Copyright © The Master's Table
Aug. 11th 2011
A moderator at last night's GOP presidential debate is coming under fire for questioning Michele Bachmann on what it means when she says she's a "submissive" wife and how it might affect her presidency. The Biblical phrase came up in a recent Washington Post profile of Bachmann's husband, Marcus, which reported the Minnesota lawmaker had told congregants at her church in 2006 that she'd pursued her degree in tax law only because her husband had told her to. "The Lord says: Wives are to be submissive to their husbands," Bachmann said at the time, according to the Post. Her campaign hasn't disputed the remarks.
Women in leadership roles have been controversial between the two genders for decades in and outside the church. We need to take a good look at this subject in ALL its aspects in order to come to a right understanding. The one thing that many bible students fail to understand is that the books or writings of Paul and others were just letters sent to various churches for the purpose of teachings for that congregation and to solve problems. Although there are great examples we can follow in Paul's letters, I doubt that he ever intended for his letters to be a law book that Christians would go to in the way the Children of Israel did with the Law of Moses. If you remember God stated a command to Moses that what he was to write and give to the people was the law, but we find no such command from God to Paul. So we need to remember that most of the teachings of Paul were principles of Christian living and not commands by God.
Also when studying any topic in history one must always educate themselves with the customs and cultural aspects of the era. To not do this will cause the research information to be a superficial resemblance of the facts at best. For an example if you were to write a research paper on the people of Iran, or Syria today you would find they are living by laws and customs very much the same way they did during the time Jesus was born. Women had no rights during Paul's day and was considered as property. With this in mind let's read what Paul stated in 1 Cor 14:34-35. "Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; (Greek is preach) but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. (We will cover the meaning of teach or preach at the end of this paper.) And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church. (New King James Throughout) The fact that one of the letters of Paul states that women should not teach in the church goes a lot deeper than meets the eye as you will see before we finish this study. Just as an example to make my point here, during the time in South Louisiana and Alabama when Blacks could not publicly set, dance, or eat with the whites, the old World Wide Church of God held the same policy! You would think it was biblical to do things that way if you were a part of the congregation at that time.
If we took all the scriptures that stated women should be silent and should not teach or have any role in working with the gospel then we would have to conclude that women could only set in Church with their head down and covered. But to group these scriptures together without considering other scriptures that would contradict this idea would not be teaching the true balance of the subject. Let's look at one of those scriptures in Phil 4:3. "And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life."
Those that would teach that women should not be involved in the gospel would most likely not use this scripture in their sermon. It would be very awkward trying to explain why Paul was saying that women were involved as fellow workers in the Gospel which is a message in itself. My wife is a great helper and companion to me in my research and study of the scriptures. She has spent many hours not only in study but in reading the articles and giving me her input and point of view. The only reason her name is not on these articles is because she requested that I not add her name there. There are many examples in the bible where women played a major role in the outcome of events. I will not go into all them in depth here but let's not forget Ruth, or the very wise Queen Esther, and let's not forget what King Solomon had to say in the example of the Proverbs 31 woman.
We must always remember that God creates all things for a purpose and if any thing in creation or any person steps outside that purpose they become less useful as God intended. Men were in fact created first from the dust of the ground and women were created from the rib of man which means the woman came from man or out of man and then God stated that she was to be a helper for him. God could have made women from the dust of the ground in the same way He made man but choose to do it this way for a good reason. It is God's will that men always are to be in authority over all the earth and also responsible for the results of any misuse and women are to be subject to that authority just as men must always be subject to the authority of God. Men need to understand their reasonability and know that women were not given to man as a slave, or as a pleasure toy, or a punching bag! but to help her husband succeed in life. What men should realize is that a man's wife is his helper in life and should stand beside, not behind him, and if we abuse our wives we are really abusing ourselves and reducing our own success as well. God designed the relationship to be that the success of one would be the success of the other, and conversely the demise of one would be the demise of the other and in many cases the demise of the family. The thing that men and women should realize is that apart they are not complete, but together in their proper roles they are one and again just as all men and women should be one with God.
Should women rule over the church and their husbands? No, as stated above, God Himself created man first out of the dust of the ground and the woman out of man and then stated that she was to be a helper for him. We find a good scripture that teaches the balance of the relationship between men and women in 1 Cor 7:4 4. It states; "The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does." Question is should elder women teach the younger women and be a help to the church and their husband? Absolutely! Should women be ordained as elders over the men in the church? No but they can teach but not in a leading role as we do find the example that Jesus choose twelve men, and in every case in scripture we find examples of men being in leadership roles in the church as well as in government by the command of God.
Let's understand that the term teach in the New Testament does not mean the same thing as it does today. Today we use the word to teach as to impart knowledge where in the writings concerning Jesus it meant "Master" and in some of the writings of Paul it meant to be a disciplinarian, or trainer which denoted the person regulating the practice of a church as distinguished by its doctrine which had to come from what Jesus taught. We can see by this meaning why Paul would say women should not teach (or be the master) but yet in other writings we find Paul working with woman in the preaching of the Gospel which we found and read in Phil 4:3.
I hope this information will help clear up some misconceptions that have been handed down through time. Even less than 100 years ago women were treated in a wrong way because of the misunderstanding from Paul's writings.
Timothy M. Youngblood