Contend Earnestly: The Role of Women: Part I

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Role of Women: Part I



This is always a fun topic. What I want all to know is that I am not condemning all women that work. Far from it. I am condemning the fact of women who could be at home, and choose to go to work while their kids are raised by a nanny or day care for the sake of making gobs of money. I know that there are many women who work because the family needs it. What I disagree with is when the woman works when the kids are young and the home is in disarray. Most of this post comes at those who are women's lib and believe that women can and should do what every man can. Although I agree that most women can do far superior work than a man in many things, this doesn't mean that they should. These posts are focused on the roles that God has set up, which speaks directly against our norm in our western culture.

I am continually reminded of this when I think back to when my wife and I had our first kid and my wife was a nanny for another woman who did not need to work. The woman told my wife, "I need to use my brain, so I have to go to work." To put it nicely, this lady is as stupid as they come if she truly thinks this. She is now divorced and her family is in disarray. I am not saying that I am happy this happened, nor am I saying that all women who work will have this happen. It is just interesting that as this lady used her brain at work, she ignored the most important aspect of her role, and that was to be a wife and a mother. It is a sad situation and we still pray for her.

I can easily show why this becomes a tough topic or at least one that is controversial…

What is the popular view of women and their roles in the world?

Just listen to some of these quotes: '

Women are the only oppressed group in our society that lives in intimate association with their oppressors.
Evelyn Cunningham

I ask no favors for my sex.... All I ask of our brethren is that they will take their feet from off our necks.
Sarah Moore Grimké

This is no simple reform. It really is a revolution. Sex and race because they are easy and visible differences have been the primary ways of organizing human beings into superior and inferior groups and into the cheap labour in which this system still depends. We are talking about a society in which there will be no roles other than those chosen or those earned. We are really talking about humanism.
Gloria Steinem

So when we teach that the woman is to be in subjection to her husband in everything, both physically and spiritually it is easy to see where the difficulties lie.

Women’s Role in Marriage

Let’s just get the first one right out of the way.

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.
Ephesians 5:22-23


In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives,
1 Peter 3:1


But let’s make sure we understand why these are so hard for the world to hear. It comes from the curse.

Yet your desire will be for your husband,
And he will rule over you.
Genesis 3:16

This verse is actually very much correlated with Genesis 4:7

If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.
Genesis 4:7


This word for desire is to show a serious struggle of sin and man. This term is used negatively in both Genesis 4:7 and in Genesis 3:16 to mean a desire to dominate. What is the struggle going to be for the woman? The subjection to her husband. The curse for woman was not that man was placed over her, but that she would continually desire to usurp his authority and the God ordained role as ruler over her.

What was designed at creation was that man would always rule over her, the roles were established before the fall, not because of the fall. What sin caused was that she would no longer want to be in subject, but the desire is now, the struggle is now, to stay in her role.

Women are to care for her husband and household above all things:

Not only is the woman subject to her husband but she is also supposed to care for him and her household above all other things.

But this care starts with the conclusion in Proverbs 31:30

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.
Proverbs 31:30


There are many implications of this verse but we must know that a good Christian woman will do all these things for her husband and household for one reason: God’s glory and the fear of Him. She will not do anything to disgrace her husband, but her final authority rests in God.

She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
Proverbs 31:12


Now, how does the Bible show that the woman is supposed to live out this calling of care for the husband and household?

She is a worker at home

to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.
Titus 2:5

The main function of a loving and excellent wife is to make sure that the home is in order in all ways. This is both the physical home and the care taking of those that live in it. This term “worker” means: A keeper at home, one who looks after domestic affairs with discretion and care

This is the hardest thing I have ever heard someone having to do, as far as physically, that I have ever seen. Men must provide for the family, must be ready to die for his wife, must be ready to build her up and in all things his most important duty is to present his wife holy and blameless.

