10.1.06

Talking about women - Jesus Army Life, Day 179

This morning, on the way in to work, I was chatting with my friend about women. We often talk about women on the way into work... But our concern is the church and how women reach their godly potential in a church led by men.

Notably in the news, Norway has created a law requiring all their top companies to have a board of directors that is at least 40% female. Their government is leading the way with 50% of women in positions of power. While I question the validity of quotas I think this is to applauded. Defendants of the policy argue that the right women of caliber are there to be found and I believe it.

But we were talking about the church, not about business. Business and government is subject to the influence of society, and the equality they institute is a matter of civil rights. In contrast, in the church no one really has any rights, we are all subject to God and indebted to love one another. It is the principle of love which demands justice for women, not civil rights. In the church equality exists because we are all to be the least, we believe in being servants, slaves even, to each other as followers of Jesus. We are called to 'live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: to love the brotherhood of believers, to fear God, to honor the king' (the government) (1 Peter 2:17).

Fundamentally, the church is organic in nature, because it is based upon a spiritual people: a people who will operate from their instinctive, godly make-up. It relies upon and produces that multidimensional network of relationships mankind seems automatically wired up to create. Church is, or should be, God-inspired society. People act more as they would in a family than in a business. In family there is no equality at all, but rather a sense of teamwork. So church is manmade but not designed to be efficient, streamlined, calculating, ruthless, critical, it cannot obey quotas on a male/female divide, it works according to the design of God. And of course, that is the truth of the matter: everyone is different, we can't be categorised by law or society or ultimately even by gender, we all have our own abilities and potential in Jesus (Galatians 3:28).

Anyway, back to the central issue. In church we don't dominate each other, we sacrifice for each other. We don't subject one another to our command, we win one another's hearts for the cause of Jesus.

"Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all - he is the greatest."

Luke 9:48

However, we also have to follow the biblical principle that men carry authority: neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head. In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. (1 Corinthians 11:9-11)

This is difficult stuff. We did reach some tentative conclusions however and so I will try to conclude here: If you look at some of the leading women of the New Testament church: Priscilla, Lydia, Tabitha, Junias, Mary, these are all women who achieved a great deal and reached into their potential for God. Lydia ran her own business and seems to have brought her circle of friends and family to Christ through sheer weight of character alone. Priscilla seems to have worked tirelessly for the gospel, using her influence and intellect to increase the church. Tabitha, a different character, was again hard working, loving and influential. Junias and Mary we know less of but we know their position carried weight. All of these women were submissive (as are all leading men, see Luke 7:8-9), their characters seem to be mostly unassuming, there is gentility but strength too, and hard work also seems to be a common trait.

This seems to agree with some of the standards set out by Peter, himself a married man (1 Peter 2-3):
  • Willingness to suffer
  • Beauty that comes from the inner self
  • A sense of self worth in God's eyes
  • Purity
  • Reverence
  • A hope placed in God
  • A gentle spirit
  • A quiet spirit
  • Persistence
  • Submission and obedience to men in authority
  • Doing what is right
  • Not giving way to fear

Please feel free to comment.