By Wyatt Ciesielka (Living Church News, March-April 2011, pp. 14-17)
Throughout history, women have often been oppressed and even abused. But what does the Bible say about how men should treat women?
What does the Bible teach about the very special role of women within the family and the Church? What is a woman’s purpose within the plan of God?
God called Sarai “Sarah”—meaning “princess,” yet Sarah called Abraham “lord”—meaning “master.” Eve was created to be Adam’s helper (Genesis 2:18). Many of us are most comfortable with women in those familiar roles. Yet Scripture is also full of important women who were leaders without compromising their roles as women. The Bible provides powerful, clear and inspiring guidelines for women’s role within the family and the Church.
Dr. Meredith wrote, years ago, “To be truly happy, a real woman should bear in mind the purpose for which she was created—and set herself definite goals to fulfill in the accomplishment of that purpose” (The Plain Truth, “True Womanhood—Is it a ‘Lost Cause?’”, November 1965). Whether man or woman, whether married or single, whether young or old, it is the hallmark of a truly converted Christian to align our will and our goals with God’s purpose for us, reflecting the mind of Christ (Luke 22:42). To understand our duty is to understand our purpose within the great plan of God.
An Honorable Duty
To begin to understand the relationship between man and woman, and between man and woman and God, it is helpful to begin in the Garden of Eden. First, God created Adam from “the dust of the ground” (Genesis 2:7). Then, from “the rib which the Lord God had taken from [Adam]” He made Eve (Genesis 2:22). Notice that both Adam and Eve were created in God’s image and His likeness. “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27).
Scripture proclaims God’s promise: “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:18). Yet, to most professing Christians today, this clear statement seems too magnificent to take at its word. Billions have
been deceived into accepting the idea that, when they die, they will go to heaven for a while as disembodied spirits, before becoming embodied as something like “angels” at the resurrection. God’s Church, however, understands the literal truth of this verse—that both
physical men and physical women will become spiritual sons of God—full members of the God Family.
A Cherished Helper
The King James Version describes the first woman as a help meet for the man.
More modern translations render Eve as a helper
(Genesis 2:18). Some assume that to be a “helper” or a “help meet” is necessarily an inferior or even a pejorative term. But what is the Hebrew really conveying here?
The Hebrew word rendered “helper” or “help meet” in Genesis 2:18 is ‘ezer, and ‘ezer is often used to describe
God helping people or nations. In Deuteronomy 33:29
‘ezer portrays the Eternal overcoming Israel’s enemies. He is “the shield of your help” and “the sword of your
majesty.” Likewise, ‘ezer is used in Psalm 70:5 where
God is called upon to be a powerful “deliverer.” In
these passages and others, the “helper” (‘ezer) is the Eternal God! The fact is that the Hebrew language in
Genesis 2:18 indicates a difference in role, but does not
necessarily indicate inferiority in any way.
To begin to understand the role of men and women within the family and the Church, it is important to understand that both were created in God’s image, that both have the same potential, and that both are working toward the same reward!
God cherishes His maidservants and expects them to be
trusted helpers and wise counselors. However, He chastens
the foolish woman as being “loud and brash” and “ignorant”
without even knowing it (Proverbs 9:13, NLT). Eve is a tragic
example of a woman who made a terribly foolish mistake.
She was “foolish” to engage with the serpent in the first
place and she was doubly foolish to then push something
onto her husband that she knew was contrary to God’s will. However, Eve was “deceived” (1 Timothy 2:14). Adam was not deceived. Adam was guilty of being led astray by his wife. Adam willfully sinned. He allowed his wife to lead him into rebellion against God. Indeed, the foolish woman can destroy her own house and her own family (Proverbs 14:1)!
However, women are also capable of great
wisdom. In fact, in Scripture “wisdom” is often
presented in the feminine form (Proverbs
1:20; 9:1). And God has outlined clear roles for the cherished ‘ezer. For example, women have a tremendous responsibility to teach and train their children—both boys and girls—in God’s laws (Deuteronomy 6:7; Proverbs 1:8; 6:20; 10:1; 31:26). Whether male or female,
all of us should ask God for wisdom and He will give it liberally (James 1:5). Indeed, the good Christian wife is a trusted confidante
and invaluable counselor to her husband (Genesis 2:18).
