What the Bible says about
Women, Responsibility of
(From Forerunner Commentary)
This sounds condemnatory to women in positions of leadership, but this is only part of the story. Earlier in the chapter, God heaps most of the blame on the heads of men. Because men, whom God created and appointed to lead their families and the nation, abdicate their roles and positions in the home and society, women and "children" (the inexperienced and unqualified) take up the slack. In acting outside the bounds of their created makeup, God shows, women and children tend to hasten a nation's fall.
Obviously, exceptions exist. Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of Britain, led her nation to regain much of its lost power and prestige in the 1980s. However, her accomplishments also prove the point. Britain's "Iron Lady" succeeded because SHE GOVERNED LIKE A MAN! Christopher Caldwell, in an article titled "The Feminization of America," published in the Weekly Standard, December 23, 1996, concurs:
[T]op leadership positions in any society typically go to the more aggressive, not to the smarter. . . . Women who do make it to the top tend to lead "male" lives.
Thus, it is not a matter that women cannot lead, but that, generally, women should not lead. From the beginning, God placed men in the role of leader and provider (Genesis 3:16-19) and women as partners with their husbands and homemakers (Genesis 2:18; 3:16). Paul's instructions in Titus 2:4-5 verify that these roles did not change under the New Covenant.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
A Woman's World
This section begins with a description of the haughtiness of Israelite women. God illustrates the pride of Israel's women in the way they walk, they dress, and they use their eyes. Instead of being modestly well-dressed and dignified, the walk, the dress, the whole appearance is designed to impress others and frankly, to scorn them. It is also designed to bring attention, prestige, and acclaim to the self.
It is common in society for modern parents to encourage, passively or not, their adolescent daughters to grow up too soon by wearing clothing, shoes, and other pieces of apparel designed to draw attention to the wrong things, for the wrong reasons, at the wrong time. They give in to their children's pressure, who have already surrendered to the pressure of their peers. God says the problem is pride.
Isaiah 3:16 is an almost savage denunciation. Why is it so harsh? It is interesting to consider this in light of when it was written, around the time Israel fell and several decades before Judah's fall. Isaiah was a prophet to Judah, but before it succumbed to the Babylonians, Judahite society had disintegrated badly. Morality was at a low ebb.
The reason Isaiah 3:16 contains such a harsh denunciation is because of the influence that women hold over a nation's morality—God expects them to be the primary, daily instructors of their children. If women largely determine the character of a nation through their instruction of their children in morality, spirituality, and ideals, then they wield critical power over the nation's future. They determine whether ideals of purity, integrity, unselfishness, and faith will prevail or fall.
It ought not to be this way because the weight of instruction should fall at least equally on men. But in reality, because there is such a double standard in the world, women do most of the teaching. So when that line of defense—the moral teaching of women—breaks, and the morality of women becomes debased, then there is no hope for the nation.
Pride distorts a person's thinking into misconceiving one's function. We can apply this to what is happening in our nation. Will women fill the role God designed for them, or will they fulfill the role that the world has designed for them? God says in the next chapter that, if they choose wrongly, He will punish women by taking away their men.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part Six)
Amos' language is really vivid. He calls the women of Israel "cows." He seems to aim his derision at the affluent women who are perhaps using their affluence in a manner that God is highly displeased with. Spiritually, could he be talking about some of the various groups [a woman being a type of the church] that are present at this time?
"Go out at the breaches" - A breach is a split, a cleft, a break in a wall. Symbolically, a wall represents protection. Cities once had walls to protect them from enemies on the outside. If the wall is split, it allows room for the invaders to come in, so that the inhabitants are no longer secure. It also allows those who are inside an opportunity to go outside, into the world. God is telling the cows of Bashan that they will "go out" into the world—but as captives.
John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part Three)
1 Corinthians 11:3-15
Did Paul teach the early New Testament church of God that women must wear a hat or veil to church services? To obtain a clear picture of what the apostle meant by these statements, we must understand these verses in the context of his entire discussion of head coverings. This topic begins in verse 3, giving the underlying principle for his decision: "But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God."
The real subject under discussion is subjection to authority! Paul shows that, under God's government, there is a chain of authority. A woman is subject to her husband, who is subject to Christ, who is subject to God the Father (see also Ephesians 5:22-24).
In verse 4, Paul relates this matter of authority first to a man's head covering. Paul explains that a man should not have his head covered because a head covering symbolizes subjection. To wear a head covering would dishonor his God-given position as the head of his wife. The apostle explains this principle further in verses 7-10.
As God has appointed the roles of men and women, a man stands in a similar position toward his wife as Christ does to men. Thus, Paul says, a man who is a godly example of loving authority "is the image and glory of God." Likewise, a woman stands in a similar position as man does to God, in subjection. Therefore, Paul concludes, a woman must appear in her God-designed role as a submissive wife (Genesis 2:18; 3:16). Her submissive appearance renders glory to her head, her husband.
For further proof that this is what God intends, Paul recalls that God created a man first, then He formed a woman out of the man (I Corinthians 11:8). To him, the order of creation is significant, showing who was to be in authority. He then uses the fact that Eve was created as a helper and companion for Adam (verse 9), rather than vice versa, as a final proof for his conclusion that a man should not cover his head.
Paul immediately explains that the head covering a woman should wear symbolizes her submission to the man (verse 10). The covering on a woman's head is a sign of her willingness to be in subjection to a man. It also acknowledges that she has a special need for protection by angels that a man may not need.
