New Covenant Women

The arrival of the New Covenant brought many changes for women.  In the Old Covenant it’s interesting that only men actually received the sign of the covenant: circumcision.  This meant that women were in covenant with God based on their relationship to their father or husband, which impacted many laws concerning women.

            For example, in Leviticus, vows made by a woman could be legally overruled by her father or husband.  A woman had no inheritance in the land by herself.  Land passed on only through sons, so a heavy emphasis was placed on childbearing and caring for widows.  A woman’s place in the land depended on a man.  The Ten Commandments are addressed to men and the wife in the 10th commandment is first on a list of the things the man has authority over.   Even polygamy, while not condoned, is tolerated and used by God to bring about the 12 tribes of Israel.

            Jesus changed all of this.  Jesus’ treatment of women throughout His ministry elevated their status.  There was a new found equality for women. Women received the signs of the covenant based on their own faith, not a father’s or husband's. Vows were no longer subjected to nullification by a husband or father.  Polygamy is banished (I Timothy 3:2). Women are fellow heirs of the ultimate inheritance, eternal life (I Peter 3:7). 

            This new found freedom was so radical that Paul has to rein in women who had gone off the rails in Corinth and Ephesus.  They were effectively doing away with marriage and family by their refusal to submit to their husbands as the head.  Paul corrects this, among other issues.  Still, this new equality among men and women was just as radical as the new equality of Gentiles and Jews.  So it is not by chance that now, two thousand years later  in cultures that have embraced the Gospel of Jesus Christ, women are experiencing unparalleled equality and dignity alongside men.   There is still work to be done, of course, and today's feminism is a modern example of people flying off the rails. But it is true that the freedom women experience today is a result of New Covenant.