Currently in an argument with a friend concerning the Bible and its treatment of women. He claims that Christianity is demeaning to women and that the Bible treats women as second class citizens. I told him that it has never been a dogma, doctrine, or discipline of the Catholic Church that women have to obey men. He keeps on going back to the Bible to prove otherwise. How do I rebut this?
LUKE 1:26 And in the sixth month, the Angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth,
27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the name of the virgin was Mary.
28 And the Angel being come in, said to her: ****Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: Blessed art thou among women.
29 But she having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be.
30 And the Angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God:
31 Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call his name, Jesus.*
REVELATION 12:1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars:
Context and world history is valuable when reading ancient documents.
Does your friend really equate that time period with 21st century norms?
Get him or her a good Early Church history book. Realizing the culture of the day makes everything fall into place.
The Bible is full of truth. The manner in which people lived in different era do vary.
God’s truth remains constant.
Genesis 2:18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Genesis 2:20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.
But for Adam no suitable helper was found.
God made woman to be a “helper” for Adam. This sounds like God may have made woman to be an assistant who is subordinate to Adam. However when you look at the Hebrew word - ezer - used in these 2 verses we understand the context and meaning of the word. This word is used 21 times in the Old Testament for some form of the word help. It is actually used 16 times to refer to God helping a person or people! The other 3 times it is in reference to a military or serious conflict of some sort (Isaiah 30:5, Ezekiel 12:14, Daniel 11:34). So this word translated ‘helper’ in our English Bibles is hardly referring to a submissive assistant. It is referring to the help from a powerful source of equal (or greater ) capabilities.
This is how God created man and woman in relation to each other. This is how the world was when He finished creating and rested on the 7th day. Genesis 1:31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
And then we get to Genesis 3. Sin happens. And then:
16 To the woman he said,
“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.”
Since the time of Eve women have generally been subordinate to men. There have been powerful female leaders throughout religious and world history, but these women undoubtedly had more obstacles to overcome than the men around them. Today in western cultures women probably have more rights than at any other time in history. While we should continue to strive for equality for all people, I don’t know if men and women will ever be completely equal during life here on Earth. We can’t blame God for this relationship. It is the fault of humankind following the serpent/Satan into sin.
God willed and chose to bring His only Son into the world through a woman (Mary). He could have accomplished this any way He wanted but He chose Mary because it was the best way. He trusted His only Son with Mary for her to nourish and protect Him.
The first witnesses of the Resurrection, by Jesus’ will, were the women who had remained faithful at the foot of the Cross and therefore were more steadfast in faith. Jesus trusted Mary Magdalene with the message to give to the Apostles to meet Him in Galilee.
Mary, simply Mary. She is the Mother of God, Queen of Heaven, the spiritual spouse of the Holy Spirit and Jesus’ first disciple.
Sadly, your friend, as many others, are not seeking truth but are playing the blame game. They want God to intervene in the life of humans but only as far as He does not make any demands on human “liberties.”
Till today, large populations in the world not only believe that woman is inferior to man but that man has the right to debase, abuse, and kill the woman.
Those same people will never challenge anyone but a Christian (especially a Catholic Christian) on anything dealing with human rights/treatment.
Throughout history women have been bought and sold into marriages, slavery, and prostitution. (Some places in the world still do this with the blessings of their governing bodies–some outright; some with a wink wink–as it happens with the elite and powerful in most modern societies, including the US.)
So yes, there are passages in Scriptures that will demonstrate that dissimilar treatment of man vs. woman–would it be better for Scriptures to lie about what took place?
The truth of the matter is that Christianity caused the world to evolve from its bloodthirsty, masochistic barbarism. Those nations/peoples who have consistently rejected Christianity have remained in those anti-woman values and experiences, almost without change–and we don’t need to go to Scriptures to see it!
Mary, a woman, was chosen to be the mother of God. Obviously, God needed a woman to be His mother. Her role is the most significant of all women in the Bible. How is a woman being given such a role as God’s mother “not enough”?
Mary was foreshadowed in Genesis. “The seed of the Woman…” She is the Queen of heaven, the one who will crush the serpent’s head with Her heel.
Adam, a man, was incomplete without Eve, a woman. A man existing alone wasn’t good, and so it took a woman, drawn from his rib, to be his “helper”, not slave. They worked together, man and woman, alone with only each other and the creatures God created when everything was as beautiful, perfect, and sinless as the world was originally meant to be.
Mary and Eve are two of the very most important women of the Bible, and there are many others, yet I always think of them and how they are so similar in the fact that they are so opposite.