There are numerous examples of esteemed women used in important spiritual functions in ancient Israel. Miriam and Deborah are famous examples who held national leadership positions (Exodus 15:20–21; Judges 4–5) and Miriam’s leadership under Moses is recorded as a special gift to Israel (Micah 6:4). Huldah, the scholar-prophetess, helped lead Israel to national repentance (2 Kings 22:8–20) and prophetesses and wise women functioned throughout the history of ancient Israel (1 Chronicles 25:5–6; Luke 2:36–37).
Jael slew Sisera, and Esther saved the Jewish nation from Haman. Isaiah’s wife was a “prophetess” (Isaiah 8:3), and Philip had four daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:9). In Old Testament times, women taken captive in war were strictly protected under God’s law (Deuteronomy 21:10–14) and widows were provided special protection (Exodus 22:22; Deuteronomy 14:29; 27:19). Women are special and beloved by God and the Fifth Commandment instructs that mothers as well as fathers are to be honored (Exodus 20:12).
Peter quotes Joel predicting that in the time of the end both
men and women will prophesy (Joel 2:28). Paul considered
Priscilla and Aquila as both “my fellow workers in Christ
Jesus” (Romans 16:3–4); he paid special honor to Tryphaena
and Tryphosa, women “who have labored in the Lord” (v.
12), and also lauded the women who “labored with him” in
the gospel in Philippians 4:2–3. Lois (Timothy’s maternal
grandmother) and Eunice (his mother) had “genuine faith”
(2 Timothy 1:5). Priscilla was a co-worker with her husband
(Acts 18:1–4; 2 Timothy 4:19). And, women are recorded as being deaconesses in the New Testament Church (Romans 16:1, 15; 1 Timothy 3:11).
Mary and Martha were among Jesus’ closest friends, and Paul expressed that salvation is equally available to Jew or Gentile, bond or free, man or woman (Galatians 3:28). Women were present in the upper chamber when Matthias was chosen as an Apostle (Acts 1:13–14) and the Holy Spirit fell upon men and women both on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:16–18). However, women were never to be ordained as ministers, and are not to hold positions of spiritual authority or teaching over men (1 Corinthians 14:34–35; 1 Timothy 2:11–12). In the Old Testament, women were not admitted into the priesthood, and this distinction is continued in the New Testament.
Women have had roles of difference
from the beginning, but it was not until
scattered Jews came into contact with
Greek society that Jewish women began to
be oppressed within Jewish society. By the
intertestamental years (after the last Old
Testament book was written, but before
the New Testament), women’s status in the Jewish community had sunk to where they were often not permitted to study Scripture, and were generally seen as second-rate citizens. But misogyny was never God’s intent, nor is it ever taught in the Old or New Testaments. It is a historical fact that when the ancient Israelites were following God’s instructions, they showed far greater respect and equity toward women than any other world culture. And this legacy continues to our day. Even today, we find that the modern nations descended from
ancient Israel tend to treat women with greater respect and dignity than do Gentile nations.
Men and Women
There are clear differences in roles, and there are beautiful differences in attributes, between men and women—beyond the obviously physical. For example, Paul records that God gave women long hair for their glory (1 Corinthians 11:15), and that for a woman to wear her hair unnaturally short is dishonorable to her and to God (vv. 4–6). But true Christian femininity goes beyond outward appearances.
Christian men and women are joint heirs with Christ
(Romans 8:17; 1 Peter 3:7) and as such a woman’s role
includes following Christ in all ways (John 10:27). True
Christian men honor older women as mothers and cherish
younger women as spiritual sisters, “with all purity” (1
Timothy 5:2). True Christians; whether men or women, are developing the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5) and seek their Father’s will (Luke 22:42). The mind of Christ is never sinful and is not limited by gender.
Older women of good reputation who have developed the mind of Christ are not only to be respected, but are expected to be spiritually mature enough to teach and encourage younger women in the Church “to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed” (Titus 2:3–5). The Christian woman has many roles, including the vitally important role of being a wife and a mother, rearing godly children, and teaching her children in God’s laws (Genesis 1:28; Proverbs 1:8; 6:20; 22:6; 23:22).
Whether man or woman, whether wealthy or poor, whether young or old, a real Christian is thankful for who he or she is, the role he or she has, and the destiny to which he or she has been called. A real Christian does not “covet” another role or another reality. Eve coveted what God said she was not to have and was deceived. Adam then willingly followed his wife into sin. But, a real Christian does not covet a thing, a position, a role, or a reality more than what God has made possible (2 Corinthians 10:5). It is a question of priority. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). God is a “jealous God.” He made us. He called us. He gave us instructions to live by. To put anything before Him is idolatry (Exodus 20:5; 34:14).
