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For centuries, a patriarchal system of control has kept women in spiritual captivity through distortion of the Scriptures. It's time to debunk the myths.

We live in the 21st century, but if we’re honest we have to admit that in some ways the church is still in the Dark Ages—especially when we look at the way we treat women.

Even though the Scriptures never portray women as secondary to men, our male-dominated religious system still promotes a warped view of female inferiority. Women are tired of this, and as a man, so am I—because such demeaning attitudes don’t reflect God’s heart.

Jesus challenged gender prejudice at its core when He directed so much of His ministry toward women. In a Middle Eastern culture that considered women mere property, He healed women, discipled them and commissioned them to minister. Yet today we spend much of our energy denying them opportunities—and using the Bible to defend our prohibitions.

I’ve identified 10 erroneous views about women that for too long have been circulated in the church, preached from pulpits and written in the study notes of popular Bible translations. I believe we must debunk these lies if we want to see the church fully released to fulfill the Great Commission.

Lie No. 1: God’s ultimate plan for women is that they serve their husbands.

How sad that so many Christian men view women from a selfish perspective. This view is often promoted by misreading the account of Eve’s creation in Genesis 2:18-25, in which Adam is provided a “helpmate.” The Hebrew word used here often is translated “companion,” denoting intimacy and partnership. But through the centuries it has been used to imply that Eve was some type of domestic appendage.

We men have assumed that God gave Eve to fulfill Adam’s sexual needs as well as to serve as his cook, laundress and maid. But the Genesis account does not say this.

After Eve’s creation, God did not tell her: “You are Adam’s helper; I command you to serve him well.” She was not created for servitude; she was fashioned to be a co-laborer with Adam so that they might rule together over creation as God commissioned them to do (see Gen. 1:28).

Lie No. 2: Women can’t be fulfilled or spiritually effective without a husband.

From the time she was released from a German death camp in 1944 until her death in 1983, Corrie Ten Boom taught the world about a Savior who could forgive the cruelest Nazi. Yet she never married. Did the fact that she did not have a husband make her less “complete”? Some Christians would say yes.

We have spent so much energy defending the concept of the biblical family that we are guilty of idolizing it. We’ve preached that a woman’s primary responsibility is to find a godly husband, have lots of babies and stay home to raise them for Christ.

But marital status is not a qualifier for ministry. The Bible does not even state whether certain key followers of Jesus, such as the 12 disciples, were married or not.

The highest calling of all believers—married or unmarried—is to develop a relationship with Jesus. Any other earthly relationship is secondary, and Christ Himself warned us never to allow people we love to become idols that distract us from Him.

Lie No. 3: Women shouldn’t work outside the home.

Many evangelical churches have preached that women who work outside the home are breaking a scriptural commandment, but this conclusion can be reached only by distorting the biblical record. The woman described in Proverbs 31 is often used to bolster a traditional view of the June Cleaver-style matron who spends her day baking casseroles while her husband is at the office. But a careful reading reveals that the Proverbs 31 woman, in her ancient Middle Eastern context, functioned as a real estate agent and ran a textile business.

Titus 2:5 instructs women to “take care of their homes” (New Living Translation). But most scholars would agree that this passage simply exhorts married women not to forsake their children.

It is true that, because of ambition or materialism, some Christian women neglect their children even though the Holy Spirit has urged them to put their career objectives on hold. But rather than placing a legalistic burden on women by telling them that having a career is ungodly, we should tell both men and women to submit their career plans to the Holy Spirit’s direction.

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