some have pointed out that the world “helper” is also a word used to describe God. Since God is not under anyone’s authority, they argue that it's wrong for a man to have authority over a woman. But as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake. Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.” A symbol of authority was worn on the head because, as Paul says earlier, “Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman.” In Genesis we see the man immediately exercise his authority over her by naming her woman.

Yet Paul also says that the man “is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man”. We get the sense that woman is the most glorious thing in creation, the creator’s crowning achievement, the last detail that made it all worthwhile. Creation was not good until it had woman. She is the climax of creation, the best part that finished it off. Woman may not have authority, but she is beautiful. Man may be the authority, but his authority is worthless without her beauty. Biblically speaking, James Brown got it right: “This is a man's world, but it wouldn't be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl”.

Being the crown of creation didn’t make woman more valuable than man, because she needed him. Similarly, having authority didn’t make man more valuable than woman, because he needed her. A leader can only lead if he has someone following him, and thus they are equally important to each other. The qualities of authority and beauty are the images of God man and woman respectively bear. They were a good team, bringing strengths to the relationship where the other was weak. These differences made them unique and balanced out their value to each other. Despite these differences, and because of these differences, they were equal.

God is not sexist. Christianity is not sexist. Inequality did not originate from the beginning of creation. It came along later. In future posts, we will explore the true origins of sexism, and God’s brilliant solution to the problem.

Click the men and women in ministry button below to see all the posts in this series.

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