Learning to thrive in the new life Jesus offers us – 2 Corinthians 5:16-17

The Status of Christian Women, in a Nutshell

The Status of Christian Women, in a Nutshell

Some Christians hold to an interpretation of a few scriptures, such as Genesis 2:20 and 1 Corinthians 11:3, which is used to keep women in a lower, subordinate role to men. Recently I even heard someone state that men are superior to women, and he used these two scriptures to back his claim. But these faulty ideas do not take into consideration what Paul says about the status of men and women in Christ.

“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus . . .”  Galatians 3:26

“For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you . . . have received a spirit of adoption as sons  . . . [and are] heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ . . .”  Romans 8:14-17

Just like our brothers, women who follow Jesus as Lord and Saviour have been adopted by God as his sons. This means that we have “a right to all the privileges of the sons of God” including being co-heirs of the Kingdom with Jesus. (Westminster Shorter Confession, Question 34)

Some Christian women may balk at being called a “son of God” rather than a “daughter of God”, but we need to keep in mind that:

“Paul was writing to a patriarchal society, and sons specifically carried a certain status—they received the inheritance and carried on the family name. So when Paul says that we are all adopted as sons, it gives additional weight to women, an entire class of the society that had previously been excluded! It breaks down a traditional cultural norm and makes it new! If Paul were to say that we are all adopted as sons and daughters it would not communicate the incredible news that we are all adopted in Christ in a way that was only given to sons in that traditional society. Does this take more work to tease out and more effort to communicate to our daughters? Absolutely. But because it’s God’s Word and we aren’t trying to change His Word to suit ourselves, it ends up carrying more weight and gives more value to women . . .”
Mark Christensen (as posted here.)

After Paul had declared that, “You are all sons of God . . .”, he went on to state:

“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  Galatians 3:27-28

Paul’s words here are more than just a wonderful theological statement concerning our status; he is also making a powerful sociological statement.

Galatians 3:26-28 is about our status as people in Christ and about our status in the community of Jesus’ followers. If our identity is in Jesus Christ, there can be no place for racial segregation, or favoritism (James 2:1ff), or a gender hierarchy, especially as Jesus taught that when we live out his Kingdom values the humble are exalted, the lowly are the greatest, and the last are first.

In God’s Kingdom men and women have exactly the same status – we are all sons of God. We need to live out this truth (cf. 2 Cor. 5:16-17).

Further Reading: Are Women also Sons?

For still more on the subject of our identity as sons of God, I recommend The Full Rights of Sons by Kathryn E. Stegall.  (Kathryn’s website is here, and her facebook page is here.)

This is the recommendation I wrote for Kathryn’s inspiring book:

Full Rights of SonsKathryn’s book starts with the basic premise that if anyone is in Christ that person is a New Creation (2 Cor. 5:17). The reality of this new life must have profound implications on our ethics, values and relationships. I was personally inspired by what Kathryn had to say about our new life in Christ. Despite her thoroughness, Kathryn’s style is conversational rather than technical, and her writing is accessible to a wide audience. Kathryn’s statements are steeped in Scripture. Her high view of Scripture and her devotion to God are evident. Her discussions are thought provoking, compelling and logical, as well as being presented in a warm, personal manner. As someone who has read many books on the topic of women in ministry there were new ideas here for me to think about. . . .

Related Articles

Galatians 3:28: Our Identity in Christ and in the Church 
Jesus’ Teaching on Leadership and Community in Matthew’s Gospel
Gender Division Divides the Church
Children of God!!!
In a Nutshell SeriesBeing “in” Christ
Marvelous Descriptions of God’s People – 1 Peter 2:4-10
The Chiasm in 1 Corinthians 11:2-15
Articles on Genesis chapter 2
Other articles in the In a Nutshell Series

Posted October 14th, 2014 . Categories/Tags: Equality and Gender Issues, Salvation and Eternal Life, , , ,

Unkind, judgemental, bizarre, and off-topic comments will be deleted.

31 comments on “The Status of Christian Women, in a Nutshell

  1. Merrilyn Mansfield says:

    Wow, good points Marg and Kathryn! I had not thought about those verses before.

    • Marg says:

      I have little doubt that Paul wanted relationships in the church to reflect our New Creation status, and that the verses in his letters that appear to restrict women were done as concessions to culture.

  2. Linda H says:

    At one time I attended a church that emphasized that both men and women had full rights of sons. As part of the visitor’s package they had a little booklet that explained that both men and women are sons of God. The church was very charismatic and this was over 25 years ago when I lived on the other side of the U.S.

  3. Olga Lucia Alvarez says:

    Querida Marg:

    Eres una bendición de la Esencia Divina, que buenos articulos de reflexión profunda, los que nos proporcionas.

    Gracias, Bendiciones llenas de Sabiduria, Paz y Amor.

    Olga Lucia

  4. Thanks so much, Marg! Your posts are always such an encouragement to me. I am so grateful to God for sisters/brothers like you and the work we do together.

  5. Our adoption in Christ is not what people generally think of as ‘being adopted’ in most western cultures. Every Jewish boy and girl is ‘adopted’ when they become of age (12 or 13) and there’s a bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah to celebrate and acknowledge this fact. We are born into God’s family, not adopted into His family, and the adoption in Scripture refers to our given privileges, as Jewish children are given privilege as full family members by “adoption,” i.e. their coming of age. I’m not sure if I explained this very well, but I wanted to clarify that we are not adopted into God’s family; and that adoption in Scripture is not what we traditionally think of adoption to be.

  6. Olga Lucia Alvarez says:

    Dear Tricia:
    What a nice comment, I loved. So I felt I am the daughter of the family of God, not adopted, but with the privileges as such.

    Thank you.

