What does the bible say about women and men? It’s an important question for Christians who want to be faithful to the word of God. But it’s a question that doesn’t have an easy answer. Godly people have studied the scriptures over the years, praying for insight and for truth to be revealed, and yet come to very different conclusions about what the bible says about relationships between men and women, particularly around the issues of leadership and roles within marriage, family and the church.
I’ve written Equals from a foundation of egalitarian theology, the view that men and women were created in God’s image to be equal in every way, and together share in the cultural mandate to ‘fill all the earth and subdue the land’. Roles and responsibilities are shared out according to people’s interests, gifts and skills irrespective of their sex. I grew up in the Brethren church which in contrast had very traditional, conservative views on the roles of men and women – men made decisions and women made the tea. As an evangelical in my early twenties, it was really important for me to study the biblical material on women and men, to understand how to interpret it, and to realize that what I had imbibed as a teenager was not the only or the most accurate way of understanding the texts. Not all Christians feel the need to justify their passion for equality with their reading of the Bible, but if you are from a tradition that does I would encourage to you do that work.
There are some excellent books that explain egalitarian theology. I would particularly recommend Why not Women? by Loren Cunningham and David Joel Hamilton, and if you want a book that explores different perspectives then The Gender Agenda by Lis Goddard and Clare Hendry is an excellent model of respectful dialogue between people who hold different views. In preparation for my book, I wrote An overview of egalitarian theology which you are very welcome to download and read. It’s not the last word on the subject, but it’s perhaps a helpful place to start. Please recommend other books that explore what the bible says about women and men in the comments.