What Does Scripture Say about the “Oppression of Women”?

“Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” –Gen 3:16

One popular modern theology interprets this as a prophecy of the “gender wars”: essentially, Eve will “desire” to control her husband, while Adam would rule over her, which is to say that Adam would be the (most often) successful one.

This modern-crowd-pleasing proposition refers later to Ephesians 5:22-23 to assert (essentially) that a husband who loves his wife as Christ loved the church does not “rule” over his wife according to the curse (which, according to the claim, is really more of a prophesying of a sinful interaction). For anyone who fears scriptures as a whole, this is profoundly insane.

First and foremost, if someone who “loves” us couldn’t possibly be the same one who “rules over us,” how is it that Christ loves us?

Luke 19:27
“But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.”

These words were spoken by Christ, who does indeed rule over us–and will have slaughtered anyone who opposes his rule–and also loved us enough to sacrifice his flesh for us. To claim that one who loves someone else enough to die for them will not possibly rule over us because “to rule over” is an “unloving” thing to do is calling Christ unloving. Eager acceptance of the newly-popular Genesis 3:16 theology might indicate modern attitudes toward Christ as well.

What is the primary confession of our faith? Is it not “Jesus is Lord“? And the word “Lord,” by definition, being he who rules over us? To claim that to rule is by nature in conflict with loving, then one must claim that either Jesus is not actually our Lord and Master–our ruler–or that Jesus is unloving.
 

Secondly, the agenda in the theology is clear enough: to justify the feminist claims regarding the “oppression of women” that allegedly occurred throughout human history along with some acknowledgement of feminism fundamentally opposing virtually everything said about women in scripture–and all principles associated with them, of course. If God prophesied this (allegedly) profoundly “sinful” phenomenon, He offered absolutely no follow-up as to its solution nor did He hint at the more ideal alternative. And this is the same God who rebuked Israel for a multitude of various offenses to Him, even issues as trivial as tithing (Malachi 3) which Christ calls a “gnat” of an issue relative to others which are “camels” (Matt 23:24). Furthermore, it is quite notable that 1 Peter 5:3 advises elders not to “lord it over” the flock without calling attention to a gender issue, as the potential of elders “lording it over” younger is acknowledged but even still, nothing in scripture to acknowledge any danger of husbands sinfully “lording it over” their wives. The Bible also directly confronts the issue of racism (Exodus 23:9). Personally, I would grant that this could arguably be implied to a certain extent (not to “lord it over” anyone, including wives), but absolutely not to the extent that we could possibly infer that women were particularly oppressed throughout history in such a way that offended God, without Him ever raising even an implied objection to it, let alone a direct one. Then again, Sarah, wife of Abraham, was commended for calling Abraham “Lord” in the New Testament.

Thirdly, therefore, in what context does someone call someone else “Lord” or “Master”? Aren’t these the titles of a ruler by one who is ruled? 1 Peter 3:5 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. Genesis 3:16 reads, once again: “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” The same God who commends Sarah (in the New Testament, as worth noting to some who would erroneously claim that this might make a difference) for calling her husband “lord” and obeying him also does not desire for her husband to “rule over her”?

Fourthly, there is 1 Timothy 2:12-14, in which Paul states that a woman ought not usurp authority over a man in part because Eve was deceived (and “in the transgression”), not Adam. Did Paul reach this conclusion completely on his own, or is his conclusion remarkably in alignment with God’s reaction to Eve’s sin (Gen 3:16) which declared the gender who would be the one carrying authority?
 
Fifthly, as somewhat aforementioned, oftentimes “that was in the Old Testament” is a general-purpose answer for unwanted aspects of culture. Aside from the previously stated points involving New Testament references to the Old, the proposition that God’s “curse” to Eve regarding being ruled by Adam ought to be considered revoked would also make it the only one of God’s curses to cease its application; since we’re under the New Covenant, does that also mean that women no longer experience labor pains as severely, and no one has to work from the ground, and no one returns to dust any longer in addition to God’s (alleged) prophecy to Eve being revoked? Why should only one particular aspect of God’s curse to Adam and Eve be rescinded by the New Covenant while the others remain firmly in place?
 

In short, this is another blatantly intellectually-dishonest but crowd-pleasing theology that carries implications of attitudes not only about marriage, but also about Christ Himself as the loving ruler that he is. Do we not know how to reconcile God’s dictatorship with one who also loves us? What could cause anyone who fears God’s word to accept such an interpretation?

