The Roles of Women

 

Christianity more than any other religion is one of basic equality between men and women. The Bible recognizes the physical, emotional, and mental differences between the two, but without establishing one as superior to the other. In fact they both were called by the same name at creation.

*   (Gen 5:2 KJV)  Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.

Eve was the name given to the woman by Adam.

*   (Gen 3:20 KJV)  And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.

The Bible reveals the concept of hierarchy, that is to say an ordering of responsibilities. But different responsibilities do not make one person more important or better than another, at least not in the eyes of God.

*   (Acts 10:34-35 KJV)  Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: {35} But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

*   (Rom 2:10-11 KJV)  But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: {11} For there is no respect of persons with God.

*   (Lev 19:15 NIV)  "'Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.

Although some responsibilities may fall frequently to one gender there are times that a particular responsibility may be best met by the opposite gender. Consider work of various kinds for example. In many homes the wife takes responsibility for cooking meals. But if she is sick the husband might take over that duty. Perhaps the husband usually mows the lawn. But if he is sick or gone for an extended period, the wife might take over that duty.

 

You see, woman’s work and men’s work are for the most part poorly conceived concepts. Actually, there is just work. Who does the work is determined by many factors and gender is not a very good determinate with the possible exception of birthing. And in that case there is no decision to be made anyway. God has already determined who will be in, “Labor” to get that job done.

 

There is no denying that there are valid generalities concerning men and women. For instance…

*   (1 Pet 3:7 KJV)  Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

It is well known that women tend to be more nurturing and men tend to be more bottom-line oriented. And these differences are responsible for much of what we perceive as women’s work and men’s work. But in truth it is capability and desire that best define what work is best suited to each person, male or female.

 

We all have roles to play and all the roles are important.

*   (1 Cor 12:21-25 NIV)  The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!"

On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, {23} and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, {24} while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, {25} so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.

 

Gender certainly is a key to our relationships but it certainly is not the only key.

*   (Gal 3:26-28 NIV)  You are all sons (Children in KJV) of God through faith in Christ Jesus, {27} for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. {28} There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

I can’t tell you how often I’ve been quoted this verse by men.

*   (Eph 5:22 NIV)  Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.

But somehow they always miss the verse just before that verse.

*   (Eph 5:21 NIV)  Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

But doesn’t the Bible give certain positions to men and others to women? The answer is yes and no and maybe. All of the above are true but with conditions attached. Let’s continue in Ephesians.

*   (Eph 5:23-25 NIV)  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. {24} Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. {25} Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

Now Jesus was perfect, and you guys may be good but you certainly are not perfect. I don’t mind submitting to the leadership of Christ and most women don’t mind submitting to the leadership of their husbands. But sometimes submission to a husband is submission to evil or perhaps just incompetence. How long would you be willing to submit to evil and incompetence if you had an alternative? As a boss in business I often found it made sense to submit to those that worked for me! Why? Because they were better suited for the job that needed to be done. You may have heard it said, “Sometimes the best man for the job is a woman.” Sarah Palin comes to my mind as a good example, or Margaret Thatcher, or Golda Meir one of the founders of Israel. How about Indira Gandhi of India or Benazir Bhutto a Prime Minister of Pakistan, twice?

 

Perhaps you think women are excluded from some offices, like a deacon for instance.

*   (1 Tim 3:12 KJV)  Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.

But notice what the Bible tells us here.

*   (Rom 16:1 RSV)  I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchreae, (Sen Cree Ah)

Interestingly, both KJV and NIV show their bias by rendering deaconess as “Servant.” But if we look at Strong’s concordance we see Deaconess is the exact same word translated as “Deacon” when talking about the requirement of having one wife.

*   1249. diakonos, dee-ak'-on-os; prob. from an obs.  diako (to run on errands; comp. G1377); an attendant, i.e. (gen.) a waiter (at table or in other menial duties); spec. a Chr. teacher and pastor (techn. a deacon or deaconess):--deacon, minister, servant.

