The S-Word: Dispelling the Myths of Biblical Womanhood
Both Valued and Valuable
“Success” is defined in the dictionary as:
“…the attainment of wealth, position, honor or the like.” (dictionary.com)
Unfortunately, much of what the church has come to also define as successful falls within these same parameters. Very often we see “successful” ministries as those that more people know about, are more in the public eye, have more immediately visible fruit, etc., etc.
When you view this in terms of the male/female relationship and the subsequent roles for each within either the home or the church, you can see where the debate stemmed from. The successful one must be the leader. If you’re not leading, you can’t be successful, at least not entirely, and that becomes a problem for some for a number of reasons.
First of all, this qualification assumes that only leaders are truly successful. That both qualifies and quantifies what is worthwhile to God within the work of His Kingdom. That assumes that some work is better to God than others, and therefore, the favored work is the one we should strive toward.
However, even more incorrect is the root of this issue, namely that success is defined in terms of us instead of God. If we are really and truly God-centered in our lives, in all of our endeavors, then it wouldn’t matter whether we’re recognized, nor would it matter that our ministries are “big.” If God is the center, then the only thing we're thinking about is advancing His Kingdom and His glory. If what we are doing is accomplishing those things, then that would be true success. How we are viewed by anyone other than God and what He deems worthy becomes unnecessary and pointless. Our only vision is toward God.
Given that, it is my contention that the entire feminist movement, most especially those within the church who have tried to find ways around the Biblical mandates for women, is in reality a seeking of self. It is centered in recognition for self and success for self. Otherwise, whether I was “leading” or “following” would be inconsequential.
John Calvin wrote:
“The course which Christian men (and women) must follow is this: first, they must not long for, or hope for, or think of any kind of prosperity apart from the blessing of God; on it they must cast themselves, and there safely and confidently recline.”
I’ve spent a lot of time in the last articles establishing God’s order in creation and His consequent order for the roles of men and women—within the home, the church, and the community. What I want to challenge using the next four articles is the assumption that the roles of women, because they are in submission to male headship, are somehow lesser than or not as important or not as successful as those of men.
The Bible, contrary to public opinion, does not place qualitative nor quantitative importance on men’s roles versus women’s roles. On the contrary, the Bible very clearly teaches the vast importance of women, both in the history of God’s people and in the ministry of God’s people. It is extremely important that we continue this study on Biblical womanhood with a clearer perspective regarding our roles and what they actually mean in terms of service and ministry.
The valuable ministries of women in the Scriptures is a crucial topic for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that we should be encouraged by the women in the Scriptures who have contributed to the spread of God’s kingdom message. God does not use men alone to accomplish His purposes. Both sexes are created in God’s image, and both men and women have been used mightily by God.
No woman who has a desire to please God should feel that there is no place for her in the ministry of the church.
Unfortunately, many feminist advocates point to God’s Word as proof that Christianity has no place for successful women. Their view is that the male dominated structure of Biblical history and institutions has squelched the reality that women might have been otherwise successful. This is not true and only proves really one thing—they haven’t read the same Bible as it is really written! God has a place and a job and a role of extreme significance for all of His creatures, men and women alike, and there were many, many influential and successful women in the Bible. Yet even in their success, they functioned within the parameters of God’s role for women.
Each of the next three articles will look at three different scriptural proofs of the supreme importance women have played in God’s kingdom work. I’ll be looking at the works of Deborah in the Old Testament, Phoebe and Priscilla from the New Testament, and the many women involved in the ministry of Jesus. I pray that each of these subsequent articles strengthen and encourage you. You are important to God and His work. Nothing, not even your gender, can infringe upon that importance.