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.