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by Rev. Kathryn J. Riss

For a bio of Kathryn click here

With all the turmoil in society caused by the radical secular feminist and homosexual activist agendas, many wonder if championing women’s rights in the Gospel will compromise Biblical authority, weaken the church, or undermine Biblical family values.  The answer is clearly “NO!” Here are some of the reasons:

1) The inequality of women taught by many conservative Christian organizations provides a rationale for the abuse of women, one of the leading causes of family breakup and violence in America.  While no Christian church would knowingly condone violence, the suppression of women’s freedom and full humanity excuses it.  On the other hand, studies have shown that the happiest marriages are those in which an equal partnership of husband and wife is upheld and practiced.  Wives in such marriages have no reason to feel wronged by their mate, so resentment does not build up.  Being respected and assisted by one’s husband is a great incentive to stay married to such a good man! And the love that flows naturally from this kind of close union models for the children how wonderful married life can be.

2) Those who promote injustice in the name of Scripture undermine Biblical authority, which violates the character and works of God.  It substitutes religious legalism for the freedom of God to be God in the lives of His people, gifting whom He chooses for whatever tasks of ministry they are best suited for according to His divine plan.  It also stamps the Christian life with futility when women God has gifted as leaders are instructed to quench the Holy Spirit rather than obey Him.  Likewise, men whom God has gifted in “background” ministries of helps are thrust into leadership for which they are not suited.  Such attempts to impose rigid sexual roles on people thwart their growth and freedom in Christ and rob the church of the full use of its resources.

Translators and editors, who have changed the scriptures regarding women to fit their prejudices further compromise Biblical authority.  Many examples could be cited.  The most common is the insertion of the gender-specific term “man” in English translations where it does not exist in the Greek New Testament text.  This confuses readers into believing that God excludes women where the original text does not.  Another example is faulty editing of the text.  Many translations of Ephesians 5:21-22 insert a sentence break, or even a paragraph break, between these two verses.  They also insert a command at the beginning of verse 22 where none exists in the New Testament, saying, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands . . .” But the original Greek combines verses 21 and 22 in a single thought.  The sole command of this passage is found, not in verse 22, but back in verse 18.  There, God commands all Christians to “Be not drunk with wine, which leads to excess, but BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT!” This is followed by a series of parallel gerunds showing how we are to remain Spirit-filled.  They are: “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns . . ." “Giving thanks in all things to God. . . “ and “Submitting yourselves to one another in the fear of God.” In this context, wives submitting to their husbands is not a legalistic command, but one way in which all Christians are to remain filled with the Holy Spirit by avoiding conflicts with one another.

Another example of mistranslation regarding women is found in Hebrews 11:11.  The structure of this verse is parallel to verses 4, 5, 7, and 8.  All begin “By faith . . .” and name the person who is an example of faith for us.  Verse 4 begins, “By faith Abel. . .” Verse 5 begins, "By faith Enoch. . . “ Verse 7 begins, “By faith Noah. . . “ Verse 8 begins “By faith Abraham. . . “ And verse 11 begins “By faith Sarah . . .” However, modern translators of the NIV who did not like to include a woman among the heroes of faith actually take Sarah’s name out of the Bible and substitute Abraham’s name for hers, even though the word “Abraham” occurs NOWHERE in verse 11 or 12 in ANY Greek New Testament manuscript! (1) If you don’t believe me, look it up in any Greek edition of the New Testament.  You don’t have to be able to read Greek to see exactly what I mean.

Such distortions of the text undermine the authority of Scripture.  They need to be corrected, so that people will have access to the true Word of God rather than biased versions that promote a religious cultural agenda.

3) Those who would impose St. Paul’s advice to first century Christians as a cultural imperative for the 21st century mistakenly substitute Scripture application for principle.  The idea of 21st century Christian women being secluded at home, remaining uneducated, having no choice of a husband, being silenced in the churches, and going about veiled in public is ludicrous.  Yet, hermeneutical consistency for those who believe in a second-class role for women based on the first century model would require these things.

