Woman Empowered

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, June 21, 2016 0 comments

by Bill Seng

Forgive me for not being able to cite the source, but although Pope Francis has not been perceived to be the most conservative or traditional Pope ever to occupy Vatican City, a spokesperson of his made a very interesting statement when asked if the role of women in the Catholic Church would change. The answer that was given was along the lines of, “Inside the Catholic Church, it is church doctrine that only men can serve in the priesthood.  That does not mean that women do not play an important role within the church.” He then went on to cite people like Mother Teresa and the Virgin Mary. Women have always played a vital role in the Christian Church.

Despite this reality, there are groups of people that might try to convince you that the Church is an oppressive force towards women. They may say that if it weren’t for the Church, women would be able to enjoy more freedoms. There are many other religions and cultures across the world today that are perceived to grant lower status to women. Let me provide a few brief examples.

India is renowned for its Hindu people. Hinduism is perceived by Westerners to be enlightened, smart, and a far superior religion than Christianity. I don’t know official religious Hindu doctrine, but a common practice in India is if a wife does not bear her husband a son, sometimes he will burn her alive for failing to satisfy him.

In many Middle Eastern countries, a woman must stay completely covered head to toe when in public, must always be with her husband in public, and can’t even drive a car unless her husband is with her.

China, an atheistic country, has imposed a limit upon how many children a family can have. For a while, they were limiting each family to one child. Any additional children would need to be aborted. Parents would thus opt to abort their child if it happened to be a girl. Their reasoning was that girls do not have the earning power that boys have (when they grow up) and can end up being costlier when factoring in events like weddings and pregnancies.

Christianity can’t even be compared to these examples. In fact, it is not oppressive at all to women.

There are a few passages that are often cited when this conversation comes up. Let’s look at them.

“If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head” (1 Corinthians 11:6).

“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing – if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety” (1 Timothy 2:12-15).

Wow, these sound somewhat harsh, right? So women have to cover their heads and they are not allowed to talk or hold authority. What this is often times translated into is that women cannot preach, they must bear children, and it is imperative that they dress funny. Let’s dissect this really quick.

First, let us acknowledge that if these Scriptures, read as literally as possible and outside of their proper contexts, do mean what they appear to say, these are minor restrictions upon women compared to the cultures that will not permit women to learn to read.

With the 1 Corinthians passage, when we put it into context, it makes more sense. It is not saying that women must always wear a head covering or shave their head. The context is specifically addressing when a woman publically prays or prophesies. To the best of my understanding, this appears to be the only time that Paul says that women need to cover their head. He explains why, but frankly, I still don’t fully understand and it seems to be something that our culture dismisses as not being a priority. Does it matter in the long run? I have no idea.

But notice, Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is permitting women to preach. There are many female preachers throughout the Bible. The first of which that we discussed in Judges 4 is Deborah, who was a recognized prophet. One of the first evangelists, so to speak, was a woman. In John 4, Jesus meets a woman at a well who ends up declaring that she may have just spoke with the Messiah (v.28-30).

In the letter to Timothy that I cited earlier, Paul asks that women learn in quietness and would not exercise authority over men. There has been a lot of debate over Paul’s intentions in this passage which has created two camps: those who believe that women should be allowed to be ordained as pastors inside of the church, and those who do not. Regardless of which side you take, I would like to encourage you to respect anyone who might be preaching the Word of God.

The Prophet Joel revealed that there would be a day when God would “pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy” (Joel 2:28). Not everyone in the camp that thinks women should not be pastors believe women should be allowed to preach. I am in this camp and I disagree. I think the Bible is full of examples of female evangelists. Furthermore, I can only recall one person of whom Jesus said, “Wherever the Gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (Matthew 16:13). He said this of Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha.

To me, there is nothing that needs to be defended concerning the status of women in Christianity. I think there are groups that might restrict them too much and I think there are groups that empower them too much. But compared to other religions and cultures, women enjoy freedoms that they would never have been granted had it not been for Jesus. Did I mention that the first people to proclaim Jesus had been raised from the dead were women (Matthew 28:7-8)?

In 1 Peter 3:7, Peter refers to women as the weaker partner. Men, this ought to make us a little jealous (I’m half kidding), because Jesus said that in heaven the last shall be first and the first shall be last (Luke 13:30). If anyone wants to be great, he needs to humble himself and serve others (Matthew 20:26). Perhaps that is why Jesus empowered and respected women the way he did. I cannot recall a single woman in the Gospels that he rebuked, but he was frequently rebuking men for lack of faith and arrogance.

This post could easily go longer, but I want you to digest the examples I have already given of how the Bible has elevated the status of women. Mind you, I didn’t even talk about the status of women before Jesus came. It is only because of his arrival that they are able to enjoy the freedoms they have today.

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