Sometimes I hear people say, ‘the Bible is disparaging of women.’ Or, the Bible has a misogynistic or oppressive approach to women. This is a quite a common understanding today in our culture. But I would argue it is rather misinformed and actually very unpersuasive. In fact, I think there is quite a bit of evidence that leads one to view things the other way around: it is the biblical view that hold to a high view of women.
Instead of parading all the evidence for this position, I’m simply going to draw your attention to a passage I recently preached on: Matt 26:1-16. This is the story of Jesus being anointed by a woman, whose act prepares Jesus for “his burial.” In the passage we see Jesus continuing in faithfulness toward the cross, and the point of the passage is to look at him and his grace toward us.
Yet, I think we can make another observation from this passage which is relevant to how the Bible views women. In this passage, it is interesting to note how nearly all of the male characters—aside from Jesus—displayed acts of wickedness or foolishness, but the sole female character displayed wisdom, godliness, and courage. In 26:3-5, it is the MEN who conspire together to have Jesus snatched away and killed. In 26:6-13, it is the MEN—mainly Judas Iscariot, but the text does read the “disciples,” (26:8)—who misunderstand the generous gesture made by the female in the narrative and need to be corrected by Jesus. And in 26:14-16 it is the MEN who give their hearts over to what is evil: Judas Iscariot selling out his master for 30 pieces of silver and the men taking the money. The WOMAN on the other—whom it sounds like is Mary of Bethany (see John 12:1-8 for parallel passage)—is the one we are to learn from and imitate: she had a bold and audacious love and devotion to Jesus. In her act of love, she broke an expensive jar of ointment to anoint Jesus, and ended up anointing him for his burial (26:12). She made much of Christ, despite what others thought and Jesus declares what she did to be a “beautiful thing” (26:10), an act which would be proclaimed in the whole world along with the gospel message (26:13).
Now I don’t believe the point of this passage is to elevate women, nor do I think the Bible views all women as godly and all men as godly, but I do think how the woman is described is interesting and relevant to the discussion at hand. Thus, when I hear statements like, “the Bible has a low view of women,” and I look at the evidence, I am not persuaded.
(CLARIFICATION—Sadly, there are some who claim to hold to a biblical worldview but do not respect women but denigrate them. This should not be. If a person is to have a biblical worldview, then they ought to have a high view of women).