Growing up under the house of a house church planting pastor, I have seen one of the most silent, yet questioned, and misunderstood questions to rise up before me. The classic issue: What is a woman’s role in the family and in the church?
Having already seen many different positions on this question, I want to be careful not to be the authority on here and simply state my heart on the issue. In other words I want to be be careful not to instruct leaders or as a leader on this blog (or at least do so to the greatest minimum) and speak more from my own experiential measurement of the scriptures.
Being a husband, father to a wonderful daughter, and brother to two sister-in-laws, all of which are churched, I have seen the question arise more than once.
In the modern “do-it-yourself” age where feminist movements, equal rights, and gay marriage political issues are blown up endlessly it’s hard not to notice some of the different ways churches respond to this issue. Some with a more liberal response: women are no different than men. Some with a more neutral response: It’s a dirty issue so let’s not address it and stay neutral. Some with a more traditional response: women should stay passive and have a good time while the men run things.
I am sure that many of us have heard a verse in 1 Timothy quested before where it strictly states:
“I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” -1 Timothy 2:12-14 ESV
We have also heard that the woman is the weaker vessel and is more easily deceived than a man as is shown in the first three chapters of the book of Genesis in the garden of Eden with Adam and Eve and the fall of man to the temptation Satan’s agenda to be more like our own god.
We also see that in scriptures that wives are commanded to submit to their husband’s leadership (Ephesians 5:22) (Colossians 3:18).
Personally I see no where in scriptures commanding a woman to play a passive role in God’s ministry. Nor do I see the role of a woman to be equal to a man’s role. Being that we as men and women are made for different purposes, our roles are different: men being better at some things, women being better at some things.
I think it is safe to say that a woman was created to be the glory of God and man. We as the church, are more than often referred to as “the bride of Christ.”
Back in Genesis chapter two we read:
“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for[e] him.” Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed[f] every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam[g] there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made[h] into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,”
“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.” -Genesis 2:18-23 ESV
Also, in Proverbs chapter eighteen we see a reference to the beauty of a wife:
“He who finds a wife finds a good thing
and obtains favor from the Lord.” -Proverbs 18:22 ESV
1 Timothy chapter 5 shows us how to treat women:
“Older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.” -1 Timothy 5:2
In the Gospels we often see Jesus’s compassion on the persecution of women in His day. We especially see this where He saves a prostitute from being stoned to death in the streets by teachers of the levitical law (John 8). And at the story of the woman at the well where a woman having been used her whole life by men finds Jesus’s answer and the flow of living water (John 4).
I have met those who find it hard to be a Biblical woman due the case that the model is too lowly. Yet I myself believe, that there is no other culture that women are treated higher than the Biblical one. They are the most treasured, the happiest, and the strongest.
How does this fit in our families and churches though? I think that it is important to notice that when a man is administering Christ-like leadership and a woman is submitting with Christ-like love that we see something beautiful. We see marriage.
Husbands who are willing to die for their wives and wives who are willing to risk everything for their husbands. This sounds radical, but its exactly the way it should be!
I am blessed to have the wife I do. Averie hasn’t always found the support from others in being a Christ-like bride, and neither have I always had the support from others in being a Christ-like leader. But through these immense trials I have seen our marriage crash barriers due to the desire and cling to Christ above all other standards. I have seen my wife become ever more courageous, confident, and powerful in her cling to submit to me as her husband, even when I haven’t always completely deserved it.
I think this is the picture of a fruit producing marriage.
I also believe that the same picture goes for the church. The bride of Christ is to strictly cling onto His leadership. His leadership was shown in His death for her.
She was lost in her sin so deep that she did not even know she even needed saving until she was already pursued and found. And it was not until then that she gave Him praise and submitted to His leadership.
We are the bride of Christ and it is in His leadership that we as husbands find the possibility to love and lead our wives, daughters, and churches to pick up their crosses and follow Him in unity. Because Jesus made the first step unto death, we are now freed from our fear and enabled to make our step behind him unto death for the purpose of life.
As a husband I like to encourage other husbands to love their wives. As quoted in the movie Fireproof: “A woman is like a flower, if you don’t water her, she’ll wither,” I like to also, encourage men of God to love their families before leading others. I think it the most vital detail that the way we treat our families will be replicated in how we lead our churches (1 Timothy 3:5). She is a beautiful gift from God and not to be taken for granted,
I also like to encourage the same concept for women. To love their husbands and to respect his leadership. His headship is like a flower in the same way. He needs encouragement.
Much of this takes bravery while living in modern culture just as following Christ does. But altogether it is worth it and more fulfilling than settling for the sandy castle.