Is Scripture Anti-woman?

I'm bothered by Scriptures that seem to devalue women. Is this really what God thinks?
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Q. I'm bothered by Scriptures that seem to devalue women. Paul writes that women should stay silent in church because it is disgraceful for them to speak (1 Corinthians 14:34-35). Other verses say that husbands are the head of the wife. Is this really what God thinks?

A. This is an issue that sincere Christians disagree on. Some believe that God, while valuing everyone equally, assigns certain roles to men and certain ones to women in the home and the church. Others believe that God not only values everyone equally, but provides both men and women with equal gifts of speaking, teaching and leadership in the church and the home.

Those who believe in distinct and specific roles for men and women point to the verses you mention as God's intention for all time and all cultures. (These people are "complementarians" because the male and female roles are said to "complement" one another.)

Those who disagree with that believe the verses you mention were primarily intended for the specific culture of Bible times, when women didn't have the educational and cultural advantages they have today. (These people are called "egalitarians" because they believe men and women have equal access to all roles in church and home.)

So, do men and women have different roles or equal roles? With some things, like physical strength, where men have an advantage, and childbirth, which women are uniquely designed for, I think we'd agree that there are still some role differences. In other things, like the way God gifts people, I'd say it's harder to make blanket statements.

What we do know is that the Bible's teachings about God's love and care for us are not gender-specific. Jesus' life and ministry showed that time and again. And this teaching is also found in Galatians 3:28. God values and loves us all—man or woman.

Marshall, a former pastor, is editor of Leadership, a magazine for pastors.

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