And God Created Woman
A Biblical account of the role of women in the family and in the Church.
This writing will be an attempt, by the grace of God, to use the spotlight of the Bible to illuminate the role of today's woman in the Christian society. Now using the Bible as a standard for understanding implies that we do accept it as the standard. This must be established first before we proceed to examine what it has to say about the subject at hand or else we waste our time. Can we agree on the Bible as the standard for measuring our conduct? If so, then let’s proceed on that basis. Help us, Lord!
Once we accept the Bible, we must be careful how we use it for if we use only selected passages, we can support almost any position that we want. So when we, with an honest heart, study the Bible by subject matter, we should take care not to exclude any related passages as we want to obtain a balanced view of the subject. For example, if we were to study the subject of speaking in tongues, we can, as many do, show that such speaking was only given by God for a short time as an assistance in establishing the new-born Church and then it was replaced by the publication of the Bible. But to logically support this position, it is necessary to ignore many related passages that could lead to an entirely different view. When we do ignore the whole Bible, we may find that we are only leading ourselves into deception. Let us not be guilty of that in this endeavor.
Now the next problem is obedience. Do we obey the teachings of the Bible? Jesus said, “They will follow your teaching as little as they have followed mine.” (John 15:20) It seems that all too few Christians are willing to give strict obedience to the teachings of the Bible. So that is another problem that we must consider as we walk down this path.
Let us pray. Lord God, we ask that you quiet our hearts and allow your Holy Spirit to guide us in this seeking for Your Kingdom. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Help us die to ourselves and to live for You. Amen.
And God Created Woman
In the beginning God created man in His own image. But then He said, “It is not good that man should be alone. I will make him a helpmate.” So God brought to the man all the animals and all the birds or the sky. The man gave them all names but a suitable helpmate was not found.
So God created woman out of the man's rib. And then He brought her to the man. The man exclaimed:
“This at last is bone from my bone,
And the two became one body.
So in the beginning God created man and woman in His own image and the Bible states that He gave them dominion over the animals and the birds. (Genesis 1:28) This implies that there was a degree of equality between the man and the woman. There was no sin, only goodness and joy in Paradise.
It is good for us to refresh ourselves with a reading of this Genesis account of the reason for the creation of the woman. You may want to do that again now...
After the creation, there came the fall.
The woman was led astray and fell into sin (1 Timothy 2:14), destroying the equality between the man and the woman that had been in existence. For God said to the woman: “Your husband shall be master over you.” (Gen. 3:16) The woman had sinned first, therefore, God placed her under the leadership of the man, that she would follow his directions (and not the serpent, the devil) and he would be responsible for her. So the beautiful relationship that God had intended for the man and the woman was a victim of the fall.
Does this marriage relationship continue on in time? Yes, if we can accept the Biblical account. Peter writes, “In the same way (as Christ left you an example of obedience), you women must accept the authority of your husbands.” (1 Peter 3:1) He goes on to say, “Sarah obeyed Abraham, her husband, and called him, 'my master'”. (1 Peter 3:6) And he calls upon modern Christian woman to follow her example. Paul gives us similar commands in various verses: “Wives, be subject to your husbands as to the Lord; for man is the head of the woman, Just as Christ is the head of the church. Christ is, indeed, the Saviour of the body; but just as the church is subject to Christ, so must women be subject to their husbands in everything.” (Ephesians 5:22-24) “Wives, be subject to your husband for that is your Christian duty.” (Colossians 3:18) In 1 Corinthians 11:3, Paul teaches that the head of the woman is the man, the head of the man is Christ and the head of Christ is God.
The Bible shows a clear continuity concerning the role of the woman in the family from the time of the fall to the time of the Church. God has decreed, in His sovereignty, that the woman is to obey her husband in everything (Ephesians 5:24) and to even reverence him (Ephesians 5:33). How can we accept that? (Remember that Jesus himself said that “they will follow your teachings as little as they have followed mine.”) The ways of the world are often in conflict with the ways of God.
Some Bible verses that might seem to indicate a different view should be examined. The Bible does tell us to submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21). But the very next verse (“Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord”) indicates that Paul is speaking first to the church (“submit to one another”) and then to the family (“Wives...”). And in another place, it is stated that there is neither male nor female, we are all one in Christ (Galatians 3:28). But in this passage Paul is not speaking of family roles but of the contrast between faith in Christ and the Jewish law.
Now we need to remember that God is not putting down the woman. Since God is love (1 John 4:8), He would not do such a thing. When we feel that we are being 'put down', are not we really reflecting our self-love? God does not put down the woman for a Christian woman is as precious in His sight as a Christian man. Paul teaches us that in Christ Jesus there is no distinction, we are all one in the Lord (Galatians 3:28). All are blessed who are filled with His Spirit.
