A friend of mine says the Bible is very negative toward women, and this is why society has oppressed women throughout history. Is this true?
No, it is not true. The Bible makes it clear that at the very beginning of the human race both women and men were created by God, and He stamped His image equally upon them both. The Bible says, “He created them male and female and blessed them” (Genesis 5:2).
The Bible also makes it clear that both women and men bear responsibility for our rebellion against God, and both need to be forgiven and reconciled to God. And this is possible because Jesus Christ came to redeem us—women and men alike. When we come to Christ, the barriers that a sinful world has erected are torn down, because in Christ “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
Much more needs to be said about this than I can say here; your local Christian bookstore can suggest further reading. But challenge your friend to read through the Gospels carefully and with an open mind. If she does, she will see how Jesus honored women and made them an important part of His ministry (in contrast to the society of His day). In general, women are most oppressed in societies that are untouched by the Gospel.
Admittedly, Christians haven’t always gotten it right; we aren’t perfect. But urge your friend to look at Christ, for He alone has the power to forgive us and make us into the men and women God created us to be.