In February, a Missouri pastor delivered a sermon to his Baptist congregation. From the pulpit, he body shamed women, objectifying them as adornments to husbands and as sexual conquests. He blamed women for intimacy issues and he blamed God for the male gender’s unchecked appetite for sex. He promoted the submission of woman to her husband’s will, including in the bedroom, while denying her choice over her own body or desires. Some Christians would say that while the pastor went ‘too far’, the root of his sermon was biblical.
What does the Bible say about women and their roles in the church, in society, and in marriage? Does scripture teach that she must submit to the authority of a man: her father, her husband, her pastor or her male colleagues?
Many western evangelicals who grew up between the 1940’s and 1990’s were taught the biblical view of womanhood, which taught that the Bible says a man has authority over the woman in the home, marriage, and society. In a complementarian view, woman should not preach or lead a church. Fundamentalism, which often identifies itself as fundamental christianity, is deeply connected to a complementarian view.
If you are wondering why Beth Moore’s departure from the Southern Baptist Convention and Lifeway Books or Saddleback’s ordination of three women on May 06, 2021 are such big deals, it is this is conflict over what the Bible really says about women.
Conversations abound right now over misogeny’s long history in the church and the normalized speech of toxic masculinity in the sanctuary, in the home, and in society. The life and words of Jesus are a clear and compelling picture of respect for womanhood and the equality of genders. In Christ, a healthy sexuality materializes.
Historical philosophy and literature reveal the roots of the fundamental view, often called biblical womanhood. It is deeply rooted in Greco-Roman understandings of the role of a woman rather than in a biblical narrative of male and female, sexuality, or even morality. These philosophies influence culture over and above what Jesus actually taught.
Jesus said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean’.” (Matthew 15:16–20, NIV) Jesus places the responsibility for the thoughts and the actions related to sexual immorality on the one…