For the wife, she is the home’s caretaker. How many hours per week do you think is the average in the United States? 33.8

So if we take that and look at an average work week for someone in the U.S. it would be working Monday through Friday from 8am to 3:45pm (if they take an hour lunch break)

Ask any mom when she "clocks out" and you will get an odd look like you have two heads.

Look to Proverbs 31:12-28

Notice that she is always doing something for the household. Does this even speak of her sleeping? Verse 18 says that her lamp does not go out at night.

The woman gets little sleep if she needs to get things done for the betterment of the household. Does she get praised? Nope, not from the outside world. Notice who gets all the worldly praise in verse 23: the husband. Ever heard behind every great man there is a great woman? This is a biblically true statement found in chapter 31 of Proverbs.

Notice that she even has to help with provision if the household needs it. She works to help provide if needed. Buying a field to provide for a vineyard.

The house cold because of snow? She clothes them in verse 21.

What is her reward for all this? The household praises her. Verse 28.

Does a wife and mother only do this if the household praises her and honors her? Does she only do this if the husband is a good husband?

Actually, if you notice, it never says that in Proverbs 31. Even more specifically, look to 1 Peter 3.

I will say that if the husband notices that the wife is spending many hours with the house and little time to relax and rest, that he needs to love his wife and help out as much as he can. If he watches his wife run herself into the ground, he is not loving her like Christ loved the church. This post is not an excuse for the man to sit around and order the wife around like a slave. Those kinds of men should be taken out and beaten by the godly men of the church. He should be punished like a child because he is acting like an immature child. So use Proverbs for the reason to beat him like one (I of course say this in jest...kind of):

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child;
The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.
Proverbs 22:15


Do not hold back discipline from the child,
Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die.
Proverbs 23:13


We can’t get into this completely, but notice the woman’s calling is to be submissive even if they are against God! Does this mean that the woman doesn’t do the things she is supposed to in God’s word? No, but she must be careful not to shame her husband or usurp his authority. Husband decides to buy a really nice car instead of giving to the poor? That is his decision and she must follow. Can the woman put in her input? Yes of course, but the final decision is the man’s.

What is she to do if she completely disagrees with how he is running the house, if he doesn’t help, if he seems unloving? She is to continue to serve him with love.

The woman has a high calling at home. It is her first priority.

To sum up, she is to fear God above all else, and to love God above all, and then she is to love the man as herself.

What I will point back to is that you must understand all this under the rule and authority of the godly roles that God has place upon us. If the man is dying for his wife for the glory of God and the woman is submitting to God as she submits to her husband, the house will be ran well, because this is how God has designed it. Any other way, is not the godly one. It might seem well on the outside, it might seem like it works, but in the long run, it is not the way that God intended the house to be ran.

In the next posts we will look at the woman's role in the church and the woman's role found in Christ. Again, large topic that we are covering in blog posts, so if you have questions, please don't hesitate to comment.

16 comments:

poopemerges said...

This should make you very popular with some groups. :)

Anonymous said...

But don't *all* women work? Some work *outside the home*, others of us work *inside the home*.

I don't mean to quibble over semantics with you, but as an at home woman, it torques me when people refer to "working women". Makes it sound like the rest of us *don't* work!

I think I agree with the rest of your post - haven't read it yet. Maybe when I get a break from my job!

Seth McBee said...

Anonymous...

Read again :)

You'll notice that I give the at home working mom props...because she never stops working according to Proverbs 31.

This was one of the points of this post was to show that at home mom's use as much of their brain that those who have "jobs"

The godly wife in Proverbs 31 is one whose candle never goes out...pretty crazy work if you ask me, being she never clocks out.

jayfersgirl said...

