Women and the Bible | Sojourners

Women and the Bible

We who term ourselves biblical feminists believe that when properly, understood, the Bible supports the central tenets of feminism.

Traditionalists cite New Testament instructions about the submission of first-century wives and church women as proof that it is forever the will of God for women to remain in a subordinate role in marriage and in the church. It is understandable that the Bible should seem to traditionalists and even to many secular feminists to support male supremacy, since most of the Old Testament authors assume that patriarchy is the will of God for the social order, while in the New Testament the same assumption prevails, with several notable exceptions: Christ's personal behavior, the ministry of certain women in the early church, and several prophetic flashes which envision the regenerative effects of the gospel on human society. Because patriarchy is the cultural background of the scriptures, it is absolutely basic to any feminist reading of the Bible that one cannot absolutize the culture in which the Bible was written. We must make careful distinctions between what is "for an age" and what is "for all time." We cannot assume that because the Bible was written against the backdrop of a patriarchal social structure, patriarchy is the will of God for all people in all times.

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