This series of articles which will appear on this subject over the next few months are summaries of messages given at Sarnia, May 2010.
Womanhood In Creation – Separate Yet Equal
What gives us value? Contemporary society would point to one of three things: appearance, accomplishments, acquisitions. How you look, what you have done, what you own! As a result, women are valued on the basis of their appearance, their careers, their homes, and their experiences.
But how does God value women? Whatever answer we arrive at should dictate how those that are “godly” value women. Notice first of all,
She is equally an image bearer of God. She is not inferior to man or subsidiary in God’s great creation plan. She was meant to be a help to man to enable him to accomplish all that God had for him.
But her greatest significance is even beyond the role of image bearer and influence on the man. She was created to reflect the beauty of Christ and His Church. What do you think God was thinking about when He brought Eve to Adam? His mind was focused on a coming day when the Church would be brought to His Son to enjoy an eternal relationship of love and joy. Womanhood is God’s sovereignly chosen symbol to represent the expression of His love for His Son: His gift of the Church. God created womanhood to represent all His heart intended to give His Son!
This appreciation of God’s intention dispels every thought or hint of inferiority or second class status. Her value is not defined by her physical attractiveness; it is not determined by the latest hairstyle or fashionable wardrobe. It is not the result of a successful career in the business or academic world. The significance of womanhood in God’s creatorial plan is her place as representing the Bride of Christ. If a single sister, or a sister whose children have reached independence has a career in business, academics, medicine or some other field, there is nothing wrong with that. But always remember where your true value lies.
Womanhood in Christ – Sanctified and Elevated
God’s redemptive program has added an additional dimension to women. In the Church His Body, the Church of the dispensation, women are:
Equal in Position: enjoying the same blessings as every other believer. In Galatians 3:27-28, we are told that we are “sons,” and by virtue of an equal position before God, we enjoy the same place of nearness. This passage is all about positional blessings, not about the local assembly. Some would use these verses to argue against the place of submission and silence which the Scriptures enjoin women to observe in the local companies. Position in the Body is not the same as place in the local church.
Equal in Privilege: all are a holy priesthood; each believer, male and female, has the ability to worship, enjoy fellowship with God, and to know Him. Spiritual life is equal. No brother has an advantage, relative to communion with Christ, over the sisters. Privilege is the result of the work of Christ and indwelling Spirit. Audible worship is limited in the local church; but worship is open to all whether kneeling by a bedside, sitting in a chair, driving down a road, or standing at the kitchen sink.
Equal in Potential: Each believer, male or female, has the same potential to please and glorify God. We reach our highest potential when we serve within the sphere God has given us and do it faithfully. This equality is independent of the bestowal of gifts. We receive gifts by grace. We get no reward and do not bring pleasure to God simply by possessing a gift. It is faithfulness with what God has placed in our hands which results in honor for Him, pleasure to His heart, and future reward at the Bema.
The bestowal of public gifts upon brethren and the limitations inherent therein, have nothing to do with the usefulness and potential of sisters. To find the sphere of usefulness God intends for me, to fulfill that role, and to finish “my course,” is what will result in glory for the Lord Jesus Christ. Our idea that the public gift, the successful evangelist, and the eloquent teacher will receive greater reward than the faithful Sunday school teacher, or the sister who labors quietly in her sphere, is evidence that we have skewed values. We have bought into the business model of bigness and success.
Womanhood in the Church – Significant and Essential
What of the significance of women in the assembly? Does her silence, submission, and lack of leadership roles diminish her significance? Is her value demeaned when we move from creation and the Body aspect to the local assembly? Think of the symbol unique to her (1 Cor 11; 1 Tim 2). Would it be possible to commence a new assembly if there were only brethren present and no sisters? Wouldn’t it mean that an essential truth of Scripture, to which the assembly is to testify, would be absent? Her covered head proclaims the truth of the Headship of Christ. Companies where sisters cover their heads are the only places on earth where this truth is being proclaimed. What a privilege!
At times confusion arises between the two symbols – the sister’s long hair and her covered head. The long hair is to indicate her submission to man in the creatorial sphere (1 Cor 11:13-15). Her covered head is when the assembly is together carrying out the meetings of a NT assembly; it indicates the submission to, and the display of, the Headship of Christ.
There is also a sermon unique to her. We see her eloquence to the universe (1Cor 11:10). This is one of the silent teachers found in the Scriptures; (Grace of God – Titus 2; The Anointing – 1John 2). She is proclaiming to angels that she willingly and intelligently will take the place God gave her. This is where angels once failed (Jude 6).
The Spirit of God has also granted a service unique to her, enriching and enlightening others. Titus could not do what the women could do. They were to teach the younger women concerning home life and family life. Here was a sphere of service which God opened to them. This would embrace sisters helping one another in their spiritual roles in the home and community, teaching Sunday school, and being a help to the assembly in a myriad of ways.
Significance must be understood from God’s standpoint. Many assemblies owe more to the character and labor of sisters than to the gift and eloquence of the brethren.