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Friday, July 11, 2014

Can a Woman Have a Say?

Photo by: Photokanok

According to the Bible, can a woman hold her own? Can she share her opinion? Do women have an important part in society? Or are women supposed to be seen and not heard? Is she to be so submissive that she doesn’t have a voice?

Studying biblical women, we can come to a conclusion about God’s thinking on this important issue.

Let’s explore this question through women in the Bible:
  • Eve—Given the same rights and heart as her husband, Eve could choose to obey or disobey God’s command. The Bible says she was made in the image of God, as was Adam. (Genesis 1:27)
  • Rebekah—God orchestrated Rebekah’s marriage to Isaac. Everyone recognized that fact, since God had answered Abraham’s servant’s very specific prayers in such an obvious manner. When the servant wanted to leave the very next day, Rebekah’s brother and mother asked if she could remain another ten days or more at home. But, they asked Rebekah’s opinion, and she agreed to go the next day. (Genesis 24:54-58)
  • Miriam—Moses’ older sister led the women in praise to God. Her song is recorded in Exodus 15:20-21.
  • The five daughters of Zelophehad: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Micah, and Tirzah—Zelophehad didn’t have any sons, but he had five girls. Under the original Old Testament Law, they would have completely missed out on an inheritance, as only sons were heirs. The daughters felt they should get an inheritance, since there weren’t any brothers, so they took their case to Moses, Eleazar the priest, the princes, and all the congregation. Their father had passed away. The new ruling? The daughters of Zelophehad speak right: thou shalt surely give them a possession of an inheritance among their father’s brethren; and thou shalt cause the inheritance of their father to pass unto them. There was only one catch: they could only marry into their father’s tribe. They married their cousins, and everyone lived happily ever after. (Numbers 26:33; 27:1-7; 36:6-11)
  • Deborah—She was a judge in Israel and went to battle with Barak. She communicated God’s Word to others. (Judges 4 and 5)
  • Jael—This lady convinced Sisera, the enemy general, to drink some milk and take a nap in her tent. She must have been a convincing actress, because he did just that, and she pounced upon the opportunity and drove a tent stake through his head, killing him. (Judges 4:17-22)
  • Hannah—This prayer warrior and godly woman knew that God is good. She prayed so fervently that the priest Eli thought she was drunk. God answered her prayer and gave her Samuel and then five more children. She gave her little son to God. (1 Samuel 1 and 2)
  • Esther—She was a beautiful Jewish woman who won the king’s favor. She trusted God and bravely saved her people from certain slaughter. She pointed out Haman as the mastermind of the plot and ended up living in his house. Esther risked her life to save the Jews. She understood the power in prayer and fasting and experienced God’s enabling. (the book of Esther)
  • Mary, the mother of Jesus—When Gabriel spoke to her and told her she had been chosen to bear the Son of God, she answered, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her (Luke 1:38).
  • Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha—They showed open friendship and devotion to Jesus. Martha was a practical woman, and Mary was a worshiper. When Lazarus died, we see how both ladies trusted the Lord implicitly. (Luke 10:38-41; John 11; 12:2)
  • Dorcas—She was a Christian who helped the poor and widows. She was a giving person, and Peter, by God’s power, raised her from the dead. (Acts 9:36-41)
  • Priscilla—This businesswoman knew her Bible. She, alongside her husband, helped to train the evangelist Apollos. (Acts 18:24-26) She and her husband hosted a church in their home. (1 Corinthians 16:19)

There are many more examples in the Bible of women having an integral part in their communities, having a voice and taking actions on their own.

There are all kinds of opinions out there. Some books say a woman cannot even tell her husband what she’s thinking. She’s to rely on him to make all the decisions for the family. Well, that’s not exactly the way the Bible expresses the order in the home.

Yes, Adam was responsible for Eve, as he was the head of their home. This is why God went looking for Adam and asked him if he’d eaten from the tree. Later, God talked to Eve and asked her what she had done. (Genesis 3: 9-13)

There is an order in the family, and there’s an order in the church.

God’s order in the home and church doesn’t mean a woman has no role! Her opinion, choices, and actions are important, and she is a valuable partner in God’s plan in the world.

When God talks about marriage, he says husband and wife are heirs together of the grace of life (1 Peter 3:7). Marriage is a partnership that represents the relationship of Christ and the church.

Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. 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 every thing. . . . For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:21-24, 29-32).

Do you see the parallel? The marriage relationship is a living illustration of Christ’s relationship with His church.

A woman is not the boss in the family or in the church. She’s not the one with the ultimate word, but she does have a say. A woman is every bit as important as a man. We just have different roles.

(For a more detailed discussion of God’s order in the family and church, you may read my post here.)

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