Patriarchy on the Equality of Women and Men

A patriarchy paraphrase:


Sadly, I’ve read too many people’s posts that can be distilled down to that meme. For a look at what the Bible really says about the roles of women and men in God’s kingdom, see:

1) Patriarchy – When False Doctrine Runs Amok,
2) God Never Settles – exposing patriarchy’s nonsense about women, and
3) Silencing Women – the guaranteed way for men to stay in control.


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58 Responses to Patriarchy on the Equality of Women and Men

  1. Lucie Winborne says:

    Those “some things” number about 88, don’t they? Can’t remember the name of the guy who came up with that list, but I still haven’t come across said list in Scripture.

  2. nickcady says:

    I think you’re confusing “what the Bible really says” and different people’s exegesis and hermeneutics of what the Bible actually says. The fact is: the Bible says what it says. The questions are: 1) What did it mean in its original setting (exegesis), i.e. who was it written to, what was it written to address, what was the original intent? – and 2) How do those principles apply to us today.
    Everybody thinks that they read the Bible and believe what it “really” says, but in reality, we are all interpreters engaged in exegesis and hermeneutics.

    • Tim says:

      Good points, Nick. What I meant by the phrase is that the Bible speaks with approval about women taking leadership roles both spiritually and socially. The links I provided lead to that discussion, and it truly is what the Bible itself really says regarding those women.

      • nickcady says:

        the Bible says what it says – again the question is how you interpret and apply it.

        • Tim says:

          Sure, that’s what hermeneutics is about. But when the Bible says God is love, the hermeneutical effort is fairly easy to come to the conclusion that it means God is love. And when Deborah is shown to lead Israel well and honorably it doesn’t take much hermeneutical effort to conclude she is a God-appointed leader who did her job in a way that glorifies the Lord. This is what gives the lie to patriarchist teaching that no woman can ever lead men in God’s kingdom.

        • nickcady says:

          I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you, but don’t forget that it was to the shame of the men who didn’t step up to lead when Deborah led.
          The point is this: whether complimentarian or egalitarian, one’s views will inevitably be shaped by their culture, upbringing, experiences and community. Including yours.

        • Tim says:

          Their shame? I didn’t see that in the text.

        • nickcady says:

          Judges 4:4-7 – Deborah is a prophetess, and she gives a message from God to Barak, that he is to lead the troops against Sisera, and God will give Sisera into HIS hand.
          Vs 8: Barak is afraid to go and says he will only go if she goes with him.
          Vs 9: Deborah agrees to go, but NOW, Sisera will not be given in Barak’s hand any more (because of his cowardice), instead God will give the glory to a woman – to the shame of Barak.

        • Tim says:

          Verse 9 says “beacuse of the course you are taking”, not “because of your cowardice”. Nowhere is Barak called a coward nor is Deborah’s longstanding leadership of Israel ever mentioned as bringing the men of Israel shame. Both of those concepts require a hermeneutic of reading something into the text that isn’t there.

        • nickcady says:

          Tim, this is actually exegesis – not hermeneutics at this point. I agree that Deborah’s leadership of Israel is not mentioned as bringing the men to shame, but I do believe that the implicit message to Barak is that because he refused to do what God told him to do, his “glory” was taken away and given to a woman, which in that culture (again: exegesis) would have been to his shame.

        • Tim says:

          You’re right, I mixed up exegesis and hermenutic. I have to go to seminary some time!

          On Barak asking Deborah to go along, it reminds me of the later instance where Samuel accompanied Saul into battle, part of a long standing tradition of priests/prophets doing so.

        • nickcady says:

          Clearly though, in Barak’s case, it was punitive that the glory that would have been his went to a woman.

        • Tim says:

          Are you saying that Jael should consider herself as God’s second best?

        • nickcady says:

          Should we consider David God’s second best – since he was chosen in response to Saul’s failure? Should we consider Jesus God’s second best, since he was sent as a result of your failure? Don’t be ridiculous. It’s right there in the text: God promises to give Sisera into Barak’s hand, and then when Barak tried to put a caveat on what God told him to do, God took the “glory” away from him and gave it to a woman – which for Barak was unto his shame, but for Jael was her glory.
          What I want you to see is that you are so committed to not being chauvinist that you are not doing proper exegesis.