The reality of God’s command, for reasons previously stated, is indeed the bane of feminists’ existence: it is indeed a command to Eve to align her desires for Adam’s rule as a punishment for being more easily deceived. This is why Sarah was commended for obeying her husband and calling him “lord” (1 Peter 3:5), and one of the two reasons why Paul would not permit a woman to usurp authority over a man (1 Timothy 2:12-14). This takes nothing away from Adam’s ability to love Eve any more than Jesus’ rule over mankind takes away from how much he loves us, though the fact frustrates (fundamentally feminist) efforts to put an accusation in God’s mouth against men as a group and embellish Ephesians 5:22-23 to encompass any human definitions of “loving” or “unloving.”

Test yourself to see if Scripture is truly your final authority of the truth: there is no biblical account of the “oppression of women” inasmuch as society committed an evil all throughout the course of human history in God’s sight. Clearly, men sin against women, just as women sin against men, men sin against men, and women sin against women.

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8 Comments

  1. The phrase ‘Oppression of women’ is the clue. [Whosoever uttereth this phrase is a feminist] God is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of man and man is the head of the woman. Feminists hate the order of God, and work hard to undermine and obscure this order.
    Many times I have heard the scriptures tortured until they confess that ‘men and women are equal’, to appease the feminists that have captured the pulpits and pews.

    Reply
    • In my post, “The Real Reason Why Men are Under Attack,” I discuss this (the 1 Corinthians 11:3 reference you made). Male is innately symbolic of authority, and so to attack man is the illusion of defeating He whom man resembles: God and His authority.

      I have heard exegeses so insane in their justification of feminism that I care not to think about–insane and unreasonable to the point that just a person willing to believe some exegeses in the first place I suspect could not be dissuaded from their precious delusions in attempt to make their customized version of God.

      Of course, in some respects male and female are decidedly equal, such as in terms of their innate value as human beings, though suited and situated differently.

      Reply
  2. Tabitha

     /  September 9, 2014

    The story of adam and eve is perplexing. They walked with God, we do not realy know what that is like.
    I met the Father once, what I know is that in His presence you know with insight and wisdom in a way you do not know when in your live here on earth. So I do not believe Eve was poor in understanding the nature of the fruit. The sin was that she saw it was desireable to be as God and was decieved that the power of that knowledge of good and evil would not cause death but power to take things in her own hands.
    Now Adam was not decieved that is stunning so he took the fruit knowing its bane.
    When God called my name it was not just my name it was all that I am and I was totally aware of it at that moment. I was made to see with Gods vieuw of me and that totally convicted me. I felt like Peter, Lord leave me for I am a sinner.
    I can only speculate why he took the fruit knowingly. Did he not want to live withouth eve, meaning he put her before God, did he want to follow her to share in whatever she had coming, its stunning.
    Somehow the judgement he got to have to work the earth and it not giving its full yield makes me think he was not totally altruistic in following her. But her judgement she would be under his rule is quite clear.
    She reached for power and is now put under her husbands rule. She loses power.
    We can see the uprising against authority in our culture as sin but it has also roots in the sins those who have authority have had.
    God makes it verry clear that with power and authority comes responsebility. The ruler is to take care of the poor and the weak. And Paul writes that the husband is to care for his wife as Jesus cares for the church.
    As with breakeable pottery.
    The past is full with people sinning against these guiding rules.
    When I talk with people about submision to your husband this is what they talk back.
    Abuse as root to not accept authority and rejecting it in all walks off live.
    The sins of religious people have smeared the word of God and made people turn away.
    And so people who believe in Jesus get into a limbo. Jesus is love love judges not so we should not judge and do we so we clearly do not love. Hence making all christians who do believe in Gods word into judgemental people.
    As we are all sinners we need to forgive, we need to live Gods word more than to talk and I see in my own live how difficult that is. For sin is still grabbing at my heart.
    A man can not force his wife to submit just as even God does not force man to submit. A wife can not force her husband to love and not even for him to take authority, She will have to show him she follows as we will have to show God we follow him, by doing what he commands.
    If we live our lives believing in God but not comitted to do as He commands it should not surprise us that we share in the fate of the world in the same way as those who do not believe and are part if the world.
    Believers who do not accept Jesus as ruler over them do not accept him as Lord. Though they still can accept Him as saviour.
    As the wife who does not accept her husbands authority still is that mans wife. Though not under his rule.
    As long as there is no adultery so is there thus no ground for devorce, even the wife who leaves as long as she has no other relationships is still that mans wife. But he cannot force her back as God cannot force believers back that leave Him. But also Paul reminds oss that if our spouse is a unbeliever and leaves we cannot make our spouse stay and in that case devorce is a fact. So God cannot make an unbeliever to stay in the church.
    If i would take the paralel of marriage and Jesus and the church to the exemple of the king that came back and judged so it would mean that it would lead to separation. For is not death separation from God?
    So if a woman does not want her man to rule and refuses his authority even leaves him and hurts him than it does and sbould lead to separation and devorce. For how can he rule when she refuses him.
    I do not think however that this parrabel was told to teach about marriage but was for the religious rulers of the day to remind them that He Jesus was the Son and that killing him would lead to judgement as it did.
    And they would only understand it if they where already conspiring against him.
    For Jesus gave up his live for sinners. So should we seek peace and compassion and cannot force rules upon our spouse. Paul tells us a man should not be harsh to his wife and a woman should respect.
    If we should it can not be demanded.
    God completely loved me though He made me aware of my sin, yet He did not judge me but forgave me and put away my sin in such a way that in His presence I was not aware of it anymore, though I did not forget.

