Since the beginning of this year, I have witnessed and participated in discussions and informal debates about crucial topics like race, sexual orientation, gender inequality, Pan-Africanism, Global Challenges, Sustainable Development Goals, amongst others. However, the topic that stands out for me in all of these is race. I have seen myself grow from being nonchalant to a level where racist remarks (no matter how softly or harshly spoken) disgust me and make me speak out through whatever channel I can. As a result of the intellectually stimulating and diverse environment I find myself in, I engage in discussions that are very thought-provoking and intellectually captivating. Many a time, I have answers to questions that arise from topics such as the ones mentioned above. Either through my personal opinions based on experiences and observations or through relevant facts and antiquities, I can comfortably answer certain types of questions thrown at me. However, I have been unable to give a one hundred percent reply to an area that is crucial to the revolution that is currently gradually taking place in the world today: Gender Inequality. I have been unable to answer questions about Christianity and Gender Inequality easily. For instance, an issue that has risen many times— “If God actually supports gender equality, why do the Bible subjugate women to a lower role in the society across all spheres of life?” Hence, this article. You can say maybe my stance as a Christian is one that triggers my knack and curiosity to find the end point of this question. Well for me, it is essential to get to the root of this topic for people that claim to be learned and well educated not to start spreading propagandas about God, Christianity and even religion as a whole.
I have made quite a substantial amount of research to back up the title of this article which is the main argument of this write-up. God, the Almighty, is a God of gender equality. He doesn’t want anyone to be subjected to the role of being slaves instead of being partners with their husbands. It is true that in the beginning, God created the man first before the woman (Genesis 1:27). Afterwards, he cursed them as a result of their disobedience. The woman’s punishment as explained by the Amplified version of the Bible reads thus “I will greatly multiply your grief and your suffering in pregnancy and the pangs of childbearing; with spasms of distress you will bring forth children. Yet your desire and craving will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16). For the man, “Because you have listened and given heed to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, saying, you shall not eat of it, the ground is under a curse because of you; in sorrow and toil shall you eat [of the fruits] of it all the days of your life. Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth for you, and you shall eat the plants of the field. In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:17-19). Yes, God said the man shall rule over the woman, and her craving will be for her husband, but He didn’t say women should be treated as inferior to the man. God clearly balanced the roles of both the man and the woman which is very crucial to what a family should look like. The roles were seen as legit, dominant roles of which one cannot exist without another. They are like the neutral and earth wires. They work hand in hand. The absence of another will not give shock/power. Hence, they are of the same invaluable importance. That’s how man and woman are. But the system that has existed right from the days of the early Christians and even the world of today doesn’t depict that.
Whenever you ask husbands who prefer to treat their wives as slaves instead of partners why they do what they do, they quote Ephesians 5:23 and 24 which states “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore, as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” However, they stop there and do not continue onto the next verse which states “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” (Ephesians 5:25). To the men who justifies their cruel acts against women quoting the first part of the verses and not continuing, they are making a grave mistake of leading others away from God. Why is this a mistake? Because God is not a God of Inequality. It is the Law that promoted inequality. It was the law that subjugated and suppressed women to the lowest kinds of people in the society, not God. Not the Bible.
In the early days of human existence, women were seen as the people that should be down there while the men should be somewhere up and high above. It is the law; hence, it has microscopic reasons to do with Christianity or religion. Let me explain. In those days, women were seen as the kinds of people that could not do certain things that the men could. They were made to see themselves as the individuals who were lower in all sorts of qualities including intelligence. As time went by, they felt like that’s all they could ever be. Women were not allowed to go to school, they didn’t have voting rights and they weren’t even counted as a part of the population during the census that was held in those days. Take the Roman Empire, for example; Mark Cartwright writes in his article: The role of women in the modern world, that the Greeks had a particular kind of law that saw the women secondary from the men. Although the Romans had a more neutral approach, women were still seen as the inferior ones compared to the men. In fact, in it was in the Roman empire that women were not allowed to vote and be voted for as well as they were not to be counted when the census was held. For the Jews, again, it is said that they have a neutral standpoint; however, women were still relegated to the lower kinds of people. Though women were allowed to have livestock and engage in petty trades, there were limits to what they could do. They also had to have a man that should be their protector and representative in meetings. For the Hindus too, women were even told to regard their husbands as gods. You might wonder why I specifically chose to talk about the Romans, Jews, and Hindus. This was because the origin of human existence started somewhere within Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. America was there, but I do not know if people existed there before Christ’s life on earth. Hence, the origin of beliefs, cultures, traditions and norms of the world today lies along these three continents.
