Androcentrism is a focus on men. Androcentrism involves behaviors, circumstances, and cultures that focus on or are dominated by a male perspective. Androcentric societies downplay the feminine perspective and minimize the importance of female contributions. If females are recognized at all, their accomplishments are minimized or even trivialized. Androcentric behavior may be intentional or accidental, overt or subtle.
Many today charge we live in an androcentric world, that is, a world in which the accomplishments, interests, and achievements of women have historically taken a backseat in a culture overwhelmingly dominated by men. Most likely, it’s true that our world is androcentric. Modern societies are focused on anything but simplicity, equity, honesty, righteousness, humility, and behavior pleasing to God, leading to an avalanche of societal evils. Androcentrism is one of a long list of symptoms that point to a world that is desperately sick and in need of God.
What is the biblical view of androcentrism?
As androcentrism emphasizes male accomplishments and interests at the expense of a female perspective, it is unbiblical. The Bible does not favor, endorse, or encourage androcentrism. On the contrary, women frequently take center stage in biblical narratives—women whose faith, virtue, nobility, courage, and determination are praised, women who were chosen instruments of God and agents for good in an ailing world:
Eve: As the first woman, the first wife, and the first mother, Eve was promised an offspring who would be the redeemer who would ultimately conquer Satan (Genesis 3:15). This prophecy began its fulfillment when a child was born to a virgin in the town of Bethlehem.
Sarah: The wife of the patriarch Abraham and the mother of Isaac, Sarah is known for her great faith (Hebrews 11:11) and the godly commitment she demonstrated toward her husband (1 Peter 3:5–6).
Rahab: Many unfamiliar with Scripture would be surprised to learn one of the Bible’s most notable heroines was a prostitute (Joshua 2:1–24). Despite her ignoble past, Rahab is remembered for her faith and courage (Hebrews 11:31). She also appears in the genealogy of our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:5).
Deborah: Israel’s first and only female judge, Deborah led God’s people in a time of peril and was instrumental in bringing about their enemy’s destruction (Judges 4—5). Because of her strong, nurturing leadership, Deborah was hailed as “a mother for Israel” (Judges 5:7, NLT).
Esther: Beautiful, courageous, diplomatic, and determined, this faithful Jewish girl became queen of Persia and used her influence to stop a heinous plan to slaughter God’s people. Her thrilling story appears in the Old Testament book bearing her name.
Ruth: A woman of unquestionable character, loyalty, courage, and devotion, this Moabite widow won the hearts of the people in Bethlehem and appears in the genealogy of King David and our Lord Jesus Christ. Her story, which takes place during the time when Israel was ruled by judges, appears in the Old Testament book named for her.
Abigail: The wife of a wealthy rancher named Nabal, this beautiful woman was as wise as her husband was foolish (1 Samuel 25:3). When Nabal maliciously smeared the character of David and his men, Israel’s future monarch swore swift, bloody revenge. Knowing such a rash act would have sullied David’s reputation, Abigail quickly intervened and prevented tragedy. After Nabal’s death, Abigail married David. This remarkable woman’s story appears in 1 Samuel 25.
Mary: Of all the young women in Israel, God showed favor to an unmarried virgin and chose her to give birth to and bring up His only Son, Jesus (Luke 1:28–38). There could be no greater honor than Mary had, to bring God’s Anointed One into the world.
Mary Magdalene: After Jesus cast seven demons from her (Luke 8:2), Mary of Magdala became one of our Lord’s faithful followers, an eyewitness of His crucifixion, and the first to see Him after He was raised from the dead (John 20:11–18). It might be said Mary Magdalene was the first to celebrate Easter.
Mary and Martha: Along with their brother Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead (John 11:1–44), these two sisters were beloved friends of Jesus and His disciples. Mary and Martha’s home in Bethany was an oasis of friendship and a safe haven from the hostilities of the Jewish religious establishment.
While this list does not exhaust the women of prominence appearing in Scripture, these champions of the faith are proof the Bible neither ignores nor downplays the achievements of women.
Is the Bible androcentric?
The Bible is not androcentric, but it is Christocentric, that is, Christ is the focus. The Bible is His story; each page tells of Him. Despite the false claims lodged by some critics, the Bible is neither anthropocentric, focusing on humankind, nor androcentric. To support this truth, let us turn to Luke 24. Shortly after Jesus’ crucifixion, two disciples met the resurrected Lord as they traveled to Emmaus. Note how the Lord Jesus related the entirety of the Scriptures to Himself:
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself (Luke 24:13–27, ESV, emphasis added).
Political correctness has attempted to blur the differences between women and men, and this is unfortunate, for God made us male and female for a number of reasons. We can be different yet equal. We can be different, and, together, we are better for the differences. With that said, no man should make a woman feel as though she is inferior or a second-class citizen. Despite advertising campaigns, the fashion industry, and the illusions of pop culture, a woman’s worth is hardly measured by outward beauty or an ability to draw attention from the opposite sex. In no way does God want women and their accomplishments trivialized.
The Bible calls us not to androcentrism but to humility and service. As the Lord Jesus humbled Himself for our benefit, we should esteem others greater than ourselves while guarding the interests of our brothers and sisters (Philippians 2:1–7).