Sins of Scripture III: Women
In his book The Sins of Scripture, John Shelby Spong echoes almost every sentiment of detractors of Christianity in his own beliefs, and gives them credence by declaring himself to be a committed Christian. He believes that Mary Magdalene was Jesus’ wife according to Scripture, and that her place at Jesus’ side is his model for the new place that women should occupy in church leadership. I believe that women have been mistreated not by a literal reading of Scripture (as Spong believes), but by a misreading of Scripture.
Women share with men the distinction of being made in the image of God (according to Gen 1:27), despite Spong’s claim that the Bible subordinates women to men. This was never the original intent. That came after the Fall, which distorts the original intent of God’s creation. Women are now functionally subordinate to men, but they are still made of the same stuff and therefore ontologically equal to men.
Women were not the source of sin, as Spong proclaims. The Bible teaches that it was man who was that source: “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Rom 5:12, emphasis added). It was no sin for Eve to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, it was only a sin when Adam ate the fruit, since God gave the command not to Eve but to Adam.
I am not going to dispute Spong that there is a history of sexism in the church, nor am I going to dispute him that some of the Mosaic laws make no sense in regard to women. But we are not bound to the law anymore; we are free in Christ. Spong hits on the one verse that is very important for this discussion–Galatians 3:28. This verse means that the arguments over gender and sex roles are worthless, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.
It isn’t necessary to cast Scripture aside in order to arrive at these conclusions; instead one only has to read the Scriptures for what they say. Spong isn’t doing that. But one wonders why Spong attempts to recast Scripture at all since he is on record as believing that it is not the Word of God.