Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Does the Bible Belittle Women?

Episode Resources

Listen to the series: "A Vision for Biblical Womanhood."

Print a copy of the True Woman Manifesto.

See other True Woman Manifesto resources.

Leslie Basham: Does the Bible demean women? Here's Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Scripture gives great honor, worth, value to women. You will never find the Scripture—contrary to what many would say today—you'll never find the Scripture belittling or demeaning women—or men, for that matter, because they're created alike in the image of God.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Choosing Gratitude, for Thursday, April 12, 2018. 

Nancy is devoting several series this year to the True Woman Manifesto. She's teaching through each point, showing us the importance of these ideas. Today she explores one of the most counter-cultural points in the Manifesto.

Nancy: Some of you may not be aware that Revive Our Hearts has a number of websites and blogs. Yesterday, I found myself on the Lies Young Women Believe blog, just reading some of the things that these gals have written as they interact with each other. Some of these gals have a real heart and a hunger for the Lord, a real openness to be taught by Him. Then there are others that I think, Where are their mothers? You can see how much confusion there is in the younger generation that's a reflection of confusion in the older generation about what it means to be women of God and to relate to men in a godly way.

There was a particular post I was looking at on the Lies Young Women Believe blog. It was called “Fearless Femininity.” Let me just read to you some of the comments that some teenage girls posted on that blog as they were grappling with this call to biblical womanhood.

One gal said,

I am afraid of not being in control. I am afraid of having a husband who always needs to know where I am going, what I am doing, or what I think. I know that there is a balance, but I am not quite sure what it is.

There's another one who said,

I don't want to just be a helper. I don't want to be a servant to some guy. I'm a human, not a puppy!!!! I want my marriage to be an equal partnership, where we BOTH make the final decisions and where we BOTH have masculine and feminine sides. I want to live a godly life. I just don't understand why I can't marry someone who will be my equal, instead of someone who will dominate over me.

Now, I'm not endorsing these statements. I'm just saying this is some of the thinking that these young girls are grappling with. Here's another one.

Hi everyone. I don't really agree with all this. I mean, I'm really nothing like all these. I'm not a helper—trust me. I just like never help, although I should more. I simply CAN'T cook. I hate cleaning. I'm very strong-willed, and I have a hard time submitting.

I don't want a husband who is dominant—I want an equal partnership. I don't want to obey a guy! I mean, that's just really old-fashioned! In my vows when I get married, I'm NOT going to say, "I'm always going to obey you," because I'm not!!!!

I'm not a real girly girl. I would much rather watch an NBA basketball game then go shopping. I would rather play a good game of paint ball than bake a cake! And I've like NEVER, EVER, EVER changed a single diaper in my life! And I'm really bad with babies! Trust me!!!

I never dress up unless I have to. I would much rather wear an old pair of jeans and a T-shirt than a nice dress!!!! I love school, so that's why I'm going to college when I graduate next year, and I'm going to get a job after that. To be honest, I don't even think that I want to have kids (I might adopt, but I don't think that I want to like HAVE any).

I'm just not the serving, submitting, cooking, cleaning, baby, helping type, and so I just don't fit into this model of the way femininity is supposed to look like! And so how am I supposed to be soooo feminine when I get married? Do I have to change who I am? Cause I'm NOT!

Now, a lot of capital letters and a lot of exclamation points there, and what a challenge for those of us who are older women to get engaged in the lives of these younger women, to take them under our wing. Because there are girls in your youth group, there are college students in your church, there are young wives and moms around you who are thinking some of these very same things and who are confused as to what it means to be a woman of God!

What does God's Word teach about it, and then what does that look like, and how can I live that out? As we're looking at the True Woman Manifesto, we come today to one of the affirmations that is among the most controversial in our culture. So I'm going to state the affirmation, and then we'll take a look at it.

It says, “We affirm that men and women are both created in the image of God,” no controversy so far, “and are equal in value and dignity,” so far, so good, “but,” here's where the rub comes, we affirm that “they have distinct roles and functions in the home and in the church.”

