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Scriptural View Of Women
"Here is what I have found," says the Preacher, "Adding one thing to the other to find out the reason, which my soul still seeks but I cannot find: One man among a thousand I have found, but a woman among all these I have not found." (Ecclesiastes 7:27-28)
The Word of God (Hebrews 4:12-13) does not flatter women (nor men). He tells it like it is, and it is often not the way people think it is (Isaiah 55:8; Romans 1:18). Women are not the same as men. Some, it seems, have not noticed this simple fact. But, the reality is, the Creator made two different kinds of human beings, one male and one female, and He expects them to behave accordingly (e.g. Deuteronomy 22:5). The male was made out of the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7). The female was made out of the male's rib (Genesis 2:21-23). The male is the glory of God, but the female is the glory of man (1 Corinthians 11:7). They are similar, but not the same.
The reason women even exist is not so that they can be independent entities. The reason they exist is so that they can help men.
For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. (1 Corinthians 11:8-9)
The Lord created the woman for the man's sake. As it is written,
And the Lord God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him." (Genesis 2:18)
Women are to be man's "helper." But, that is often not the case.
I. The Curse
All mankind is under the curse of sin (Romans 3:9; 11:32), and women are under a particular curse. Besides their pregnancy and labor being ill-fated, their relationship with men is also stricken by God.
To the woman He said: "I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." (Genesis 3:16)
When the Lord said, "your desire shall be for your husband," He was not speaking of the woman's great love for man. On the contrary, God was cursing the woman with the desire to control her husband. We know this not only by the fact that this statement is made in the context of condemnation (Genesis 3:1-19), but also by God's use of this same phrase to Cain in Genesis 4:7.
If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.
Sin desired to get Cain to submit and be controlled by evil. Sin desired Cain, but Cain was told that he should overcome sin's desire. Likewise, the woman was told that she will desire her husband. She will desire to get him to submit to her. But, he shall rule over her nevertheless.
What do we see in society as a result of this curse? Women desiring to rule over not only their husbands, but other men as well. Solomon, who knew women well (1 Kings 11:3), wrote,
And I find more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, whose hands are fetters. He who pleases God shall escape from her, but the sinner shall be trapped by her. (Ecclesiastes 7:26)
Snares, nets, fetters, escaping, and being trapped all describe a wicked woman's drive to control a man. Praise God for the promise at the end of this verse! Solomon also wrote,
Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman. (Proverbs 21:9; see also 21:19; 25:24)
A continual dripping on a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike; whoever restrains her restrains the wind, and grasps oil with his right hand. (Proverbs 27:15-16)
Why are there contentious women and women whose hands are fetters? Because of sin and the curse.
In the salvation of God, "there is neither male nor female" (Galatians 3:28). No distinction is made between Jew and Greek, slave or free, male or female, but all the children of God are one in Christ (Galatians 3:26-28). The forgiveness and grace of God is upon all who believe. But, when it comes to God's established order of authority, there is a difference between slave and free, male and female.
Although God has in the past placed women in authority over men (e.g. Judges 4:4), and even today the Lord places women in authority over men (e.g. Romans 13:1), this is nonetheless a shameful reality, as Isaiah illustrates.
As for My people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, and destroy the way of your paths. (Isaiah 3:12)
The fact that Israel had women ruling over them was a shameful thing, just as it was shameful that children were their oppressors. Israel was weak, trapped in their sin. Consequently, women ruled over them.
The Lord did not design men to have women rule over them. He designed men to rule over women. "The head of woman is man" (1 Corinthians 11:3), and "Adam was formed first, then Eve" (1 Timothy 2:13). This is why women are to be submissive (1 Corinthians 14:34). God has placed men as the authority (head) over women, and therefore they need to submit to this authority. Moreover, this authority was established from the very beginning, before the fall (Genesis 3), because Adam was formed first, then Eve. This order in creation reveals man's preeminence over woman. The Lord established this authority before the woman's first breath, by creating man first.