I am a stay-at-home mom, and I totally agree with what you've said about women who work who don't have to. When I worked at a daycare, it was horrible to see these wealthy families, who obviously didn't need 2 incomes, bring their kids to daycare 12 hours a day. Even worse to see women who didn't work still bring their kids to daycare for 12 hours a day -- that I can't understand at all.
However, I disagree with a lot of the rest of your post. It sounds very chauvinistic to me, I have to say. You talk a lot about Proverbs 31, but then say that a woman's primary role is to care for her husband and household above all things. Do we ignore the fact that the Proverbs 31 woman worked outside the home? She bought land, as you mentioned, but you gloss over the fact that this means she wasn't always at home taking care of her household. She was working real estate, man!:)
And the whole "The final decision is the man's" Where does that fit into her going out and buying a field? Doesn't appear that she asked him for advice or permission for that one.
And I really strongly disagree that a woman is to be submissive to her husband even if he is against God. There is no way that I am supposed to submit to something my husband asks if it goes against what God has said. No way that Scripture states that. If I have to "usurp my husband's authority" to do what is right, you better believe I will. My husband would never lord himself over me in that way, or even begin to think that he has authority over me (the thought that some men believe they have authority over their wives scares me), by the way -- I am very lucky to have a husband who truly understands Biblical submission. He understands that it is mutual submission that is stated in Ephesians -- so many Christians conveniently forget to read the verses just prior to the whole marital submission section where it clearly states "Submit one to another." It says that and then goes on to say basically "For example, here's how it works in marriage." Mutual submission, not a husband having authority over his wife.

Seth McBee said...

Jayfersgirl:

Thanks for stopping by and giving me a chance to comment on the thoughts you were having as you read this. I really appreaciate hearing your concerns over the post. I am going to go through this point by point and will do this through Scripture. If I do I hope you can see that I am not trying to be chauvinistic, but biblical.

You say: You talk a lot about Proverbs 31, but then say that a woman's primary role is to care for her husband and household above all things.

First, Titus 2 states that the older women are to teach younger women to be "homeward" or "workers at home" depending on the translation.

Proverbs 31:15 states that she rises before the sun to give food to her husband.

Proverbs 31:21 says that she provides for her household when they are cold

Proverbs 31:27,28 state that she looks well to the ways of her household, meaning she is always making sure that they are doing good, and notice that she is praised by her children and husband for doing so.

So, Proverbs 31 shows that she is definitely one that is homeward in her intentions throughout the day. That everything she does is for the cause of her family and home.

You say: Do we ignore the fact that the Proverbs 31 woman worked outside the home? She bought land, as you mentioned, but you gloss over the fact that this means she wasn't always at home taking care of her household. She was working real estate, man!:)

I never said in my post that the woman can't work outside the home, I said just the opposite. I spoke about the women who don't need to work outside the home and choose to and leave their home in disarray. You will notice in Proverbs 31 that her home is in good condition in all ways, and she works outside the home to help gain income. We aren't told why she is doing this, but the fact is, her light does not go out at night even after a hard day's work.

You said: And the whole "The final decision is the man's" Where does that fit into her going out and buying a field? Doesn't appear that she asked him for advice or permission for that one.


Arguing from silence is dangerous. We don't know what the background of this decision was. For all we know they had a conversation about it and such. We just don't know.

You said: And I really strongly disagree that a woman is to be submissive to her husband even if he is against God. There is no way that I am supposed to submit to something my husband asks if it goes against what God has said. No way that Scripture states that. If I have to "usurp my husband's authority" to do what is right, you better believe I will.

Thank you for bringing this up. The way it reads is probably a little off. If the man is going directly against what God says in His word, then the woman has every right to speak to him and admonish. My point was more with the idea of the context of 1 Peter 3 which is the woman who is married to an unbeliever. This is a very difficult position to be in and one where there is no absolute answer for every decision in that situation. As far as what you are saying in regards to your godly husband who is making stupid decisions...I would agree...go to him with love and show him his errors. I should have been more clear in this area...I was pointing this more towards the marriage where the woman is saved and the and man is not.

