NEW TESTAMENT READUNG IN BROWNView today’s reading at Bible Gateway

Acts 7:22-43

22 Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.

23 “When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his own people, the Israelites. 24 He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defense and avenged him by killing the Egyptian. 25 Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not. 26 The next day Moses came upon two Israelites who were fighting. He tried to reconcile them by saying, ‘Men, you are brothers; why do you want to hurt each other?’

27 “But the man who was mistreating the other pushed Moses aside and said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us? 28 Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ 29 When Moses heard this, he fled to Midian, where he settled as a foreigner and had two sons.

30 “After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. 31 When he saw this, he was amazed at the sight. As he went over to get a closer look, he heard the Lord say: 32 ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ Moses trembled with fear and did not dare to look.

33 “Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34 I have indeed seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groaning and have come down to set them free. Now come, I will send you back to Egypt.’

35 “This is the same Moses they had rejected with the words, ‘Who made you ruler and judge?’ He was sent to be their ruler and deliverer by God himself, through the angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36 He led them out of Egypt and performed wonders and signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea and for forty years in the wilderness.

37 “This is the Moses who told the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your own people.’ 38 He was in the assembly in the wilderness, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors; and he received living words to pass on to us.

39 “But our ancestors refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt. 40 They told Aaron, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who led us out of Egypt—we don’t know what has happened to him!’ 41 That was the time they made an idol in the form of a calf. They brought sacrifices to it and reveled in what their own hands had made. 42 But God turned away from them and gave them over to the worship of the sun, moon and stars. This agrees with what is written in the book of the prophets:

“‘Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings
forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel?
43 You have taken up the tabernacle of Molek
and the star of your god Rephan,
the idols you made to worship.
Therefore I will send you into exile’ beyond Babylon.

New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

How Can I Address Misogyny (Hatred of Women) Like Jesus?

  • Dale Contributing Writer

How Can I Address Misogyny (Hatred of Women) Like Jesus?

In recent times, a number of headlines have generated public conversations around misogyny, both within the Church and in the broader culture. The #MeToo movement has ignited the #ChurchToo movement and has begun to open the eyes of church leaders and culture shapers alike.

It’s important to know what the Bible has to say about misogyny and how followers of Jesus can fight against it—wherever we encounter it. To that end, a definition of terms is helpful in shaping the discussion.

What Does the Term ‘Misogyny’ Mean?

By dictionary definition, misogyny is a hatred for women. The word comes from a combination of two Greek words. Misein mean “to hate,” and gynē means “woman.”

Misogyny is an attitude, but it’s also a way of living—both for individuals and cultures. It’s a mentality that sees women as less capable and less important than men. It’s a culture that believes that women exist only for the service of men.

Individuals can live by this mentality. Organizations (including churches) can be plagued by it. And entire cultures can be shaped by it.

What Is ‘a Misogynist?’

A misogynist is anyone who supports, propagates, or endorses systems and structures that privilege men to the detriment of women, or who personally speak to or about women in negative, dismissive, or degrading ways.

However, I would be careful in wielding this term or attaching it to anybody who doesn’t agree with you about leadership in the Church or who isn’t as “woke” as you are.

While we can never stand for any disrespect, harassment, or degradation of women, we also need to keep in mind that many people are on a journey to understanding. While it may be frustrating when people aren’t as progressive as you are, that doesn’t necessarily make them a misogynist.

If we want to move the needle toward better understanding and mutual respect, it’s best not to lead with open hostility towards those who have shown no open hostility toward us.

Are There Biblical Examples of Misogyny or Misogynists?

Unfortunately, we don’t have to look very far to find misogyny on the pages of scripture. One of the more well-known offenses came from God’s own patriarchal leaders: Abraham and Jacob, the progenitors of God’s chosen people. Both Abraham and Jacob took multiple wives, some of whom were actually their slaves (Genesis 16:3Genesis 25:1Genesis 29:23-24Genesis 28-29).

This constitutes an egregious distortion of marriage and abuse of women.

However, it was never God’s plan for men to oppress and disregard women. The image of God’s plan is found in Genesis 2, where he instituted marriage as a bond between one man and one woman, who mutually dignify and respect one another, so that they might become one.

The presence of misogyny does not constitute God’s blessing over it.

It merely records what took place at a particular point in history within the context of a specific culture. It also illustrates how God uses people who are deeply flawed to accomplish his good purposes.

On the other hand, as we look at the Old Testament law, God actually gave women protections that they didn’t have in surrounding cultures. For instance, if a man had sex with a woman, he was obligated to marry her or pay her bride price (Exodus 22:16-17). While it may not be immediately transparent how this law benefited women, it becomes clearer when we understand the historical and cultural context.

In the ancient near east, a non-virgin woman was not likely to ever be accepted as a bride. Furthermore, women did not tend to be the heads of households, but rather came under the protection of their fathers (and later their husbands). And so in the absence of such protection, women could be left vulnerable.

To be sure, this case law doesn’t describe the ideal situation, but it seeks to offer women extra protections in the midst of a less than ideal circumstance.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Yacobchuk

Does Jesus Have Anything to Say about Misogyny?

Though Jesus stepped into a culture with misogynistic norms, his actions toward women constantly went against the grain of that culture. Jesus cared for women, dignified them, and blessed their leadership.

