God Is Not A Monster – God and Women
In this article, we will examine the topic of God and women.
In our last article, we looked at the topic of slavery in the Bible and found that, in most cases, it was more like indentured service than stereotypical slavery. The so-called “slavery laws” of the Old Testament were there to control and regulate a fallen human problem, not idealize it or condone it.
In this article, we will examine the topic of God and women.
Many New Atheists say that the God of the Old Testament is misogynistic, that is, He hates women. Nothing could be further from the truth. We can start at the very beginning, where Genesis 1 records in verse 27 that both men and women were created in the image of God:
Image and likeness are not just about the physical shape but also moral and intellectual qualities. So, by creating male and female in God’s image and likeness, we are shown that God intended both men and women to manifest His characteristics of kindness, mercy, compassion, and love—each in their unique way. It is only when we consider both sexes that God’s full self can be revealed since He is shown in the Bible to be both a nourisher—like a nursing mother and a protector—as well as like a jealous father!
Jacob, while blessing Joseph, says by
The Hebrew word Shaddai is consistently associated with fruitfulness and protection in Scripture (For example, Gen 28:3; 35:11). Although it is always translated “almighty,” the word means “to bulge,” and is a reference to the breast bulging with muscle to protect or destroy, or bulging with milk to nourish and feed!
So, while we most often think of God as a father (Mal 1:6), a king (Psa 47:7), or a man of war (Exod 15:3), the Biblical writers also used language that describes God in roles that may be considered more traditionally female. For example, God says to his people,
Describing God’s care for the people in the wilderness, it says,
In fact, God can relate to the part of womanhood that is unique and completely outside the experience of men.
God identifies with being female
Certainly, God cannot be accused of being misogynistic if He, in fact, identifies with being female, and associates his qualities with that of women.
It is also interesting to note that the only thing in God’s creation He deemed to not be good was that the man was alone before God created Eve. This is an acknowledgment that man was incomplete without the woman and that God created male and female to be complimentary and compatible. The LORD God said,
Another clear example that God is not misogynistic is His extreme care for widows and His admonition for His people to do likewise. Deuteronomy 24:19 (NIV) says,
This theme is repeated several times in Scripture. For example, Psalm 68:5 states that God is “a judge [or defender] of widows;” and Deuteronomy 10:18 says God defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, giving them food and clothing.
Far from allowing or condoning abuse, God reveals Himself to be the one who defends and cares for the most vulnerable of society. It is God who warns those who might use their status or power to take advantage of others that He will judge them and hold them accountable for such abuse. God sternly warns would-be oppressors that He is on the side of the weak and defenseless.
An interesting test case is found in Numbers 27. The daughters of Zelophehad appeal to Moses because they have no brothers, and their father is now dead. They do not want the inheritance of their father to pass to other men just because he has no direct male descendants.
God acknowledges their request and has the Law changed so that in all future cases of men with only daughters, the daughters would be allowed to inherit his land and other earthly possessions. This ruling hardly sounds like a God who hates women and denies them equal rights with men!
And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying,
It is true that in our fallen human state, many men take advantage of women and mistreat them in ways God never intended. This does not make it acceptable, nor was it God’s intention in Creation–far from it!
So, although, in most cases, men are physically stronger than women or may have power over them in other ways (for example, financially), and this can lead to abuse, God meant for men to use their strength to protect and nurture their wives and children. Abuse of any kind is wrong. God always encouraged men to honor their marriage vows and respect the wife of their youth:
The example set for the behavior of men is a high one. God intends men to be caregivers and providers, not self-centered and selfish. The Lord Jesus Christ himself is set forward as the model to follow. “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.” (Eph 5:25 NIV). In the next chapter, the Spirit directs Paul to write, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but raise them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Eph 6:4 NET).
Do we see examples of oppressed women in the Old Testament? Yes, and we see lots of examples of oppressed men as well! Are there instances in the Bible where women are treated terribly or abused? Certainly. But these examples are not an endorsement of oppression and abuse, but rather just a sad commentary on the fallenness of humankind.
A common complaint is that God allows for, or condones, the rape of women. This is often referenced as proof by the New Atheists of God’s misogyny.
However, a good principle to remember is that God does not condone or allow for sin. Rather, He defines it! The Bible shows us what is right and what is wrong. We are given the knowledge of good and evil. When sin and wickedness are revealed, God then helps us to overcome sin, find forgiveness and regulate our behavior based on His divine principles.
For example, the so-called rape laws of Exodus 22 and Deuteronomy 22 demonstrate God’s protection for and love of women. Note the following:
When adultery is between consenting adults, the man and the woman suffer the consequences of their sin. There is no double standard. Men bring a woman “taken in adultery” and ask Jesus to render judgment upon her, with no reference to the man who was obviously involved but not brought to judgment by them. And what does Jesus say to them?
The forcible rape of a married or engaged woman results in the punishment of only the man, and in Bible times, this was capital punishment. The woman, as the victim, was not held responsible in any way.
When a man seduced an unengaged woman, the Law required the perpetrator to provide for her. If it was acceptable to the woman and her father, the man had to marry the woman and provide for her, with no option of divorce. But she did not have to marry him if she found it unacceptable or repulsive.
Regardless of her choice, she was to be provided for, and the crime against her would not go unpunished. We should note that the man is guilty in all cases, without exception. Taking advantage of women is never condoned or encouraged by God.
Finally, we see that Proverbs 31 extols the virtues of a wife and acknowledges that a man who finds a good wife has received a blessing from the LORD. God appreciates, values, and highlights women’s contributions to a successful society.
Many examples of faithful women demonstrate the Messianic qualities of bravery, self-sacrifice, and love. For example, to name a few, there were Miriam, Sarah, Rahab, Esther, Ruth, Deborah, the many Marys in the life of Jesus, and Priscilla.
In summary, we can see that the laws surrounding the treatment of women in the Old Testament were there to control and regulate a fallen human problem–not idealize it or condone it. God is not misogynistic but rather loves and values women greatly!
In our next article, we hope to look at the topic of God’s jealousy.
Collingwood Ecclesia, ON