Wednesday, May 29, 2013

On Being A Woman (Part 4)

Today I speak on what is most dear to my heart. . . the spiritual life of a woman.  I am so thankful that as a woman, I can know God as deeply as any man.  We all have equal opportunity to "draw near to God and He will draw near to you." (James 4:8) The Spirit of God indwells every true believer in Christ, and this Spirit within us reveals God through His Word without boundaries on gender, race, or social status.  (Gal. 3:28)

Yet, equal opportunity to know God coupled with equal value, does not equate to equal roles within marriage or the church.  The reason is twofold.  

First, the head of man is Christ, and the head of woman is man. (1 Cor. 11:3)  Secondly, God uses the marriage relationship as a metaphor of His relationship with us, His church.  (Eph. 5:-27) The rest of this post delves deeper into these two thoughts.

Throughout the entire Bible it is Adam, not Eve, who receives the blame and responsibility for the sin of the garden. (Rom. 5:12, 14,17)  How can this be, when it is Eve who actually initiated the first bite of the fruit?  Should not Eve, therefore, bear the weight of the crime?

Eve was deceived, but Adam just plain disobeyed.  (Gen. 3:1-6)  Therefore, he is held responsible.  Yet the main reason Adam is attributed to the sin nature in all of us, is not only because he deliberately disobeyed God, but because . . . he is head over his wife.  (1 Tim. 2:12-13)  For those who are husbands, this is a sobering thought.  But as a wife, it gives me a great sigh of relief.  I am glad to be under my husband's authority.   It does not free me of responsibility.  But it does provide a protection over me, so long as I remain within the authority structure God has designed. 

This principle holds some exceptions.  When the authority becomes corrupt and makes demands contrary to God's law, then that authority is disqualified, and we must "obey God rather than men." (Acts 5:29) For the abused and battered wife, I am not promoting a 'grin and bear it' solution.  Some men have taken advantage of their position for personal gain and lord it over those under them.  This too, is not in agreement with Scripture.  The husband is to "love his wife as Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for her."  (Eph.5:25)

However, marriage, in its purist form, is a picture of God's relationship with His people, the church.  (Eph. 5:23-27) Christ is the head of His church.  Therefore, a wife responds to her husband as each of us, both men and women, respond to God.  This is why the man is the head of the wife because he represents Christ.  (1 Cor. 11:3)

For the same reason, God has designed men to be in positions of authority in our churches.  But this does not mean women are excluded from leadership or spiritual gifts.  Only that she must exercise these elements under the authority structure of her local church.  Both husbands and wives are to submit to one another, and all of us, men and women, are to submit to those over us. (1 Pet. 2:17)

Yet, being in an authority position does not make a man more attuned to the Scriptures than a woman.  In fact, Jesus was revolutionary in His view of women, especially considering the culture of His day which considered women no more than servants to men.  This degrading of women is still true for most of the world.  We are so blessed to live in a country that grants women value and rights equal to men.   The basis for a woman's value comes directly from the heart of God.

The woman at the well was amazed that Jesus would even speak to her, an outcast of society. (John 4:9)   On another occasion, Jesus pressed forward, crushed against the crowds, to raise a twelve year old girl from the dead.  (Luke 8:42) Yet, in the midst of that commotion, He stopped to attend to one woman.  She was nobody of importance, but held onto a thread of hope in the touch of Jesus' robe.  And perhaps even more than that, she longed to be valued and respected.  Jesus noticed and granted her heart's desire.  (Luke 8:42-45)  So too, Mary went against the protocol of her day that she might pour out her life in worship of Jesus.  He did not brush her off, but instead, defended her for such devotion. (John 12:3-7) And perhaps most powerful of all was that after Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared first to women.  (Matt. 28:1-7).

Furthermore, when Paul speaks of each believer receiving a spiritual gift, women are not excluded.  He says that there are "different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit...different kinds of service, but the same Lord...different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men." (I Cor. 12:4-6)  Yet, so often, the spiritual gifts of women are not utilized in our churches. Surely, not all women are given the gift of hospitality, encouragement, or of service.  Some are given the gift of teaching or exhortation, even the gift of prophecy, which is one who proclaims truth.

As I look at some modern day examples such as Elizabeth Elliot, Pricilla Shirer, or Nancy Leigh DeMoss, what are they doing if not exercising gifts of preaching and teaching?  We've become confused, thinking it is about gender when it is really about authority.   None of the women mentioned above are pastors of churches, nor do they 'run their own show' outside of authority structures, nor actively seek to teach adult men. (Although many a wise man has been blessed by their ministry).   But rather, they serve humbly as God gives them opportunity, without shrinking back from exercising their spiritual gift.  

My greatest joy as a woman, is my relationship with God and being so valued, that I can share what I'm learning with others.  Planning church potlucks is not my forte.  Homemaking is actually a challenge for me.  But studying and teaching the Bible places passion in my soul.  It might be my spiritual gift.

I trust that these four posts covering the image of God, acceptance of femininity, modesty, and spiritual discernment, have all culminated into a balanced perspective on the making of a woman.  And as women who embrace these four areas, we can flourish in all God created us to be . . . as the crowning glory of His creation.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting this, Jewel. It is so important to hear. I can hear your voice telling this to me as I read. Thank you for sharing your wisdom here.