The Beginnings of Christian Reform (19)

The Bible on Protecting Women

Introduction:

Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his [Boaz’] maids, so that others do not fall upon you in another field” (Ruth 2:22).

What happened here? Naomi knew that even if Israel was a godly nation, Ruth could still be at risk of being abused at the hands of men. Naomi wanted to protect her daughter-in-law from such eventualities. Christian women today can learn from this example, and others in scripture. Women have always needed protection from evil men who will prey on them.

I. God is a Bridegroom:                                                                                       The Bible is divine literature, written for us to understand and obey. It uses the analogy of the Bride, beginning in Genesis, right through to Revelation. The devil is jealous of God, and knowing God has a bride, the devil would abuse, rape or kill her, as a way of getting at God, for it is his nature to “steal, kill and destroy…” (Jn.10:10).

The devil’s first attempt at tyrannical bridal abuse is seen in Genesis, when Satan comes not to Adam, but to Eve, and deceives her. “Has God said …?” (Gen. 3:5). Through Adam’s failure to protect her, Satan appeared to have been successful. In Exodus, Pharoah enslaved God’s bride (Israel), but God sends Moses to deliver and release them to liberty, so His bride was free to serve Him.

Paul picks up this theme in speaking of the Church. He writes that “…I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin” (II Cor.11:2).

The pattern begun in Genesis continues right through to Revelation. “When the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman…” (Rev.12:13). Our knowledge of the divine plan (and Satan’s hostility to that plan) should set the pattern for the human protection of women.

II. Men as the Bridegroom:                                                                                 One of the functions of the bride is to “…make herself ready” (Rev.19:7) for her husband. Thus all potential brides initially need the protection of their father and their family. The Bible has much to say about the need for women to be protected from evil men, and this testimony begins in Genesis.

When Abram went down to Egypt, Pharoah’s officials saw that Sarai was beautiful, and “…she was taken into Pharoah’s house” (Gen.12:15). As a result, in a supernatural intervention remarkably like the coming Exodus, Pharoah’s house is struck with great plagues” (v.17), and Pharoah “commanded his men concerning him [Abram]; and they escorted him away, with his wife and all that belonged to him” (v.20). Similarly, God closed up the wombs of Abimelech’s household, when he took Sarah as his wife (Gen.20:17).

III. Scriptural Accounts of Failures to Protect Women:                                                                                                                a) A Father: In Genesis 34, Dinah (Jacob’s only daughter), “went out to visit the daughters of the land,” only to be promptly raped by Shechem. What had happened? Though she had twelve brothers, she had gone out unprotected by her father or brothers.

b) A Husband: Judges 19:22-30 speaks of the occasion when a Levite and his concubine were staying a night near Jerusalem. When homosexuals surrounded the house, the man sacrificed his concubine to be raped and abused by wicked men. Abandoned by her husband, she died.

c) A Priest: I Sam.2:12, 22 tells us how Eli’s sons were “worthless men; they did not know the Lord… [and] lay with the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting.” This should be a warning to all believers, that women must be protected in the house of God, from evil imposters who will use positions of respect to abuse women. This kind of event has brought scandal upon God’s people too frequently. Pastors, youth leaders and others have been guilty.

d) A King: II Sam.13:1-20 tells us how King David’s son Ammon, conspired with his friend Jonadab to trap and rape Tamar, his step-sister. King David failed to protect her, and afterwards, failed in his duty to ensure that justice was done to Amnon.

Jesus didn’t fail to protect women. In John 8, He protected an adulterous woman from a misogynist group of scribes and Pharisees, who were intent on using her “…so that they might have grounds for accusing Him” (v.6).

What happened? “The witnesses departed. The Mosaic law required two witnesses in any capital crime (Deut.19:15). So, there was no way to convict her. She had to be set free. Jesus sent her away, after asking specifically where her accusers were (v. 10). They were gone, she replied. So He dismissed her (v. 11).[1]

“Judges, witnesses, and executioners had to have clean hands in dealing with an offender and an offense, in this case adultery. All of them were guilty men, adulterers, and their consciences convicted them.”[2] This was why they all filed out of the room.

Lessons for Women:                                                                                                           What should women and girls realise? The Bible teaches us that “…there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccles.1:9), and “whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction…” (Ro.15:4).

Firstly, women will be targets for deception and attack by Satan. “…The serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness…” (II Cor.11:3), and “…the woman being deceived, fell into transgression…” (I Tim.2:14).

Secondly, ungodly men commonly seek to abuse women and girls. Just because a man is in church or the youth group, or a neighbour, doesn’t guarantee he’s godly and should be trusted. Jesus warned us about “…false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Mat.7:15). The same can be said for the work-place.

Women need protection in the home, the church, and the work-place, and they should not place themselves in positions of vulnerability, where they can be abused.                      

Conclusion:                                                                                                                Jesus as the great, eternal Bridegroom “…having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end” (Jn.13:1). Thus husbands are to “love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Eph.5:25).

Women need protection from evil men, who are intent on using and abusing them. There is a protective function for pastors and elders in the Church, along with fathers, husbands, mothers and brothers. The first place for protection is the home, along with the church, the work-place and in the community. Christian girls and women must realise they can be abused, and be willing to receive protection from God-honouring men.

Success starts with service. So does significance. Choose your forms of service well (Gary North).


           [1] Gary North, “Analysing John 8: The Woman Taken in Adultery,” www.garynorth.com, Feb.18th, 2012.

          [2] Rousas Rushdoony, “The Gospel of John,” 2000, p.92.

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