Property or Co-heirs? Bringing Balance to Beliefs About Women


Throughout much of the world women are seen as property of their husbands. Abuse is far too common. Even in churches, there is often the basic belief that women have no real value or role in God’s kingdom. They are merely the property of their husbands. Christians and church leaders will ‘prove’ these beliefs through verses like “wives submit to your husbands” (Ephesians 5:22), or “it was the woman who was deceived” (1 Tim 2:13-15). We’ve even heard pastors quote Exodus 20:17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor,” as evidence that wives are actually property, seen the same as an ox or a house belonging to someone.

Like anything, emphasising a few verses over all the others can lead to a skewed understanding of what the Bible says. As John reminded us, Paul and Jesus both radically promoted the value of women. In this post, we will look at some of the basic Biblical truths that our Ending Gendercide program leader would teach to bring balance to the message that the church currently believes about women.

Co-heirs in God’s Creation

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).

The Creation account establishes the truth that both man and woman are created in God’s image and are therefore equal. Women and men have value and dignity and represent the character of God. This truth undercuts any suggestion of inferiority and communicates the equality of both sexes.

Co-heirs in the Creation Mandate

“God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground” (Genesis 1:28).

The Creation mandate to fill the earth and care for creation was given to both man and woman. Thus they are co-partners and co-stewards in this responsibility. In no way does the command suggest dominion of one over the other. Both enjoy God’s blessings and are entrusted with responsibilities.

Co-heirs in the gift of Marriage

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” Genesis 2:24.

The institution of marriage was established by God Himself. The unity of male and female is expressed in the marriage relationship, and Jesus reinforces the same idea in his own teaching in Matthew 19:4-6. That “they will become one flesh” precludes the idea that any one partner would own the other.

Paul, an apostle of Christ and writer of many books in the New Testament, reaffirms the same truth in his writings in Ephesians 5:25,28-30 and I Corinthians 7:3-4.

Co-responsible for the Fall

Often woman has been blamed for the Fall of humankind by referring to the temptation of Eve in the garden of Eden. However, a careful reading of the text reveals that both man and woman disobeyed God’s command and together were responsible for the fall of humankind into sin.

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate it” (Genesis 3:6).

Both of them are guilty of transgression leading to the break down of their unity and the consequent break down in all relationships. Both have to face negative consequences—painful toil for man and painful childbirth for woman. Both are banished from God’s glorious presence and the bounty of creation that they had so far enjoyed in the Garden of Eden.

Co-commissioned for making disciples

Jesus’ disciples included both men and women, and the task of sharing the gospel was given to all. Even before the birth of Jesus, Mary prophesied about this good news in the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). The woman at the well in Samaria became the first evangelist to tell about the Messiah and helped many people put their faith in Jesus (John 4:39). Apart from His band of twelve disciples Jesus had a large number of women disciples who not only followed Him but supported His ministry financially (Luke 8:1-3).

Post-resurrection, Jesus showed himself first to Mary Magdalene and entrusted her to be the messenger of the good news to his disciples. On the day of Pentecost, “All of [the disciples] were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” (Acts 2:4). As the fellowship of believers increased in number, both men and women went about fervently sharing the good news with others and discipling new believers in the church. In doing this, both men and women became co-heirs in the suffering of Christ in the persecution that broke out against the Church (Acts 8:3). Along with Paul, Peter, John, Philip and Stephen we see Tabitha, Lydia, Priscilla, four daughters of Philip, Phoebe and many other women leaders of the church whom Paul acknowledges in Romans 16 serving in the ministry of the Church to make disciples of Christ.

Co- heirs in the New Creation

Men and women stand together as equals in the vision of the future in God’s new Creation when God’s sovereign rule will be established upon all the earth as demonstrated in

Revelation 7:9, Revelation 5:10, and Daniel 7:18.

When it comes to religion, Christianity is radical. The value that the bible places on women is unique.  God has given them an important role in seeing God’s kingdom built. Throughout the church there are different conclusions as to exactly how that role should be played out. Our desire is not so much to define that role but instead to bring truth to the lie that women are a piece of property that can be treated, or abused, however the owner desires.

By | 2014-03-21T05:30:46+00:00 March 21st, 2014|Categories: Ending Gendercide, Learn and Apply|Tags: |

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