    • You’re welcome. Understanding Biblical adoption means we have to understand it from the Jewish viewpoint.
      What a blessing when we do, eh?

      • Marg says:

        Hi Tricia,

        My understanding – and I’m happy to be corrected – is that the custom of recognising and celebrating bar mitzvahs began during the Talmidic period and developed during the Middle Ages; and that recognising and celebrating bat mitzvahs was unheard of until relatively recently. Have you got a link to some good information on this, and the association with adoption? I’d like to learn more about what you’re saying.

        I like what Ben Witherington says about adoption in his commentary Paul’s Letter to the Romans (2004:217):

        This language of adoption [in Romans 8:14-17] would be especially appropriate in Rome, where legal adoption was a means to a brighter future. This practice was very common, even in the imperial family. [Tiberius, Caligula, Nero, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius, and Lucius Verus all became Emperors through adoption.] This language would however, be surprising if Paul was speaking in a Jewish manner to a largely Jewish audience, because Jews basically did not practice adoption.

  7. Abigail Sue Parker says:

    you say: “. . . Paul was writing to a patriarchal society,”
    why did God allow societies to be patriarchal … they always hurt women yet GOD allowed it …
    why is family line thru men? sperm are so plentiful, a guy makes billions or so. yet eggs, women are born with all they will ever have. furthermore the eggs grows in a woman and is as much as her body as her vital organs. after the miracle of pregnancy and birth, a baby is sustained outside a womans body because she can nurse. “formula” was invented in my Dad’s lifetime so before the 1940s a newborn would die without what a woman provided for a baby. yet it’s so opposite that it’s a male line when he has so little to do with a new life.
    did GOD invent male privilege?

    • Marg says:

      Hi Abigail,

      I appreciate your honest questions. God did not invent male privilege, or the ideal of “the male line”. Patriarchy is the result of sin (Genesis 3:16). There are a lot of things going on the world which hurt people, and I don’t understand why God allows it. But perhaps we should be asking why Christians allow it. Jesus has given us his Spirit to act as his agents on earth to spread the gospel and live out his kingdom values. Why are we failing in our mission?

      You may like this article about how women are portrayed in the Bible. It may answer some of your questions.

      God loves his daughters. We are not his second best. We are made in his image, and we have been adopted by him into his family and given the full rights of sons.

    • TL says:

      Hi Abigail,
      I hope you are still reading. One of the reasons for society to have taken many bad turns is that God has given humans a free will. We can choose. Many of the things humans choose are not what God would want us to choose. But God does not take back His gifts. However, He is available to help those who call on Him. And God did send His Son to give us not only help but power in this life and life everlasting in eternity.

  8. Thank you, Tricia, for this good perspective on adoption in the Jewish tradition. Very helpful comment. Yes, of course we are born into God’s family, born of the Spirit. (John 3:5–8; Gal. 4:28–29; 1 Pet. 1:23) That is a wonderful truth. And yes, our adoption is all about being mature heirs (Gal. 4:1-7) to all God has for us and receiving all the rights and privileges of sons.

  9. Interestingly enough, many complementarians that I read will admit that men and women are equal under God in worth and value as humans, and reject chauvinist teachings such as male superiority. Galatians 3:28 supports that we are all one in God’s Kingdom and that there is no room discrimination. Also 1 Peter 3:7 calls women joint-heirs in the grace of life. Great post once again.

  10. […] Egalitarians believe that all Christians, both men and women, are (or should be) completely equal in status in the home, in the church, and in society. The basis of this equality is that we are all made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26-28); and, as his redeemed people, we have all been adopted as sons of God with all the rights, freedoms, and privileges that come with being a son of God. […]

  11. I’m coming late to the conversation, but I just wanted to say how beautifully and succinctly this shares the truth of our freedom in Jesus! Thank you 🙂

    • Marg says:

      Thanks LL. I thought Mark Christensen’s words were important, so I got his permission to share them here.

      The quibbling about “gender roles” seems so trivial and misguided when we take a step back and look at the big, awesome, picture of our new life in Jesus.

  12. […] Comment on The Status of Christian Women, in a Nutshell by Marg […]

  13. […] The Status of Christian Women, in a Nutshell […]

  14. […] Some contemporary churches hold to a view of women that has more in common with the OT view of women than the NT view of women, and their ideology of the status, and possible roles, of women does not take into consideration the New Covenant ideal of equality. […]

  15. […] The Status of Christian Women, in a Nutshell […]

  16. Elaine Hetschel says:

    I loved the way the book of Job (42:13-15) ended with the three daughter’s as co-heirs with their brothers and their names were recorded!

  17. […] At Creation there was no gender hierarchy, and in the New Creation there is no gender hierarchy as we are all sons of God, led by the Spirit of God (Rom. 8:14-17; Gal. 3:26). […]

  18. […] Paul tells his audience in Galatians 3:26-28 that when someone comes to faith in Jesus Christ they take on a new identity: they become a son of God. And when that person is clothed with Jesus Christ in baptism, their new identity overrides the social distinctions that pigeon-hole and divide sectors of society. It is our new identity in Christ that unites us; so it is difficult to see how some Christians honestly believe that our new identity has no bearing on relationships and society (cf. 2 Cor. 5:16-17). It does. […]

  19. […] 3:26-28 that when someone comes to faith in Jesus Christ they take on a new identity: they become a son of God. And when that person is clothed with Jesus Christ in baptism, their new identity overrides the […]

  20. […] The concept of our adoption as beloved children of God was given a heightened sense of immediacy, simply because of the use of the word “daughters”. Furthermore, the fact that “daughters” was consistently mentioned first, before “sons”, made us feel that we weren’t somehow secondary in comparison with our Christian brothers. […]

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