Good Old-Fashioned Bible Sexism? (Numbers 5)


Are you a feminist? I remember when the answer to that question was much more controversial than it is now. I remember myself, at like 14, hesitating and saying dumb things like, “I’m not a feminist, but I think women can do whatever men can do”.

Any true feminist will tell you that that’s what feminism really is – equality. The only reason it’s called feminism and not people-ism or something is because women are the ones who have historically been the victims of inequality.

And when I say “historically”, I mean since a long, long time ago – even in Bible times.

Okay, okay, stop giving me that sarcastic shocked face – especially in Bible times. Societies like the Israelite society were patriarchal, which meant men controlled the family, the home, the money, and the decisions. So yes, Israelite men perpetuated inequality against their women – but the Israelite God wasn’t like that, right?

Right? Well, in this chapter of the Bible we get a whole section titled “The Test for an Unfaithful Wife”. Yikes. Essentially, if a man thought his wife had cheated on him, he would take her to a priest, offer a grain offering symbolizing his jealousy and suspicions, and then the priest would mix some dirt with some water and pronounce a curse on the woman.

If she hadn’t done anything wrong, the curse would have zero effect. If she had been sleeping around, the curse would cause her womb to shrivel up and any pregnancy she had to miscarry.

Brutal, right? And this is why we need #feminism.

The Treasures Within:

Is God sexist?

If this were modernized and made a policy today, there would be hell to pay. A law that states that a person who commits adultery will be sent to jail, that only applies to women? Let’s count the ways that would be completely and utterly wrong.

1) It gives the husband free reign to cheat as often as he likes, with no punishment.

2) It presumes that no one is at fault for infidelity in a relationship BUT the cheating partner (verse 31).

3) It promotes the stereotype of the wicked, wayward woman with her emotions and her hormones who does nothing but lead good men astray.

So why, oh why, would God conceive of, dictate, and enforce this law?

I’m in this photo chapter and I don’t like it

Let’s get some ground facts out of the way. God has already made it clear that sexual immorality is a sin. It’s even in the Ten Commandments!

Here’s another one: God doesn’t love men more than women or count more sins against women than men. When God created male and female, He created them equal. Both are representations of His image.

And we can’t forget the most important fact: men and women symbolize something far greater than themselves or their sex organs – God and His church.

Just do a search for all the times God calls the Israelite people “his wife” or the church “his bride” or His people “the woman”. From the Old Testament to the New, that analogy is made over and over and over.

So if God hates sexual immorality no matter who does it, and if God loves women, and if God often uses women as a symbol for His church, then this law can’t be sexist. It can’t be removing all guilt from husbands who cheat. It can’t be saying women are nothing more than objects to lead men astray.

It instead has to be saying something about God’s people, and what happens when we cheat on Him.

Because we do that. All the time. All of us – male and female – cheat on God. We step outside of our relationship with Him. We break our commitment to love and serve Him.

We disobey Him. We ignore everything He’s told us in His Word about how to live.

We doubt Him. We decide that He can’t make us happy.

We misrepresent Him. We accuse Him of being abusive or unloving or hateful, and we remove Him from our lives.

We cheat. We commit adultery. We are unfaithful wives. And what does God, our husband, do?

He is jealous for us (verses 14, 30).

He punishes us (verse 27).

But He takes us back home.

Notice there is no mention of divorce or destruction or casting out. Instead, the husband quietly takes his wife home.

What a God. No seriously, what a God.

He has every right to completely level us when we sin. Sin ruins everything. It destroys our happiness and our relationships. It’s a loud, bold middle finger to God. It’s a complete rejection of Him and truth and everything good.

But God doesn’t respond in kind. He responds with love. Pure, undiluted love. Because love is punishment for wrongdoing, but it is also persistence. Love is taking us back home. Love is saying–

God’s Message To Us:

“Try again.” You know, God doesn’t give us second chances when we sin just because we ask for it. We don’t always ask for forgiveness. There are people all over the world who sin and think nothing of it. You and I commit sins that we don’t ask forgiveness for. Yet we’re still here. Yet we have a second chance.

So take a deep breath. In – that means God still wants you, desperately. Out – that means God is standing before you, arms open, asking you to try Him, for real this time. Try being faithful. Try loving Him. Try believing Him. He won’t let us down. He won’t cheat on us. He won’t leave us or disappoint us or break our hearts (verse 31). There isn’t a more faithful Partner.

So what do you say?

What do you think? Is this law sexist or is it symbolic? Comment below and share!


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One thought on “Good Old-Fashioned Bible Sexism? (Numbers 5)

  1. Remember also that this law was designed to protect a wife from an unreasonably jealous husband. This was also to protect a woman from false accusations. Maybe somebody lied on her, or her husband had a dream or something, and he was now certain she had cheated on him when she was actually innocent. They both went to the temple, (where the floor, by the way, was impeccably clean) and they both had to have faith in God. They had to believe that God would take care of everything. That God would ease the mind of the husband if the wife was being falsely accused, and that God would punish the woman if she had actually committed adultery. This is a very interesting law.


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