Women are required by God to submit to men. In particular, Scripture commands,
A. Submission To Husbands
Women who are married are to be homemakers, and they are to obey their husbands (Titus 2:5; 1 Timothy 5:14; Proverbs 31:10-31). The husband is their authority (head, Ephesians 5:22-23), and they are to be as subject to their husbands as believers are to Christ (Ephesians 5:24). In other words, they are to obey their husbands as they would obey the Lord, in everything (Ephesians 5:24). Of course, this does not mean they disobey God in order to obey their husband. The reason they obey their husband should be because they desire to obey God (Mark 12:30).
Yet, this submission is so intense that "Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord" (1 Peter 3:6), and she is given as an example to follow. Moreover, it doesn't matter if the husband is a believer or not (1 Peter 3:1). The wife is still to submit to him. Of course, it is evil for a man to mistreat his wife in anyway (see Scriptural View of Men). But, nonetheless, the instruction for the woman is still to submit and trust God. As it is written,
Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: "Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth"; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; . . . Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, . . .
In the context of slaves submitting (1 Peter 2:20) and taking mistreatment patiently is "commendable before God," Peter tells the wives to "likewise" submit to their husbands (1 Peter 3:1), as "Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example" (1 Peter 2:21). Christ suffered and committed himself to Him who judges righteously. So likewise, slaves and wives are to submit themselves to their God given authority, as Christ submitted Himself to His Lord in His suffering (Isaiah 53:10). [For how a husband might likewise suffer, see our report on Men, under IV. With The Wife.]
B. Submission In Prayer
Women are required not only to be submissive to their husbands, but they are also required to show their submissiveness when they pray or prophesy.
But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God. Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering. But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God. (1 Corinthians 11:3-16)
This passage clearly teaches that a woman is to have her head covered when she prays or prophesies. Some may think this is a cultural matter, but Paul reveals otherwise. It is an angelic matter.
For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. (1 Corinthians 11:10)
Why and in what way angels are affected or concerned about a woman having her head covered Scripture does not say. But, nonetheless women ought to have authority on their head, because of the angels.
In 1 Corinthians 11:10 in the Greek there is no "symbol of." The New King James translators added this and this is why they put it in italics. Therefore, 1 Corinthians 11:10 more literally reads, "For this reason the woman ought to have authority on her head." What is the authority? It is something covering her head (1 Corinthians 11:5-6, 13). It can either be her long hair (1 Corinthians 11:15) or something else. Either way, whether it be her long hair or some other covering (1 Corinthians 11:6), her head is to be covered when she prays or prophesies (1 Corinthians 11:5-16), and this indicates her submission to her authority, man (1 Corinthians 11:3).
This man (1 Corinthians 11:3) could be either her husband (Colossians 3:18) or her father (Ephesians 6:1; Romans 1:30). As 1 Corinthians 7 illustrates, unless they get married, daughters are to be under their father's authority whether they be young or old.
But if any man thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, if she is past the flower of youth, and thus it must be, let him do what he wishes. He does not sin; let them marry. Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so determined in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well. So then he who gives her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better. (1 Corinthians 7:36-38)
Herein described is a man keeping his daughter from getting married! Paul calls this the better way, and in this better way, the daughter stays under her father's authority. He keeps her. This does not mean that she is to go out and get a job. The father is responsible to provide for his household (1 Timothy 5:8). The daughter can be an unmarried homemaker (Titus 2:4-5). But, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:34, "they are to be submissive," so women are to be submissive, both to their husbands and their fathers, "as the law also says" (e.g. see Numbers 30:1-16).
C. Submission In The Church
In 1 Timothy Paul gives instructions concerning how things ought to be conducted in the church (1 Timothy 3:15). Part of these instructions are found in 1 Timothy 2:11-12.
Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. (1 Timothy 2:11-12)
Women are to learn in silence. This silence is described further in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35.
Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. 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.
In church, when believers have gathered together for the mutual edification of the body and the time has come for one person to be addressing the entire assembly of believers (1 Corinthians 14:26-31), women are not to teach (1 Timothy 2:12) or even ask a question (1 Corinthians 14:35), but to keep silent. Their silence even extends to asking their husband a question in church, because Paul says, "let them ask their own husbands at home" (1 Corinthians 14:35).
