Standing up for Biblical equality as much as I have been doing lately, I often run into many “haters.” Often these people harshly argue with me about gender roles and say, “The Bible clearly states that men have authority over women! It is obvious that by order of creation, men are the leaders.”
This often leaves me thinking, if the Bible is so crystal clear, why do we need the Holy Spirit?
Honestly, if you believe you can read the Bible and have it 100% figured out, congratulations! You have reached the same level as God. (Isaiah 55:8-9). But for the rest of us, we are unholy humans reading the Holy Word, and we realize that we need help figuring out this whole God thing.
In Ephesians 5, Paul talks about wives submitting to their husbands and husbands being the head of the wives. For many, this is taken literally and not in context. Just in the next chapter, Paul talks about slaves obeying their masters and masters being kind to their slaves. This, however, is largely read within the context it was written.
Was Paul saying that it is okay to own slaves? Was he saying that owning other human beings is what God wants us to do? Ask any normal person and they would say of course not! It was the cultural norm to own slaves in that time, Paul was giving advice on how to live a Christian life in that certain time.
Was Paul saying men are given more authority and responsibility by God? Are women supposed to view their husband as their leader? Ask a lot of people and they’ll say, “Duh! That’s like so obvious.”
What’s the difference, you ask?
The truth is, there is no difference. Both of these examples are taken from the same book written by the same person! The verses that were once used for the approval of slavery now are read within context and we know that slavery is not cool. However, for many, the verses that talk about husbands being the head and the wives submitting are not.
What about in 1 Corinthians when Paul tells women to cover their heads? Or when he says that women should ask their husbands questions at home? Or when he says that it is a shame for women to even speak at church? Or when he says that a pastor should be a man of one wife? What about the ones that aren’t married or the remarried ones? Are these things still practiced? Are these taken literally? For the most part, of course not! So why are these verses read within context while Ephesians 5 isn’t? It seems like a load of picking and choosing, and not listening to the Holy Spirit to me.
Complementarians claim that Egalitarians pick and choose scriptures to follow from the Bible, but the truth is they seem to be doing the most of the picking and choosing.
This is why we desperately need the Holy Spirit to guide us as we dig into the Word of God. When we look at the Bible through our sinful eyes, things will be distorted and people will get hurt.
Without the Holy Spirit, we’re just reading a 3,400 year old book. With the Holy Spirit, it is the Living Word.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26
*Disclaimer* I am not implying that I interpret the Bible perfectly and anyone who disagrees with me is wrong. I am simply mean that saying, “The Bible clearly states…” is dangerous and not the way that God intended it to be.