A young adult pastor with an influential Texas church has critiqued the claim that the Bible is sexist against women, contending that a biblical Christian understanding of women is superior to the mainstream culture.
As part of a series tackling topics widely debated in culture today, Pastor David Marvin of Watermark Community Church in Dallas preached a sermon last week addressing whether the Bible is sexist.
Speaking before a gathering of the young adult ministry The Porch, Marvin focused on 1 Peter 3:7, which describes women as the “weaker partner” to men.
Marvin explained that the word “weaker” can be translated from the Hebrew language to mean “delicate,” “delicacy” or "gentle, refined and tender."
Therefore, Marvin said, the verse does not actually call women less significant than men, and it does not technically label women as having less strength than men.
Today, according to Marvin, many people who read the verse in 1 Peter automatically conclude that the Bible is calling women “weak” and is, therefore, "sexist.”
“[In this verse, Peter] is talking to husbands and he says something. … [And] people go, ‘Well ok, ‘weaker partner.’ That's it. The Bible is sexist,’” Marvin said, mimicking critics of the Bible.
Instead, Marvin said that the verse contrasted with ancient Jewish society, which would have labeled women "property," that husbands "don't have to listen to them" and that "if they step out of line, you can do basically anything."
"[Peter says] ‘I want you to live and be considerate of their feelings, of who they are," said Marvin, noting that the verse calls on men to treat women "with honor.”
Marvin focused on specific aspects of the verse to help the young adults focus on what the Bible means when discussing men in comparison to women.
“It has nothing to do with value. People immediately run to value. ‘You saying I’m weaker, I’m less than?’ No," Marvin stated. "Something being more delicate doesn’t make it any less valuable.”
Marvin drew a parallel between a water bottle and a cell phone, noting that while the cell phone is more fragile than a bottle of water, it is clearly far more expensive.
Marvin emphasized that the last part of the verse is a warning to men, saying that "you should tread lightly," as mistreating women has a spiritual consequence.
“He's saying you use your strength to serve, protect, die to yourself, and if you don't, it will hinder your prayers," he said. "If you don't treat the Boss's daughter well, He's not going to listen as closely.”
Marvin pointed to Galatians 3:26-28 to refer to the oneness that all Christians should have in Christ.
“The very first writing that we see is blatantly clear: men and women are totally equal," said Marvin. He noted that in the Galatians passage, the Apostle Paul was saying that "everyone is now defined most by Christ."
Marvin touched on the issue of University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, a trans-identified biological male who won several races in competitions initially reserved for girls.
Last month, Pennsylvania University nominated Thomas, who has broken multiple girls' sports records, for the National Collegiate Athletics Association’s “Woman of the Year” award.
Marvin said that while he has "nothing but love and care and concern for anyone who doesn't know Jesus," he sees this as an example of the modern culture “assaulting the image of God on humanity.”
Marvin addressed both men and women in the audience, reminding them of their "eternal value." He emphasized that "anyone who treats you as less is operating against God's design and amazing creation.”
“We have a superior culture in Christ that says women are made in the image of God. They have eternal value,” Marvin stated.
"They’re worthy of being treated with dignity and respect and their value does not come from their body, what they wear, what they look like. It comes from the fact that they are made in the image of God."
Both Christian men and women should play a role in working towards a society of equality for all genders, Marvin noted.
“Men, we have a responsibility to make sure we don't participate, communicate, encourage, anything that further objectifies [women] sexually," he declared.
"And women, you have a responsibility to make sure you don't continually endorse or promote things that say, ‘I am valuable because of my sex or my body.'”