Is God Sexist?
(All Bible quotations are from the New Living Translation)
Confucius, the great Chinese philosopher, once said, “I do, and I understand.” Although he did not say this under divine inspiration, his saying was none the less true. After all, whoever learned to ride a bike by reading a book? God understood that doing led to understanding, and has given roles to men and women, not because He is sexist, but because He wanted to teach us lessons.
One thing God taught through the roles of husbands and wives was the church (represented by the wife) must obey the husband (represented by Christ). In the same way, the husband (symbolising Christ) must love and honour the wife (symbolising the church).
“You wives will submit to your husbands as you do to the Lord. For a husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of His body, the church; He gave his life to be her Saviour. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives must submit to your husbands in everything.
And you husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church…in the same way, husbands ought to love their own wives as they love their own bodies. For a man is actually loving himself when he loves his wife. No one hates his own body but lovingly cares for it, just as Christ cares for his body, which is the church. And we are His body.” (Ephesians 5:22-30)
The husband was in no position to treat his wife like dirt. “In the same way, you husbands must give honour to your wives. Treat her with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. If you don’t treat her as you should, your prayers will not be heard.” (1 Peter 3:7)
Paul did not hate women, but felt the lesser parts of Christ’s body (the church) deserved the greater honour. “In fact, some of the parts that seem weakest and least important are really the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honourable are those we clothe with the greatest care… So God has put the body together in such a way that extra honour and care are given to the parts that have less dignity.” (1 Corinthians 12:22-24)
When a wife submitted to her husband, the couple learned what the relationship between the church and Christ was: when the husband loved the wife, the couple learned what the relationship between Christ and the church is.
The relationship between women and the church also taught lessons. “Women should listen and learn quietly and submissively. I do not let a woman teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly. For God made Adam first, then afterward he made Eve. And it was the woman, not Adam, who was deceived.” (1 Timothy 2:12-14)
We see the Bible wasn’t sexist. God used the roles of husbands and their wives, and the roles of women in the church because they taught lessons that can be learned no other way, just like you have to ride a bicycle to understand what it meant to ride a bicycle.