Proof #30: Examine God’s Sexism

January 15, 2008 at 7:21 pm 10 comments

UPDATED: Check out the latest version of this proof here.

It is absolutely undeniable that God has created women as a functional subordinate to men, but this was not the ideal situation. In the Garden of Eden, God’s perfect world, what He declared to be “very good,” men and women were equal. It wasn’t until after the Fall that God declared “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” (Gen 3:16b).

But it is still important to note that woman was created from the same stuff as man (see Gen 2:18-25): this means that while she might be functionally subordinate to man, she is not ontologically subordinate to man. Marshall Brain has confused these two concepts. He wants us to assume that the Bible is talking about ontological subordination in all of the passages that are talking of functional subordination.

Functional subordination is not a bad thing. We see it anytime that we must work together as a team. Someone assumes the role of leader, and this person becomes functionally superior to the other team members. This person is still has the same ontology as the others; he or she simply has more responsibility than the others. This is the same with corporations, churches, and even family units among brothers and sisters. We see this among social animals. We accept this as normal. Why does it become evil, then, to suggest that a husband be functionally superior to his wife?

Let’s look at the passages that Brain cites in support of God’s supposed sexism:

1 Corinthians 14:33b-35: Of course Brain doesn’t cite the following paragraph (vv 36-40):

Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But all things should be done decently and in order.

Now, why the change in tone?   Because Paul was echoing a practice that the Corinthians did in vv 33b-35, but then in 36-40 was rebuking them for doing that.  This means that he doesn’t want them to continue the practice of forbidding women from speaking during church services.  This is really an uplifting passage, not a denigrating passage.

1 Corinthians 11:3-10:  As above, Paul is echoing a practice that the church is doing, then rebuking them for it:

Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.  If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.  (1 Cor 11:11-16)

1 Tim 2:9-12: First, why is adorning oneself modestly a bad thing?  Why is putting on good deeds denigrating to women?  Perhaps the real problem with this passage is “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.”  Brain says that this is an example of God’s sexism, but he fails to consider who is actually teaching this–who is “I?”  In this passage, Paul is the first person, so this is only an example of Paul’s sexism, not God’s.

Gen 17:10-11: Brain even cites circumcision itself, the sign of the covenant, as sexist.  Since women can’t be circumcised, reasons Brain, they are not part of the covenant.  However, he seems to miss that God says “every male among you,” indicating both males and females share in the covenant, but only the males are circumcised.

Matthew 25:1:  This is the first line of a parable and not sexist.

John 20:17: Mary needed no additional proof of who stood before her–she already knew it was Jesus (see Rom 10:9).  Thomas, on the other hand, wanted more proof and had to actually touch the wounds before he was willing to believe.  I think that Mary actually looks better here!

Genesis 3:16: The implication here is that God didn’t punish man, but that isn’t true–see Genesis 3:17-19 for man’s punishments.

Ephesians 5:22-24 and 1 Peter 3:7:  These would be sexist if a woman’s submission was a license for the man to do whatever he wanted to his wife.  Since women are ontologically equal to men, this is not logically such a license.  Instead, the husband is called to love his wife the way that Christ loves the church (Eph 5:25).  This would be the same love found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

1 John 2:13: Brain is pointing out that John says he is writing to fathers, young men, and children, but not women.  Well, children is sexless, so I would say that that phrase includes women.

Then Brain asks the following rhetorical questions:

Are any of Jesus’ disciples women?  Yes–Mary Magdalene is considered a disciple.

Are any of the elders in the book of Revelation women? Elders are supposed to be men, see Titus 1:5-6.  This follows from the introductory arguments on functional subordination versus ontological subordination–this subordination is only functional.

Are there any books of the Bible written by women? Well, there are plenty of anonymous books to choose from, so we don’t know the answer to this question.

This is followed by the usual conclusion–since this is ignored by Christians, then God is imaginary.  This conclusion does not follow from its premise, because there is a precedent for “ignoring” this–2 Corinthians 3:6 (cf. Rom 2:29; see also Gal 3:10-14).  Christ freed us from the Law; we live by its Spirit and are not bound to the letter of the Law.

Entry filed under: Bible, Women.