Why is such an order of silence placed upon the women? Because Adam was not deceived, but the woman was (1 Timothy 2:14). Women are weaker (1 Peter 3:7; see also Isaiah 19:16; Jeremiah 51:30; Nahum 3:13). God does not want those who are spiritually weaker to either teach in the church or even speak in the church. The first woman was deceived when the first man was not, and this depicts a reality about both men and women. Women are more easily deceived. They are the weaker vessel, and should not be teaching or speaking in the church.
Now in the past, women have rightly spoken (prophesied) in the midst of believers and unbelievers (Acts 2:5-18), but it was not the same context as Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 14. In Acts 2 everyone was speaking (Acts 2:4), and it was a unique event. Women are not forbidden to speak under all circumstances. They are only commanded to "learn in silence" (1 Timothy 2:11) when it is time to be quiet and learn (1 Corinthians 14:26-35). In this, they are to "keep silent" (1 Corinthians 14:34; 1 Timothy 2:12).
On an individual basis, women can certainly speak to one another (men or women) as the word of Christ dwells in them "richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" (Colossians 3:16). They are not forbidden to do this. Actually, they are commanded to do this. Not only are they commanded to fulfill Colossians 3:16, but other verses as well that include speaking to their fellow believers (see Ephesians 4:25; 1 Thessalonians 4:18; 5:11; Titus 2:3-4; Hebrews 3:13; 10:24-25; James 5:16). Women are indeed to be silent, but this does not mean silent all the time. There is "a time to keep silence and a time to speak" (Ecclesiastes 3:7).
IV. The Wise Woman
A wise woman would submit herself to the truth, and not fight her circumstances.
The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands. (Proverbs 14:1)
The way a wise woman would build her house is by submitting herself to the authority in her life as she loves the Lord and fears Him, and serves those around her. Proverbs 31 describes such a virtuous woman whose "worth is far above rubies" (Proverbs 31:10).
The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands. She is like the merchant ships, she brings her food from afar. She also rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household, and a portion for her maidservants. She considers a field and buys it; from her profits she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms. She perceives that her merchandise is good, and her lamp does not go out by night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle. She extends her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household is clothed with scarlet. She makes tapestry for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants. Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness. She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all." Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. (Proverbs 31:11-30; see also Proverbs 11:16)
Some may think Proverbs 31 is inconsistent with being a homemaker (Titus 2:5). But, on the contrary, it displays an excellent homemaker who is busy as a bee bringing profit to her household. She is building her house (Proverbs 14:1).
V. Precious In The Sight Of God
Any woman who believes God's Word and submits herself to God's ways is very precious to God. As the Lord says,
Do not let your adornment be merely outward - arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel - rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. (1 Peter 3:3-4; see also 1 Timothy 2:9-10)
Typically, women rebel against God's order of submission. They refuse to obey their husbands (Ephesians 5:22). They refuse to keep silent in "church" (1 Timothy 2:11). They teach contrary to God's command (1 Timothy 2:12). They exercise authority over men (1 Timothy 2:12). They refuse to make sure their head is covered when they pray (1 Corinthians 11:10). Such women are condemned (John 3:18). Those who raise such mutiny against God's order are no better than witches. As 1 Samuel 15:23 declares, "rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft." Likewise, Proverbs 11:22 says,
As a ring of gold in a swine's snout, so is a lovely woman who lacks discretion.
To rebel against God's order is a serious lack of discretion and is evil. Such rebellion is rampant today, because it is ingrained in women to attempt to control men (Genesis 3:16). Only the salvation of God can root out such wickedness (John 8:31-36). Holy women are submissive (e.g. 1 Peter 3:5). The wicked, those on their way to hell (Revelation 21:8), are not (Proverbs 17:11). The submissive woman is precious in God's eyes (1 Peter 3:4). The rebellious woman is an abomination to Him (Proverbs 11:20; 15:9, 26).