        • Tim says:

          I’ll go along with all you say but not conclude that it was evidence that Deborah’s leadership was the shame of Israel’s men, which I think was your original point.

        • nickcady says:

          Okay. I concede that point.

        • Tim says:

          Mutual concessions, yay!

        • Shouldn’t the glory go to God, regardless of whom he delivers the enemy to?

        • nickcady says:

          Perhaps, but that is not what the text (of the Bible!) says. Read it yourself: Judges 4.

        • Marg says:

          Hi Nick, you said, “it was to the shame of the men who didn’t step up to lead when Deborah led.” This seems like a broad statement, and I’m wondering who you are referring to specifically in your use of the plural “men”.

          Barak should have obeyed the word which God had given to Deborah without the proviso, “If you’ll go with me, I’ll go; but if not, I won’t go.” His response (for which no underlying motive or reason is given) meant that he lost out on some honour. Fortunately, he didn’t make the same mistake a second time. Barak acts decisively when Deborah says in Judges 4:14, “Get up! This is the day that the Lord has handed Sisera over to you. Hasn’t the Lord gone out before you?”

          Barak lost out on some honour, but it was not enough to stop him from singing a victory song with Deborah, as recorded in Judges 5. Here’s what Deborah and Barak said about some of Israel’s other leaders, other men (and women?) who did indeed step up and lead while Deborah was judge of Israel:

          “That the leaders took the lead in Israel, that the people offered themselves willingly, bless the Lord!” Judges 5:2 NRSV
          “My heart is with Israel’s commanders, who willingly offered themselves among the people—bless the Lord!” Judges 5:9 CEB
          “The leaders of Issachar came along with Deborah; Issachar was attached to Barak . . .”Judges 5:15 CEB

          I see no inkling of shame here.

          Things were looking pretty dire in Israel until Deborah arose as “matriarch in Israel” (Judges 5:6-8). Deborah was a great leader. She accurately brought the word of the Lord, settled people’s disputes, commanded the general of Israel’s army, and was remarkably magnanimous in victory. Not a bad word is spoken about her. And even though Jael rightly gets the credit for finishing off Sisera, Barak does not come off too badly. He missed out on some honour, but I think it goes too far to say that he was shamed. Rather, he is credited with killing Sisera’s entire army (Judges 4:16).

          I see little evidence of “the shame of men (plural) who didn’t step up to lead” unless you’re referring to the inhabitants of Meroz (Judges 5:23) and possibly the tribe of Reuben. (I admit, I’m not certain what’s going on with the tribe of Reuben, or with Gad, Dan and Asher for that matter.) The other tribes of Israel, however, are vindicated.

          More about Deborah here:

        • nickcady says:

          Hi Marg, I take back what I said about the men in general. I don’t want to detract anything from Deborah. However, I stand by what I wrote about Barak. I think I explained it extensively enough.

        • Tim says:

          My thanks to Marg and Nick both for a gracious exchange. And my thanks to Marg for writing with a more scholarly analysis of the points I was trying to make than I could have made myself.

  3. Pastor Bob says:

    Hair splitting time.
    He can do all that she can do
    She can do all that he can do
    There are logical exceptions
    Some lack training and ability
    – Surprise he and she fall into this.
    Training can overcome many deficiencies
    Traditional roles have been reversed
    – Would you be surprised to know that some women are terrible with children?

    What has God called the individual to do?
    What talents have been given by Him?
    How obedient are the believers?
    Roles help define who one is, but are NOT the final determinant.
    HE is.

    • Tim says:

      Training and abilities yes but distinctions based on merely being a man or a woman no, right?

