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Is God a Misogynist?: Understanding the Bible's Difficult Passages Concerning Women Paperback – February 18, 2020
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-Matthew Vander Els, Founded in Truth
Modern feminists, through a faulty interpretation of select biblical passages, regularly and relentlessly paint the Christian faith as part of the problem in the scope of gender inequality. In his book, Wilber not only brilliantly exposes such interpretive error but also demonstrates how the Bible is the most ancient source that actually promotes gender rights and equality. Wilber's book is a refreshing relief from the common confusion that is often thoughtlessly regurgitated in modern feminist circles.
-Jon Sherman, 119 Ministries
This book is a great tool to use when you are confronted with the claim that Christianity is a misogynistic religion. David addresses any verse a critic could bring up and provides you with valuable context that demonstrates the Bible actually promotes equality and respect for women. If you want to study the biblical view of women, this book is a great place to start.
-Michael Jones, Inspiring Philosophy
Amidst the ever-evolving cultural perception of a woman's value, it is imperative that we know who is truly championing the cause--Christianity or modern, secular feminism? David Wilber delivers a carefully substantiated, biblically secure resource demonstrating the God of Israel's advocacy for women.
-Matt Hoffmann, Freedom Hill Community
The history of women within both Judaism and Christianity was meant by our God to be joyful, dignified, and fulfilling. Sadly, too many men, ignorant of the historical context of Scripture and imprisoned by the prejudices of their day, have read their own worldviews into the text and recreated God and the Bible in their own image. Modern feminism, rooted in much pain and anger, is the unintended yet inevitable consequence of a system that has perpetuated one of the results of the fall--man's domination over women instead of the originally designed partnership--as an ideal to be legalistically lived out instead of just one more curse "finished" at the Cross. It is my prayer that David's book will reach deep into some damaged souls and reveal the tender love of God to those who have inadvertently been laboring against Him on both sides.
-Tyler Dawn Rosenquist, Author of Sexuality, Social Identity and Kinship Relations in the Bible
- Publisher : Independently published (February 18, 2020)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 160 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1654822663
- ISBN-13 : 978-1654822668
- Item Weight : 7.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #370,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The missed opportunities are when the author is addressing an issue and has the opportunity to shed better light on the issue or the text but doesn't, or takes the wrong angle -- obviously in the view of this reviewer.
The first lost opportunity is Gen. 3:15 which has been used to suggest male domination over his wife. The author claims that this is not an ideal, but a consequence of the man's sin. Whilst it is true that the fall and post-fall story features the breakdown, albeit temporary, of the allay relationship between the man and the woman, and between the humans and God, this particular text is referring to the solution to the problem of the man and the woman being defeated by the snake-beast: The seed of the woman will be the saviour, the male child of the woman will bruise the serpent's head and defeat the snake-beast. This seed of the woman is the male that the woman will desire who will rule over her, not her husband, however, the author misses this by misinterpreting the passage to have it refer to her husband. The correct interpretation show that God does not intend for or condone the husband dominating or ruling over the wife in giving this promise of the saviour, the male who will rule (Rev. 12:5).
The author's work on the issue of monogamy and his presentation of the monogamy law and standard, and the trouble that comes from breaking it, is excellent, but there is a lot more that can and should be said about it that the author omitted, at least somewhat for reasons of length. The larger narrative is the political narrative of the man's war for dominion over the beasts, in which man's union with, and military support from his wife as his allay, is the decisive factor in man taking his place in dominating the beasts and ruling the creation in the Kingdom of God. Polygyny is the polar opposite of this, when the beasts are ruling over men and warring against each other for women, treasure and territory. The polygynous king with his harem of multiple wives, who are not true women, looked after be keepers who are not true men (they're eunuchs), who kills men to take their wives, and who tax their subjects and who war against other such beastly kings are represented in the likes of Lamech, the Mighty Men Sons of God, Nimrod and the kingdom and tower at Babel, King Solomon and so on, who represent and enbody the social and political model that the monogamous nuclear family and extended family creation model stands against. (See my paper on Man's War for Dominion over the Beasts for more details). The polemic against this beastly polygynous kings model in Genesis, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, Daniel and Revelation is a missed opportunity to further develop and present the author's monogamy thesis in this book. The social and political and family model of lifelong monogamy, and avoiding beastly tendencies and beastly large-scale political power aggregations, has a lot of impact on the questions about women's roles and interests, which the author doesn't get to.
