What is God's role for women in church and in life?

What is Gods design for women in the Church and in Life?

Recently I have come across some content that has made me question what I thought I knew about God’s design for women is. I have never considered me a feminist by any means, I think that men and women are equal, but obviously we are not designed the same, by God’s design and so there are differences in things we can do and should do.
I have always felt that if a woman wants to work outside the home, or not have children (without regard to abortion), that she should be able to make those choices. Recently, I watch a video by a well-respected preacher that said women should get married young, have children, and not work outside the home, because the home is where her work is. I understand his points, that is, it because if women work outside the home we would then have to be submissive to men who are not our husbands, and that raising families is important to God’s design for humans, but nonetheless I have concerns. He also seemed to be saying (and I could be way off on this) that women are not to speak in church, and If we have questions to direct them to our husbands. That we are not to be teachers, or preachers and lead men. (I understand the preaching part) I do see the point in these things, I guess they are just a shock to me. It makes me question why I am here, if I am not allowed to lead others to God, or do anything but have children?
Some background on me, I served in the military for 6 years, so I am more of a “tom boy” and always have been. I have 3 children, one of whom has passed away. I have recently been considering re-joining the military or going back to school to become an art therapist to help people. I love my children dearly, but I don’t know that I want to be raising children forever, I’m not sure that I want to have any more, especially considering how the the loss of my daughter has affected me. I also lead a small group of people, men included in weekly devotionals on Facebook, and have a side personal ministry giving stained glass pieces to people who have had babies pass away, but that includes men as well.
I guess what I want to know is, do I need to give up these things because I am not supposed to minister to men? Should I stop the Facebook group? And, Biblically speaking, am I allowed to work outside the home, or is my purpose in life to just have babies? (Not that I have anything wrong with people who only want to have kids, it is just not necessarily for me.) I have been so down since hearing that my “job is to stay at home and have kids.” I wanted so much more for my life. I wanted to help people! Now, I feel like I need to be resigned to my home, and my kids, and give up on my dreams.
Thank you for your help!

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Hi @SandiDuffy thank you for asking this really important question. It’s one many of us have to work out because of all the conflicting messages given out there. Like you, I feel many of those teachings you have heard seem to be against how God has made us. I’m so, so sorry to hear about your daughter. That can’t make it any easier to work out your place in all this.

Firstly,

The points you’ve quoted seem to discount women who don’t marry. What are the expectations for them?
I think if women were only to ask questions of their own husband, there’d be no women here on Connect. Neither my husband or I have ever slightly felt my questions should be directed to him only. There is such value in getting a range of responses from various men and women. As for women teaching and preaching, this thread may be of help for you:

And this thread will lead you to several more helpful links on the subject:

Secondly,

I like to think about the woman in Proverbs 31, which I feel can be applied to married and unmarried women. She is so incredibly industrious, she works hard producing things, she buys and sells, she diligently monitors profit levels, she’s responsible for staff, she looks out for those less fortunate outside of her home, she is strategic in her planning. Having had military experience, I’m sure you’d be using most of these skills already. It doesn’t say she only looks after women, or she stays at home minding the kids (although she likely does this as well). She has business acumen, a caring heart and a good character. She brings her husband a good name. Now this could only happen if people saw her doing all the things she was doing. If she was hidden away at home all the time, no one could testify to her diligent character and business success.

I hope these begin to help you work out some of this. It breaks my heart to think I couldn’t use all the giftings God has placed in me. Thankfully, I believe the Bible clearly allows me to flourish in ways greater than some would make allowance for.

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Thank you for taking the time to answer me. I have looked through your links and the links that they led me to. They were very helpful, but I’m still struggling because there is such a wide array of opinions on this topic.
This man was saying that if you are not married, you need to get married and have kids asap. As in, make it a priority in your life. He didn’t speak much on singleness in the sermons I listened to.
Isn’t the Proverbs 31 woman only supposed to do things that help her family, though, and not things that advance her by herself, or fulfill only her?
Thank you in advance.