Here are three specific instances that show us Jesus’ heart for women:

1. The Woman at the Well

In John 4, Jesus engages in an extended conversation with a woman by a well in Samaria. What’s striking is that most men of his day wouldn’t be caught dead speaking to a woman in public, lest they be accused of impropriety.

What makes Jesus’ encounter with this woman even more striking is that she wasn’t exactly a dignified individual. She was known for her multiple sexual partners and was likely a social outcast for it. That’s why Jesus finds her by the well alone on the outskirts of town, long after all the other women had gathered their water for the day.

More striking still is that she was a Samaritan, and Jewish people didn’t associate with Samaritans. However, despite all this, Jesus dignifies this woman and speaks life into her. And as a result, she becomes what appears to be the first evangelist to Samaria (John 4:39-42). 

2. Mary (the Sister of Martha and Lazarus)

Jesus once came to stay with his friends Mary and Martha. And since Jesus always seemed to bring with him a crowd of people wanting to experience healing and hear him teach, the house was quite full. So Martha was incredibly busy as host, likely cooking and serving everyone. And in the culture of her time, this is what was expected of her as a woman.

But not Mary. She was sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to him teach. She was acting as a fully-fledged follower of Jesus. That’s something women simply did not do. They did not become disciples of rabbis. So Martha naturally becomes upset with Mary and urges her to come back to her womanly duties of cooking and cleaning. But Jesus has something different to say.

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41b-42).

Jesus saw women not as an inferior class of people, but as spiritual equals to men.

3. The Women at the Tomb

The telling of any historical event, particularly one as unbelievable as the resurrection, requires reliable witnesses. In first century Israel, that would not have been women. In fact, the testimony of a woman wasn’t even admissible in court.

Yet the first ones to discover the empty tomb were women.

Mary Magdalene, Mary (Jesus’ mother), and Salome were coming to anoint Jesus’ body with embalming spices when they discovered the empty tomb and were greeted by an angel who told them that Jesus had risen (Mark 16:1-8). They were the first to know.

Furthermore, Mary Magdalene was the first to physically see the risen Jesus (John 20:11-18Mark 16:9).

God appointed these women to be the first carriers of the good news about Jesus, the single most important event in human history—his resurrection.

Does Misogyny Persist Today?

While we see all the ways Jesus began to break patterns of misogyny during his earthly ministry, misogyny does persist today. And, unfortunately, we can find it in the Church.

However, misogyny isn’t necessarily linked to any particular theological conviction on women in leadership—whether you are complementarian or egalitarian. This isn’t an occasion to throw stones in theological debate.

Misogynistic abuse of women has been uncovered at complementarian churches (as in the case of Andy Savage), as well as egalitarian churches (as in the case of Bill Hybels).

Furthermore, women who have sought to express leadership in churches and Christian organizations have often been met with undue suspicion and harsh public criticism (as in the case of Beth Moore).

What’s more is that sexual misconduct and abuse against women continues to be a major concern both in the church and in other organizations. While the public conversation is catalyzing change, we must continue to look with a critical eye on how we can better protect and dignify women.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Fizkes

How Can Christians Overcome Misogynistic Stereotypes?

The unfortunate truth is that genuine followers of Jesus have been mischaracterized as misogynists in the minds of many because of the very public and very grievous abuses of some of the powerful leaders within our movement.

Nevertheless, abusers don’t speak for all of us.

We can (and must) begin to turn the tide. Here are a three ways we can do just that.

1. Empower women to use their gifts. 

Churches need to empower women to use their God-given spiritual gifts. And complementarian church leaders don’t have to sacrifice their theological convictions to do so. We simply need to be intentional about finding ways to make space and give permission for women to explore who God created them to be.

And that means reevaluating our systems to discern whether our specific leadership limitations on women are completely biblical, or at least partially cultural. If we’re willing to do this hard work, the Church will be better for it.

2. Admit where sin has occurred and people have been hurt. 

One of the worst things we can do is to (in any way) justify the actions of abusers. There is no excuse. There is no defense.

We may have benefited from the teaching and leadership of people who did horrible things. And it’s not wrong that we benefited from their leadership. But it is wrong if we then use that to dismiss the horrible things.

We lose all credibility and moral authority when we don’t call out sin wherever we find it in our midst—especially among our respected leaders.

3. Celebrate the women in our lives and tell their stories. 

God has placed incredible women in our churches, families, and communities. So celebrate them.

Whatever measure to which you have a platform, use it to champion the gifts, accomplishments, and faithful work of the women in your life. Compliment them privately. Celebrate them publicly. Be their biggest advocate. This is the work of Jesus.

A Prayer to Honor Each Other Biblically

Dear God, it’s easy to get discouraged. But we know we don’t engage in this battle against misogyny without hope. The power of the Cross is the forgiveness of sins, even the most grotesque and despicable ones. And the power of the resurrection is the transformation away from what is broken and wicked…into what is beautiful and true. So, God, help us battle on. Because the power of the Holy Spirit rests on the Church, show us that we’re able to make a difference. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

As followers of Jesus, when we battle misogyny, we must do so humbly. We must do so with conviction. And we must never lose hope. As we honor one another as image-bearers of God, we are becoming everything God intended us to be.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Fizkes

Dale Chamberlain (M.Div) and his wife, Tamara, are authors and speakers who are passionate about exploring what it means to live life to the full in Jesus. You can connect with Dale and Tamara at