In this modern time, women being able to become priests (it won’t stop there, it will have to be bishops, cardinals, popes, and all else) really doesn’t compare. It doesn’t bother me in the least that women can’t be priests. Women were originally created for their certain place and their certain roles. It doesn’t mean there was anything wrong with it. Mary and Eve were the heart of their man’s home. The “being submissive” thing, I take it, simply meant to respect their husbands and be faithful. It did not mean to cower and shrivel and hide and endure a man’s abuse. It certainly didn’t mean that. Real words, and even meanings behind words, have been known to sometimes be lost in translation throughout the thousands of years. So many languages, all trying to tell the same stories, in their own way. While one version could say “Wives be submissive to her husband”, another could say “Wives respect her husband”, and the same would be said of the husband. A wife should respect her husband, as a husband should respect his wife.
God created man and woman equally, yet with their own different places and roles in life. Man and woman are not meant to compete against each other but to complement each other. It’s a very natural, beautiful, and healthy understanding of these two very different and yet very same creatures of God.
Excellent post! :clapping::clapping::clapping:
…what’s truly dining in that passage you’ve cited is that St. Paul calls the women to be submissive to their husbands (Christian Fellowship) while calling the husbands to protect their wives with their life–to Love their wives as Christ’s Loved the Church that He gave His Life for her!
Several points are raised here:
“Women in Sacred Scripture”
A related point:
“What is the Catholic view of women?”
Thanks! I heard this in a sermon a few years ago and found it quite meaningful.
Well, you’re going to loose if you continue to phrase your response in the way you’ve done.
“Obey” is latin for “ob-adura”, to “listen”.
There is a difference between the common American understanding of that word, and the latin one. However, your friend is NOT going to believe you. Anyone who is determined as he is, already has an impediment to learning. It’s more emotional than logical.
In America, the first meaning of obey is in the military sense: to obey without question or be “shot”.
All your friend is going to do, is quote to you the passage from Paul in Ephesians 5:21, and show that a traditional Latin translation is “Obey”;
IF you were to simply say; “A woman does not have to marry or can divorce.” then his argument is already destroyed. All bible references to the order of men and women vanish. Neither Mosaic law nor the New testament place any ordering or “heirarchy” between men and women except in a marriage which they choose.
Your friend has no bible argument to counter it, for in every instance there is a counter example. Unmarried women owned their own land even in Moses’ time, etc.
The only marriage which is unavoidable in the the bible / Christianity, is the marriage of Jesus and his church. That marriage is non-sexual, and covenental. But, both men and women are equally Jesus’ “bride”. Therefore, that marriage requires that all of us obey Jesus the Christ. Would ANYONE, dare to say that the bride of Christ is greater than the groom, ever? In that sense, yes – women are always second to their husband. None of us has any authority over Jesus Christ, save the honoring of his own mother because of her wisdom. We dare not try to rule over Christ, Jesus. We might next to him, but “under” his authority. The body of Christ CAN not be divided, or he will cut off (divorce and PUNISH) the division. Mark 3:25. “if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand”
Re-read ephesians 5:21 in this light.
Now, read the popes encyclial from 1935. This is “traditional” Catholocism.
“He” is inclusive of women. It means both man and women in Latin/church/bible teaching.
This is going to show you how hard the discussion will be, if you continue to argue obedience.
I am so sorry that the encyclical sentences are long and complicated… smart people are Hard to understand.
pgp. 6 “so that if one has once contracted matrimony he is thereby subject to its divinely made laws and its essential properties.”
pgp 8 “In choosing a state of life there is no doubt but that it is in the power and discretion of each one to prefer one or the other: either to embrace the counsel of virginity given by Jesus Christ, or to bind himself in the bonds of matrimony.”
(eg: The virgin Mary, is at once married in law – but virgin. )
pgp 26. Domestic society being confirmed, therefore, by this bond of love, there should flourish in it that “order of love,” as St. Augustine calls it. This order includes both the primacy of the husband with regard to the wife and children, the ready subjection of the wife and her willing obedience, which the Apostle commends in these words: “Let women be subject to their husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife, and Christ is the head of the Church.”
I married and did all that Jesus commanded me, and I am divorced. My house “fell”. My wife would not “listen” to me, nor to the church. You can not have two “masters” in a hierarchy. You must have a “union”. In a union, any division MUST ultimately give way of one to the other. There are various ways a married couple can work out their problems, it is not “totalitarian.” ; for if that were so, God would be master and not Father. We would all be Moslems.
Moslems are another reason your argument is going to be very difficult.
You are facing a series of subtle objections. They can partially be overcome, but chances are your friend will simply forget the arguments. They are too “complicated.”
(How much of the encyclical that I quoted are YOU going to remember?)
There are several posters, here on CAF, that I have had various bible arguments with.
They begin to understand. They come to the conclusion that what I have said is wonderful. But, within two years … they have forgotten the details of what I said. They begin posting the same horrible mistakes all over again because they have nothing better.
Bless you, and I wish you the best in making peace with your friend.
May your division not end in tragedy.
I know that we pick up things here and there… but your summation (specifically the last thought) really stood out for me–people tend to blame God for man’s shortcomings!