In neglecting and omitting these larger social, power and political issues, the author fails to make other appropriate connections and interpretations that filter through to the issues and texts that the author does address. For example, Gen. 9:5-6 addresses not only men, but animals, on the issue of shedding human blood, and its repayment. This is in the context of the men turning into beasts, and accumulating wives and corrupting the human race and filling the world with violence, which was judged with the flood of water. As the narrative states, this corruption and violence and polygyny was 'on the earth in those days AND ALSO AFTERWARDS' (Gen. 6:4). The judgement promised for men and beasts, again, in Gen. 9:5-6 is for the arising of the mighty men, again, afterwards, such as Nimrod, the slaughterer, causing the exact same problem that arose before the flood. This judgement, however, was not to be by means of a flood of water, but by a flood of men, shedding the blood of the murderers/beasts. This Second Flood judgement, then, is not God instituting capital punishment, but the eschatological judgement at the end of Israel's age, when the Second Temple was to be destroyed, as stated in Dan. 9:24-27, which is also referred to in Deut. 32 and Is 65 and elsewhere as Israel's last days judgement and repayment for shedding the blood of God's servants. Accordingly, neither the Noahic Covenant nor the Law of Moses present the problem of murder being addressed by judicially administered capital punishment. The death penalty for murder in the law of Moses was restricted, and to be fulfilled, repaid and completed when Messiah, the seed of the woman, would come in judgement against Israel for shedding the blood of God's servants, per Deut. 32, Dan. 9:24-27 and Mat. 23:29-39; 24:1- 39, i.e. in the Second Flood at the end of the Second Temple. This is the flood that destroys unrepentant Israel's 'house' (Mat. 7:24-27). The author, however, proceeds on the basis that the Law of Moses prescribes the death penalty and that it might be actually carried out judicially in the case of the woman accused of not being a virgin on the wedding night, in Deut. 22:13-21. In addressing the death penalty for such a woman, the author does point out the evidential difficulty but fails to mention that the death penalty was only to be carried out for murder, all others may be redeemed with money, and that the death penalty was in any case theoretical and unavailable even for murder. The death penalty for virginity fraud is even theoretically impossible, as the loss of virginity itself must have been done secretly without 2 independent eye witnesses, and can therefore never be proven to the capital standard under the law of Moses, otherwise the man would not have been tricked.
The author gives some troubling comments on this virginity fraud case, suggesting that the woman's parents could and would falsify evidence to defend their daughter. This claim is troubling on a number of levels. Firstly, the husband and the husband's parents would have witnesses the extraction of the bedclothes and would raise objection should the blood not be present, if that was how it supposedly worked, which is somewhat doubtful. Obviously, if such evidence was available it would be used to dispose of the case but if not, the man still can't win the case anyway without 2 eye-witnesses, and so the trial would not be pursued by him. The real point of the case is that no man may speak against the virginity of his bride, even if he speaks the truth, his only recourse is to quietly divorce his wife, and then he may freely re-negotiate the terms of the marriage, or marry someone else (Deut. 24:1-4). Or re-negotiate the marriage under threat of divorce, or let the matter go and proceed with married life anyway. The point of the case is to punish the man for speaking against his wife rather than resolving it quietly, not to punish the bride, whether she be guilty or not. The case confirms the law that if a woman is a man's woman, he may not divorce her all of his days, except quietly for pre-marital unchastity that he discovers during the betrothal period or on the wedding night. This is the origin of the Lord's sayings that a man who divorces his wife, not for porneia (i.e. for the porneia case in Deut. 22:13-21, where porneia means marital fraud by means of pre-marital unchastity), causes her to commit adultery, and commits adultery when he marries another woman.
