In Response to #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear

I don’t know how many of you use twitter, but yesterday there was a hashtag trend on twitter called #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear. For those of you who aren’t familiar with hashtag trends, it’s basically a topic that’s getting a lot of tweets from twitter users. I saw it and clicked out of curiosity to see what people were saying. You’re welcome to view the original tweets here. Unfortunately most of the tweets with regards to the trend were ones of women recounting words they heard that belittled them or made them feel disrespected. So I decided to write an in response post appropriately titled, “In Response to #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear”.

We empathize with you

First thing I would say to all women who’ve ever felt belittled or disrespected by the things said or done to them within the church, on behalf of the Church, I’m sorry you’ve had these things happen, and I empathize with you in your pain. All of us who strive to live according to the commands of love of God and love of our neighbors condemn any form of belittling or disrespecting of our fellow sisters in Christ. We view each other as equal in salvation through Christ.  As Galatians 3:28 states, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

You are not responsible for man’s lust

So one of the main criticisms I heard was about how women have apparently been often referred to as stumbling blocks through their lack of modest dressing “causing” men to lust. Of course that’s not true. As Jesus expressed, if a man looks at a woman with lust, he has committed adultery in his heart. The responsibility is obviously on the man that does the looking, regardless of how the woman dresses. A woman’s dressing modestly is not for the sake of men, but for the sake of honor and obedience to God. For further discussion on this issue, click here to see a post I wrote on this a while ago.

About those different roles

So interestingly a lot of the criticisms I saw in the hashtag were about how men and maybe even some women tell other women, “Women are important, but they just have different roles.” Admittedly, I’ve used that line before myself, but with no intention of offense. For example, the husband and the wife have different descriptions in scripture of how they are to fulfill their role. People can sometimes take issue with the verses expressing that men should lead women, but it gets missed that the man’s leadership is one of selflessness and honor to their wives. Ephesians 5:25 states, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,” 1 Peter 3:7 states, “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.”

Then there’s the issue of women being preachers of churches. I don’t want to offend any women by saying this, but 1 Timothy 3:2 does state, “An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,” Note the phrase, husband of one wife. And there is a verse in 1 Corinthians 14:34 which states “The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says.” And also 1 Timothy 2:12 states, “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.”

I’m not trying to argue anything, but there are verses we have to acknowledge and believe as truth just as we believe everything else wholeheartedly in scripture. Having acknowledged those verses, I will say Apostle Paul made note of women who were helpful to the cause of the Gospel. Romans 16:1 states, “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea;” Interestingly that word for servant is diakonos, which apparently means “an attendant, i.e. (genitive case) a waiter (at table or in other menial duties); specially, a Christian teacher and pastor (technically, a deacon or deaconess):—deacon, minister, servant. “

Also of note in Acts 18:24-26 it states, “Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John; and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.” It can be hard to know what names are masculine or feminine, but Priscilla is a woman. Verse 2 tells us she’s Aquila’s wife, and here we have an example of a woman helping explain things about God more accurately to a man.

Conclusion

I’m not trying to play both sides of the fence here; I’m just saying we have to put all of this information together as one collective belief of what the role of the woman in the church is. I hope and pray to the women who’ve felt disrespected by the church that this post can be of some encouragement. If you know any Christian or formerly Christian women who’ve felt this way, I’d appreciate if you shared this post with them.

Peace to all those who are in Christ.

Advertisements

25 thoughts on “In Response to #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear

  1. Nice job. This is another “hot button” topic to write about in the world and the church. There is a growing trend among women where equality means likeness. I think you hit the nail on the head. We each have our own roles in our family just as we have our own role in God’s family. The role is for us to fulfill with joy and not meant to enslave or ruled over. Since Adam and Eve fell men rule over women and women wish to control men. True love is this in a relationship where we submit to each other in love and God through weakness and not through our own strength. I look forward to reading further on your blog.

    • Hi Joseph. Thank you for your comment. Thought provoking observation you make with regards to equality vs likeness. Indeed, a marriage should be submission to one another in love and unified submission to God. I hope more of this understanding can be expressed by all people within the church.

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

  2. So well put, and ultimately if anyone is in doubt; they should take their concerns to God an let Him reveal what His perfect will for their life is. No one else can do this!

  3. Nice post. Paul basically enslaved women. Jesus never did. Paul did. My reference has always been what would Jesus do and say. He certainly used women as equal to men, i.e. to reveal the empty tomb. Some Christian men are gladly using Paul’s depreciable stand on women. It is a pretense and not Jesus-like. Anything that puts a barrier between Jesus and us is sin! Hence, the Christian doctrine to make Christian women dependent on men and to enslave them is sin!

    • Hi Katharina. Thank you for your comment. Your stance is quite interesting. So are you of the conclusion that all of Apostle Paul’s letters should be disregarded because of his statements on women?

      • No, they should not be discarded. But they need to be seen as culturally biased. It is our job to rid the cultural part from the message. Jesus was quite clear, we need to love God, people and ourselves. He never said anything to leave out women. He ministered Himself to women. Enslaving women or anybody else has nothing to do with love!