In verses 11-12 the apostle cautions us not to go to extremes in these God-given roles. Men and women need each other and can teach each other many things. In these verses, Paul seems to be recalling Genesis 2:24: "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall be one flesh." If a husband and wife work together "in the Lord," they can produce the godly character that God desires in us. God has made us what we are, so we should, as "one flesh," strive to fulfill His purpose for us.
What is this covering that Paul is saying a man should not wear but a woman should? In answering this unspoken question, Paul asks, "Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?" (verse 13). He immediately answers his own question: "Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; forher hair is given to her for a covering" (verses 14-15).
All along, Paul has been writing, not about a hat or veil, but the length of one's hair! He is not saying a woman should wear something over her hair, but rather she should wear her hair long enough to be recognized as feminine. This wearing of her hair long shows her submission to the man.
Thus, in verse 5, Paul is saying that if a woman prays or prophesies while wearing her hair short like a man, she is dishonoring the man. She is not showing a willingness to wear the symbol of submission to the man's authority. Further, for a woman to wear her hair short like a man is just as dishonorable as if she had her head shaved like a fallen woman! Verse 6 means that if a woman has the wrong attitude about this matter, she might as well go all the way and have her head shaved!
The issue under discussion, far from being a matter of wearing a hat or veil, involves the length of men's and women's hair. Paul's "head covering" is the actual hair that grows on our heads, and his teaching is that a woman should wear long hair and a man should wear short hair.
Because Paul specifies that a woman should wear long hair, some wonder, "How long is long?" Some have gone so far as to believe that a woman should never cut her hair. However, Scripture does not specify uncut hair, but long hair. Others have confused shorn hair with cut hair. Shorn hair is hair that has been closely clipped in a mannish hairdo.
Paul is making the point that a woman should wear her hair long enough so that she looks feminine and honorable. This is why he says in verse 15, "If a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her." A woman should pay particular attention to her hair and make certain that it is long enough and properly groomed and styled to enhance her appearance and femininity.
On the other hand, men must not follow modern fads and styles and wear their hair long like women. Long hair brings dishonor upon a man. God intends that we make a clear distinction between men and women in both grooming and dress (Deuteronomy 22:5). The length of one's hair is a most important line of distinction to God.
Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Men and Women, Hats and Hair
1 Timothy 2:12-15
Paul comments on the woman's curse in this passage, a section of Scripture that has come under a great deal of scrutiny in recent years. What is immediately striking about Paul's reasoning and conclusion on Genesis 3:16 regarding the church is that he upholds it! Modern theological thought would reason that the effects of "the Fall" are nullified under Christ's blood, but Paul says, "Not so!" They may be diminished, but not eradicated.
Paul cites the fact that God created Adam before Eve as his proof that God intended the man to lead. He backs this up by showing that while Eve proved subject to deception—thus, she was the "weaker" of the two—Adam, whose sin was sheer disobedience, did not. Thus, Eve's sin establishes that woman should not take the lead from man; that route, by the biblical example of our first parents, generally leads to problems. The apostle concludes that a woman, formed by God as a helper to Adam and more inclined to being deceived, should not teach or lead men in the church.
On the other hand, as Ephesians 5:25-29, 33 plainly shows, Christian men must no longer "rule over" their wives. Loving authority is not domineering or despotic, but humble, caring, gentle, kind, and patient. In the same vein, Christian women should submit to and respect their husbands (verses 22-24, 33). Submission is not manipulative or grudging, but done in faith, respect, and humility.
How, though, is a woman "saved in childbearing"? The word Paul uses for "saved" (sozo) can be used for both physical deliverance from danger and spiritual salvation. How does faith, love, holiness, and self-control prevent or nullify the physical dangers of pregnancy? Conversely, is not salvation by grace? Which salvation does the apostle mean here?
Neither. A third explanation fits the context better. Paul's main concern in this section is proper order within the church. Men, he writes, should pray and teach. Women should adorn themselves modestly and do good works, but they should not be teaching publicly or leading men. Verse 15 explains what their primary concern should be: "childbearing." Thus, it means that much of God's judgment of women will be based on how well they perform their God-given role in bearing children.
To us, this sounds quite misogynistic, but to the Greek speaker "childbearing" (teknogonia) covers a great deal more ground than just "popping out babies." The Strong's Concordance definition shows that the extended meaning is "maternity (the performance of maternal duties)." W. E. Vine, in his Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, agrees, writing that it "impl[ies] the duties of motherhood" (p. 190). The Twentieth Century New Testament translates this clause, "But women will find their salvation in motherhood."
Paul's exhortation aims to bring marriage and family back to what God intended of men and women before Adam and Eve's sin. Just as God will judge men according to how well they fulfill their roles as husbands (leaders) and teachers, so He will judge women by their performance as wives and mothers. Since salvation, particularly the period of sanctification, is a process that covers our entire converted lifetimes, how well we fulfill our God-given responsibilities within our families will make a difference in God's judgment. Paul says we must perform these duties in faith, love, holiness, and self-control—just as we must do everything else in our Christian lives.
To summarize, then, the apostle simply states that God will judge and reward a woman according to her growth as a Christian within her appointed sphere of influence: her family. God Himself has drawn the lines between the sexes, and we should do our best to fulfill our roles with excellence, not rebellion or complaint. In this way, we will make progress in reversing the effects of the curses in the Garden of Eden.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The First Prophecy (Part Two)
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