Monday, September 15, 2008

The Role of Women- Part II

Another Extreme Rule

G. A. Hudelson

9/15/08


“Now this man had four virgin daughters who were prophetesses.”
~ Acts 21:9

As I was reading through Acts this verse caught my eye, and I recognized one argument that I had missed in my previous essay on The Role of Women. I have heard this passage used to show that women can hold authority over men often, though not nearly as often as the Deborah example. So why do I think that this does not legalize egalitarianism?

1. Even were there no other argument against it, the old objection still stands, that we cannot afford to make the exception the rule, or we will be in hermeneutical chaos. We have gone from one exception- Deborah- to two- Deborah and the daughters of Philip the evangelist. A verse from Acts and a few chapters from Judges cannot simply overturn the whole Bible, can they?

2. Note that these young ladies, like Deborah, are prophetesses. God works through women- I think nothing to the contrary! Also, however, note that these young ladies, like Deborah, are not in any position of leadership, or leadership as we are talking about in the context of Mrs. Palin. They, like Deborah, were most likely not sitting in the city gates among the elders of the land- though I have no doubt that their father was. (Judges 4:5, Proverb 31:23) They are not teaching in a church setting. (1 Timothy 2:12) I can see no Biblical problem with men and women sharpening one another in the context of families having dinner together, fellowship, et cetera. And I can see no problem with women prophesying, as long as they are not doing it in a way that holds authority over a man.

The word for “exercise authority” in 1 Timothy 2:12 means, literally- big shock and much gasping here- to exercise authority, govern. Note that the woman also is not to teach. So the prophetesses of Acts, we may assume, went about their prophecy in a Biblical way. There is nothing here to contradict the rest of Scripture- only healthy affirmation.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Role of Women

Pragmatism, Women, and My Opinion

G. A. Hudelson

9/11/08


“O My people! Their oppressors are children, And women rule over them. O My people! Those who guide you lead you astray, And confuse the direction of your paths.”
~ Isaiah 3:12 (NAS)
With the nomination of Sarah Palin to the position of the Republican Vice-Presidential candidate, the American Church has been forced to step back and assess where She stands on the issue of women in leadership. Sadly, this seems to be all that the majority of modern American Christians bothers to assess: where they stand. Glaringly absent is a true examination of where The Christ of Christianity stands. “I think” and “I feel” flood the airwaves, the blog pages, the newspapers, but it is rare indeed to find “The Bible says.” Furthermore, and I cannot help but wonder, if we do not care what The Bible says, do we have any business calling ourselves Christians? I think not.
“As for me and my [father’s] house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)
Before we delve into what Jesus has to say about women, politics, and my opinion, I wish to say that I am writing this as much for myself and my progeny as for anyone else, and I have no desire to offend. I know that I have not the wisdom of a man- that is half of the reason that I write this, so that I may be sharpened by my elders and wisers! And for this I ask- for wisdom, the principal thing! Now, and thankfully, there are much bigger proverbial fish for those who would disagree with me to fry, and I shall give links to their excellent work later in this post. If those who disagree waste their time with me, then either they are afraid of the big fish or they just want a snack. :)
That said, and without further ado, let us examine what The Bible says about women in politics. It says no.