    Reply
    • Tabitha,

      Oh boy this ended up being a “tomorrow thing” for a long time as your comment is quite the mouthful. Yikes.

      I have written a number of things in response to this, regarding theologies pertaining to the Fall of Man:

      God Did not Give Adam a “male-specific” curse.
      God Believes in Protecting Men!

      I have also addressed Scripture’s commands to husbands for marriage

      There is a LOT of garbage out there designed to appeal to current audiences (seeking teachers who scratch their ears). I appreciate you acknowledging, at least, what Scripture says about Eve’s state of mind – indeed Scripture makes much more clear and distinct comments about the mind of Eve than Adam.

      As far as the nature of Adam’s rebellion, as you seem to admit, it is unclear. My belief is that when the Bible does not particularly emphasize something, it does not need to be emphasized and we should NOT find ourselves concocting pet theories that are totally unspoken in Scripture.

      All that can be said about Adam’s thinking may be reflected in God’s comment: “because you listened to your wife.” That’s it. God’s rebuke to Adam began with that statement. Paul’s comment that Adam was not deceived also makes a suggestion (less than what others read into it) is something that can be inferred: the Tree and the Serpent were not sufficient to tempt Adam. What WAS sufficient, on top of everything else, was whatever it was that Eve said to Adam as spoken straight out of God’s mouth, but we do not have any information at all about what Eve said to him.

      So what did Eve SAY that Adam “listened” to, the detail with which God began his rebuke to Adam? We don’t know. The fact that we are not told anything about what she said to him only suggests that we can only make a comment of Adam preferring his “wife’s voice” over what he should have remembered from God. Before that, Eve outright traded the truth for a lie (NOT the same as ignorance) as she willfully let the truth empty from her mind and let a lie take its place because of the appeal the Serpent made to her for godlike power.

      Most people are familiar with the interactions between (say) Ahab and Jezebel, maybe Sampson and Delilah for similar situations. I’d suggest that the psychology of Adam is not worth getting bent out of shape about beyond that – we know that it was the words of Eve, somehow, that pushed Adam over the edge, when he should NOT have listened to her but stood firm on the voice of the Lord for himself. It’s not always women doing this to men – Ananias and Sapphira is likely an example of the reverse, or take Nabal and Abigail. It’s an “extra” step to fall to someone introducing a temptation where previously they did not, on their own, consider sinning, but sometimes we are meant to stand firm in fortitude on the words of the Lord above the words and suggestion of others.

      The rest that anyone can TRY to claim knowing about Adam’s state of mind and/or the nature of the sin he committed is only words put in the mouth of God.

      About the rest of what you’re saying, much of it is very wrong and the fact is that it is not “clear” in its support of Scripture.

      It’s true that husbands are not to be harsh with their wives, and the love Paul writes about is rooted in taking care of her as his own flesh as Christ loved the church. The rest is SEVERELY overstated to placate the modern woman which I, for one, have no interest in doing – I’ll concern myself with the imperatives from God.

      I want to see husbands show grace toward their wives and frankly, for the most part, we can see a lot about what it means to love as Christ loved from the rest of Scripture.

      For example:

      1 John 3 : 16
      This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

      Does that sound familiar? Obviously Scripture’s message “love your neighbor as yourself” sums up the law and the prophets, but the wording here is almost verbatim what Paul says to husbands that they should do for their wives – here, we see that it’s not some “husband-exclusive” imperative.

      Again, I do NOT want to see men self-indulgently hurting wives or anyone in any way. However! That does not exclude a husband being reasonable in protecting himself:

      Revelations 3:19
      Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.

      Straight out of the mouth of Christ, who – if his discipline means anything – amounts to protecting himself and his word. And this is his interaction with the church. “Oh no!” you’ll say. “When we say ‘as Christ loved the church’ we never want THAT aspect of how Christ treats the church!”

      Modern marriage theology hardly ever shows integrity, and like I say, I’m not interested in placating the modern world – I’ll worry about the Word of God.

