You hear the phrases all the time:
Giving women a voice
Put yourself first.
Breaking the glass ceiling
You deserve . . . .
Giving women a voice
Women at the top
Upon Margaret Thatcher’s recent death, I heard one of her famous quotes, “In politics if you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.” (May 20, 1965)
How about these quotations?
- “Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, ‘She doesn't have what it takes.’ They will say, ‘Women don't have what it takes.’" (Clare Boothe Luce)
- “Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels.” (Faith Whittlesey)
- “Never let the hand you hold, hold you down.” (Unknown)
- “Women are the only oppressed group in our society that lives in intimate association with their oppressors.” (Evelyn Cunningham)
I had to laugh at this anonymous quote, “I am woman! I am invincible! I am pooped!” Maybe she was a working mother with toddlers.
I’ve even read something to the effect that God didn’t quite get it right with Adam, so then He made Eve. (Not true, of course. Read Genesis 1-2.)
I find that a lot of Christian women are struggling with their identity.
What’s a woman, in the great scheme of things?
Who are we supposed to be? What about all the expectations? Do we have to prove ourselves? Do we need to be more than wife and mother?
Do we really need men anyway?
Is it important to be pretty and feminine, or should I reject all that?
What’s the biblical philosophy about being a woman? What does the Bible say to these issues, so prevalent in our society? We can take heart; the Bible does have the answers.
Let’s start with the beginning.
When God created the world, He did it as the backdrop for His crowning creation—man. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it (Genesis 1:27-28a). Do you see any superior and inferior here? I don’t. Both men and women were given dominion over the earth.
God later declares, And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good (Genesis 1:31a). Everything that God had made was good. Man, woman, animals, plants, light, seas, dry land—everything was good. This gives the same value to men and women. Men aren’t better than women. Women aren’t better than men. We have the same value.
Adam names the animals and birds, and then God makes him a helper (Help meet means “helper.”) Eve is made from Adam’s rib, and then they are married. (Genesis 2:20-24) There’s a clue here about a woman’s role in marriage. She was made to help her husband. This has nothing to do with value. It has to do with her purpose and with order in the home.
The concept of biblical submission has been greatly misunderstood. Some feel it’s demeaning to women, that women are somehow less than men. The Bible never, ever implies that! It’s important to know what it does say:
Ephesians 5:22-24 says, Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
Q Looking at these verses, who is a wife to submit to? (two answers)
A her own husband, the Lord
Q Who is her head?
A her husband
Q In what things should she be subject to her husband?
A in everything
Q With what attitude should she do this? (beginning of the passage)
A as unto the Lord
Now, let’s read 1 Corinthians 11:3: But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of every woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
Here we see God’s sense of order. Everyone has a “head.”
Q Who is Christ’s head?
Q Who is the man’s head?
Q Who is the woman’s head?
A the man (her husband)
Is it negative to have a head? Obviously not, since Christ has one! Here, we have a glimpse of God’s order of authority. God the Father is in a position over Christ. Is God the Father more important or better than Christ? No. They are equal; both are God! But Christ was obedient to His heavenly Father. There is even an order in the Trinity!
Man is in a position over his wife. Does that mean he has more value or importance than she? No. Genesis tells us that all of God’s creation was good. Both Adam and Eve were made in the image of God. They were created “good” with the same intrinsic value. The fact that God wants women to be subject to their husbands, and the fact that the husband is appointed as head of his home has nothing to do with one being superior and one inferior.
It’s about order.
If we put what we have learned from both Ephesians 5 and 1 Corinthians 11 together, we see that God and the church have a certain order:
- God the Father
- God the Son
- the church
There’s also order in the family:
- God (Christ)
- the husband
- the wife
We aren’t less. We aren’t more. We are equal, but we have a different role. Submission is not a negative term. It’s a description of function. Submission has nothing to do with doormat or unintelligent or silly. Submission is a place.
It’s a role of passion and power—woman power in the biblical sense.
(We’ll go into more about a woman’s role in the next post. Part of this post, from the Ephesians 5 passage to the last paragraph, is edited from a couple of pages in my new book His Ways, Your Walk.)