Because Christianity is bigger than Biblical manhood or Biblical womanhood (Blog of Retha Faurie)

If you look through dark glasses, everything seems dark. If the Bible is seen through women-are-evil-or-insignificant glasses, every women in the Bible will look that way...

If you look through dark glasses, everything seems dark. If the Bible is seen through women-are-evil-or-insignificant glasses, every woman in the Bible will look that way… had, until very recently, an article blaming Dinah for her rape (Genesis 34). The Bible does not blame her at all! Thank God (and I mean that literally) my Christians for Biblical Equality friends got that one taken down by their response.

Biblegateway still has an article named Bathsheba: The Woman Whose Beauty Resulted in Adultery and Murder“. They blame Bathsheba for taking a ritual cleaning bath as prescribed in the Old Testament Law, at a place where she can’t be seen from any place but the palace and when even the king should have been away at war (not in the palace):

“Had she been a careful, modest woman, surely she would have looked around the easily seen adjacent roofs, and if others had been looking her way, she would have been more appropriately modest in bathing herself…had she been a true wife and a woman of principle she should have refused to obey the king’s summons. As she saw David feasting his eyes upon her, did she have a presentiment of what would happen? If not, then, when before the king, she should have bravely refused to yield to adultery… Bathsheba only added insult to the injury by indulging in her illicit affair with another man … their (David and Bathsheba’s) dark sin…”

The Bible does not blame her: When a king, with power over life and death, summons you, you go. And a man with such power is not likely to ask her if she wants to go along with what he wants to do.

Biblegateway also criticises Jael (Judges 4) for killing Sisera, although the Bible praises her. (Jdg. 5:24)

To get from Biblegateway to the larger church world, did you know that the Bible does not blame Eve for sin entering the world? According to Romans 5:12-19, Adam is to blame. And that nothing in the Bible says Mary Magdalene was a prostitute? Rahab may not have been a prostitute, either.1 It is possible that Salome’s dancing was not salacious at all, that she was just a little girl obeying her mother in what to ask of Herod.

Then there are the Bible women who cannot be demonized, so they are ignored. The story of the prophetess Huldah teaching King Josiah about God’s law would be a great representative Bible story of the period when the law of God was completely forgotten. Yet, in 23 years of teaching Sunday school to children with various curricula, I never saw it used. Much of Luke is written in male-female pairs – and the story of the mustard seed (planted by a man) is better known than the story of the yeast (worked in by a woman); the story of the lost sheep and the male shepherd better known than the story of the lost coin and the woman searching for it; the story of Naaman that Jesus refers to better known than the story of the widow in Zarephath.

It breaks my heart when even the most respected of Bible commentary sources have an extreme sexist bias. It is not just our Bible knowledge and the reputation of our long-dead forebearers who suffer – it is also the examples we get of how we can live, how we should live, and how God sees us. This is not from God. This is not the Bible. This is what happens when our eyes look through the glasses of patriarchy: everything gets distorted.


1Bible Gateway, unsurprisingly, simply dismiss the idea that Rahab may have been anything else than a harlot, without even commenting on the likelihood that the other word that would have consisted of the same Hebrew consonant letters could have been implied. This is in keeping with their treatment of other Bible women.

Comments on: "How church sexism colours your view of Bible women" (17)

  1. Excellent article Retha. It’s time for us to speak up about such inherent attitudes that run so deeply. Thankyou.


  2. This article is so correct.
    Years ago I requested Bible Gateway to carry Dr. Ann Nyland’s “Source, New Testament” translation. Never even heard back from BG. Dr. Nyland is a scholar in ancient Greek. She translated correctly with no bias towards men or women.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michelle said:

      Isn’t it funny the way women are presumed to be biased and men, unbiased in this type of context?
      Interesting especially when the man with whom I’m speaking says God put men in charge, while I’m arguing not that God put women in charge, but that God is in charge and women and men are to work together.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I read the David and Bathsheba story a lot differently now than I used to. Do you really think Bathsheba had complete free agency to refuse David? He was a king, she was a commoner; there was a definite imbalance of power there, and her “brave refusal” could have resulted in far worse consequences than a miscarriage. We know a sex act took place, but given that her perspective is absent, we have no way of knowing if that encounter was consensual or not. My guess leans toward not.