      • That’s always an interesting thing. How much of what scripture does one decide to take as being general to all Christians, versus something that was specific to a particular culture and time period. And then there’s the debate of what intention Paul was stating these things, which you have concluded was to enslave women. Some would perhaps conclude otherwise given the contrast of the praise he gives to women in other verses. It’s definitely an interesting and sensitive issue of study. But we can all definitely agree no one should use verses to enslave any women, and that we’re all to make sure our actions are always of love to God and towards others.

  4. Very thoughtful post. What people said about us does not define us. God determines our future. Thank you for that post. I have shared it on my Facebook page.

  5. I think when it really comes down to it, a difference of interpretation can make a really big difference.

    Ephesians 5:21 says “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ”; this would include husbands submitting to their wives, making the submission of wives to their husbands mutual and equal, and taking out of the sting of being a one-sided submission.

    1 Peter 3:7 could be saying that an unbeliever is a weaker vessel; not women as a class of people. If understood that way, then a believing wife is of equal strength. I just don’t picture strength itself being an important factor of faith, do you? I don’t think what Peter is saying here is that strength is more important than belief. (Besides, I think history shows us that women really are strong.)

    1 Timothy 3 was written with gender neutral pronouns, “if anyone desires … it is a good thing” it is only at the husband of one wife verse does gender come into play. what is that? A rule that only men may lead? Or a rule against multiple spouses? If the latter is indeed the case, then I don’t see why the wife of one husband would be forbidden from leading the church. After all, why put qualifications for wives in there at all?

    1 Corinthians 14 adds a sarcastic “Or what? Has the Word of God come only to men alone?” The Bible has had it’s share of prophetesses, like Hudah – silencing her because she was a woman would have been silencing God speaking through her. 1 Corinthians 11 also says that women may pray and prophesy. Paul gives instructions for prophesy – that they should all take turns. I think he really does have it in mind that women should speak. But Corinth was a diverse church, it’s possible that conservative elements believed that only men should speak and were hoping that Paul would side with them.

    1 Timothy 2:12 had some interesting cultural background; women who were joining up with Christianity were former priestesses in female-lead cults. Artemis I think. It was entirely possible that Paul wanted these natural born leaders to learn the ropes as Christians for awhile before taking the reigns. That’s an element of Scripture we often forget, there’s a lot of culture going on that we don’t often know about.

    You’re right, Phoebe was a deacon, Junia was an apostle, Priscilla was a teacher, Lydia was one of many women who hosted their local church at their house, and as hostess was a leader with specific duties. Euodia and Syntoche contended at Paul’s side for the Gospel. Because of the gender segregation in his day, there were places Paul couldn’t go to preach, but women like Euodia could.

    Then Early Church history tells us that two deaconesses were brought before the governor to answer for their faith, that Grapte was given a copy of letter of the Shepherd of Hermas in order to instruct the widows and the children, that Saint Jerome was known to refer church elders to Saint Marcella who could explain any theological point easily, that Fabiola started one of the earliest hospitals, that the Order of the Widows became a body of leaders within the church whose intercession ministry was vital, and these were just the extraordinary women who history happened to record – only God knows what contribution of ordinary women that history failed to remember.

    Now there are two ways to interpret Scripture, one is the letter of the law, the other is the spirit. One traps, the other frees. It seems to me like the early church did the latter while the modern church makes the mistake of doing the former. It’s to be expected though, our bible is divorced from it’s historical and cultural context and not anchored to it’s own time, so it’s only natural that we would result in reading it this way. But in a lot of ways we are not a first century nation, we are not a nation where only men write holy words and only men speak on behalf of God, and we are not bound to those rules that applied to them in their situation because we are not them and we are not in their situation. But as I said, it all comes down to interpretation; for so long, our interpreters were biased, as society has largely favored men; they saw no reason to interpret word in ways that were not to their advantage and that’s why so little has changed until recently, when that interpretation was challenged and we considered other interpretations that are just as valid and just as freeing.

    • Hi Jamie. Thank you for your comment. Yes, a difference of interpretation can make all the difference. I find the most helpful way to interpret is to look at things in context, which I think you appeared to strive to do in your comment, which is great. I find that’s something a lot of people don’t do sometimes. I think the whole passage in Ephesians 5:22-33 seems to illustrate an edifying relationship in general. Even in acknowledging the Husband is referred to as the Head in the passage, it seems to be in the sense of being the leader of doing good for their wife. With statements such as, Sanctifying them, making them holy and blameless, loving their wife as they love themselves. And I think that gets lost in the overemphasis in focus with the language of husbands being stated as the head, and wives being stated as subject to husbands. But yes, there are verses even outside Ephesians 5 that there is some mutuality of control in a marriage. As 1 Corinthians 7:4 states, “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does”

      With regards to 1 Peter 3:7, I honestly took that more as Paul acknowledging women biologically tend to be physically weaker than men (at least at that time probably, I know there are a lot of women bodybuilders or athletes now that are probably way stronger than most men). But it sounds as if you are viewing the statement of weakness being stated in a more social sense, which I’m not sure that’s being implied here. The strong’s defnition of that Greek word translated to weaker offers the suggestion of translation could be literally strengthless, or more feeble which my dictionary says feeble can mean lacking physical strength. To be fair, it does also mention the possibility of it being in a figurative or moral sense. In my conclusion, I would think literal would make the most sense perhaps.