Now, within that affirmation, there is lots and lots that we could talk about. In fact, I've taught on this subject and subjects related to it multiple times before on Revive Our Hearts. We have one particular two-week series called, “A Vision for Biblical Womanhood,” and I want to encourage you to get a hold of that series if you've not heard it before. You can read the transcripts at ReviveOurHearts.com. I want to encourage you to get a hold of that series, to listen to it, because I talk about this whole issue in much greater detail than I'm going to do today.

Today, I'm going to attempt in one session to just give you a concise overview of this issue of the similarities and differences between the roles of men and women in the home and in the church.

Now, this affirmation starts out by saying that, “Men and women are both created in the image of God and are equal in value and dignity.” That's an important thing for us to affirm because there are many who say that those of us who believe in biblical womanhood are saying things that we aren't saying. We have to start by affirming equality—created in the image of God, equal in value and dignity.

Let me just read to you what is a very familiar paragraph from Genesis 1 but such a beautiful one and one that we need to reflect on and revel in.

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them (Gen 1:26–28).

Male and female both created in the image of God:

  • both of equal worth and value to God
  • both with equal access to God
  • both given together—as heirs together of the grace of life—the responsibility to rule over God's creation

Scripture gives great honor, worth, value to women. You will never find the Scripture—contrary to what many would say today—you'll never find the Scripture belittling or demeaning women, or men for that matter, because they're created alike in the image of God. So there's no place for despising one gender or the other. There's no place under God's authority, under the sovereignty and the Word of God, for abusing women or men.

Jesus treated women with respect, with dignity, with kindness. He included them in his ministry, and in that era, that was radically counter-cultural for a Rabbi, a respectable man, to treat women with kindness and worth and dignity.

We know that the Holy Spirit has been given equally to both men and women, that men and women are equally baptized into the Body of Christ, that they share equally in the privileges of redemption, including access to God. Galatians 3,

For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ [Jesus] have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (vv. 26–28).

God created man and woman equally in His image and equal in value and dignity and worth. As members of the body of Christ, we've all been given spiritual gifts. In Luke 8, in Romans 16, in other passages you see women being appreciated and valued for their contribution to ministry.

Women are called to serve the Lord. Women are called to ministry. Do I believe in women in ministry? Absolutely! Every woman is to be in ministry. Every man is to be in ministry—equal value, both created in God's image.

Having said that, the Scripture also affirms that God has given distinct roles and functions to men and women  in the home and in the church. Those differences are what enable men and women to complement one another and to reflect three important things about God.

I'm going to just touch on these, but remember, we're created to reflect the image of God, to glorify Him, and we do that as men and women as we fulfill our distinct roles and functions. When we do that, we reflect the fact that within the Trinity there are different functions and roles. They are co-equal, co-eternal, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, but they have different roles and functions. So God has given to men and women different roles and functions within the body of Christ.

We also reflect God's created order and design for men and women when we live out those different roles and functions. Whenever the New Testament sets forth the roles and functions and responsibilities for men and for women in the home and in the church, it repeatedly takes us back to creation. This is the created order of God.

That's important to remember because some theologians would say that the headship role of men over their wives was introduced after the Fall, that it's a part of their punishment and that Christ came to undo and reverse the effects of the Fall.

Contrary to that, we see in the Scripture, evidence of different roles between Adam and Eve before they ever sinned. Those different roles in Scripture are never traced back to the Fall. They're traced back to the way things were in the Garden of Eden, before sin corrupted our relationships.

Then here is what we reflect so beautifully when we accept and embrace those distinct roles and functions for men and women in the home and in the church, and that is the redemptive plan of God and the relationship that Christ has with His Church.

Again, let me read to you a passage that I know is very familiar, but it is so beautiful. I want you to see the connection between our differences as men and women in the way we function in the home and how that reflects the redemptive story.

