Mothers like Sarah

Sitting in the Fuller Theological Seminary Library in Houston, Texas, I began twitching. Something was wrong and my eyes went toward the books stacked on the table where I was sitting. They were books yet to be shelved and I picked up the nearest one to me. It was by Wayne Grudem.  The next book in the pile was by some unknown author, at least to me, and it made the same old tired attempt at explaining 1 Peter 3.

I had a copy of Dethroning Male Headship and laid my book on top of those heretical books against women, and thus dethroned them.

Copied below is an excerpt from my book explaining what this passage really means.

The powerful message of 1 Peter 3:1-6

   Some like to quote Peter when he said Sarah called Abraham “master” in Genesis 18:12, “So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, ‘After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?’”  The New International Version Bible uses the word “master,” unlike other translations that use the word “Lord.”

It is impossible to connect 1 Peter 3:1-6 to the words of Sarah found in Genesis to support the doctrine of wifely submission, but Bruce Ware, one of the members of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, attempts to do just that in his book, The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit: The Trinity as Theological Foundation for Family Ministry.1 Ware writes, “I find it astonishing that it is in this text, of all New Testament passages that teach on husband and wife relations, that the strongest language is used to describe a wife’s submission! Peter appealed to Sarah as an example and said that she “obeyed Abraham, calling him lord” (1 Pet 3:6a), indicating that they would be Sarah’s “children” if they fearlessly followed this example.”

Ware, who is a professor Christian Theology, has missed the beautiful promise of this passage. The promise is not that women would be Sarah’s children if they are submissive, but that they would become mothers like Sarah because they themselves would be founding a new nation of believers, not by giving birth in the physical sense, but by spreading the gospel message so people can be born again by the spirit.

To emphasize, Peter does NOT tell wives they are Sarah’s daughters if they submit to their husbands like Sarah did. What he DOES say was startling, and raised the hairs on their heads by its audacity.  Peter tells these women that “like mother, like daughter” and just as their mother Sarah birthed a new nation, they, too, are birthing a new nation of believers.

We can interpret Peter’s words something like this, “That was the way it was done back in Sarah’s day, but things have changed. We are now under grace by faith, not under the law. You have done what is right in becoming Christ-followers, and are Sarah’s daughters—children of the freed woman—if you do not fear as you keep following Christ, and, like Sarah, you will birth this new nation of God’s people.”

Again, Paul says the same thing:

“Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise. These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother (Sarah)….Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman,” Galatians 4:21-26, 31.

1 Peter 3 contains a powerful promise of building a nation of believers that is for all time.

Twenty-first century Christian women are also children of the free woman, but some still choose to cling to Hagar by holding to a master/slave relationship with their husbands, and pastors still enforce this type of submission, even when they know it is wrong.

Sarah is mentioned four times in the New Testament, three of which are specifically about her becoming the mother of a nation. 1 Peter 3:6 is too, but the greater truth of it has been neglected. By passionately claiming the first part of the scripture that says wives must submit to their husbands, the promise it held for New Testament wives has been ignored. This particular reference to Sarah in 1 Peter 3:6 emphasizes the new covenant and has those new Christian women actively participating in the ministry of the gospel by birthing a nation of believers (1 Peter 3:6; Hebrews 11:11; Romans 4:19; Galatians 4:2-26, 31).

Wives, continue in your marriages even if your husbands are unbelievers, for by doing so, you will be like Sarah, mothers of a nation of believers.

Male headship is dethroned when Peter told Christian women that they will be like Sarah, mothers of a nation of believers.

About bwebaptistwomenforequality

Shirley Taylor writes with humor and common sense, challenging the church body to reclaim equality for Christian women.
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29 Responses to Mothers like Sarah

  1. Pingback: Dethroning Male Headship | Feminism is Empathological

  2. Jeff says:

    I don’t permit you to have authority over me, as a man.

    Get in the back of the church, cover your head, and shut up.


    • Hey Jeff! Welcome! We are pleased that your brought your most holy self to this discussion. God chose some peculiar people to be his representatives on earth, to be over all women. Now that is a laugh!


    • Mara says:

      Jeff, as a woman, I do not permit you to have any authority over me. I will NOT get into the back of the church. I will NOT cover my head. And I will NOT shut up. And you can’t make me. God never gave you that authority.