In the book of Timothy, Paul writes that women should “keep silent before the congregation of the LORD and that they should say what they have to say with their husbands at home.” God didn’t say that the standard should be like that, but rather, as a result of the context of the environment (Athens, Ephesus Rome, Corinth, Macedonia, Galatia, etc.) he found himself. The context (structures/laws/policies) back then subjugated women. In fact, they couldn’t attain leadership positions in all aspects which started from political positions down to leadership positions within businesses and organizations. If they should reach such position, stakeholders of institutions like the church might be going against the will of the law, which might attract criminal legal consequences. Remember the Bible says give unto Cesar what belongs to Cesar and give unto God what belongs to God. The Bible also says that everyone should be subject unto the higher powers. That is, we must not rebel against the laws of the land. (Mark 12:17; Hebrews 13:17). Hence, they had to abide by the rule of the Nation. I know Christ came to break the law, especially the law of Moses which was cruel to people that existed in those days. Therefore, Christ came to redeem us by dying on the cross for our sins. However, some administrative laws applied back then and still applies today. Unfortunately, one of these laws is the law of patriarchy which has eaten deep amongst systems of the world today.
The Law is the element responsible for patriarchy and gender inequality, not God in his infinite mercy and love. The Bible says God is no respecter of persons (Romans 2:11). He is a just God who’ll treat everyone equally when passing His judgment. We have always been told to be like God and that God lives in us. If you truly are like Him, then why do you have the mindset of inequality? If God is a God of equality and justice, then why the sentimental patriarchal practices? Because the Bible says God is no respecter of persons, that doesn’t just mean that everyone black or white, male or female, old or young will be judged under the throne of God, but it also means that he doesn’t see a gender or race to be “inferior” to the other. He sees them all as the same! Yes, it is true that men shall be the “protector” of the women but not a slave master to the women. The term “protector” ties back to Ephesians 5:24 where it was stated that men are to “love” their wives even “as Christ LOVED the church and GAVE HIMSELF for it.” God does not encourage the suffering of anyone under any man or woman but rather the peaceful coalition and consolidation of both genders to make a happy home.
Some might argue— “Why were there no women amongst Jesus’ disciples”? Well, Christ might have committed a legal offense if he had selected women to be by his side always and to carry out the tasks assigned to His disciples. The reason is that since women weren’t allowed to do certain kinds of work back in the days, He couldn’t have selected them to belong amongst His disciples. However, that doesn’t mean that He didn’t have women that were very much close to Him that you could call followers. Luke 8:1-4 and some other verses of the Scriptures explain this. He couldn’t select them officially because women weren’t allowed to do certain kinds of jobs whether paid or unpaid; however, they still followed him whithersoever He went. Elizabeth Clark in her article talks about how there was evidence of women doing great things in Christianity right from time. She writes “The earliest Christian communities met in people’s houses; they didn’t have churches yet for quite some time, and throughout the New Testament, particularly Paul’s letters in the Book of Acts, we find out that women owned the houses in which the early Christians met. This I think is significant.” The role of women in the early church cannot be overemphasized. However, it had to be limited because of the law.
When Christ fed 5000 people in the book of Matthew, they counted the people like the book of Matthew says “And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.” Matthew 14:21. They didn’t even count the women. Why is this so? Because it wasn’t legally permitted. The law went so deep to the extent that when Christ organized a retreat, they couldn’t count the women which can be seen in what Matthew wrote in his book. If His disciples had counted the women, they could have been committing a legal offense. Hence, why they numbered the men beside women and children.
In conclusion, it was the law that promoted patriarchy, not God. I know of a surety that there are people who’d completely disagree with this article. However, all I ask for is that men who modernly enslave their wives should not go around distributing their patriarchy ideologies using the Bible to justify their course. The Holy Bible does not promote patriarchy in any way. You can use some other means to justify your actions but not Christianity, not the Bible and certainly, not God.
Cartwright, M. (2014). ‘The Role of Women in the Roman World.’
Clark, E. (2017). ‘The Roles for Women.’ [online] Pbs.org.
Depts.washington.edu. (2004). ‘Feminae Romanae: The Role of Women in Ancient Rome.’
Hinduismbeliefs.blogspot.com. (2017). ‘The Role of Women in Hinduism.’
Jewfaq.org. (2017). ‘Judaism 101: The Role of Women.’
The Holy Bible, Amplified Version.
DISCLAIMER: Every opinion here is based on my own personal research, thoughts, ideas and notions. Hence, you are welcome to disagree and challenge the idea but not revile the writer of the idea.