I would like to ask a question on gender equality or inequality. Does the Bible teach about inequality or equality? Does it and Christianity promote inequality? I'm thinking about verses like I Timothy 2 that says women shouldn't take authority from men or placing men as head of the family. Are men superior to women?
Please, I would like to know extensively the reasons so that I will be able to answer similar questions thrown at me. Thank you in advance.
Equality is defined as "the state or quality of being equal; correspondence in quantity, degree, value, rank, or ability."
Each of us are not born the same; therefore, inequality is how God made us. A person is either born male or female; hence, physically we are different. But even among the same sex, we have different eye color, skin color, size, height, muscle build, etc. Our bodies work differently, which means we do not even have the same abilities. We are also born in different countries, which means we do not have the same opportunities or oppressions in life. I am glad for this variation, for if we had six billion Alan's running around, I might go a little crazy. No, we are not born physically equal, nor are people born equal in status in this world.
God made man and woman different to complement each other. "Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him" (Genesis 2:18). Man is not at his best being alone and neither is woman. God made us desire one another, to marry and become one (Genesis 2:24). It is this inequality that makes us work so much better together as male and female. God saw it was good, not just a nice thing. When God says "good" it means it is the perfect solution. That is why men and women are different.
God is the only Sovereign, we are but servants (I Timothy 6:15). Even among servants, there are people in different positions of authority and responsibility. Christians, too, according to our faith, are different (Romans 12:3-6). Within the church there are handful of positions (Ephesians 4:11-12). These duties are a gift from Christ. When people hold these positions they have the higher authority of teaching and leading. They are not positions of abuse but of service accomplished by leading those under their authority by example. "Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, "You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:42-45; see also I Peter 5:1-5). The idea of being "superior" does not contain the idea of I am made better than the person under my authority.
"But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ" (I Corinthians 11:3). The order of authority goes: God - Jesus - Men - Women - Children. Is Jesus God? Yes! Is Jesus being under the Father's authority make him any less God (Colossians 2:9)? The answer is no! It is the same with men and women. Men are over women in spiritual authority, but it does not mean women are "less valuable" than men. For example, there is a manager at Starbucks. This manager has people under her authority. Are the lives of these people under her less valuable or not as important as her own life simply because she is the manager? She is simply filling the role the company chose for her. God has chosen men to be spiritual leaders in the world. It is not because they are "superior" in design or superhumans compared to women.
As you noted, teaching is a way to exercise authority. In teaching the order of authority must be maintained. "A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint" (I Timothy 2:11-15).
Paul gives two proofs for the command that a woman is not to teach or exercise authority over a man. First, Adam was created first. It is the right of the firstborn to be head of the family. The second is that Adam was not deceived when he sinned. This isn't a compliment to Adam. You can see this as a punishment to man because being in charge and responsible isn't usually fun. Or it could be indicating that there is something in the make-up of men that makes them less likely to be deceived, which is a good trait in leaders.
But notice the last statement: When a wife has children, she helps to save her children and herself, if they (the children) continue in faith, love, sanctity with self-restraint. How does she do this? One of the responsibilities a woman has is teaching and leading children to the Lord (Proverbs 1:8; 6:20). The command to not teach or exercise authority over a man does not mean a woman has no responsibilities to teach. In addition to children, an older woman is to teach other women (Titus 2:3-5). Think about the influence a woman has in teaching children to become followers of God -- both male and female. They play a huge role in determining if the next generation will remain faithful or not because mothers are with the children more often than are the fathers.
Perhaps you havn't thought of this, but just by saying God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit shows three personas who are not equal in everything. Each assumes a different role as God; yet, they are all equally God. For example: Jesus humbled himself and became man (Philippians 2:5-11), yet he was fully God (Colossians 2:9). He now has done something the other two have not by becoming flesh and being crucified. Holy Spirit and the Father did not experience these things! It is because of this that Jesus can sympathize with us in our weakness and help us overcome our sin (Hebrews 4:14-16). Is the Father, Holy Spirit and Jesus all equally God? Yes! They differ in their authority (I Corinthians 11:3), but the order it doesn't make them any less God.
In the same way, men, women and children have an order of authority, but that order does not make them any less human than the other. They were all made in God's image (Job 31:13-21; Proverbs 22:2); therefore, they are all equally valuable (I Corinthians 11:8-12).
God says all people are given the same standard and chance to become a Christian. What saves a man also saves a woman, what saves an American also saves a Mexican, Jew, etc. "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:26-28). Salvation is equally available for all the world. This is the equality that God talks about.
There is equality when we are judged. God is not going to go easier on me because I am American. He is not going to be more merciful to women more than men. God is not partial toward one's sex or nationality. It is by our deeds that He will judge (Romans 2:1-11).
"Opening his mouth, Peter said: "I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him" (Acts 10:34-35).