letters to surfers

Q. Where is Feminism taught in the Bible?

by Robert Brow   February 1999

The Bible begins by telling us that men and women are both created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). But as time went on, as among all other nations of the ancient world, Jewish men used a patriarchal system to keep women inferior. There were some exceptional women prophets (Exodus 15:20, Judges 4:4, 2 Kings 22:14). And the book of Proverbs has three or four snide remarks about women, but it has dozens of remarks about fools, who are mostly men.

Concerning Jewish patriarchy, and all the patriarchies of the ancient world, Jesus brought in heaven's "You have heard . . . But I say unto you" (Matthew 5:21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 43). By his example he then demonstrated how women must be treated with equal dignity as men. There are then three very important strands of feminist teaching in the New Testament :

a.)  Jesus personally taught women (Luke 10:39, John 4:7-27). This was unthinkable among the Rabbis, or Hindu Gurus, or Socrates). Obviously if you begin teaching women, some of them will go on to teach men.

b.)  Women, as well as men, were baptized to become disciples (Acts 5:14, 9:31, 16:15), which could only have happened if the apostles had learned this practice from Jesus himself

c. ) Paul was converted from being a strict male Chauvinist Rabbi, and soon began teaching a tenfold total mutuality between wives and husbands (1 Cor. 7:1-16). And again he could only have learned this directly or indirectly from Jesus (see Mark 10:10 where women and men are treated evenhandedly as regards divorce and adultery). There is not a hint in any document that I know of in the ancient world of this kind of monogamous mutuality between men and women. For a fuller exposition of this see Adultery : An Exploration of Love and Marriage.

I think God was in favour of the suffragettes in England getting the vote in 1918. In due course Margaret Thatcher was elected to three terms as Prime Minister of Britain. And since then women theologians have been able to show that God is by no means in favour of male chauvinist and patriarchal ideas.

There have of course been Feminist extremists, but it is obvious from a thousand books and a billion homes that there is also quite a lunatic fringe among men.

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