WHAT IS THE ROLE OF WOMEN
IN THE CHURCH, AND IN A FAMILY??
The subject of women has long been debated in Christian circles. The church has backslidden from the truth proclaimed by the Word of God. The Word of God proclaims that God does not see us as male or female. He sees us all as equals, regardless of the gender. So why would God favor one gender over another? He does not, and when Christians teach otherwise, they are misapplying, and misinterpreting Scriptures.
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."
All races, classes, and sexes are equal in rights and privileges. In Christianity, there is an equality for women that is unlike any other culture of the past. In the Bible days, women were thought to be inferior to men. They walked humbly behind their mate. They served him in total subjection and fear. If he chose, he could divorce her for combing her hair in an unpleasing manner. He could send her from his home and from his life with a few words.
Then came Jesus. He taught a new equality for women. He taught that God saw all of mankind as equal. The women were delighted in that day.
Today, in Christianity, we find the doctrines of putting women as inferior to men, having crept back into the dogmas of congregations. This is regrettable and sinful. It is contrary to the true teachings of the Bible. All Christians are as one in God's eyes. He does not care what your profession is, and He does not care what your skin color is. He does not care if you are Jewish or Gentile, and He does not care if you are male or female.
"Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth, I perceive that God is no respecter of persons."
"For there is no respect of persons with God."
"...neither is there respect of persons with Him."
I Peter 1:17
"And if ye call on the Father, Who without respect of persons judgeth."
Can God make it any clearer? Does He need to put handwriting on the walls of the buildings of the congregations of today? The truth of the New Testament's teaching is that God sees no difference in the rights and privileges of men or women. The congregations of Christianity have often perverted some of the Scriptures. Many have tried to teach that women are inferior to men.
Let's look at the Scriptures and examine their teachings.
First, let us look at the question of women preachers.
Reasons for women preachers:
1. In the gospels, several women preachers proclaimed the good news.
(Matt. 28:1-10, Lk. 24:9-11, Jn. 4:28:-30, Jn. 20:16-18)
2. The Spirit was prophesied to be poured out on women, and they are supposed to prophesy. If it only takes two or three to make a church, how are they to prophesy if not within a church?
(Acts 2:14-21, Joel 2:28-31)
3. Philip had four daughters who were prophetesses.
4. Romans 16 tells of a number of women servants of the Lord who were leaders of congregations. These were Phebe, Priscilla, Mary, Tryphena,
Tryphosa, Persis, and Julia.
5. In Philippians 4:2, Euodias and Syntyche are mentioned as leaders of the church in Philippi.
6. Corinthian women prophesied and prayed in church. (I Cor. 11:4-5) ( I Cor. 14:34-35 refers to women who talked out loud to husbands across the room during the service, thus interrupting the preacher.)
7. In I Corinthians 12, Paul compares the church to a body, and all parts (men and women) are members of the body and are to function as the Lord directs.
8. Women were used of God in the Old Testament as prophetesses.
(Ex. 15:20, Judg. 4:4, II Ki. 22:14, Neh. 6:14, II Chron. 34:22, Isa. 8:3, Luke 1:39-56, 2:36)
In the marriage bond, God takes two people, who are equal in His eyes, and allows them to join as one. In His eyes, He then sees them as one person. The wife has an equal position with the husband in regards to God. God did institute certain regulations for the marriage bond. The husband is to accept God's instruction for his office as husband.
This is command:
"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it."
This is a tough order. How can men love their wives that much? It takes total giving. It requires seeking to please and satisfy the wife in every way. It requires living one's life in a giving way, seeking the safety and well-being of the wife. It is sacrificial and giving. Any wife that is loved this much does not need to worry about having a dominating, bossy husband. He could not be that way, and still be obeying God's command to Him. If this God-obeying husband ever had to ask his wife to submit to a command of his, it could only be for the well-being and safety of his wife.
The wife is ordered of God:
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord."
In the same way that all of us are to submit ourselves to the direction of Jesus, the wife is to accept the subordinate position of submission to the husband at times. The reason that she should do this, is that if the husband is living up to his part, he will not be asking the wife to do something that would be even remotely bad for her. Just as Christ came to be the Savior of the church, the husband must be the protector, the covering, the guardian for the wife. She should therefore accept his role and allow him to protect, serve, and love her with a love beyond understanding.
This is not God's attempt to put women in a subservient role. Rather, it is God putting husbands in a servant's role, and asking wives to allow the husbands to love the wives that much.
"Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life for many."
To minister means to serve. Jesus came to serve, not to be served. The teaching in Ephesians concerning husbands and wives, teaches a servant's role for the husband, and an acceptance of that role for the wife.
"Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God."
This is the most overlooked verse in Ephesians 5. It tells both husbands and wives to be submissive. Many men want to overlook this verse, and try to get the women to also miss seeing it. It is not only wives who should submit, it is also the husbands. If a man loves his wife as he is commanded, he will often be in submission to her wishes, desires, and needs. He will plan his life and time around pleasing his wife. He will never seek to dominate for pride's sake. He will not be demanding that she bow to his "headship."
A wife can respond in love to such a husband. If he ever determines that for her good and safety, he must ask her submission on a point, she can safely trust this loving man is only asking thus because he truly loves her. Few women could complain about such a relationship.
Coverings for the head, hair, hats and veils have also been hotly debated in congregations. Covering for the head was a symbol of willing subjection in those days. In the culture of the day, the subjection of the woman was almost universal. Christianity had come with this new doctrine and teaching of equality. Many Christian women began to cease wearing the veils and hats indicating subjection to the husband. Some went too far in their freedom, and began to embarrass their husbands by looking too much like the prostitutes of the day.
Customs have changed, but principles do not. The principle taught in the Bible by Paul was that one was not to dishonor their mate. Even to this Paul added, "If any man seem contentious, we have no such rule." Peace in a church was more important than trying to not anger some by departing from custom and tradition. The only reason Paul gave a suggestion about hair, hats, and veils was to not create embarrassment for the men of the church. He made sure the Corinthians knew this was just a suggestion, and not a rule for all ages of Christendom.
The women at Corinth had gone a little far in their new found liberty in Christianity. They began to go to church, not only unveiled (as a token of their equality), but they had shaven their heads to sell the hair and to give the money to the church. The prostitutes in the city shaved their heads when they were short of money. The hair was sold for the making of wigs. This made the women of the congregation appear as prostitutes when they walked into the home where the services were to be held that day. Their husbands were embarrassed.
Paul mildly rebukes them with "Is it comely... judge in yourselves." (I Cor. 11)
Paul wanted the women to think about how it looked. He suggested they use a veil, hat, or leave their hair for a covering. He did not require they put the veil or hat back on to indicate subservience to the husband. He told them their hair was given to them for all the covering they needed, but if they did shave their hair, then wear the hat or veil so that the husband would not be embarrassed.
From Paul's mild rebuke, many denominations have created rules regarding
women wearing hats, veils, or never cutting their hair. They have tried to teach that women were inferior to men. This is an un-Scriptural misconception of the true teaching of Paul in I Corinthians.
The rules given for men in Ephesians, when compared to the rules given for the wives, show greater burden to the husbands. Husbands are told to love the wife, as Christ loved the church and died for it. With that kind of love coming from the husband, would he ever cruelly brow-beat a wife to demand domination? No! Husbands would have a harder time living up to this command than the wives' command to submit themselves to such a loving husband.
I Corinthians 14:34-35
"Let your women keep silence in the churches; for it is not permitted unto them to speak... And if they learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home; for it is a shame for women to speak in the church."
This refers to the confusion caused when the women talked out loud to husbands in the midst of sermons. The women of the day were not educated as the men, and often did not understand what the preacher was saying. In Christianity, the women were being given equality, and were being taught as the men in this new Christian faith. Paul was only saying that the women should question the husband at home, and not disrupt the service.
I Timothy 2:11-12
"Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence."
This passage in Timothy also refers to the same situation as I Corinthians 14:34-35. The women were not to interrupt the sermon with talking out loud to their husbands. The word "subjection" is from the Greek word "hupotage" which means "a voluntary yielding in love."
There is a time for women to question their husband about the sermon. In love and respect for the service and for the husband, the wife should voluntarily wait. They were also not to not argue with the man's interpretation of the sermon during the service.
This in no way lessens her equality, it only emphasizes a restraint of embarrassing a mate in public by flaunting her equality. It also was to encourage her to respect the sanctity of the service.
This new found freedom in Christianity had now allowed a woman to disagree with her husband. Sometimes, in a service there was probably a desire of the wife to say - "I told you so!" She may want to teach her husband something she had learned before he had.
Paul simply instructs the woman not to "usurp authority" over the man, but to silently listen. The Greek word for "usurp authority" is the word - "authenteo" which means "to exercise one's power over."
In Christianity, the wife does have "power", and she can exercise it to question the husband, and to even teach the husband. The translators were all men, and questionably translated this Greek word improperly.
A whole different meaning is found in the original word. It shows that women have an "authority" to speak their mind, and have an opinion different from the husband's. Paul is not removing the authority from the woman, that Christianity had given her. No! Rather he is only saying that she should not exercise that power in the middle of his sermon.