  4. Beth, another thing that makes me think she is not to blame, is the message that God’s prophet, Nathan, brings to David: It is a story of the innocent lamb of a guy who did no wrong being slaughtered for consumption, not a story of two wrongdoers. The stories does not map so closely that I can say if Bathsheba is the lamb or the lamb’s owner (Bathsheba was used like this lamb, but Uriah was killed like the lamb), but it certainly pictures only one wrongdoer.


  5. Also, I believe that it was Bill Gothard who blamed Abigail for Nabel’s death. If my info is acturate, this accusation comes from Bill Gothard’s “Character Sketches” Volume 1 where he some of the following things:

    By taking initiative Abigail relieved temporary pressure, but her independent action caused permanent grief.

    Was Abigail right to act independently of her husband?

    The Biblical writer provides one significant clue in the sentence, “But she told not her husband Nabal.” (1 Samuel 25:19) The same writer used the exact same sentence structure concerning Jonathan and his father Saul, “But he told not his father.” (1 Samuel 14:1) The two situations are remarkably similar. Abigail and Jonathan had good and sincere intentions. They both knew that their respective authorities were not acting wisely. They both felt that reasoning would do no good and that their request would be denied. They both felt more competent than their respective authorities and thus acted independently of their wishes. They both condemned the actions of their authorities in public (cf 1 Samuel 14:29; 25:25). The Lord allowed them both to succeed in their plains. The Lord Himself pointed out Jonathan’s sin (1 Samuel 14:42), but no lots were thrown for Abigail. We must conclude that, although her motives were sincere, her methods were wrong and displeasing to the Lord who hates rebellion against authority even though that authority be an unwise father or a foolish husband.
    What should Abigail have done?

    Abigail should have followed the principle established in the Law and further explained by the Lord (Deuteronomy 19:15; Matthew 18:15-17).

    Even though she was sure her husband would not listen, she should have confronted him with all of the facts as she knew them. If he refused to listen, she could have asked the shepherds to confirm the facts. If he still didn’t listen, she could have cried out to the Lord for justice and mercy. By listening to the bad report of her husband from the young shepherd (1 Samuel 25:14-17) and then initiating her own course of action, she was limiting the possibilities of God to deal with the situation in a more creative way. It is true that Abigail was successful in her scheme, but there may have been a better method.
    What were the consequences of Abigail’s actions?”

    Rather than being killed by David’s sword, Nabal died after he suffered a stroke when hearing of his wife’s betrayal. It was a second stroke ten days later which was actually fatal. Abigail become David’s second wife but there is no evidence that she enjoyed the blessing of the Lord or her new husband.

    Mara again… There is more than this, but this gives you an idea of how Gothard actually took a woman who was praised by the the Bible, and made her a scheming, betraying, murderess.

    These men stink!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Shepherd is not necessarily male, can be either sex. It is a triple parable of lost things.


  7. Estelle said:

    Retha, you may be interested in reading up on Godly Play, a way of telling Bible stories developed by Jerome Berryman. It has a strong gender neutral focus, both towards God and towards people eg the sower of the mustard seed is referred to as the ‘person who planted the tiny seed.’ Our children’s church has been using this Godly Play for about a year now with the preschoolers and it is remarkable how the children are responding and what a pleasure it makes leading the lesson. There is training available here is SA.


    • Thank you! I am always interested in children’s ministry methods. (I have been doing children’s ministry since high school. This year is the first time I do not, for circumstantial reasons – next year I’ll hopefully do again.)


      • Googling Godly Play South Africa will take you to more info and some contact numbers if you want to find out more about it.


  8. Jennifer trimmer said:

    Actually you can still find the article by Gateway about Bathsheba. These articles they wrotw about Bathsheda, Dinah and Jael are sickening. They add to the story, it is sad. I use Biblegateway every day for reading my bible. I had no idea they even had articles like this. Thank you for bringing this up makinh me aware.


  9. […] just listened endlessly to Leonard Cohen state that Bathsheba’s beauty overthrew David. NO!! David’s lack of self-control overthrew David. Bathsheba was an innocent bystander and collateral damage to David’s […]


  10. People also think that Salome was a 17-22 year old woman dancing seductively. But in reality she was probably under 14-16 years of age(14-16 is the average age where girls in warmer climate start their period.) just dancing. Nowhere in the scriptures did she dance sexy. (read the citations too)


  11. Double post. Sorry.


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