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@SandiDuffy @artownsend has a good grasp of what you need, so I will try not to impinge on her dialog with you. I just want to share that your post reminded me of a scene from a Monty Python movie–The Meaning of Life, I think–that caricatures the teaching that women should be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. How thoughtlessly so many well-meaning pastors have preached on this topic over the ages!

This illustrates why considering the audience is in some ways more important than preaching “the truth.” The truth is not always the Truth. It is true that women generally play different roles than men; what specific roles God gives them is another matter. Clearly not all women who lead God-pleasing lives are not what the pastor in question says that they should be!

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Is it possible for you to share a link to this man’s talk? I’d be interested to hear the whole thing in context. From what you’re describing, I find this message particularly difficult because it places an undue pressure on all women for various reasons. In Biblical times, it could be a reasonable expectation because that fitted the culture where most marriages were planned and it wasn’t a choice based on romantic love oftentimes. Today, our culture just doesn’t make it that easy for Christian women.

Regarding the range of opinions on this, I don’t think we’ll eliminate them all to get to one conclusion. I think it’s really good that you’re exploring the different approaches to women’s roles in marriage and society. I believe that each of us need to study scripture, listen to others and then ask God to show us what He has for our lives.

I would suggest that Gods design for humanity is that each of us - whether married or single - make choices and live our lives that help bless one another. God is trinity - three persons living in a community of the one godhead. He is also love. We are made in his image which means we are designed to live in community acting in love for one another. So pursuing our own fulfilment shouldn’t be our primary goal. I don’t mean that we are sacrificial, miserable and unfulfilled. Rather, I mean that when seeking God’s will for our lives, pursing his desires, our hearts grow in alignment with His and we find fulfilment in doing the very thing He has called us to.

I’m thinking about your ministry on Facebook to men and women. I believe this is an example of fulfilling what God has put on your heart to serve and bless others. You are both helping others and fulfilling a God given desire of your own. I don’t think it’s an issue of whether a woman should be ministering to a man in this way. If you are bringing Gods word to others to edify, encourage and build up the body of Christ, I believe you are acting biblically. I’m also thinking about women like Jackie Pullinger, a single woman, who followed Gods call to go to Hong Kong completely on her own and minister to the drug gangs in the streets. God used her powerfully and brought many men and women to Christ. You can see some of her story on the link below. When there are lives to be saved, I don’t think we should be worrying about whether our gender qualifies us.

There’s so many directions this topic could take, so feel free to point some more things to consider. If I’ve still not addressed a concern of yours sufficiently, do say :grinning:.

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@SandiDuffy, @artownsend wrote:

I am curious to know what you think about Deborah and Jael in Judges 4-5?

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Hello Cassandra! I admire your desire to understand what God desires of women. I think this issue has been confused for a long time. I myself come from the more traditional background of women staying home and caring for the home and children. And I am definitely the classic barefoot and pregnant! I love being home, gardening and playing with my kids, and am expecting #13 soon. But I believe this is a talent God gave me, my calling if you will. We are all made differently to serve His purposes everywhere and I do not believe the Bible teaches that women have to stay home and have children. Each marriage is different and what the woman does in her specific situation may call for something other than being home all day and bearing children. Being prayerful about this would be a big help as well. :slight_smile:

I just happen to discover this two part podcast on gender roles in marriage that I thought was so helpful in explaining it from a biblical point of view. It is part of a sermon series on marriage which I am listening to and that I highly recommend BTW. :wink: I’d like to know what you think if you get a chance to listen to these two podcasts. God bless you sister! :blush:

https://www.meek.ly/sermons/timothy-keller-sermons/marriage-as-completion-gender-roles-part-2

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Could you please explain more of what you mean when you say, “the truth is not always the truth?” Thank you!

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Hello!
Here is the link to the video. Now, I will say on my part that I took what he said at face value, so when he said women cant speak in church, I took that as speaking, not preaching. It could be that I just didn’t understand that he meant more then just what he said. I also was getting upset the longer I listened so that could be part of my confusion. I did, however, listen to 2 other sermons by him and got the same type of message basically, not in whole, but mostly. Thank you for your help. I will continue to look at the links!