Sometimes the best man for the job is indeed a woman. Let’s take a quick look at a few of the prominent women in the Bible other than Phoebe. Much of the following is from Holman’s Bible Dictionary.

 

Mary the mother of Jesus is notable for being at the brith and the death of Jesus. What happened to Joseph we don’t know.

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were the first to see the risen Jesus.

Miriam, Sister of Moses and Aaron and the daughter of Jochebed and Amram. Miriam played a key role in the rescue of Moses (Ex. 2:4-8) and in the subsequent experience of the Exodus and the wilderness community. After crossing the Red Sea, she assumed the role of prophetess and led the women in the song of victory that was steeped in faith and gratitude

Deborah, the leader of Israel, is identified as a prophetess, a judge, and the wife of Lapidoth (Judg. 4:4). She probably lived about 1200 B.C. or slightly later during a period of Canaanite oppression. Deborah is described in Judg. 5:7 as "a mother in Israel" because of her role in delivering God's people. After Moses, only Samuel filled the same combination of offices: prophet, judge, and military leader.

    Deborah served regularly as a judge, hearing and deciding cases brought to her by the people of Israel. She held court at "the palm tree of Deborah," in the southern part of the territory of Ephraim, between Ramah and Bethel (Judg. 4:4-5). Nothing is said about the procedures at her court or about the extent of her jurisdiction.

    As a prophet, Deborah summoned Barak and delivered an oracle giving him God's instructions for a battle in the Jezreel Valley against the Canaanite army commanded by Sisera (Judg. 4:6-9; compare Samuel in 1 Sam. 15:2-3 and the unnamed prophet in 1 Kings 20:13-15). Barak obeyed, and the Israelites won the battle. Some scholars believe that Deborah as prophet also composed the victory poem she and Barak sang in Judges 5. Deborah's authority under God was evidenced by Barak's desire to have her present with him in the army camp (Judg. 4:8,14) and by the testimony to her leadership in the song (Judg. 5:7,12,15). 

Huldah (Huhl' duh) Personal name meaning, "mole." Prophetess, the wife of Shallum (2 Kings 22:14). She was consulted after Josiah the king of Judah saw a copy of the Book of the Law found as preparations were being made to restore the Temple. She prophesied judgment for the nation but a peaceful death for Josiah the king.

Priscilla is mentioned BEFORE her husband in five out of seven times they are mentioned.

Athaliah (ath uh lih' ah) Personal name meaning, "Yahweh has announced His exalted nature," or "Yahweh is righteous." 1. Wife of Jehoram, king of Judah, and mother of Ahaziah, king of Judah. She was either the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel of Israel (2 Kings 8:18) or of Omri, king of Israel (2 Kings 8:26; according to a literal reading of text as in KJV; an interpretation of text extends Hebrew word for daughter to mean female descendant and thus "granddaughter as in NASB; NIV; RSV). Some have suggested Omri was her father, but her brother Ahab raised her at court and thus functioned as her father. She brought the northern court's devotion to Baal to the court of Judah. She exercised great political influence during her son's reign of one year (1 Kings 8:27-28). At her son's death from battle wounds, she tried to gain power for herself by having all male heirs killed. She managed to rule Judah for six years (2 Kings 11:1-4), being the only woman to do so. Finally, Jehoiada, the priest, led a revolt, crowning the child Josiah as king and bringing about Athaliah's death (2 Kings 11:5-20).

 

Maybe we men aren’t as manly as we like to think we are.

*   (Gen 2:18 NIV)  The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."

Helper here is from a word that also has the meaning of an aid, as in a “Crutch or Cane” maybe. This gender thing gets a little strange sometimes.

*   (Isa 54:5 NIV)  For your Maker is your husband-- the LORD Almighty is his name-- the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.

 

Here’s my bottom line today. God doesn’t place restrictions on serving Him. Neither should we.