Ephesians chapter 5,

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. . . . Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. [There's the equality, even with the differences.] This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church (vv. 22–23; 31–32).

The mystery of husband and wife, headship and submission—it's a profound mystery, equality but differences. But it's a mystery that pictures a grand, eternal, magnificent—a reality of the relationship between Christ and His Church—Christ the Savior, the Church redeemed by Christ, the Church in loving, adoring submission to Christ.

It's a oneness of relationship. It's an intimacy of relationship, and yet there are differences in their roles and functions. So Paul goes on to say in Ephesians 5, “Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (v. 33).

Now, when we do away with these distinctions between men and women in their functions and their responsibilities, when we do away with headship, with authority, with submission, we do away with what was intended to be an incredible picture of the relationship between God the Father and God the Son, the relationship between Christ and His Church.

In the unisex movement of our day, there's an attempt to have sameness, to do away with any distinctions between the genders. Those who promote that way of thinking, confuse differences in roles and functions with inequality.

The truth is, equality does not mean sameness. Distinctions in roles and responsibilities are not the same as inequality. They do not mean less value.

Men and women are both created in the image of God and are equal in value and dignity, but they have distinct roles and functions in the home and in the church.

At the heart of those distinctions is the belief, according to God's Word, that God has given to men the primary responsibility to lead and to feed the flock of God, that men hold the primary responsibility for direction, for provision, and for protection of their families and of the family of God.

That means that within the home, the husband has the primary responsibility to lead, to provide for, and to protect his family, and the wife is primarily responsible to help her husband by managing the household and nurturing the children.

Now, that doesn't mean that husband and wife don’t participate in both. They will both often help one or the other in their area of responsibility. It simply addresses who has the ultimate, primary responsibility, and this does not specify who does what activities—who washes the dishes, who takes out the trash. It's not addressing that so much.

What it's addressing is:

  • The husband is held responsible for the overall direction of the home.
  • The wife is responsible to be in a supportive role, encouraging and helping him in carrying out God's mandate for their lives as a couple.

How does that apply within the church? God gives to men the primary responsibility in the church to lead and to feed. That has to do with governance and teaching, and these are the two primary responsibilities of pastors and elders.

If you go to Titus and Timothy, you see that their two primary responsibilities are governance—giving direction, leadership to the church, and teaching, feeding the flock—leading and feeding. Therefore, the position of pastor or elder within the church is reserved for men.

Now, as soon as I say this—I've said it before, and we've had it happen before—we will get letters; we will get emails from people who disagree with me. It's not my word. It's God's Word. So go back to the Scripture and say, “What does God's Word say?” not do I like it, is it comfortable, not is it how I would have written the script?

This is why we started with the authority of Scripture. We're basing our lives on what God says, on His sovereign right to rule over our lives, and His desire to bless us, knowing that what God says is best.

The text that most explicitly relates to this issue of leadership of men within the church is found in First Timothy chapter 2, and I'm sure you're familiar with that, but let me just read it.

I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; [this is in the context of the assembly, the church] rather, she is to remain quiet (v. 12).

 We've got a whole series on what all this means, so I won't expound on that here. But you see that God's plan for the Church is rooted and grounded in creation, the way God designed things to be. It says, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor” (vv. 13–14).

Now, both men and women have been given spiritual gifts, and both men and women are to use those gifts to minister in the context of the local church. Women’s gifts are needed in the church and probably needed in many churches to a greater extent than they're being used. Women are to be utilized and honored in the ministries of the church. However, according to God's Word, there are some governing and teaching roles, in the context of the local church, that are restricted to men.

Now, I know—I would be quick to say there is potential for abuse here. When you look at God's plan for the home and for the church, sometimes there are men who are autocratic, domineering, abusive, or men who are passive. They don't step up to the plate.