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I think Deborah is a good example of a woman in the Bible who had authority in her society. She is an example of having divine authority alongside Miriam, Isaiah’s wife and Anna who were all prophetesses. She commands men but also judges each person in a role of leadership, prior to Kings reigning (which interestingly are only men after that). I don’t know much about this episode but I wonder if a woman ruling as a judge is acceptable because it’s a role where she uses divine inspiration as a prophetess. Since you posed this question, @blbossard, do you have any knowledge on why a woman could be a prophetess judge but not rule as the male Kings did later? I also find the story of Jael both intriguing and slightly alarming! :grinning:. She certainly shows a gutsy determination to see God’s victory come through and the passages don’t seem to give a moral judgement on it. In terms of how this all applies today, I see that the Bible upholds certain women in leadership and this example seems to confirm that women are equal in decision making and strategy.

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Thanks for sharing this. I just thought I’d share my initial thoughts on listening to him by outlining some of his points and the gaps he’s left in his talk.

Firstly, he says almost nothing to affirm or honour women, that I could see. He begins immediately by stating women should be silent and he spends the rest of the talk continuing along this line.

He spends time looking at passages in Corinthians, Isaiah 3, Titus, 2 Timothy, 1 Peter 3, Genesis 3, etc that state women should be silent in church. However, he does nothing to look at the context of these passages - he hasn’t addressed the specific issues within the church at Corinth at the time and why Paul had to write this. He allows that women can teach other women and children.

He talks a lot about how, due to the fall, women’s curse is to desire control over men along with pain in childbirth. He repeats how we’re all doomed to this tendency. He fails to also outline the possible failures of men due to the fall. He suggests that the rise in women pastors in our church culture is because feminism is driving women to desire control over men. This accusation doesn’t sit well with me. I know many women in church leadership who are doing so because they’ve either felt a clear call from God to serve in this way, or else because I’m sad to say in one or two situations, there’s a lack of mature Christian men stepping up to these roles.

To support his point from scripture, he reduces Miriam as prophetess to one musical interlude in Exodus. I don’t think she could be called a prophetess if this was a one off occasion. She must have had an ongoing prophetic role to earn this status. He tries to use this example along with Deborah and a few others as the exception to the rule and by no means something for women to follow. When he quotes scripture that tells wives to be submissive to husbands, he doesn’t explain what the word ‘submission’ means and doesn’t place it in the context of the trinity where each person is submissive to the other. He also doesn’t mention the women in the New Testaments like Priscilla and Junia, used in leading the church and being responsible for sending messages to churches around the empire.

Personally, I felt there was very little grace in his delivery of this message, especially when he makes jokes about women having the power to make life miserable for the husbands… so I understand why this has left you with questions.

This article addresses the Corinthians passages on women being silent:

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Cassandra, I am so sorry for all, we, humans do and cause suffering to our own self. This preacher is taking it out of the context of Paul’s letter and just pointing fingers at women. Our bible teaches us to pluck out the dirt out of our own eye first before saying other things. But please take a look at the post below. It should give you a much better response.

God Bless.

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Based on Scriptures written by The Apostles Paul and Timothy men are the inherent leaders of the church under Jesus Christ, therefore the main role of the women in a church is to submit and support the leadership God has given and pray, pray, pray, pray without ceasing for the leaders God has given to us.
Our first role is to pray for everyone and everything in the ministry of God.

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Thank you, I was a little worried that maybe I had overreacted to it. In one of the other sermons I watched he explained submission better and seemed to put women a little higher up then this one seems to put them, but still I question his delivery and if he really views women as this sermon seems to make it. I like how you put it with little grace in delivery. I agree, and felt it was a little crass.
Thank you for all your help so far.

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Thank you for the link! I believe this may be one I have seen before when I was poking around. Thank you for taking the time to respond as well!