      • nickcady says:

        The problem is that in the Bible some distinctions are made based on gender. God chooses throughout to present himself in the masculine, although we can agree that God has no inherent gender. He calls himself the Father, Jesus is the Son. The Bible, whether you like it or not, is patriarchal. Look at the entire Old Testament, and you’ll notice that family lines are traced through the males not the females. Paul the Apostle has a lot to say about the role of women in the church, e.g. “I do not permit a woman to teach men”. See 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9 (qualifications for elders, which clearly are framed with men in view: “husband of one wife,” “manages his household well,” etc.). Also, 1 Cor. 11:3-16 clearly presents the hierarchy: God, Christ, man, woman, which applies both to the church and the home. Since elders/pastors both teach and exercise authority, 1 Tim. 2:11-15 prohibits women from occupying this office (the reasons given in that text are not culturally determined). There are no NT examples of women elders or pastors serving over men.

        It comes down to a question of exegesis and hermeneutics. Clearly this is what the Bible says. You may not like it – that’s your prerogative. The only way around it is for you to use a hermeneutics which says that that was for that time and that culture, which is an inherently condescending view of their culture and a low view of inspiration – to say that God was incapable of really inspiring Paul to say what He really intended as a model for all generations moving forward.

        • Tim says:

          Then again if you don’t get the context in which it was written, you don’t get what the Bible fully means.

        • nickcady says:

          That’s my point exactly, Tim! And what I’m saying is that reading into it our modern egalitarian mindset is very much anachronistic and not a proper exegesis – which leads to a failed hermeneutic, which only seeks to appease modern sentiments rather than be faithful to the intent of God in His inspired Word.

        • Marg says:

          Hi Nick, you misquoted 1 Timothy 2:12.

          Paul uses the singular for “man” and for “woman” in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 which is a marked difference to the plural for “men” and for “women” he used in preceding verses (i.e. 1 Timothy 2:8-10). It is highly likely that Paul is addressing the behaviour of a couple in verses 11-15 (particularly the bad behaviour of a woman) and is not talking about church leadership.

          More about the significant interpretational challenges in 1 Timothy 2:12 here:

        • Marg says:

          As for women being elders: The most we can say is that in New Testament times, men were more likely to be elders and bishops, particularly in the churches at Ephesus and Crete. Though I strongly suspect Priscilla was a leader in the house church she hosted with her husband in Ephesus and, later, in her house church in Rome. She was certainly prominent in the Christian communities at Corinth, Ephesus and Rome.

          Furthermore, Priscilla acts as a leader, with her husband, in Ephesus and appears to be regarded as a leader in Rome: in Ephesus, it is Priscilla and Aquila (and no one else) who corrects Apollos; in Romans 16, the couple are acknowledged first (with Prisca/Priscilla’s name mentioned first) in Paul’s greetings to individuals in the church at Rome. Moreover, churches were grateful for the ministry of Priscilla and her husband (Romans 16:3-5).

          Women were ubiquitous in the missions of Paul, and he refers to these women with his favourite ministry terms: coworker, apostle (apostolos), minister/deacon (diakonos).
          *Paul does not identify any of his male or female colleagues as elder, bishop (episkopos), or pastor.* Nevertheless, I suspect women as well as men functioned as elders and bishops in New Testament congregations. It’s only later that women were discouraged, and then officially banned, from such roles.

          For instance, in a misguided move, the council at Laodicea (circa 360) banned women elders. Why ban something that did not exist?
          “It is not allowed for those women who are called ‘priests/elders’ (presbytides) or ‘those women presiding’(prokathēmenai) to be ordained (kathistasthai) in the churches.”
          Canon 11 of the Council of Laodicea

          It’s well past time for the church to take a reality check:
          ~ To acknowledge that women were leaders in the New Testament and valued by Paul.
          ~ To acknowledge that 1 Timothy 2:12 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 addressed bad behaviour and were not meant to silence godly women and stifle their ministries.
          ~ To acknowledge that New Testament churches had differing and often fluid leadership and ministry “structures.”
          ~ To acknowledge that the church and the world is weaker for not allowing appropriately gifted Christian women (women such as Priscilla) to lead.

          More on the ministry of women in the first-century church here:

        • Marg says:

          I hasten to add that godly elders or pastors (whether male or female) do not serve *over* other competent men or women.