      But more to that end:

      Proverbs 31:12
      She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

      This was something that a woman said to a man! A mother to her son!

      How often do you see single or married men blessed with the sentiment – compared to women!! – in such a way? “Men, she is NOT supposed to treat you like that, here is ‘x’ ministry”? Very few women will stand for any comment about a woman’s sin against a man at all, let alone scramble to support men’s ministries that might provide for men what they (women) themselves demand and receive for ministry on their end so incredibly abundantly both inside and outside Christian culture, be it for the aches and pains of marriages clear to domestic violence.

      That is just the condition of the culture – dead-set on the neglect and outright hatred of men, the ignoring of the reality of women’s sin against men (inasmuch as virtually nothing is ministered to men about women’s sins in sincere, loving words or in active programs like say DV shelters – a problem I try to contribute to correcting).

      Does God force us to love Him? That’s a modern Christian cliche, but I don’t see it in Scripture, where instead I see the Lord rebuking and disciplining His people – his church! – constantly, going after lost sheep, choosing those who follow him, and punishing the wicked (those who reject him).

      And yet God LOVES us! He also forgives us and tolerates us with gentle mercy. If we cannot grasp the idea that one who rules and disciplines and DOES demand submission and respect for Him, rebuking us (even harshly) when we fail to do so, then how can we understand God? Now some/most earthly rulers don’t, so YES, husbands are reminded of what we all should know: rule as one who truly loves her as he loves himself, as Christ loves the church, as per Paul’s message. Many men under authority would do well NOT to pass on the abuse that they themselves may experience from THEIR authority figures! 😉

      Reply
  3. Xenu

     /  November 21, 2014

    “I have heard exegeses so insane in their justification of feminism that I care not to think about–insane and unreasonable to the point that just a person willing to believe some exegeses in the first place I suspect could not be dissuaded from their precious delusions in attempt to make their customized version of God.”

    And that my friend is the reason so many men are MGTOW. I am so sick of so called “Christians” taking God’s word out of context and telling men it’s your fault or you should be doing so in so or it’s your responsibility to lead or your responsibility to take care of women and a family. These people are bigots and frankly have no desire to think let alone do any real Bible study. If they actually study the bible for themselves they will look up the original words and discover that whenever the Apostle Paul speaks of the duties of men- the word actually is a plural form that means mankind. Either man or woman. But it suits their purpose to tell men to do it cause they are too lazy to do anything on their own. It gives the money grubbing “false preachers’ someone to blame and makes the lazy women happy.

    If you are an adult you should take care of yourself not the whole world. I believe in helping others if I am able but it’s not my responsibility to financially take care of some lazy female and a brood of her kids fathered by other men. That;s the kind of thing these “pastors” are preaching. I am single celibate and happy as a lark. I give to my church and to other Christian organizations that are doing God’s work. I don’t have the money to do any mission work but I would if I had the money. I know very few “Christian” women- especially the whiney ones who “can’t find a good man” that do anything productive with their life and money to help anyone but themselves.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment–I’m on your side for sure. 😉 And you are right, the preaching of husbands’ duties is corrupt in today’s churches, the “husbands, love your wives” is overblown. Yes, husbands are to model the nature of Christ’s authority (which is often woefully misrepresented in itself) rather than the manner of authority found in the world that rules without love, HOWEVER, everyone, male and female, are equally called to a Christlike love that is to be applied from women to men as much as vice-versa. Moreover, women should be working just as hard as men–and including FOR men–as the reverse.

      I think you would appreciate my post, “God did not give Adam a ‘male-specific’ curse” which pertains a lot to what you’re saying; the unspoken attitude like it’s only a man who is punished with the notion of hard, productive work. https://selfdefensiveman.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/god-did-not-give-adam-a-male-specific-curse/

      Reply
  4. alexander

     /  June 5, 2015

    Jesus said “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. It is clear that Jesus wanted us to treat everyone equally, including women.

    Reply
    • “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” does not mean treating everyone the same. Parents and children do not treat each other the same; appointed church elders, deacons, and the rest of the church do not treat each other the same. Scripture speaks to asymmetry in many interpersonal interactions, including between men and women, and the mere fact that women and men are addressed separately indicates an asymmetry is to be expected in their interactions.

      Other than that, pay attention to the post to which you are replying: Christ rules over the church, yet he loves us.

      It is a loving thing to do for a man to be the head of his wife and likewise that is something good and fulfilling to her. You will find that many women agree that a submissive position under men is where they find their fulfillment. “Do unto others” means giving one another what they need: women need strong leadership from men, and men need women’s help from their helper position in submission. That is entirely loving, and “doing unto others” in the vein of meeting others’ needs.

      Reply

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