You said: My husband would never lord himself over me in that way, or even begin to think that he has authority over me (the thought that some men believe they have authority over their wives scares me), by the way -- I am very lucky to have a husband who truly understands Biblical submission. He understands that it is mutual submission that is stated in Ephesians -- so many Christians conveniently forget to read the verses just prior to the whole marital submission section where it clearly states "Submit one to another." It says that and then goes on to say basically "For example, here's how it works in marriage." Mutual submission, not a husband having authority over his wife.

I would agree that Ephesians 5 states that all Christians are to be submissive to each other. It never says that the man is to subject to the wife, but to Christ. What you miss are the next verses that state how the wives are to be submissive. The man is to die for the woman and bring her along spiritually and physically.

You are walking very dangerous ground when you say,"the thought that some men believe they have authority over their wives scares me." The problem with your thought is that the Bible is very specific that the wife is in subjection to the husband. (Eph 5:22; Titus 2:5)

Here is what the term "subject" means:

1 to arrange under, to subordinate. 2 to subject, put in subjection. 3 to subject one’s self, obey. 4 to submit to one’s control. 5 to yield to one’s admonition or advice. 6 to obey, be subject. Additional Information: A Greek military term meaning “to arrange [troop divisions] in a miliary fashion under the command of a leader”. In non-military use, it was “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden”.

What do you do with the fact that the Bible states that the husband is the head of the woman? That she is subject to him?

The way you are thinking is in direct opposition to the Scriptures.

I will say that after all this that when speaking of subjection that you will probably think that I am some slave owner of a wife. That is not what I am saying. I am saying that my calling is to love my wife so much that I am willing to die for her in every way possible. That my example is Christ with the love and patience and joy for my wife, but not to lord it over her. I never say to my wife, "this is what we are doing, deal with it!" That is not what I am saying here. I am simply saying that as Adam was head over Eve, as Christ was head and is head over the church, so the man is head over his wife...IN LOVE and HONOR and RESPECT.

Let me know if this didn't make sense or if you have additional questions.

poopemerges said...

Jafersgirl: does he ever call you "Some chick from Berkley?" ..seriously though you make a good point and then derail. When you say that your husband does not have have authority over you also are forced to say that Jesus has no authority over the church...

D

jayfersgirl said...

I'll address David first ~ he definitely doesn't call me some chick from Berkeley:)
What I am saying certainly does not force me to say that Jesus has no authority over the church. We have to understand in this passage that "authority" is not what's being talked about at all! The verse that speaks to wives says that we are to submit to our husbands -- first point being, it's written to wives. It's something we are responsible to do, not something that our husbands are to ask for or "make sure" we do. Secondly, it doesn't say "Because your husband has authority over you" -- man, I just cringe to hear that word used in the context of marriage. That's not what marriage should look like, and I truly believe that a godly marriage will not have a man having authority over his wife. Like I said, Paul is clearly writing to the wives in Ephesians 5:22, and then goes on to talk about husbands loving their wives as Christ loved the church -- which certainly does not involve any kind of chauvinistic lording over of wives.
But what I think is really important to note in this passage goes back to what I referenced in my first comment -- Ephesians 5:21 says "Submit to each other." Then in our English translation that word is repeated "submit" "yield" whatever the translation had in 5:21 is repeated in 5:22. However, if you go back to the Greek, the Greek word for "submit" is not repeated in 5:22 -- it is understood that it is carried over from 5:21, because there is no verb in 5:22. In English translations, the translators have carried it over because that was the idea in Greek -- but it wasn't repeated in Greek, and it certainly wasn't a different kind of submission being described. I think that's really significant to know that when it says "Submit to one another" and then "Wives submit to your husbands" it's the exact same word! It's not something different that wives are to do that their husbands don't have to do. It's something that we are both to do towards each other.
All that being said, I do believe that it is my God-given responsibility as a wife to "submit" willingly to my husband -- can't argue with Scripture on that:) But I do not believe it means that I have to submit to my husband's "authority" as it has been described here.
I honestly believe that husbands have it a lot harder in terms of the Ephesians passage, and unfortunately the "Submit to your husbands" gets talked about and preached about way more. I think I have it easy compared to "Love your wife as Christ loves the church and gave himself for her" -- that's a big responsibility, you husbands have!
Here's how it works in our marriage: If we need to make a big decision, we talk and pray about it as one. If there is disagreement and a decision must be made, I voluntarily (because that's what submission from wives is -- voluntary, not compelled by the husband) say to my husband "You decide." It is then his to decide whether to do what he thought was best or what I thought was best -- hence the whole "submit to one another" idea. He can choose to "submit" to my thoughts and do what I thought was best. Or he can choose to do what he thought was best, and I will submit to that. Or he can say, "No, I want you to decide." Just because he is the head of our family doesn't mean that he has to make all the decisions or always make decisions the way he wants -- as he loves me and gives himself for me, as he's instructed to do in Ephesians, it may look like "Honey, I want you to make this decision."
I think it's such a beautiful thing -- submission in marriage -- when we really understand what it should look like.
It's not submitting to authority. It's not husbands lording it over their wives (I'm not saying either of you do or advocate this).
It is fulfilling the command in Ephesians 5:21 to submit to one another.