          Dodgy translation choices in Hebrews chapter 13 aside, a Christian minister serves alongside his or her fellow human beings, not *over* them.

          Any authority that a minister has–an authorisation that ultimately comes from God–is an authorisation to function in a ministry; it is not an authority *over* another person.

        • Tim says:

          Thanks for the clarification on the Paul’s letter to Timothy (the plural and singular issue) and on explaining the leadership and servant roles well, Marg.

        • Geoff says:

          I hear this type of thing a lot:
          “Clearly this is what the Bible says. You may not like it – that’s your prerogative.”

          But the reality is that the bible is not as clear as you would have people believe. Sorry to state the obvious, but, it’s written in Koine Greek and a huge amount of scholarship is required to translate it and this work is ongoing and improving. Historical and cultural understandings are hugely beneficial in understanding texts that are nearly 2000 years old. In my experience of trying to answer the questions, What did the text mean then, and how do we apply it today? I’ve concluded that forbidding half the human population from leading in official capacity does violence to the core message of the bible: That men and women are created to stand side by side, empowed by the Holy Spirit, experiencing and sharing the transforming power of Jesus.

  4. nickcady says:

    Tim, I would be curious to know your thoughts on this post I’ve written about gender roles, particularly the latter half, where I quote a female author on the subject:

    • Tim says:

      It’s one way to take the passage. The Keller’s take on leadership is a bit skewed, though. The Bible doesn’t actually talk of servant leadership. It talks of servants under the New Covenant.

      • nickcady says:

        Tim, the issue is this: There is only one way to take the passage. That’s what exegesis is about: discovering what the passage was intended to mean, how it was meant to be taken. There can be several “right” hermeneutics, but only one right exegesis. The question is: “is the exegesis correct or isn’t it?” From there you can move on to hermeneutics.

        Secondly, “the Bible doesn’t actually talk of servant leadership.” Really? Last I checked, Jesus was in the Bible.

        But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. (Luke 22:26)

        And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)

        Not that we (leaders) lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith. (2 Corinthians 2:24)

        When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. (John 13:12-15)

        Not domineering over those in your charge (leadership), but being examples to the flock. (serving) (1 Peter 5:3)

        Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. (Hebrews 13:7)

        • Tim says:

          It’s all about considering ourselves servants, not leaders at all.

        • nickcady says:

          I get that that’s your OPINION, but what about the passage from John where Jesus asserts that He is a leader and yet he acts as a servant? And what about the passage from Hebrews which talks about esteeming your LEADERS?

        • Tim says:

          Jesus is in a different class, of course. And yes there are leaders in the church, but our position is always as servants. Unfortunately, when I sometimes see leaders in the church talking about servant leadership the leadership part is far too pronounced.

        • nickcady says:

          So we who are leaders are to act as servants – is that what you’re saying?
          I fully agree with that. The term used for this colloquially is “servant leadership”.

        • nickcady says:

          But you are creating a false dichotomy based on your perception that some people aren’t doing it right. Whether your assessment is correct or not, the dichotomy is false nonetheless.

        • Tim says:

          Sorry. I just see the phrase abused often enough to desire it pass out of use colloquially or otherwise.

        • nickcady says:

          BTW, don’t forget that in that text, Jesus is using Himself as a model for how the disciples are to act: i.e. as you are leading, act as servants.

        • Marg says:

          Jesus is our Lord and Teacher. He is *over* us. But Christian leaders are not *over* other competent people. I mention this above:

          Jesus also says something along the same lines:
          “But you shouldn’t be called Rabbi, because you have one teacher, and all of you are brothers and sisters. 9 Don’t call anybody on earth your father, because you have one Father, who is heavenly. 10 Don’t be called teacher, because Christ is your one teacher. 11 But the one who is greatest among you will be your servant. 12 All who lift themselves up will be brought low. But all who make themselves low will be lifted up.” Matthew 23:8-12

          In Jesus’ kingdom the humble are exalted, the lowly are the greatest, and the last are first. In other words, there is equality: no hierarchy, no patriarchy, no castes. This is the ideal to be lived out. This is the ideal I am committed to.

