Challenge Response: The Bible Says Men Are Superior to Women

Here's my response to this week's challenge:

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This week's challenge: The Bible says that men are superior to women.

A little controversial in this day and age. What does the Bible say about men and women and husbands and wives and their value and their roles? This challenge sites Corinthians as an example of a passage where you have men superior to women. I want to say a couple of things.

Number one, the key passage in Scripture on the value of human beings is Genesis 1:26-27. That's where we derive human value, not on gender, not on ethnicity, but on the fact that every human being is made in the image of God. It says, “male and female, he created them.” So, men and women are made in the image of God. In the Christian worldview, this is where we derive the value of human beings. Therefore, human value is intrinsic, and it’s inherent to being human. If you're a human being, you are valuable. That's where we get our value, and so that's the foundation of biblical texts.

Now we come to the New Testament. We do see a distinction made between men and women. There's a passage that talks about men, husbands, being the head of their wives, and so a lot of people today look at that and go, “What does that mean? Doesn't that mean that men are superior to women?” Well, no, it doesn't. It’s just referring to different roles that we have. There's a difference between having a role and having higher or lower value. They're not the same thing. 

In fact, God models this for us. Look at the Trinitarian view of God. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all equally God. None is inferior to the other. Amongst the Trinity – Father, Son, Holy Spirit – there are different roles they play. So, it wasn't the Father who died on the cross, it was the Son who died on the cross for sins of humanity. It's the son who says that he willingly submits his will to the will of the Father. Does that mean that the Son is somehow inferior to the Father? No, of course not. It’s just a difference in role. The Son willingly submits himself to the Father, and that is key for our view of husbands and wives.

In fact, I want to take you to a different passage, Ephesians 5. Chapter five is a key passage. It will help us understand a little bit more about this headship, about the relationship between husband and wife. If you look in Ephesians 5 starting in verse 21, it says, “and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” or to “submit to one another in the fear of Christ.” 

First off, there is mutual submission that should happen in a relationship between husband and wife. The next verse, 22, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands as to the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ also is the head of the Church.” There is this idea of headship, or leadership, that a man has in a marriage relationship with a wife, but what does that look like? When we think headship, we think leadership, we think worldly view, right? “Well, I have authority over you. I tell you what to do. You listen to me. I give you orders.” That's not the biblical view. That's not the model of Christ.

In Ephesians 5:25 we see this command to husbands: “Husbands love your wives…” How? “…just also as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” That's a tall order for husbands, right? Husbands are to love their wives, lead their wives, in the same way Christ loved the church. How did Christ love the church? He sacrificially lived his life and gave his life up for the church.

That's the role of the husband. That is a huge tall order. So, there's nothing in Scripture about men being superior to women. There’s equal value with men and women. There are just simply different roles that men and women have in a marriage relationship. Different roles do not equal different value. Men and women are equally valued. 

In fact, if you look at the origins of Christianity in the society that Christianity springs up within, you know that women are second-class citizens, third-class citizens. But Christianity dignifies women all throughout Scripture and gives them a whole different status. It's actually Christianity that brings the value of women to the forefront. So, does the Bible teach that men are superior to women? Absolutely not.

Brett Kunkle

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