Just like the many examples from the Bible, many women today in God’s Church are very capable and are involved in activities beyond the home and family. If time, Christian obligations, abilities and energy make such service possible, then it may be not only acceptable, but beneficial. But if not, then to “covet” a thing, a position, a role, or a reality beyond what God has ordained for any of us is to not seek His will, but is to seek our own (Luke 22:42). This is to break His commandments (Deuteronomy 5:21; Romans 13:9). To not be “content” with our roles and with our God is lustfulness and covetousness, which is sin (Romans 7:7; Hebrews 13:5).
Society continually teaches us to want more things, to yearn for a lavish lifestyle, to covet prestige and fun at the cost of bending and breaking God’s laws. Men and women both are equally victims of this Satanic, end-time influence (2 Timothy 3:2). In the last few decades, society’s continual focus on material wealth has been a key factor influencing many women to become “freed” from their status as homemakers and to accept jobs in the corporate world. However, very sadly, often after many years of pursuing “things” many women have learned that they were not really “freed” at all—but instead they had become victims of Satan’s society at the expense of living in harmony with God’s instructions. God did not intend women to be “freed” from their role of being loving mothers, caring wives, zealous Christians and devoted bondservants of Christ.
Husbands and Wives
The virtuous woman’s worth is immeasurable! She is a blessing from God and her worth is “far above rubies” (Proverbs 18:22; 31:10). A godly wife is a strong and capable woman. She is wise and she is righteous. She is invaluable to her husband and to her family (Proverbs 31:10). Her husband trusts her implicitly (Proverbs 31:11). She is a special blessing from the Lord (Proverbs 18:22).
A virtuous wife is foremost a Christian. She is growing within the body of Christ, which is the Church, to the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13). As such, her focus is first on her Lord God (Exodus 20:3), then on her husband (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Ephesians 5:22; Colossians 3:18), and her family (Proverbs 31:1; Ephesians 6:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:7).
If a Christian is married to an “unbeliever,” the unbelieving mate and the children are sanctified by the believing spouse (1 Corinthians 7:14). Christian wives or husbands in this situation sometimes confront especially hard trials, and must frequently put into practice Acts 5:29, “to obey God rather than men” if they are being pressured to violate God’s clear commandments. These situations can be incredibly difficult. This is one reason that God’s Church reminds those who are dating that God commands us not to be “unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14).
Some have been called into God’s Church ahead of their mate. Others are married to mates who have fallen away from the Truth. In either case, the believing mate should love and pray for the unbelieving mate, being kind and faithful. God will reward Christian mates with strength and wisdom if they are faithful (Luke 11:13; Hebrews 4:16; 11:6). He will not allow His friends and His bondservants to be tested beyond what they can endure (John 15:15; 1 Corinthians 10:13). But, if one willfully disregards God’s instructions in this matter, the consequences are often more painful (Hebrews 10:16; 12:6).
1 Peter 3:7 teaches that men should give “honor” to their wives as “the weaker vessel”. It is true that physically and emotionally women are in ways “weaker” than men, and God demands that men honor, love and cherish women for this. To denigrate or dishonor wives or any women transgresses Scripture and is terribly unbecoming of any truly Christian man. To emotionally or physically oppress or abuse wives or
women in any way is cowardly and sinful. Husbands are to love their wives and give themselves for their wives, as Christ gave Himself for the Church. Husbands are to love, protect and provide for their wives even much more than they love or provide for their own bodies (Ephesians 5:28).
Christian husbands are kind, patient and gentle with their
wives as Christ is with the Church (Ephesians 5:25). If they are
not, God will not hear or respect their prayers (1 Peter 3:7). A
true Christian husband is never cruel or bitter to his wife, but
is kind and gentle (Colossians 3:19). He is the “head” but he
leads in love (Ephesians 5:23). A true Christian
husband cherishes his wife as much as he loves
himself (Ephesians 5:33). If a man violates these principles, he dishonors God.
Mothers have a powerful role and a
vital responsibility in teaching, training and
nurturing their children to develop not only
future leaders, but also future kings and priests
for tomorrow’s world! Not only is the mother
who properly fulfills this God-ordained privilege
and responsibility performing one of the most
important functions possible; she is displaying
the very attributes needed to run not just a family,
but also a city or a nation in the coming Kingdom of God! Tragically, in today’s society, such a poor value is placed on the family that this seems an unimportant obligation to some. But this is entirely wrong thinking! What an awesome responsibility and what an awesome privilege God has given to “the helper.”