        • Tim says:

          “9 Don’t call anybody on earth your father, because you have one Father, who is heavenly.”

          I’ve sometimes wondered why, in light of that plain statement from Jesus, we later read Paul saying that he considers himself the father in the faith of the Corinthian church. (1 Corinthians 4:15.) Perhaps he overstepped, or perhaps the words used for father are different?

        • Marg says:

          In the Greek of 1 Corinthians 4:15c Paul doesn’t use the word “father” for himself.
          The KJV translates it literally as: “. . . for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.”
          The CEB has: “. . . I gave birth to you in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”

          Paul is conveying the idea that he is a father, but without using a title. He uses both paternal and maternal metaphors to describe his ministry in 1 Thessalonians 2. More on this here:

          Paul usually went out of his way to use ministry descriptions that *didn’t* convey hierarchy, power, or prestige. The descriptions of ministers he used most often in his letters were (in descending order of frequency): coworker, brother or sister, minister (diakonos), and apostle. (Priscilla, Euodia, Syntyche, Apphia, Phoebe and Junia are described using one or more of these words.)

          Admittedly, most of us think of an “apostle” as having some clout, but Paul used the word for himself to denote the source of his authorisation more than anything else (e.g. Gal 1:1-2). (Apostles are witnesses, messengers and missionaries sent by Jesus and/or the church.)

        • Tim says:

          I saw that Strong’s shows the same word used in both passages. It would be interesting to know what Hebrew word Jesus used originally.

        • Marg says:

          The LXX consistently translates the Hebrew word אָב (“ab”) as patēr, so this is probably the word Jesus would have used originally or, more likely, the Aramaic equivalent.

        • Tim says:

          Also, Thayer seems to suggest the word could be translated as Father or Begettor.

        • Marg says:

          The usual noun for “father” (patēr) is used in the plural in 1 Corinthians 4:15 when Paul says, “you don’t have many fathers,” but an unrelated verb (gennaō) is used in the last phrase when Paul says “I gave birth/begot/fathered you . . .”

          A man that begets a child is a father, and yet Paul doesn’t use patēr for himself in 1 Cor. 4:15. He does use patēr metaphorically in 1 Thessalonians 2:11, however.

          Patēr is used twice in Matthew 23:9. Gennaō, or a cognate, do not occur in this verse.

          So all in all, I don’t think Paul called himself a “father” (as per Matthew 23:9) even though he acted as a father in some ways.

        • Tim says:

          Interesting, thanks.

  5. Pingback: Were there women elders in New Testament churches?

  6. This post addresses additional Scripture to support God’s designated gender roles.

    As a woman who’d love to preach and teach, until the Bible changes its message, I cannot pursue it with integrity.

    • Tim says:

      The Genesis 3 passage isn’t prescribing what women should do but describing how sin will make them suffer. Same goes for the Isaiah passage: it’s about sin’s consequences.

      For OT passages on God and women in leadership who honor him, read about Deborah, Huldah, Abigail and Sheerah.

      • And suffer we do! I’d agree that the Genesis passage isn’t prescriptive on what women’s roles are to be; however, there are verses aplenty in the NT that are. I can also agree with several points you made in the three links of this post, perhaps mostly that some in the patriarchal movement would prefer a male false teacher over a woman confronting them on their sin. I’ve been personally involved in doing that very thing, by calling out a pastor for pulpit plagiarism and, not once, did I feel wrong for doing so because of my gender. Submission to God and Truth far supersedes any gender role assignments. As much as I’d love to cross over, it still appears overwhelmingly clear that God appoints males to lead. While there are gems within Scripture that reveal His work being accomplished through godly women, overall it is men. The Twelve were men, Adam was created first, and most significantly Jesus Himself was male. All that to say, I don’t feel belittled, silenced, or second tier because of my gender; on the contrary, I’m working with the consequences of sin and utilizing all of the gifts God has given me to speak His Truth, without apology.

    • Tim says:

      The posts I linked at the top of this page will lead you to their stories and more.

  7. Pingback: Were there women elders in New Testament churches? - Marg Mowczko

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