You can have women who as a result get wounded or wronged. I know that has happened to some perhaps in this room, but we need to recognize that these abuses are not the result of God’s plan. They are distortions of God’s created plan. They are the consequence of the entrance of sin into the world that corrupted our relationships as God intended them to be. So, the solution is not to throw out God’s plan, but to embrace it, to allow God to redeem our broken, fallen manhood and womanhood.

Let me say, this matters a lot. I don't have time to go into it here, but there is a slippery slope when we reject God's plan for the roles of men and women within the home and in the church. We end up rejecting the authority of Scripture, and that's where so many of our liberal, mainline denominations have ended up off track and embracing things that are horrendous—immoral types of behaviors—and justifying it, supposedly, in the church because they rejected the basic authority of God's Word on this issue of gender.

Now, I know to a lot that God's plan for the home and the church as it relates to gender may seem restrictive. It may seem limiting. It may seem unfair, and unfortunately, sometimes this plan has been presented in ways that are harsh or legalistic.

I will acknowledge, as I have in the past, that this way of thinking is not something that I have always easily embraced in my own heart. But over the years, I have discovered the joy of saying, “Yes, Lord. I embrace Your calling, Your design, Your order for my life. You did not make me to be a man. I have the same worth and value as men. We're all created in Your image, but You've given me a specific, particular set of functions and responsibilities.” I've discovered the joy of being who God created me to be.

God's ways protect against the dehumanization of women and against the emasculation of men.

God's way protects against the dehumanization of women and against the emasculation of men. God's way doesn't abuse women or suppress them. It offers a context in which, in the home and in the church and in the culture, women can experience true freedom and maximum fullness and fruitfulness in Christ.

God's way is not a restriction, though it involves some restrictions. God's way is not limiting. God is good and wise. His blueprint, His plan, is good and wise. This is for our blessing, for our protection, and for the display of God’s glory.

You and I may not ever, this side of heaven, fully understand why God designed it this way, but you know what? We don’t have to. God's God, and we're not. The issue, when it comes down to it is, do we believe that God has the right to rule over His creation, over His Church, over our homes, over your marriage, over our lives, and do we have the faith that God is good, the confidence that His ways are right, that they are best, and that they bring blessing?

I want to just say, I do trust God. I trust Him. I know that He's good, and I know that what He has ordained is for His glory and for our blessing.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been giving us a quick overview of a deep subject. She's teaching through the True Woman Manifesto and today covered the portion that describes the roles of men and women. 

Like Nancy said earlier in the program, we hope you'll listen to her in-depth study of this issue. Visit ReviveOurHearts.com and look up the series, “A Vision for Biblical Womanhood.” You can stream it, download it, or read the transcript. The important thing is, get it into your heart.

For ten years, women have been discovering the beauty of God-given womanhood at True Woman Conferences, hosted by Revive Our Hearts. This year, we’re marking the ten-year anniversary of this movement at True Woman '18, the conference coming to Indianapolis September 27–29.

Here’s some of what you can expect. Dr. Eric Mason will provide a pastoral overview for the weekend. Then you’ll hear shorter messages—about twenty minutes each—on the topic, “The Truth That Sets Us Free.” Speakers will springboard off of topics from the book, Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets them Free. Those speakers include: Nancy, Jackie Hill Perry, Betsy Gómez, Mary Kassian, and Dannah Gresh. Between the messages, you’ll experience the drama of the group Acts of Renewal.

I hope you’ll discover greater freedom as you get to know the truth in a deeper way. Get all the details for the True Woman '18 conference by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com. And check it out before prices go up. Get the discount through May 1. You can also call 1–800–569–5959. 

Tomorrow, scholar Bruce Ware reflects on the command, “Husbands, love your wife like Christ loves the church.”

Bruce Ware: That is a huge command. No husband has ever been able to fulfill that in the way in which Christ has loved the Church. It's a standard that is so high and calls every husband constantly to reevaluate and improve.

Leslie: So how do you respond to an imperfect husband? We'll talk about it tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth believes in the beauty of God's good design. It'an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

 

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