What about the husband who does not fulfill his God-given responsibility as the head of the family? For when one is responsible, one must give an accounting for those under this charge. (Hebrews 13:17) What will we say to the Lord when it is time for us to give an accounting? Is our conscience clear? Another common objection to submission is the fear that the husband will abuse his position of authority. This is a very real problem because few husbands are perfect. After commanding wives to obey their husbands, both Paul and Peter command husbands to love their wives. Peter says that wives are also heirs of the life of grace and that the husband is to treat them with respect “so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” (I Peter 3:7) A husband must be in unity with his wife if he wants his prayers to be heard!
But God does not call us to submit only to perfect leaders. We are to obey them and they must answer to God for their conduct. This seems to be the clear message of the Bible for all disciples of Christ. The passage in 1Peter 3 on women is preceded by a teaching on obedience to unfair masters. (1 Peter 2:18-25) “In the same way, wives should be obedient to their husbands.” (1 Peter 3:1)
And what about women who do not accept the leadership of their husbands, or who attempt to usurp that leadership? As you would expect, to disobey God is to commit sin. The Bible declares, “Rebellion is the sin of witchcraft.” (1 Samuel 15:23) When we stray from the path that God has set for us, we risk eternal damnation.
Here we should pause and reflect on our emotional involvement in this subject for it may be difficult for some of us to reason clearly in this area due to various experiences that we may have had in the past. And, of course, our enemy Satan wants to always cause as much trouble as he can. In the past few decades, he has launched a tremendous assault on family life, causing numerous casualties. We must be alert, and on our guard that we are always seeking the Kingdom of God and not lose sight of that.
Remember that neither Jesus nor his apostles ever urged slaves to seek their freedom. Just the opposite. In fact, they urged slaves to serve their masters as if they were serving Christ. Jesus calls us to die to worldly desires, die to the desire to seek worldly status. The lowly, the meek, are favored in the sight of God. The high and mighty are brought low.
But we do not like to feel inferior to others. Our natural desire is to feed our self-love. Our fallen nature demands that we elevate ourselves in our own eyes. We like to feel good about ourselves. The call of the cross, the call to deny ourselves, is harsh in our ears. Instead we tend to love the siren call for self-esteem. To submit to someone seems hard. But Christ calls us all to submit to His Lordship and we agree that we should submit to Him. The Bible tells us to submit to our church leaders (Hebrews 13:17) for they must give an account of the way they have looked after our souls. We are to submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21). We are all called to submission. The call to be free, to be the captain of our own destiny, is not from God (except the call to be free from sin), it is from our enemy, the devil, who is attempting to feed our self-love so that it will grow and lead us into everlasting death.
In summary, the role of the woman in the family can be a very emotional
issue and we must consider that as we seek the Lord's will in this matter.
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The popular author and pastor Merlin Carothers, author of the Praise books (Prison To Praise, Power In Praise, etc) has written a powerful little book titled What's On Your Mind? which deals with the problem that Christian men have in fighting the sins of lust, adultery and fornication. He calls it “Our most consuming temptation”. He points out how serious a problem this is with men, giving many cases where otherwise serious Christian men have fallen into grave sin. The sexual drive that God instilled in man is all too often used by man to sin against his God. God created it for good but man allows the enemy, the devil, to turn it into evil.
Now sin is sin. Paul states, “If you live according to your sinful nature, you will die. But if, by the Spirit, you put to death the base pursuits of the body, then you will live.” (Romans 8:13) But the sin of immorality is such that the Bible is filled with counsel for dealing with it.
Let us examine the nature of the sin of lust. Listen to the words of James: “Everyone who is tempted is attracted and seduced by his own wrong desire. Then the desire gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it too has a child, and the child is death.” (James 1:14-15) From this it is clear that when a man is attracted to a woman (who is not his wife) and begins to lust after her, it is his own sin and not that of the woman. Jesus stated, “If a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28) The book of Proverbs is full of advice for men on how to avoid immorality. Job wisely puts it like this: “I have made a covenant with my eyes not to look upon a maiden.” (Job 31:1) If a man were blind, he would probably have less of a struggle with the sin of lust (Matthew 5:29).