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Cassandra, I understand where this pastor is coming from because I grew up in conservative churches that taught just like this. It is a bit hard but in general none of the women in our churches were offended because we all had this same attitude. But now that I watch this years after I’ve been to a church like that it does seem a bit rough. I know it comes from a perspective that doesn’t believe in sugar-coating any teaching that is from the Bible no matter how offensive some may find it, but your reaction shows how we need to be careful how we approach a subject more tactfully. I did hear the pastor praising women in his own way because, like I said, I understand where he’s coming from, but if you didn’t understand this sort of conservative mindset it would be harder to hear the praise.

I am glad you asked about this because there are different ways of looking at these questions that are very valuable. I am also still paying close attention to the different viewpoints on women’s roles because I’ve only ever heard it taught the way this pastor does and am intrigued by some of what I’ve read on Connect about this. Pastor Tim Keller has a very good balanced approach I think. (Did you see the link I shared in my earlier response?) He works with his wife to write books on the subject of marriage and mentions the roles of men and women. Again, I don’t think the pastor in the video intended to be disrespectful, it is just the way conservative churches think and they like to be very blunt about things that are often considered hard to swallow by those less conservative. :smirk:

I really appreciate @artownsend and what she had to say. Thank you friend! :blush:

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@SandiDuffy Here is what I wrote:

There is truth (small t) and Truth (big T). Big-T truth is the ultimate truth that is found in God. It is brute fact. It is always and forever true, but cannot be fully seen from humankind’s finite perspective. Small-t truth is something that is thought to be true based on humankind’s finite perspective. It is at most a glimpse of one facet of the Truth.

The teaching about women’s roles that concern you is an example of small-t truth. It is a possible interpretation of Scripture that needs to be thoroughly tested as you are doing. It may hold true for women who God calls to marry, stay home, and have children; but there are many examples where it does not hold true. Teaching that all women should get married, stay at home, and have children is very problematic from this point of view.

Does this answer your question?

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@artownsend I do not have any specialized knowledge regarding prophetesses and queens. I do not know of any specific prohibition against having a queen à la Queen Elizabeth. Deuteronomy 17:14-20 is the only regulation that I can find that is relevant to your question. I would not say that it prohibits having a queen; it just uses the patriarchal linguistic and cultural construct most appropriate for the area. Solomon certainly did not have qualms about treating the Queen of Sheba as a diplomatic equal (1 Kings 10:1-13). Athaliah was a real stinker (2 Kings 11), but then so were quite a number of the kings of Israel and Judah.

Deborah and Jael fascinate me because God blessed both of them as much as any of the other judges, prophets, and kings. Deborah apparently served very wisely and well in her role not only as prophetess but also as commander-in-chief! Note, too, that a judge was the equivalent of a king in Israel at the time. Jael, of course, showed great bravery and initiative. I think that it is very significant that she committed nothing immoral (unless one considers violence against an enemy in warfare immoral) in order to defeat a mortal enemy.

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This was so helpful for me to read, Carrie, thanks! You’re spot on with the need for tactfulness in approach. His praise for women totally passed me by because his whole style and message is alien to me! I found your point hugely helpful to bear in mind for listening to future talks.

@blbossard thank you for those points. I’m so interested to look into these characters you’ve mentioned further now.

@SandiDuffy I hope that this discussion has at least shown you there is more than one side to this discussion. I’m sure we can find value in parts of each viewpoint if we hold it alongside scripture. In this case of confusion, I’d keep asking God to give you a peace about his role for your life. I don’t think it’s a ‘one size fits all’ for women. I believe that if your life points to Christ, that’s the best start :slightly_smiling_face:.

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I am glad to have helped! And I have been greatly helped to better understand other perspectives on the issue of women’s roles from other points of view as well. I agree Alison, that as Christians we women have the freedom to do much in helping to spread the gospel and that the best thing to do is to have a heart to please the Lord, taking care we aren’t deceiving ourselves into having our own way in the name of the Lord, but prayerfully desiring to do His will. When we allow the Spirit to lead us God does great work through us all! :smile:

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