      BTW, I do NOT declare that I have any authority over you to tell you to get to the back of the church or anything else. I simply tell you to stop trying defraud me and other women of our freedom in Christ. Trying to defraud us of our freedoms puts you in a precarious place. A place I don’t want to be whenever you are called into account for trying to take authority that doesn’t belong to you.

      Good day sir.


      • Jeff – Jesus has asked His followers to love one another and to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. You did neither with your statement. Not only did you disregard the words of Christ but you also show that you have a lack of understanding of Scripture by your comments. First of all I can tell you that the reason you think that women are to cover their heads is because you misunderstand 1 Corinthians 11: 3-16. The reason you misunderstand 1 Corinthians 11: 3-16 is because men teach that they are the image and glory of God. However, Scripture is clear that it is Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ alone, who is the image and glory of God. See below.

        3″And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4: 3-4)

        15″He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” (Colossians 1: 15)

        3″And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature…” (Hebrews 1: 3)

        23″And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.” (Revelation 21: 23)

        So because I know that Scripture clearly tells us that Jesus Christ is the image and glory of God, I know that 1 Corinthians 11: 3-16 consists of three parts. They are as follows:

        Verse 3 – Paul’s model.
        Verses 4-6 – Paul quotes a faction of men from Corinth who wrote him.
        Verse 7 – Paul’s rebuttal and reference back to his model.

        So Paul has given his model with the “figurative” meaning of head because a faction of men had written him with a “literal” meaning of head. The men were trying to say that a woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her own “literal” head. This is why they give a correlating example saying that it is the same thing as having her head shaved. It is also important to understand that the translators have added words in the rebuttal portion in an attempt to get it to harmonize with the quoted portion. However, no words need to be added because Paul is refuting their words.

        So if you want to continue to claim that you and all men are the image and glory of God, that is up to you. However, I know that it is Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ ALONE who is the image and glory of God because God’s Word clearly tells me so.


    • Kristen says:

      *laughing* No one here wants any authority over you. It would be too much of a headache.


    • pnissila says:

      Jeff: your post made me laugh out loud! Reminded me of the bumper sticker you see on certain trucks, the ones with the really big tires, that goes something like this: “get in, sit down, hold on, shut up.” I live in the West…lots of trucks out here.

      Anyway, what “authority” anybody may believe they have over anybody else is subsumed in the ultimate role of all Christians: submission, “one to another.” Even pastors, generally regarded as highest on the food chain of jobs in the church are in their positions not to lord it over the Body of Christ but to equip the Body of Christ for service. In essence, pastors are waiting tables. Distributing “food” so that we are properly fed from God’s Word and so that we might bring it also to the hungry in our realms of ministry.

      Nevertheless, we are each still called to use discernment lest we are led astray by false teachers. And if we are led astray because we haven’t studied God’s Word, none of us can say “My husband told me it was so and so it’s his fault,” or “My wife told me it was so and so it’s her fault.”

      Cheers and chill, brother!


  3. Chris says:

    I’m interested in knowing how you harmonize your interpretation of 1 Peter 3 with what is plainly stated in Ephesians 5:22-24. I have absolutely no tolerance for the mistreatment of women or the tendency of some men to unnecessarily dominate their wives, but I also have no tolerance for the liberal notion that the respective roles of men and women should be wholly discarded for the sake of some people’s idea of “equality.”

    The new covenant with God provided us with exactly that: a new covenant with God through Jesus Christ. It in no way affected human nature or the way humans were designed by God to interact with one another, meaning it had no impact on the dynamics through which a healthy family must operate in order to remain whole.

    We’ve been shrugging off familial roles for nearly a century now (both men and women). It has had the effect of destroying the family unit and subsequently moving our society farther away from God.

    And just to be clear: my disdain for what has happened to the American family and society isn’t limited to the effects of feminism. Men hold just as much blame, if not more, for where we are today as a culture.


    • Welcome! Glad you joined us. Ephesians 5:22-24 has some major problems that you are overlooking. I will quote from my book Dethroning Male Headship as my answer. But I want to make a point before I do. Have you read your words carefully? You have such buzz words as liberal and equality with quotations around it and feminism. Those words tell me what you think of me and others who find women’s equality to be biblical. You have judged our character, while we have not judged your character.