St. Paul urged all Christians to honor the institutions and authorities of their day, even though many were unjust.  So, he advised slaves to obey their masters and wives to obey their husbands although he also said that if slaves had the opportunity to be free, they should take it.  Thank God, we are not slaves, nor do we sell our adolescent daughters into marriages to strangers who own them! We, both men and women, are full citizens of the greatest country in the world.  How much more, then, should we take advantage of the rights and privileges of freedom to promote the Gospel! We may wish to return to the revival power and Christian love of the early church, but to throw away 2000 years of human progress in order to emulate their society would be worse than stupid.

4) The teaching that women should be subject due to the “curse” of Eve contradicts the Gospel truth that the blood of Jesus Christ washes away ALL sin! It mistakenly substitutes the fallen state of humanity as God’s ideal instead of His original creation of man and woman as full and equal partners and overseers of His creation.  It maligns Jesus’ redemptive work, claiming that the sin of Eve is NOT atoned for or forgiven.  Rather than rejoicing in our freedom in Christ, it cruelly insists that not only must Eve be punished, but her female offspring (although not her male offspring!) as well, and that for all generations.  But the Bible teaches that the Cross destroyed ALL the works of the devil, bringing men and women into freedom from ALL sin and equality as redeemed under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

5) Limiting the freedom of Christian women because of their sex is unjust, because while any other sinner may be forgiven by God and set free on the sole condition of repentance, women have no choice in and no ability to change the condition which, under this view, constitutes the ground of their punishment.  We should be very clear about this, because being born female is in no way a sin! On the contrary, it was only after the creation of the first woman that God called His creation “very good.” Unlike any other of God’s creatures, Scripture calls woman and her marriage to man “VERY good!” The Fall could not change that! All it could do was to bring suffering and death to humankind and distort the relationship between men and women.

Women need to understand that rather than being a curse, our femaleness is “VERY good” in God’s eyes! We need to understand that being female is NOT a sinful condition! On the contrary, it is a unique privilege, because only women are able to bring into the world new human lives in the image of God, who will love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ.  No wonder the devil hates us! We keep increasing the population of his enemies! It should be no surprise that satan has been working overtime to torment us and keep us down, since our potential to destroy him is so great.

Christian women are discriminated against not due to any sinful condition, but due to a natural condition.  In this, our situation is very different from that of homosexuals and lesbians.  While such persons may not be able to help their attraction to those of their own sex, they DO have a choice and the power to change their behavior.  Discrimination against them occurs on the basis of their homosexual behavior.  Once they repent and embrace self-control, their status in the church is the same as any other repentant sinner’s.  But for those born female, no repentance is possible; and full citizenship in God’s earthly kingdom can never be gained as long as prejudice against women is actively promoted by the church that should be setting them free.

6) Christian inequality undermines our Gospel witness to the lost.  Unsaved people can see through religious rationalizations to the injustice of “separate but equal” status in the church.  The New Testament tells them that Christ came to set the captives free and provide life more abundantly, but religious legalists put women into bondage and rob them of the freedom to fulfill their potential.  Who can estimate how many unsaved young people and women have been turned away from Christ by this barrier?  I know that for many years, I was one of them! Non-Christians often excuse their abandonment of the church on the basis that it is full of hypocrites.   Let’s take away their excuses and make our homes and churches models of Christian truth, love and justice.


1. The pronouns "he" and "him" don't appear in the Greek.  They are supplied by the translators.  The verb "considered (Him) faithful" has a common singular ending which could be translated accurately either as "he" or "she." Its object is the "the one" which is translated here as "him." The NIV translators substituted Abraham's name for Sarah's because the verb which the KJV translates "conceive seed" is often used for ejaculation and not conception.  In order to do this they had to 1) remove Sarah from its position as the subject of the sentence, 2) substitute Abraham, which does NOT appear in the text, and 3) completely change the word order of the sentence to make Sarah's involvement an afterthought.

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