As our world celebrates “Women’s Day” we are sure to hear many encouraging stories of perseverance and diligence. We will be pointed to many accomplishments of women around the world. From the arts to politics and within the world of business and academics—we will hear stories of women who worked diligently to overcome stigma and discrimination in order to reach goals that were once unattainable in society. While we can certainly recognize progress of women’s equality in many ways in our culture, how should we as followers of Jesus celebrate women and the place of women in our lives, our culture, and our churches?
How to Dishonor Women
We have a long history of dishonoring women—stretching all the way back to the Garden of Eden. Throughout history, it took a long time for women to reach a place of cultural equality with men. Men and women were created equal by God, yet with specific boundaries and roles to fulfill their God ordained purpose. Although times have changed, the rhetoric continues to be negative regarding women’s equality.
This week in Spain, a high school is taking an opportunity to educate little boys about the oppression of women historically by restricting them from recess in order to point out how women historically have been restricted from good freedoms. Our culture continues to beat a drum of victimhood in order to honor women as a minority in many nations—including the United States. The reality is, women number a majority of the total population of America. Yet, we are continuing to hear the need for women’s equality in a day when women occupy nearly every office and position across our great nation—including the halls of academia and corporate America.
One of the most damaging agendas to ever assault women is the women’s liberation movement. It operated with the underpinning and foundational marketing ploy of liberating women from oppression and injustice. Through this agenda, women have been pointed outside of the home to the corporate world to fulfill their goals and flourish with their gifts. The women’s liberation movement has likewise done more to demean motherhood and encourage the murder of babies than any other movement in our world’s history. Motherhood has been traded for corporate success and pregnancy has been turned into a sickness that can be treated at a local clinic through modern day reproductive freedom. Rather than liberating women—the women’s liberation movement led them into a deep and dark dungeon far away from God’s intended purpose for their existence.
Today, we’ve reaped the harvest of the feminist agenda in America. We have officially changed our laws to include the false and contradictory category of gay marriage. Now, we celebrate men who pretend to be women by self identification and surgical procedures. This move is killing women’s sports by allowing men to compete on the same level as women. The things that once caused us to blush are now celebrated with awards. When a cultural figure such as Caitlyn Jenner can receive the “Woman of the Year” award from Glamour Magazine and the “Arthur Ashe Award for Courage” at the 2015 ESPY Awards—we must honestly ask ourselves how far will this agenda go?
In the 60s and 70s the feminists permeated the language of freedom and liberation into the minds and hearts of women seeking to change the direction of women in America—indeed to change the direction of America altogether. Unfortunately, we have allowed their movement to become less offensive, the lines to become blurred, and in some cases, their agenda has spilled over into the church. What was once offensive yesterday is openly celebrated today in America. Sadly the feminist agenda has infiltrated local churches and evangelical denominations. Once again, if anyone in the world should be celebrating the place and purpose of women in our world—it should be the church of Jesus Christ.
Today, through the social justice agenda, we’re hearing the language of gender equality within the church and empowerment. The recent #MeToo movement spawned the #ChurchToo movement and through social justice politics has caused a reactionary response of empowerment and a hyper-focused effort to raise women to the highest levels of leadership. If we continue to teach another generation of women that they’re victims of oppression and that their entire existence is riddled with injustice in the church of Jesus Christ—we will teach women that they haven’t arrived yet and that they need to do something else to fulfill their existence. Has God not made it clear regarding the purpose, beauty, and unique calling of women in this world?
This conversation has reached a fever pitch within the ranks of the Southern Baptist Convention where leaders are posturing their institutions to include women in the highest ranks of their theological faculty and denominational structures—including the highest office of president. This reactionary evangelical culture has now begun to evaluate the current hierarchies with the possibility of tearing them down and rebuilding with a new design and new boundaries. This has raised the eyebrows of many, but the language of soft and broad complementarianism has surfaced once again with some people suggesting that we need to redefine complementarianism altogether. If the feminist agenda of the 60s and 70s rocked our nation and our churches, what will the social justice agenda do to our churches and denominations? How will the United Methodist Church respond to this pressure? What direction will the Southern Baptist Convention take on such matters?
The best way to dishonor a woman is to ask her to do something or be something that God never intended in the first place. Satan asked Eve to reverse her role and to bypass the leadership of Adam. Satan likewise asked Eve to look beyond God’s boundary to the forbidden tree to find purpose in her existence. The women’s liberation movement greatly dishonored women. The modern social justice movement is positioned to do the same thing—and this time with a specific evangelical twist within the church. One of the tragedies of the social justice movement is that we continue to allow the culture to define us as opposed to God who is the sovereign creator and designer.
How to Celebrate Women Rightly
If anyone should see the beauty and acknowledge the value of women in the world it should be the church of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, as it pertains to the value, purpose, and place of women in the church today—the cultural agenda of social justice seems to be calling the shots as opposed to the sufficient Word of God. If we, as Christians, are to rightly honor women it should be through acknowledging the wonderful purpose of women as articulated in the Word of God.
The church of Jesus Christ should boldly stand against sin and push back against injustice and sinful oppression. If sexism or misogyny exists in specific evangelical circles—it should be confronted properly. If discrimination and injustice exists within the local church, there is a proper way to handle such sin within the context of the church family (Matt. 18:15-20). Likewise, the church of Jesus Christ should not blush nor back down from the God ordained boundaries for men and women and the distinct roles for women should not be redefined for a modern era.
- God created Eve distinct from Adam with a purpose (Genesis 2).
- God used Rahab (Joshua 6:17; Matthew 1:5).
- God chose Mary for a special and unique purpose (Matt. 1:18-20).
- God used women all throughout the early church (Acts 1:12–14; 9:36–42; 16:13–15; 17:1–4, 10–12; 18:1–2, 18, 24–28; Romans 16; 1 Corinthians 16:19; 2 Timothy 1:5; 2:10; 4:19).
While the Talmud stated that it would be better to burn the Torah than to teach it to a woman, Jesus taught the woman at the well (John 4) and even allowed a small band of women to travel with he and his followers (Luke 8:1-3). At the crucifixion, we find women lamenting his death (Matthew 27:55-56). After Jesus’ resurrection, he appeared to Mary Magdalene and she became one of the first witnesses to this wonderful bedrock truth of Christianity (John 20:1-18).
While in the days of the Old Testament no women served among the Levites as a priest. No woman ruled Israel as queen. With the exception of Deborah (who must be viewed as a judgment upon Israel), no woman served God as a prophet. No woman penned one of the sixty-six books of the Bible. No woman served as an apostle. No woman served as an original deacon in Acts 6. No woman is called to serve as an elder as instituted by God in 1 Timothy 3. However, God has always had his place for women and has used women in various and distinct roles for his glory. Paul specifically stated in 1 Timothy 2:10 that women should be able to learn the great truths of God and he made this statement in a time period when women were forbidden from such learning.
Christianity has consistently pointed to the value of women in our culture as a whole and within the church of Jesus Christ. Nearly every leader through church history has been helped along by women. In fact, it’s safe to say that without women, the church of Christ would not be what God intended from the beginning. We must celebrate the God intended purpose for women in our world! From the privileged role of motherhood to the high calling of a wife (Prov. 18:22)—women have a special design by God. When women understand their calling and seek to flourish within God’s intended design, they are to be praised. So, we should pay close attention to the message of the culture that’s consistently pressing women to do what God hasn’t called them to do as a means of fulfillment when there’s so much women can and should be doing for God’s glory?
Proverbs 31:28 — Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.