Women..? Where..?

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It can seem, that church and Christian organisations are just social clubs. The public face is male, making great strides to show “brotherhood” and the paternalistic stance over all that takes place.

Organisations run by men find it hard to take the lead from a woman. They see women as less and therefore should not have the right to take a leading role. We say we believe the opposite, and that women are equal to men, but it doesn’t quite work out in practice. It seems a waste to gift women with high intelligence, since they won’t really be needing it…

How can we say we stand for God when we ignore the gifts in women that men do not have. Men are “encouraged” and put forward positively, in a way women are not. Men seem to be uncomfortable when women are around, especially in a leadership capacity, so that situation does not arise. Women’s role is to support and nurture the men, so that they are emboldened to take their place as leaders. Men do not give way so that a woman can take the lead. Women are encouraged and treated in a way that keeps them quiet and seemingly satisfied with their “lot.” This attitude has a detrimental effect on the lives of women and their opportunities to serve God. Women are disappointed with what they find in “church” and seek fulfilment in a secular capacity and give their best gifts to their profession. If someone should seek more in the “spiritual” realm of life, they are regarded as moving away from “God’s purposes for them as women.” They must subdue and submit to the perceived social more of being “under” and serve the men.

God is not pleased with how His daughters are viewed and treated. No one person can fix this situation, except the Holy Spirit working in our lives to show us the wrong we think and do.

We invoke the scriptures that state women to be silent, thereby not to preach or teach. The scripture says “women are to be silent in the churches..” that would also include- reading, praying, singing – any form of public declaration. The implications of that for church services would be huge.

If women are not to do these things, then what? Sunday school teaching would also be out of the equation, praying in the prayer meeting.. etc. How are women’s gifts to be used?

Perhaps the strength of women is in the secular life and their resilience and work is for that arena, rather than church services… perhaps women’s skills in relationships and analysing situations are for life lived among secular people, where careful behaviour and speech is required…?

Perhaps they would be permitted to serve in the church in advisory capacity and train the men in the skills they do not have. The fruit of the Spirit is often best seen in women’s lives and devotion to Christ is historically a women’s reality. These gifts would be deeply helpful to churches and would promote godly environments and attitudes in everyone. The silent stance is again a problem.

Luke 13:21 NIV

” It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

Jesus speaks of women in His parables in a realistic environment and often in a strong position. The work of this woman in spreading the good news of the gospel. It went through the whole batch of dough- the whole church of Christ!

Amos 4:13 NIV

“He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth—the Lord God Almighty is his name.”

God reveals His thoughts to all mankind- women too. Women know truly who God is and perhaps understand the work of the Holy Spirit more than most men. The fruit of the Spirit are sometimes regarded as “feminine traits” this is curious, since all Christians are entreated to exhibit them in their own lives.

What does God look for in the lives of His people.

Micah 8:6 NIV

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Macho posturing has no place here… we are all to act fairly towards each other and to allow others space and show mercy to each other, and to walk with God in humility… this is impossible for us without the inner working of the Holy Spirit. Lording it over others is not here. Keeping people in their place is not here. Making jokes at the expense of sections of the community is not here. Referring to personal points of view, is not here….

It’s way harder than we think.

The Apostles were all men, the disciples were all men, and many instances are cited for the leadership of men in the Scriptures. However, the truths in the whole bible are unfairly weighted in our minds as for men and against women. It is a pity, but this is how it is seen and theological views are built on a very one-sided view of men and women, which is not God honouring or women honouring, or men honouring.

The instances of women leading appear less than male role models, but they are there. Perhaps it is to teach us to look closer to the truth than we might ordinarily do. We need to see the whole panoply of God’s truth and viewpoint, not just follow what preachers, commentators and writers say. The Word of God is living and powerful… we must all “see” it.

Ephesians 5 instructs Christian men and women to submit to one another… it then instructs women to be submissive to their husband. This is often interpreted that the woman is at the whim of every man… This is patently not so.

Submitting to each other, and the submission to husbands, does not seem to go together. There are many and varied commentators interpretations concerning this issue. They all reflect the preoccupations of the writer and the time and place where he wrote. Women commentators come later.

Every couple and every family must find their way to live this out to the glory of God. Men are not always the best leaders, most intelligent, creative, inspiring… the truth for each couple will have to be worked out in their lives as a couple and their individual walk with God. The social pressures played out in “church” settings, just ladles on the grief and pain.

There should be no competition. The smart man might recognise the wife as the best leader and wisely listen to her. More often it is a shared position, with the submission practiced on both sides.

As for work. There are still those who think women should not go outside the home, and do paid work. The person who works in another place outside the home, seems to have some sort of invisible status, and the woman at home is the glorified sweeper up..! This is curious, especially when we consider the attitude of Christ as the servant of all.

Women as well as men need strenuous, responsible activity and every human being has the right to work. So should not every Christian have suitable activity in the church of Christ, that suits their God-given gifts..? Maybe it will be organising the hospitality, or maybe it will be coordinating the evangelism… half of all human society is women after all… In Christian settings, there are often more women than men.

Much is written and spoken about this issue and related issues… it still remains very one-sided… Men will say supportive (and patronizing) things in meetings, but a superficial examination of their lives reveals otherwise. I have heard church leader comment, that they “have to keep them out..!” These are the instances where the resentment and paranoid oppression of women, is displayed, and no one picks it up.

“Pride of man and earthly glory, tower and temple fall to dust” Joachim Neander wrote this in the 17th Century. Our vaunted efforts to build great churches fall into the unknown and uncared for. We set such store by what we do, but most of the church stuff will not survive the fire.

It’s the pride that brings us down, and that keeps women out of the circle and ensconces the most strident man at the front. It would be a soap opera, if it wasn’t so serious.

I suppose this will be just another article. Women trying to be on top.. I think Christian women have a far deeper and wider understanding than the leadership think, they are godly women who try to keep peace. But it won’t last, because it is unjust and ungodly.

Lord, may the Holy Spirit come down and change the culture of our fellowships. May every Christian have the opportunity to express their love for Christ and serve Him in the way He commands.

 

 

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