Notice the Biblical teaching on man-woman relations: “It is a good thing for a man not to touch a woman but since sex is always a danger, let each man have his own wife and each woman her own husband.” (1 Corinthians 7:1-2) Jesus said, “Some men are incapable of marriage because they were born so or were made so by men (were made eunuchs) but there are others who have themselves renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven. Let those accept it that can.” (Matthew 19:12 - perhaps you might want to take the time now to read the complete passage which begins with verse 3 in chapter 19). Jesus also said, “The children of this world (those who belong to this world) take wives and husbands, but those who are judged worthy of a place in the other world and in the resurrection from the dead do not marry because they can no longer die for they are the same as the angels, and being children of the resurrection they are sons of God.” (Luke 20:34-36)
God created the sex drive in men and He knows the power that it can have on men. But some are given the power to renounce it and to live for Christ alone. Paul tells us, “An unmarried man can devote himself to the Lord's affairs, all he need worry about is pleasing the Lord; but a married man has to bother about the world's affairs and devote himself to pleasing his wife, he is torn in two ways. In the same way an unmarried woman, like a young girl, can devote herself to the Lord's affair; all she need worry about is being holy in body and spirit. The married woman, on the other hand, has to worry about the world's affairs and devote herself to pleasing her husband.” (1 Corinthians 7:32-35)
What role does a woman play in the man's sin of lust? She can certainly help him to avoid it by her modest dress and behavior or she can stimulate him into greater sin. She does have some responsibility in this. So here we come to a very important area in the role of the woman in the family and in the Church.
God created woman as a helpmate to man but, as the Bible tells us, the fallen angels saw that women were beautiful and committed fornication with them (Genesis 6:4, 1 Corinthians 11:10, Jude 7). Now we may not have a clear understanding of the nature of angels but we can not ignore the words of the Bible. The temptation to lust is very powerful.
Due to the problems that women can create, however innocent they are themselves, the Bible commands women to take care to avoid giving cause for sin. “Women are to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not putting up their hair or wearing jewelry or expensive clothes; their adornment is to do the sort of good works that are proper for those who profess to worship God.” (1 Timothy 2:9-10) (In plain language, if a wife dresses attractively, who is she trying to attract?) Peter, the close friend of Jesus and a married man, commands wives: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such a hairdos, jewelry or fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master.” (1 Peter 3:3-6)
Not only is a woman commanded to dress modestly but she is also commanded to wear a head covering as a sign that she is under the authority of her husband and out of respect to the angels (1 Corinthians 11:10). Perhaps you might want to make a careful study of 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 at this point, keeping in mind as you do so, not only the sin of Eve and the problem of immorality for both men and angels but also the spiritual warfare that is being fought between Christ and His Church on one side and the devil and his demons on the other.
Paul's teaching in 1 Corinthians chapter 11 on the subject of woman can
be disregarded, as so many do, saying that it was for his time or that he was a
woman hater or whatever. But, when we ignore the clear teaching of the Bible we
do so at the risk of our eternal soul. Jesus said, “They will follow your
teaching as little as they have followed mine.” (John 15:20) He also said that
“It is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life and only a few find it.”
(Matthew 7:14) It is far better to obey the Bible even when it costs us in
terms of pride than to lose our eternal soul trying to keep what we can not keep
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Now that we have considered the subject of woman in the family and the power of the sexual drive placed in men and women by God, let us examine the Bible's teaching on the subject of the role of the woman in the Church.
This is an area where there is much disturbance today. While some Catholic women are clamoring for the right to be priests, other denominations are ordaining women as ministers. Many women are crying, “Oppression!”, feeling that they are being denied their equal rights. And this may be true. People in positions of power are prone to mistreat those who are not. It is the way of the world.
Let us prayerfully examine the Biblical teaching on the role of the woman in the Church, remembering that we are using the Bible as a guide, praying that the Spirit of God will shine His light on this subject for us so that we may know the truth.
The Bible has very clear instructions on the role of women in the Church: “As in all the churches of the saints, women are to remain silent in the meetings. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission as is commanded.” (1 Corinthians 14:33-34) “I do not permit a woman to be a teacher nor allow woman to domineer over man; she should be quiet.” (1 Timothy 2: 12)
Notice that these instructions concerning the role of the woman in the Church are similar to the instructions concerning the role of the woman in the family. A woman is to be quiet. (1Peter 3:4) A woman is to obey her husband. (Colossians 3:18) Again there is a clear continuity concerning the role of the woman in both the family and in the Church. God is love and God is also wisdom. He does not say one thing here and another thing there. He also has valid reasons for His actions. In this case, God is not saying to woman, “I don't like you, so I am placing you in a lower position.” Of course not, God loves the woman as well as the man for He created them both. Jesus tells us that in heaven both men and women are like the angels, there they neither marry nor are given in marriage. (Matthew 22:30)
But in this life God has established, according to His wisdom, the best system for the salvation of His chosen. And that system is His Church, of which Christ is the Head. Christ loved the Church and sacrificed himself for her to make her holy. He made her clean by washing her in water with a form of words so that when he took her to himself she would be glorious, with no spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and faultless. The Church is his Body and we are its living parts (please see Ephesians 5:22-33).