While it is clear that women have comparable qualities and strengths as men, and while men and women share the same ultimate destiny, God has ordained that wives should submit to their husbands “as is fitting in the Lord” (Colossians 3:18), and that “…the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man” (1 Corinthians 11:3). Wives are to “submit to your own husbands as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22), but husbands must understand that our Lord “took the form of a servant” (John 13:3–17; Philippians 2:5–7) and gave Himself for the Church.
A husband’s obligation is to “imitate Christ” in all ways,
including in His love, patience, righteousness and service to
the Church. Within marriage, this tightly connected unit is
“knit together in love” within the body, which is the Church of
God (Colossians 2:2; 2:19). Together the Christian husband
and Christian wife grow into spiritual maturity within the
Church, under the direction and care of Jesus Christ and the
ministry (Ephesians 4:11–16).
God looks on each Christian woman as an esteemed princess and a cherished and capable helper. True Christians understand the purpose for which they were created and set their minds to fulfill that purpose. True Christians eagerly anticipate the resurrection from the dead and being changed into “sons of God” at Christ’s return (Romans 1:4; 1 Corinthians 15:52; Revelation 20:5). Today’s faithful Christians, regardless of gender, are “predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29). Thus, at the last trumpet (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17), whether man or woman, a true saint becomes elohim—an actual member of the God Family!
As Genesis 1:26, 2 Corinthians 6:18 and elsewhere
make clear, God is creating a spiritual family—elohim in
the Hebrew (Psalm 82:6) or theos in the
Greek (Matthew 22:30; John 10:34). Each
resurrected saint will be placed within this
Family under the Father and Christ. David
will be king over all Israel, the Apostles will be kings over the twelve tribes and the patriarchs and matriarchs will receive very high positions as well (Ezekiel 37:24; Luke 22:30; Hebrews 11). Then, Scripture reveals that we will be glorified children of God (1 John 3:2)—and our spiritual condition will be far beyond gender, ethnicity or nationality.
There will not be “male” elohim or “female”
elohim. God the Father is not our Father/
Mother, and no gender differences are imputed
to His sons. We must resist the temptation to
impute human cultural ideas of “masculinity”
vs. “femininity” in our understanding of God’s attributes.
God is in fact beyond physical human categorizations of male or female. God’s status as Father is not challenged by His statement that He would act “as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings” (Matthew 23:37), or by His use of the female protagonist in the parable of the lost coin (Luke 15:8–10). Ultimately, today’s Christian woman will “be like Him” in all of His glory and majesty—which is well beyond nationality, ethnicity, age or gender (Galatians 3:28).
God’s purpose for the true Christian woman is the same as His purpose for the true Christian man. In our present age, He has chosen a few select individuals—typically “the weak” of the world (1 Corinthians 1:27)—to become His firstfruits, Christ’s bride. Christ is Master and Lord, who loved and gave Himself for His bride (Ephesians 5:25). The reward for today’s faithful Christian women (and men) will come when God’s Church marries Christ, and today’s Christians have qualified to serve under Him as priests and kings in the Kingdom of God!
The resurrected saints, ruling under Jesus Christ,
will then establish righteousness, peace and happiness
throughout the earth. It will not be a reign of “man” or
of “woman.” It will be a reign of full members of the God
Family (Isaiah 2:3; Jeremiah 23:5; Revelation 1:6). This
is the duty and destiny of the Christian woman—and the Christian man!
Some articles of possibly related interest may include:
Women and the New Testament Church Were women important in the New Testament Church? Which women and how were they involved?
Successful Parenting: God's Way This is an LCG booklet by Dr. J. Fall.
God's Plan for Happy Marriage This is an LCG booklet by Dr. R. Meredith.
Deification: Did the Early Church Teach That Christians Would Become God? What does the Bible teach? Is deification only a weird or cultic idea?
Anglo - America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel Are the Americans, Canadians, British, Scottish, Welsh, Australians, Anglo-Southern Africans, and New Zealanders descendants of Joseph? Where are the lost ten-tribes of Israel? Who are the lost tribes of Israel? What will happen to the Jews in Israel? Will God punish the U.S.A., Canada, United Kingdom, and other Anglo nations? Why might God allow them to be punished first?
Will the Anglo-Nations be Divided and Have People Taken as Slaves? Will the lands of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand be divided? What does Bible prophecy teach? Are there non-biblical prophecies that support this idea? Who will divide those lands? Who will end up with the lands and the people?
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