      Now to quote from Dethroning Male Headship in answer to your question about harmonizing 1 Peter 3 with Ephesians 5:22-24.

      However, some say “I believe that the husband is the head of the wife like Christ is the head of the church.” Paul says exactly that in Ephesians 5:23. We do not know what Paul or the translators meant when they said those words. We do know that Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection made him head of the church. Complementarian husbands become heads of their wives at their wedding ceremonies with comparatively little sacrifice.
      The two are so dissimilar, with Christ giving his life while the husbands obtain wives. It is more probable that Paul meant for the Ephesians to look at their own families where the husbands were already the heads, and then think of Jesus as being the head of his church family. To compare Jesus and husbands culturally in the First Century is no problem, but to make a biblical commandment for 21st century husbands to be in authority over their wives promotes men to the god-head.
      Traditionally interpreted, those words create a contradiction in what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:3, “Now I want you to realize the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God,” because Paul told the Ephesians that Christ is head of the church which is comprised of both men and women, whereas he told the Corinthians that Christ is the head of men only. But we know that Christ is the head of female Christians, too.
      The answer is found in the Gospels. Jesus affirmed that he was the head of women both before and after his death. He left women no room for doubt. Think back to Mary of Bethany who he allowed to sit at his feet and learn from the Master himself. Then remember the Gentile woman to whom Jesus revealed that he was to be the savior not only to the Jews, but to all people, which included her. Read again how Jesus revealed to the Samaritan woman that he was the Messiah. And finally, stand before the tomb where Jesus, in his resurrected body, made himself known to Mary before he told any man that he was alive. Jesus himself was telling women that he alone is their head, and there is no middle man between them.
      These are powerful events that cannot be discounted. Jesus’ ascension into heaven did not change those truths. Women are as important to our Lord on this side of the cross as they were on the other side.
      Headship has no place in the Gospels. Jesus said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be the first must be slave of all, for even the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42b-45).
      Jesus did not say that men were heads of their wives, and he did not indicate that men would be elevated to headship after his resurrection. Jesus did not bind women before his resurrection to their husbands, and there is no reason to believe that Jesus would bind women to their husbands after his resurrection.
      In fact, male headship is contrary to everything Jesus said. The apostle Paul recognized this in his letter to the Galatians (3:26-28) where he wrote, “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, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ.”
      Therefore, we are presented with three scriptural challenges to the doctrine of men being the heads of women: 1) It is contrary to Jesus’ teaching and actions; 2) it makes men the vicars of Christ on earth if men are the head of women; 3) it removes Christ from headship over women; otherwise you have to believe that it takes two—one divine God and one earthly god—to be the head of one woman.


  4. vascularity777 says:

    Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!
    (Isa 5:20-21)

    We are to strive to follow Jesus and be Jesus-like. Working to achieve this, to any degree, one must first honestly and accurately define the scriptures. Putting feminist pride before the accuracy of scripture is the complete opposite of what our Christian prioritie should be


    • Michelle says:

      I do agree with you that all christians, women and men, are to strive to be Christ-like, and to follow Christ. But do *you* agree with what you said? After all, you did not say that “male christians are to be like these qualities of Christ,” and “female christians are to emulate those qualities of Christ”. Rather, you said that we are to be like Jesus.


    • Kristen says:

      Yes, we should not call evil good, should we? Nor should we call injustice, justice. Is it just and good that it is not a person’s character, skills or experience that puts him in authority, but only his Y chromosome? Is it just that it is not a person’s lesser character, skills or experience puts her permanently and irrevocably under authority, but only her X chromosome? Yes, let’s be Jesus-like. Jesus elevated women. He didn’t tell them to go home and submit to their husbands. Not once.


      • Social justice Jesus.


      • Are any of you gals pro-abortion?


      • Art, we are not gals. And this blog is about Christian women’s equality in the church and home.

        > Date: Wed, 11 Sep 2013 01:20:34 +0000 > To: >


      • The Bible is the source of knowledge about Jesus and Christianity. Gender roles regarding marriage and church roles are clearly defined in the Bible.


      • Gender roles regarding marriage and church roles are not clearly defined in the Bible. > Date: Sun, 6 Oct 2013 00:58:11 +0000 > To: >


      • Mara says:

        I saw vascularity’s comment and your response to him the other day, Shirley and then surfed on somewhere else because your apt response nails it and it needs no further explanation.