Proof #29: Think About Communion Proof #31: Understand that Religion is Superstition


  • 1. Mark  |  June 13, 2008 at 10:57 pm

    I think it’s hilarious the way he says “How do we know God is a sexist?” Then goes on to quote Paul quoting his oppenants XD

  • 2. Luke  |  June 15, 2008 at 7:23 am

    But it is still important to note that woman was created from the same stuff as man (see Gen 2:18-25)
    –I find it funny how people never think about how God can create the universe and Earth from nothing at all, but need dust from the earth to form Adam, and Adam’s rib to form Eve. God apparently didn’t need “dust” to create the animals. I smell nonsense.

    It is absolutely undeniable that God has created women as a functional subordinate to men, but this was not the ideal situation.
    –Here we have you saying that woman was created as a “functional subordinate” (aka: Slave) which confirms God’s sexism, and yet you’re writing a refutation on it and making excuses for it? I smell so much nonsense I can taste it.

    • 3. amber  |  October 19, 2009 at 12:13 am

      I so agree. God created earth and all within, animals, plants etc, from nothing, yet used dust to create man. Then needed a rib to create woman, then need a woman to create his son. A man who would walk among us, just so he could sin,then teach us about his father, THEN Suffer on earth, land on a cross, decend into hell, return, then ascend to heaven… What a dad!!


  • 4. White  |  July 1, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Luke i smell the nonsense. its coming from you. Would you have been superior, had you been created with the same things animals are created from?! AND EVE IS NOT A SLAVE!!! The passage above said that ‘functional subordinate’ is not a bad thing already. Did you read it or not?!

  • 5. Luke  |  July 9, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    Would you have been superior, had you been created with the same things animals are created from?!
    –What is this even supposed to mean? Man was created from dust, woman was created from Adam’s rib. It doesn’t say what animals were created from, so I suppose animals were created from nothing at all.
    –Please tell me.. If God has the power to create the Earth and animals from nothing at all, then why did he need the “dust of the earth” to create Adam, then Adam’s rib to create Eve? He could have created them from absolutely nothing at all, but used the dust of the earth for no apparent reason. It’s nonsense. And why did it take 6 days to create Earth when he supposedly has the power to create it all in less than one billionth of a second?

    AND EVE IS NOT A SLAVE!!! The passage above said that ‘functional subordinate’ is not a bad thing already. Did you read it or not?!

    –Subordinate is defined as:
    1: placed in or occupying a lower class, rank, or position (basically, it means inferior)
    2: submissive to or controlled by authority (in other words, a slave)
    –And this isn’t sexist because..?

  • 6. Anti-Devil  |  July 10, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    Luke,look,i will tell u now,God has the power to do everything so doesnt he has the reason to do everything..he create woman out of man rib might be casue of he wants male and female to be closer..ur rib cage is a cage that protect ur organs..without 1 bone ur organ might be vulnerable..god meant that but having man and woman breeds harmony.and god took 6 days to create the world..wats wrong with that?u can take 10 mins to finish eatign ur lunch..but u chose to finish it in 1 hour..wats wrong?

  • 7. Chris  |  January 14, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    Luke, by God using the dust of the Earth God meant two things.

    he says in the bible that after death we shall rejoin the dust of the earth, what we were made from.

    Now, animals WERE created from nothing, but God took special care in creating man. “after his own image” he created us and he himself breathed the breath of life into us.

  • […] by Cory Tucholski on March 9, 2009 I’ve written and podcasted on the fact that the Bible uplifts women. Now it looks like the Pope has joined […]

  • 9. David  |  December 8, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Why is God referred to as “he” in the first place? Is God male? That’s what the bible would have believe. Why? Because the bible was written by men. Why is God referred to as the “Father” and not “Mother”. Again, becuase the bible was written by men. Primitive men that wanted to rule over women, not treat them as equals as we do today. Women have been kept down by religion throughout the ages. It was only in 1920 that women received the right to vote in the United States!

  • 10. Nells  |  April 19, 2010 at 10:26 am

    Uhm, everyone knows women are not ‘made from the same stuff as men’ but men are based on the female build. Why else do you think we have nipples?

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