1. What does The Bible say about the duties of women?
“Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored.” (Titus 2:3-5) Note the assumed presence of husbands, the assumed presence of children, and the key phrases “workers at home” and “subject to their own husbands.” The LORD says to Eve in Genesis 3:16 that He would “greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you shall bring forth children; Yet your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.” Note again the assumed purpose of women- to bear children and to help a man! 2 Timothy 2:15 says “But women shall be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.” No, I do not believe that this is talking about eternal salvation- that would contradict the rest of Scripture, and would also mean that barren women would automatically be condemned to hell. This is obviously not Scriptural. So what does this passage mean? At the very least it shows, and clearly, that women are to be mothers! This is their calling.
Another key reference is the virtuous woman of Proverb 31. Note a few things:
She is not some subdued introvert that is shut up in the kitchen to sew, cook and clean all day long. That is not what The Bible advocates! She is a very industrious and productive person. She buys and sells and altogether makes her husband wealthy. (vv. 11+12)
While she is very industrious, all of her work is done as a part of home-making. Never is she the bread-winner, always she is the helper- and the crucial helper.
This is not a menial role that she fills, nor boring, nor lesser than that of her husband, though it is different. On the contrary, for filling this role, she is blessed and praised! (vv. 28-31)
Note that her husband is known in the gates because of her, but still, it is her husband that is known in the gates! (Proverbs 31:23)
We as modern Christians seem to think that God’s calling for women is a lesser one than His calling for men. That is a lie that comes straight from the pit of hell! Why do we see mothering and home-making as less than fathering and breadwinning? It has been said before, and it will be said again, that “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” Do we not understand this? Why can men not be proud to be men, and women proud to be women? Women are an incredible creation of God, immensely powerful, they can make a man, they can cut him in half- and they can be a better man than many men can ever dream of being! They are strong. They have backbone. They stand up for truth. And they are a whole lot prettier than I am. But that is not the point! Regardless of whether my wife is more intelligent, theologically inclined, experienced, a better leader, etc. etc. ad infinitum, I must lead my family, because that is what The LORD commands. “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15) How can I claim to love Christ and then ignore this?
Alexis de Tocqueville, in his book Democracy in America, talks about how the Americans at that time did “not think that man and woman have either the duty or the right to perform the same offices, but they show and equal regard for both their respective parts; and though their lot is different, they consider both of them as beings of equal value.” This is a Biblical principle- Galatians 3:28 says that “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” In the eyes of God we have the same inherent worth and value. But “I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:3) This is the principle of “Equal but different.” Is the Army lesser than the Navy? No, they are both important branches of the armed forces. However, America would find herself in sorry straits if her Navy was running land missions and her Army was defending our seas.
So men and women must fill their God-given roles, or risk the collapse of The Biblical Family. Indeed, not only might The Biblical Family collapse when, as my father says, “spineless men make bearded women,” but it must collapse. The very cornerstone of The Biblical Family is Godly Patriarchy, and the mortar that holds it together is Biblical Motherhood.

2. What does The Bible say about the role of men?
Proverbs 31:23: “Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land.” While this passage is specifically talking about the virtuous woman, it is worth noting that her husband is the one engaging in the political, legislative, social jurisdiction. He is the one that goes to the gates and stages debates between presidential candidates. He is the one that has backbone, he is the “tough guy,” he is the leader, the one that everyone “shuts up and listens to.” This is not to say that women are not to be tough- quite the opposite, see Pr. 31:17- but the man is to take the lead. The man is to do the fighting. The man is to love his wife “just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies.” (Ephesians 5:25-28, also see 29-33) The husband, following the model of Christ, is to protect his wife, with his life, and with his death, if such is necessary. Sadly, this describes many women in America today, and all too few men. Whatever happened to chivalry? Genesis 3:17-19 says “Then to Adam He said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat from it'; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you shall eat the plants of the field; By the sweat of your face You shall eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.’” Man’s role as the breadwinner is clearly shown here, just as clearly as woman’s role as mother is shown in God’s message to Eve just before the above passage. Genesis 1:27-28: “And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” This is man’s original purpose as God’s image-bearer on earth. Of course, this is a general commission to both men and women, but “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.’” (Genesis 2:18) The woman is to help the man to “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it.” The man in turn is to take the lead- to be a man! It is time for us to grow a spine, to “wear the pants,” as men. This world is starving for Godly MEN. And this world is starving for Virtuous WOMEN. How can we stand by and do nothing? And why do we mourn that God has called us to something so glorious?

3. What about Deborah?
Deborah is the favorite exception held up to overthrow God’s Word in this realm. So what is wrong with this objection?

A. Allow me to quote my father in answer to this same question: “My biggest argument is that you NEVER make the exception the rule. Using Deborah to support Women leadership is an exegetical stretch which is (in my opinion) ridiculous. It is like saying that Rahab lied, therefore lying is OK.” This is one reason. It is simply a terrible hermeneutical ordeal.

B. A second problem with this excuse is that the story of Deborah is NOT shown as a good or ideal thing. Isaiah 3:12 shows us that women in leadership is a sign of judgment on a nation. Deborah was a sign of judgment. And here we are voting to put a woman in leadership. Hum.

C. Deborah was also arguably not a judge in the position of civil magistrate. She was under a tree, and not in the city gates. Also note that Barak, not Deborah, is listed in Hebrews 11:32.

All considered, the Biblical case for feminism is not a good one, and the example of Deborah as a justification for spineless men and bearded women falls flat on its face.

4. The Final Question
I simply wish to pose one question to all who read this:
If it is all right for a woman to hold the highest office in the land and still be considered a Biblical wife and mother, then how can a woman violate these aforementioned Biblical texts, and if she can, then where is the line?