        I’m only commenting because I dropped by again and am frustrated with how much the human definers of gender roles have brainwashed so many.

        The Bible IS NOT clear on gender roles as defined by the worshipers of gender roles like vascularity.

        They keep beating that drum over and over hoping people will just accept their definitions as ‘biblical’ when they are anything but.

        Paul hits on a few family things and gives instructions to certain churches concerning false teachings put forth by a female teacher. What he says does not deal with gender roles for all time. They are specifically dealing with problem areas in certain churches.

        The way gender role worshippers have twisted things is just sickening. It is so far the opposite of what Jesus taught. Yet they claim it is what Jesus ‘clearly’ wanted.

        I’m so disgusted with their false doctrines.

        I’m glad you keep kicking the feet out from under their misinformed assertions.


      • Mara says:

        In other words, I’m sick to death of people trying to use the gospel to give themselves the upper hand. Using the gospel this way is abusing the message of Jesus Christ. Jesus taught the opposite of what Vascularity claims and Vascularity and his camp oppose the true gospel of Jesus Christ by misusing it as they do.


      • What you didn’t see were the ones I didn’t approve. They were nasty.

        > Date: Thu, 10 Oct 2013 15:44:49 +0000 > To: >


      • Mara says:

        Yes, I’m glad you didn’t approve them if they were nasty.
        I’m glad there is no record of their unChristian (is that anti-Christian?) nasty testimony on this Christian blog.


      • This is a real peculiar group. Art Laughing, Sunshiney Mary, Vasculinity are all part of it. On their website one even signed his name something like feminist hater. A real piece of work.

        > Date: Thu, 10 Oct 2013 22:00:11 +0000 > To: >


      • Mara says:

        Ahhh. One of THOSE groups. Delusional spiritual terrorists. Nice. No wonder so many are falling away from the faith with groups like those muddying and polluting the Living Water so bad.

        Yeah, if someone can disagree and dialogue about it without being so hateful then I say let’s dialogue. But if all they want to do is spew out their anti-Christ hatred, then there is no point in any dialogue. They just want to ramrod their ugliness down everyone’s throats and call it “Christian” or “Biblical”.

        We don’t need that kind verbal and emotional abuse or spiritual terrorism around here. They can go be ugly and unChristian somewhere else.


    • Retha says:

      Vascularity, we totally agree. I only want to point out that putting masculist pride before the accuracy of scripture is the complete opposite of what our Christian priorities should be.
      Our priorities should be loving God above all, and other people as ourself (not above or below). And to follow in the footsteps of a God who loved justice and showed no favoritism, who, for example, said after his commands to women in 1 Peter, “likewise, men…” Likewise mean men should also do what was discussed before.


  5. When the Church talks about the promised seed of Abraham (Jesus Christ) they are not mentioning specifically his sex. When we talk about Israel/Jacob or Moses we are not specifically talking about their sex. When we talk about Esther or Ruth we are not generally concerned with their sex. Somehow Galatians 4 hinges on the motherhood of Sarah, which is fine is obviously the case, with an emphasis on her sex? It’s using her as an allegory and it says as much, besides this it uses mountains and the two Jerusalems. I don’t see them emphasized. I don’t see Ismael and Isaac being discussed. Is there a reason for that? Is it so that we can get to this bottom line?

    “Male headship is dethroned when Peter told Christian women that they will be like Sarah, mothers of a nation of believers.”

    While ignoring what Galatians 4 specifically says about the only “mother of a nation of believers”?

    “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.”
    (Gal 4:26)

    Are you above? Are you the “mother of us all”? How do you precisely propose to “be like Sarah” in that regard?


  6. Mara says:

    Hello Shirley.

    I checked in after a long day of work and classes to see if that spiteful, little ankle biter was still yipping at everyone with her clueless accusations, uninformed judgments, and spiritually bankrupt understanding of Scripture.

    And she still is.


    And pitiful.


    I think I’ll go to bed now. I might get up in the morning and check out whether the Pit-Yorkie is still yipping and laughing at everyone here. Or not. It was never enlightening. It’s no longer entertaining. In fact, it has deteriorated ridiculously into predictable and worn out “Burn the Jezebel Witch!” propaganda.

    Have a peaceful night, all. For who knows? Tomorrow we may be at war with Syria.


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