The Bible tells us that pastors are to be men (1 Timothy 3:1-13, Titus 1:6) but that the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4-11) are given to men and woman alike, for the Spirit distributes them as He chooses. For example, there are women prophets in the New Testament. (Acts 21:9, 1 Corinthians 11:5) The Holy Spirit was poured out on both men and women in Acts chapter 2 and other places in Acts (Acts 11:15-18). Women often were the first in an area to accept the Good News. They stood by Jesus on the cross when all others had abandoned him. It seems that often women have a greater gift of faith than men.
The New Testament does ask women to teach members of their own sex. Note the instructions to Titus: “You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love, and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but they are to teach what is good. They are to teach the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that the word of God is not blasphemed.” (Titus 2: 1-5)
Women do have a teaching role in the Church, a role that men can not fill. It is a very important role, that of guiding the behavior of the younger woman so that no one outside the church will have cause to speak badly about God's plan for His Church.
The Lord loves us and in His great love He allows us to deviate from the best plan that He has chosen for us. He is always faithful to us no matter how unfaithful we are. If we violate His instructions on the role of the woman in the family and in the Church, He will still love us and still reach out to call us to Himself. But we make life more difficult for ourselves when we do not follow His best plan.
The Bible teaches us that some people have stronger faith than others therefore some women may be able to follow the teachings of the Lord while others might have great difficulty trying to do so. A woman who was raised to be domineering may find it quite hard to become a submissive wife. What help does the Lord have for such people? Can she win her victory over her flesh? Yes, praise the Lord!
The Lord is aware of our weakness and has sent us help, his Holy Spirit. Paul says, “It is not necessary for us to obey our unspiritual selves or to live unspiritual lives. If you do live in that way, you are doomed to die; but if, by the Spirit, you put to death the deeds of the flesh you will live.” (Romans 8.12-13) God sends us help, praise His Name! The Spirit has come to comfort us (John 14.16) and to give us power (Acts 1:8). Look what happened to the disciples when they received the Holy Spirit. They had been fearful, hiding from the authorities but after the Spirit came (Acts 2:4) they became bold and powerful. The Spirit or God will change us, if we cooperate, into the image or God that He intended in the beginning. (Philippians 2:13) If we submit to His Holy Spirit, then we can hope to be able to say with Paul, “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.” (Galatians 2.20) But first we must crucify our flesh with its passions and desires so that we can belong to Christ. (Galatians 5.24)
Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulations, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) He told us to daily take up our cross because the road to eternal life is narrow and hard with only a few who endure to the end. “Struggle to enter through the narrow door; for I tell you that many will try to enter and not be able.” (Luke 13:24) Paul cautions us, “You must work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you, inspiring both the will and the deed, for his own chosen people.” (Philippians 2.12-13)
We have seen here in this little study that the Lord has certain guidelines for us in the matter of the role of the woman. We can ignore them, find many reasons for modifying them or we can simply obey them. God always gives us a choice, He does not force us. But we pay the penalty when we fail to follow His ways. Look, for example, at the destruction of the family that is so rapidly occurring in this country. When men and women fail to live the roles set for them by God, then Satan is given the opportunity to do his dirty work. When the man does not do his duty as the head of the family or the woman fails in her duty as the helpmate, then the family falls apart. It is happening all around us. We need only open our eyes to see the wisdom of God's plan for the family. So it is in the Church. Paul compares the Church to the family. (Ephesians 5:22-33) Men are men and women are women, whether they are in the home or in the church. Entering the church building does not automatically remove the sexual differences between men and women.
One last remark: when we strive for forbidden fruit, we are in danger of eternal damnation. God calls us to die to ourselves, to give up all our 'rights'. We were bought with a price and we are not our own now. We belong to Christ. If the role that God has given a woman is unsatisfactory to her and she begins to seek that which is forbidden, then both she and those who encourage her are subject to judgment. It is a very serious matter.
James tells us, “If there are any wise and understanding among you, let them show it by their good lives, with deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if at heart you have the bitterness of jealousy or self-seeking ambition, consider whether your claims are not false and a defiance of the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes from above; it is earthly, sensual and demonic. For with jealousy and ambition come disorder and evil of every kind. But the wisdom that comes from above is in the first place, pure; and then peace-loving, considerate, and submissive; it is straightforward and sincere, rich in mercy and in the kindly deeds that are its fruit. True justice is the harvest reaped by peacemakers from the seeds sown in a spirit of peace.” (James 3:13-18)
Let us pray. Lord God, who made heaven and earth and all that is in it, we are yours to do with as You wish and not as we wish. Work your will in us, Lord. Enable us, by the power of Your Spirit, to put to death the passions and desires of our flesh. But have mercy on us as You do so. Amen.