A Question About the Treatment of Women
January 24, 2023, 12:00 AM

Question: Do woman still to this day have little value amongst the Jews? 

Answer: This is an interesting question because I never really thought about it in these terms. Of course your questions assumes that the Jews historically have devalued or undervalued women, or that this is a trait of Jews only. Throughout human history, women have been mistreated by every “race” or “ethnicity.” It is not a Jewish thing, but rather a human thing. Even in today’s “enlightened” times, we mistreat woman. Think of Muslim women in extreme Islamic countries, or the dreaded Chinese “one child” policy that led to the abortion of whole generations of women. This is not a Jewish thing, it is a human thing. And it is a human thing for one reason and one reason only: SIN.

The so-called “battle of the sexes” is as old as time itself. Consider what God says in the aftermath of the fall to Eve: “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” (Genesis 3:16). Here, quite plainly, we learn that the sin principle works itself out in women in their desire to usurp headship from their husbands and that the sin principle works itself out in men in their desire to dominate and subjugate women in an attempt to hold onto control. This has played itself out all throughout history, but no more so than it does today in what is typically called “third (or fourth) wave feminism.” The feminist movement went from “we want equality with men” to “women are equal in every way to men” to “who needs men, they are a cancer, down with the patriarchy and masculinity is toxic.” (Now you can add “what is a woman” to the mix). Not to be outdone, we’ve seen the horrors of abuse of women by men for quite some time. This is a problem (the battle of the sexes) that transcends time, race, gender, culture, religion, etc. It is, as I say, a human problem!

Now we need to also acknowledge that in the Bible, in particular in God’s Law, we see stipulations that saw to the care of women. If anything, the Mosaic Law was very pro-woman rather than devaluing of women. On many occasions, the Mosaic Law commanded that special care be given to the widow, the orphan, and the stranger; in other words, the outcasts of society, the forgotten ones. In that culture, one of the most dangerous positions for a woman to be in was outside of the care of father or husband (think of the story of Ruth). Jewish law also forbade polygamy (which does devalue women) and frivolous divorce (which endangers women). Now, that these things happened in Jewish culture is more a testament to human sin and not a knock against the Mosaic Law.

The commands in the NT are no different, in particular Paul’s commands in Ephesians and Colossians for husbands to love their wives and for wives to submit to their husbands. This is the exact opposite of the “battle of the sexes.” The women do not seek to usurp their husband’s headship and the husband does not seek to subjugate his wife. These commands would have been “counter cultural” in those days.

Let’s not forget that all of these problems are solved in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As Paul says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Far from obliterating gender or gender roles, this verse teaches that all of the things that divide sinful man are obliterated in the Gospel. We discriminate and subjugate based on race (Jew or Greek), status (slave or free), or gender (male or female). In Christ, we are all equal, we are all children of God through faith in Christ, and the petty things we divide on are meaningless at the foot of the cross.

I hope this helps!

~ Pastor Carl