This week’s topic is very important, and it should be to any Christian. For women, it should be important because it is a topic about who they are as a beautiful creation of God, and what He expects of them. For men, it should be important because it is a topic that informs them about what they should look for in a life companion. Either way it is viewed, the Bible has plenty to say about the topic, and hopefully this post can scratch the surface of what biblical womanhood truly entails.
First of all, as the author stated in his last post on this blog, men and women are equal before God. Both have access to the same salvation from the same Jesus, both have equal merit and value. As we have also seen, both were created for very distinct purposes. While both are equal, God has called the man to be the loving head of the woman. What then does this mean for the woman?
To answer this question, refer first of all to Ephesians chapter 5. In this chapter, Paul begins to address several key relationships that happen here on earth, but probably the most important one is the marriage relationship. Beginning in verse 22, Paul (and ultimately, God) says this:
“Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives out to be to their husbands in everything.” – Ephesians 5:22-24 NASB
Now, there are several things that bear mentioning about this particular passage. The first is that women are to be subject to their own husbands. The Greek word here is ἰδίοις (idiois – which, by the way, is NOT the root word of “idiot”), meaning “pertaining to oneself, one’s own, belonging to one’s self.” In other words, women are to be subject to their husband, and no one else’s. Men, if you have a problem with something a woman does, and she is married, take it up with her husband. He is her head, not you. You have no right to tell a woman who is not your wife what she should or should not do, the exception being (perhaps) pastoral authority. Scripture is clear here that wives are to submit to their husbands, and no one else’s.
There is a second thing in this passage that also bears mentioning. In verse 25, the text says “But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be subject to their husbands in everything.” This verse may sound like it is setting up homes to be dictatorships, but that is far from true. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Jesus Christ is the head of the church, and while we, as individual members of His body, are free to make our own choices, we ultimately answer to Him for every choice that we make. Those that walk closest to Christ always include Him in every decision, and ask for His will to be done. In the same way, while a woman is still an individual who is free to make choices, she is best served by running decisions past her husband, and trusting him with her life, as she has trusted Christ with it. And ladies, your husband (if you have one) will appreciate your trust in him more than you know. This does not mean that the woman has to roll over and never make her own decisions. But when a woman and a man come together, they form a team with God. And God has delegated that the man is to lead in the home. Again, though, this does not mean that women are inferior (see last week’s blogpost for that discussion).
The words of Reverend Matthew Henry are so relevant here, because they speak to this issue of women being inferior. “Be very careful if you make a woman cry, because God counts her tears. The woman came out of a man’s rib, not from his feet to be walked on, not from his head to be superior, but from his side to be equal, under the arm to be protected, and next to the heart to be loved.” A woman that is made to feel inferior by a domineering husband comes far short of what she should be, and that is not her fault, it is her husband’s. For any marriage relationship to work the way God intended it, the man is to love his wife as Christ loves the church, meaning that he should be willing to die for her if necessary, and the woman should be willing to submit to the husband. At the same time the husband should never lord it over the woman that he is the head. Does Jesus lord it over us that He is in charge? (by “lord it over,” we mean “rub it in”) Absolutely not! Jesus loves the church, and He always wants what is best for her. He always looks out for her interests. He put her needs ahead of His own when He hung between heaven and earth for her sins. In the same way, in the model of biblical manhood and womanhood found in Scripture, while the woman should submit to her husband, the husband must love his wife.
Now we turn to another issue of biblical womanhood: what is a woman’s biblical role in the church? There has been a great deal of debate about this particular “hot-button” issue in the church recently. In an age of breaking the glass ceiling, women in some churches have also broken the glass ceiling there. However, this is not biblical womanhood. Paul, speaking to his young apprentice Timothy, gives him the following instructions:
“But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.” – I Timothy 2:12-15
A foul doctrine has snuck into the modern church that says that women can be pastors. This doctrine goes completely against the created order, and is open rebellion to the Word of God. The Bible is very clear on this point. “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.” The word translated “quiet” in this verse is ἡσυχίᾳ (hā-sü-khē’-ä). This word does not mean closed-lipped, but rather means “quietness: a description of the life of one who stays at home doing his own work, and does not officiously meddle with the affairs of others.” In other words, women are to be submissive in the church. Again, just as in marriage, it does not mean that women are not equal to men, but men are called by God to lead the church as pastors and elders/deacons. Men are not to lord it over women by saying “look at us in charge!” but are to be humble servant leaders to the women of the church.
Now we that we have looked at biblical womanhood in marriage and in the church, I would like to address something to all the ladies out there. This comes from my heart and I hope that it is received in that spirit.
Ladies, you are beautiful. God made you that way. You are, in fact, the most beautiful creation of God. If man is the crown of creation, women are the jewels in that crown. You reflect the image of God in a way that men cannot. We as men reflect God’s stronger qualities: His protectiveness, His strength, His pursuing of the one He loves. You as women reflect God’s “soft” side: His beauty, His grace, His desire to be pursued by us. Together as men and women, we reflect the full scope of our Creator’s Image.
Ladies, because you are beautiful, there is something that you must understand about us as men. We are wired differently than you. We are sexually aroused by sight. Because of this, ladies, I am strongly encouraging you to please, please, please be modest. You have no idea how much it means to guys who are trying to live lives of integrity when you dress modestly. You help us to have an easier time keeping ourselves pure. And I am not at all saying that you have to wear a turtle neck and pants under your skirt. Please, dress feminine. We really like it when you do. There is nothing wrong with us appreciating your feminine beauty. God created you to be beautiful, and you should always remember that. But our appreciation can quickly turn to lust if you are immodest. I am not saying that we as men are bereft of all responsibility in the way we look at you. We are very much responsible. I am just asking that when you make your wardrobe decisions in the morning, consider your brothers in Christ, and how you can help us to remain pure. Please dress like the princesses you are, as daughters of the King. Your brothers in Christ appreciate it more than you know.
Biblical womanhood is perhaps the most beautiful thing to behold in all of creation. A woman who lives her life based upon the Word of God is greatly to be praised. As Proverbs 31:30 says, “Charm is deceptive and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.”