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