      1 Timothy 3, My translation that I read from states, “if any man”, however the Greek word used here means a certain one, used of persons. I’ve heard the suggestion before that husband of one wife is merely stating not having multiple spouses. While that may be a possibility, I think we’re still left with a verse that seems to place the designation of leadership on the subject of that portion of the verse which is the husband.

      My translation in 1 Corinthians 14 states, “36 Was it from you that the word of God first went forth? Or has it come to you only?” Greek word for that to you only is monos which means “only, alone, but”. The question is who is the you here. I would guess the you in this case seemed to be the women, since that was the last subject referenced in the prior verse. But then again, it does later switch to a gender neutral pronoun with regards to recognition only to those who acknowledge the things which Apostle Paul has written are to be understood as the Lord’s command. I’ve heard it suggested that the silence was commanded because a lot women were asking questions during the reading and teaching of the word, and as you see in the verse it mentions instruction of the women learning from their husbands afterwards. And I guess of course in which case, the husbands would have to be silent too in order to listen as well, not necessarily just women being silent. I think it seems plausible given the statements of the surrounding verses. But then as you say, when it comes time for prophesying or tongue speaking, anyone can speak. Of course all of them weren’t married, so maybe it was just intended as a general instruction of asking questions after reading and teaching of the Word.

      With regards to 1 Timothy 2, I’m not aware of that culture background, but it’s something I can look into it. But sticking within the scripture, I would think the same possible interpretation in 1 Corinthians 14 could apply here. As far as the teaching and exercising authority part, with Paul going into Adam coming before Eve, and it was not Adam being deceived but the woman, and just seemingly hammering the point. I don’t know if the cultural explanation you’ve suggested is plausible, of it just being a particular group of new woman in the faith. Having said that, there was that verse where a husband and wife helped correct a man preaching inaccurately in Acts. Maybe it’s only within the context of the assembling, which would go back to the verse with regards to the husband being an overseer. Just my speculation.

      With regards to Junia being an Apostle, just sticking to the scripture, I couldn’t find a verse stating that, and the verse which she’s mentioned merely states she’s someone of note among the Apostles. But yes, Pheobe was a deaconess (female deacon), and Priscilla was the woman in Acts who helped along with her husband the man who was preaching inaccurately. I only see house of Lydia in scripture which the Greek states she was a Christian woman, biblical outline usage states hostess of Paul during his stay. But not quite explicitly stating local church. But I get where it could potentially be assumed that given churches were held in houses. With regards to Euodia and Syntache, I do recall my academic bible suggested they were heads of house churches, though to be fair, it doesn’t explicitly state that in the verses or in the Greek translated word meaning for her name (Euodia), which stated Christian woman. Though nonetheless commended by Apostle Paul as workers in the cause of the Gospel, and requesting that they get all the help they need.

      As far as everything else with regards to early church history and saints, that’s outside of my realm of knowledge. I’m just the scripture person. But I would find that interesting to look into sometime. I find early church writings can be useful if they further affirm the teachings within scripture. I agree with you that in interpreting scripture some things in scripture can seem to be specific to a culture and period of time, but I would perhaps that it’s usually explicit, such as in the Law (which of course we’re no longer bound by) there being instructions with regards to sacrificing of certain animals that obviously not all of us live around. But I think it’s important to be cautious of making sure we’re not merely picking and choosing whatever statements we may not be particularly fond of and just say “oh that’s culture”. I’m not suggesting that you’re doing that in your conclusions, but just a reminder to all of us that it would seem good to be careful about that. I hope I presented some things to think about in my full comment. Perhaps the longest response I’ve ever done, so forgive me if my brain is slow in replying to you if you have further thoughts or any questions lol.

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

  6. Of course, one must be careful when using the term “lust”. Lust is not mere sexual arousal or sexual desire but involves covetousness that can lead one to fornicate or commit adultery or even sexual assault.

    • Hi larryzb. Thank you for your comment. Yes, it’s right to note that lust is not merely sexual desire. As James 4:2 illustrates, “You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.”

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

  7. A very thoughtful post, thank you for sharing. I was chatting with a friend yesterday about assigned gender roles and was reminded of Jesus’s attitude to Martha and Mary, where he said that Mary was taking the better part for listening and learning, instead of rushing around doing the housework. I thought this demonstrated a respect towards women, and an inclusion of them as disciples, rather than just expecting them to do the chores! Just a thought x

    • Hi Becky. Thank you for your comment. And for sure they were considered a part of the group just as the male disciples were. I hope people can see that different instructions to different people does not necessarily equal denigration of any kind. Much like how an overseer and a deacon have different instructions, but still both important roles.

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s