One of the verses used to justify the relegation of women to “second-class” citizenship within the church comes in Genesis 3. As a result of the fall, God curses Satan, women and men. To the woman, God says:
Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you. (verse 16).
This verse has certainly proved true (descriptive) down the ages. Here are several illustrations of the attitudes of men towards women throughout history.
Plato and Aristotle
“If we spend our lives in wrongdoing and in cowardice, afterward Zeus will send us back into this life as women.” (Plato)
“The male is by nature superior and the female inferior, the male ruler and the female subject.” (Aristotle)
What is the difference whether it is in a wife or a mother, it is still Eve the temptress that we must beware of in any woman… I fail to see what use woman can be to man, if one excludes the function of bearing children. (St Augustine)
Every woman should be filled with shame by the thought that she is a woman. (Clement of Alexandria)
If [women] become tired or even die, that does not matter. Let them die in childbirth–that is why they are there. (Martin Luther)
“Blessed are you, Lord, our God, ruler the universe who has not created me a woman.” (Prayer recited every morning by traditional Jewish men)
These are only a very few of many quotes I could have used. They demonstrate an attitude towards women that has haunted the female half of the human race down the centuries.
In ancient times, women were regarded as property and subservient to men. Even today, it’s often still a man’s world. In some nations, baby girls are more likely to be aborted or left to die at birth. Even here in the West women still make less money than men for doing the same job. Women are more likely to be physically abused or sold into slavery. In many nations girls receive less education than men and are regarded as inferior.
But is this what God wanted (prescribed) or is Genesis 3:16 a description of the result of the Fall? In Genesis 1 and 2, there is no evidence of hierarchy of the man over the woman. Prior to the Fall, Adam and Eve shared dominion. The subordination of women was the result of sin. It doesn’t reflect God’s intention for how men and women should relate together. For Christians, the New Covenant should reverse the effects of the Fall to the original goodness of the created order. Jesus died on the cross to free us from the effects of Adam’s sin.
What do you think?
Photo Credit: Image Editor (Creative Commons)