The security of a married woman in her marriage, after the betrothal period is completed, and after the wedding consummation is ok, or any irregularity concerning it is fixed with or without divorce and re-marriage, is another area that the author misinterprets and neglects. The woman's minimum rights in her marriage to her bride price, and to security in her status as his wife, as long as he lives, is twice affirmed in two different laws in Deut. 22. Restrictions on divorce, whether in the code of Hammurabi or in the Torah or in the Gospels, function to protect the security and interests of the spouses, particularly the wife. It is therefore incorrect to claim, as the author presumes, that a woman can divorce her husband, or that a husband can divorce his wife, for neglect, breach, fault or dissatisfaction. The biblical monogamy model is for the rights, interests and needs of the spouses to be provided and protected within the context of 'holding fast' and being 'one flesh' (i.e. one family unit). Steadfast love is the prescription in the law and the social, cultural, spiritual teaching, for social order and welfare of women as well as men. The author doesn't recognise this, however, with his comments suggesting divorce is a solution to such problems, which divorce is prohibited by both Torah and the Gospel, at least for post-wedding faults and when the contract has become unconditional and lifelong.
The author treats women as having equal authority, power, rank, and role as men in society, and in cultural, legal and religious institutions, as his defence of the claim that God is not a misogynist. The biblical witness and model, however, has a different model of power and social value than the author seems to accept from worldly standards that equate power and social value. If a woman's social value is reflected in and measured by her authority, rank and power status, the biblical witness is that women have less social value than men because it teaches that women have a supporting and subordinate role to their husbands in the family structure, and have a distinct social place, to the exclusion of some social and institutional roles. The author's chapter heading 'DOES THE BIBLE EXCLUDE WOMEN FROM MINISTRY' is appropriate in addressing the issue: women are not excluded from ministry, they are essential to it. But it does not follow that every ministry role is open to women. The role of elder or overseer is limited to married men with children in good order, for example. In the public Christian assembly, women are not to ask their husbands questions, and are to keep quiet. The woman's place, rank and position in society, in relation to her husband, is to be displayed through her submission, modest dress, head covering, quietness and in other ways reflecting not only propriety but also structure and where and how she fits into it. Whilst these teachings and examples and instructions are difficult for us to understand and follow, they do not suggest that the author has taken the right track to argue that women's importance and value is dependent upon her equal rank, authority, and freedom to take any role in society and in the Christian assembly or Christian community that a man can.
This takes us back to the question of power and the social and political model, neglected to a significant extent by the author. The biblical teaching is for a particular model of power and social and family organisation, and against other competing power sources and models and structures. The gospel turns the world's power model and assumptions upside down. The servant has the greatest value, and the authority holders have the greatest fear of judgement and the most onerous and greatest duties and sacrifices that they must make. The woman as the child-bearer, as the domestic servant, and as the allay of her husband in the family and in the war for dominion over the beasts, has the highest social value in providing the glue that holds the peaceful society together and who advances the kingdom of God. The hand the rocks the cradle brings forth the male who saves the world.
Wilber's understanding of Lev. 18:18, the core of his anti-poly argument, has been thoroughly disassembled and refuted. I purchased the book hoping he had made some adjustments since originally refuting his argument, but was disappointed.
Thankfully, David Wilber has decided that the Bible is not the problem; instead the problem is with common interpretations and applications of the Bible, which need to be reconsidered. I am highly appreciative of how he approaches the issues of the creation of man and woman in God's image, Ancient Near Eastern background involving instructions given to Ancient Israel, and the honor and respect shown by Yeshua the Messiah to His female disciples. The difficult issues encountered in the Pauline materials are also addressed.
Is God a Misogynist? is not an arduous read. It is a necessary starting place for many people in the broad Messianic and/or Hebrew/Hebraic Roots world, to consider whether or not God considers females to be the inferiors of males. Wilber is to lauded for affirming that males and females are equal, are to be given the same respect and honor, and are to co-lead together.
I wish Wilber the best, and that this book can be used for positive change among the people within our faith community!