Women’s history month is upon us, and we all have cause to celebrate the female voices of the past who have paved the way for women to enjoy a fuller, educated life with which to serve our God. Yet many of us who have grown up in the church have received mixed messages when it comes to what the Bible has to say about women. Even those who have little-to-no church experience have likely heard some sort of (so-called) biblical perspective on the role and value of women. However, many of these “facts” have been distorted, misunderstood, and even misused by men and women alike. 

Here are three common misinterpretations, misconceptions, and misteachings when it comes to the Bible and women:

  1. The Bible teaches that men are more valuable than women.
  2. The Bible teaches that women should not seek to have a voice.
  3. The Bible teaches that women should not teach or lead. 

Before we dive into what the Bible does not say about women, I think we need to start this conversation with a few important foundations about God and His Word.

There is no “Old Testament God” and “New Testament God.” Both accounts (as well as all teachings of Jesus) are of the same God. There are no contradictions. God is the all-knowing, all-merciful, all-righteous, all-gracious, all-holy, all-mighty, all-loving God. He is immutable—He does not change. Everything we know to be true of God in the Old Testament is still true of Him in the New, and vice versa. Our knowledge of the New Testament shapes the way we read the Old, and so it goes the other way around.

Most of the issues people have with the Bible’s “teachings” on women can be understood and explained through greater knowledge of the history, context, and purpose of the writing. God worked (and still does work) through the culture, geography, and customs of the time. Some of the “oddball,” troubling traditions we see in the Bible are primarily of cultural, not spiritual, influence. Additionally, a lack of the reader’s familiarity with the original languages (Greek and Hebrew) as well as many interpretive nuances of each lead to difficulties in capturing the true meaning of the original text(ex: Deuteronomy 22:28-29). Alongside all of these issues is the fact that many of the “problems” people have with the treatment of women are treatments which are also applied to men (ie. Leviticus 15, see point #2 here).

This post assumes that you believe that the Bible is the inerrant, inspired Word of God. It is His revelation to us. It is primarily a theological book, intended to reveal who God is and what His plan is for mankind. It is not a history, science, economics, or morality book. It has those elements within it, but its purpose is not to provide a detailed dissertation on those topics. We must start from the foundational viewpoint that the Bible is sufficient and authoritative, and when we do not understand all the pieces of the biblical puzzle, we need to remember the goodness of God and perfection of His Word and keep seeking to understand.

All this to say, we don’t get to read the Bible with a Sharpie, blacking out the passages we don’t like. When we encounter difficult passages, we need to change our default position. Instead of letting hard verses cast doubt on God’s character, we need to first question our own knowledge and understanding of His Word. With this posture as our common ground, let’s move on to the three earlier stated misconceptions about what the Bible says about women.

I invited you to read the rest over at LifeWay Voices, where I tackle these misconceptions:

  1. The Bible teaches that men are more valuable than women.
  2. The Bible teaches that women should not seek to have a voice.
  3. The Bible teaches that women should not teach or lead. 

Hope to see you there!