I sat with my sister in our floor seats in the Oklahoma City Civic Center. She was tickled to death to be there, and I was prouder than ever, having supplied our tickets to this live performance. Hello Dolly had been a favorite show of ours for years, thanks to Barbara Streisand’s stunning performance in the 1969 film. Soon the lights dimmed, the conductor tapped his baton, and we were transported to the colorful life of New York City in the early 1900s.
Not long into the musical, Mr. Horace Vandergelder seized the stage with a posse of men. The chorus of their hit number flowed from the orchestra seats back to where we sat, “Yes, it takes a woman, a dainty woman, a sweetheart, a mistress, a wife!” They went on to list a woman’s role in the household, like joyously cleaning out the drain in the sink and dumping the ashes. Even for an early 20th century woman, the song would have been slightly patronizing and demeaning.
It called for a good belly laugh as the song permeated the historic theater’s cheery atmosphere. But a woman like myself had to have left the theater thinking of what has changed for women since that time period. Is there still a mentality of silent women in silent homes, silently completing chores?
I should say not… for better or for worse, who knows? Women now can be assertive, meek, bold, shy, fat, skinny, lazy, or active. In short, we have freedom. We have “the vote”! We have a voice. We have representatives in entertainment, politics, religion, pop culture, the news, sports, the home, education and more! There seems to be no limit for a bright and driven woman these days.
And yet, we do have limits. We have weaknesses as well as strengths. For a Christian woman, our identity is continually under attack. Our attackers vary from leaders in religious organizations to liberal feminists; from ex-boyfriends to college professors. Our assailants come from every direction, ever compelling us to surrender to their ideas of who we are and what our role is.
But what does God say about women?
As He is my Creator, His opinion matters very much to me. His voice should be louder than feminists and fundamentalists combined! But we don’t talk about God’s opinion. We talk about our own, and we talk about others’. This blog is not to share my feelings or express my frustration as a woman, but it is to discuss and provide truth. The only truth comes from God’s Word.
Listed below are three key things that God, through the power of His authors and Holy Spirit, spoke of women and their role in Holy Scripture. We will observe what this means for both men and women:
- God lets women lead men. This may quickly become the most argued point in my blog. Recall that we are using Scripture as our plumb line. Judges 4 tells part of the story of an amazing prophetess named Deborah. In this passage Barak surrenders his right as leader, in order to see victory through Deborah.
- What this means for Men: Barach was not willing to trust God for the victory in his leadership role. Before assuming any authority, Deborah made clear that if she were to go with him, Barach would not receive any praise or personal victory. When men will not lead, God will rise up women to lead in their place. Men, remember that God is not limited to using one gender to bring about His victory. Recognize the abilities of the women around you and do not assume you deserve the right to lead.
- What this means for Women: Deborah did not pursue the opportunity to lead. She did not kick able-bodied men out of the way to assert herself. Likewise, if the Lord should call a women to lead, we must be willing to humble ourselves and recognize God’s power. Women, follow the men God has placed in authority, but be prepared spiritually should the Lord ever call you to lead as well.
- God equally respects and equips women. In John 4, Jesus Christ stops at a well to interact with a woman. He does not patronize her. He does not comment on her looks or abilities. He seeks her soul and reveals her value in Him. He equips her as He did His disciples and as He equips us even now… with Living Water. The amazing thing about the Living Water is that He has not poured more into a man’s cup than into a woman’s cup. Rather, the Living Water is poured into each cup in equal amounts.
- What this means for Men: Jesus not only stopped to speak plainly and intelligently with a woman, but He also did not even justify that being an unusual thing for the time. The disciples desired to question his actions in talking with the woman (John 4:27), but even they did not question Him. Men, respect and recognize where you are equal with women. They are not intellectually weaker or less spiritually equipped than you.
- What this means for Women: Do not believe the lie that women are “less than” or that women are “more than.” Do not let a man belittle you, but do not rob a man of the opportunity to exercise his respect for you.
- God made women. First Corinthians 11 addresses women’s and men’s role in life very explicitly. Something that often gets misconstrued in this passage is where women come from – man or God? Let’s be clear on this basic truth. Women were created by God out of man. God created man, so there is no room for boasting on the man’s part when it comes to the woman’s being.
- What this means for Men: You only have the authority that has been given to you by God, the Creator. Do you use your authority over women to assert yourself or to demean them? Or do you see the authority as a gracious gift to exercise for God’s glory? How you answer these questions will reveal much of who you are as a man… let alone a man of God.
- What this means for Women. You are first and foremost under God’s authority. He directs your paths and plans your steps. If His plan involves a man in authority over you, you must see it as an opportunity to be loved well and to glorify God. Do not see it as a place of slavery or injustice.
There are about a million and one things we could cover based on what Scripture says about the relationship between men and women. These are three that I chose to address as they are of great importance to me.
The value of women in the Church, workplace, home, politics, classroom and so many other places should never be overlooked. The value of men in the Church, workplace, home, politics, classroom, and so many other places should never be overlooked. God is not restricted in His love nor in His ability to use a person with a willing heart, whatever gender. Let us reflect our Blessed Redeemer in this.