Seth McBee said...

Jayfersgirl.

This post by the way came after my discussing of the husband's role in marriage, because I do agree that the "submit woman!" is talked about more than the role of the man. Sad.

I will also say though you take great strides in trying to get around the fact that the husband has authority and is the head of the wife. The passage could not be more clear. The term "in subjection" means subordinate. Meaning, the woman answers to the husband as the husband answers to Christ.

I would also agree with you saying that this isn't some chauvinistic lording over the wives, but that doesn't dismisss the fact that the husband is in authority.

And by the way, David is correct if you are saying that the man does not have authority over the wife that you have dismissed Christ's authority.

This whole passage is ultimately about how marriage is a picture of the Trinity, specifically Christ's role. Eph 5 shows us the ways we show this practically to others with the husband lovingly leading and dying for his wife and the wife submitting lovingly to her husband, all to show the glories of our great God. If you remove the authority from the husband, then the picture of Christ being the head and authority over the church is stripped as well.

It is actually pretty simple logic, but I think you just equate "authority" with "chauvinistic lordship" which is not what I, nor the Bible is saying. I would presume that you are reacting to some very bad teaching or preaching that you have encountered in the past.

Your last paragraph, hits it on the head...very good wrap up...what you say there should have been all that you have written because it is in direct conflict with your argument above it.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting...it is always good to converse over these things.

Poop is Emergent Too said...

"which certainly does not involve any kind of chauvinistic lording over of wives."

This is exactly right and you will get no argument from me.

But I still think the you are exegeting the passage from what you want it to mean...The reality is that in the context of marriage specifically the man and the woman are given different instructions. The result should however never involve a "asserting of authority" Like some barbarian dude...the authority should be expressed in a total sacrifice of the mans life for the woman's...

At any rate, if the husband is not head of the wife then Christ is not head of the church and as I said has not authority.

D

jayfersgirl said...

"In subjection" isn't the term used, and man's authority is not what's described either. What is talked about is a wife's voluntary submission to her husband. That does not equal authority for the husband.
Also, isn't it interesting that so many churches and so many Christians discuss "the role of women" so frequently and hardly ever "the role of men" and what that looks like in marriage. It's usually only discussed as an answer to questions about the woman's role. Sad.
Also sad -- that this post is titled "the role of women" when all that's discussed is the role of a wife. A single woman is not "subject" to any man, so semantics are important. Though I believe that a wife isn't subject to her husband as you describe it either.
And , no, this does not negate Christ's role in relation to the church. If you choose to read "authority" into this passage and then tell me that if I don't believe my husband has authority over me, then I negate Christ's authority...well, it just goes to show just how important it is to read what's actually written and not draw in other ideas to shape a passage to say what you want it to.
Christ has authority over the church, but that is not what's being described here.
Seriously, the idea that husbands truly believe they have authority over their wives grieves me, because that completely contradicts the role of husbands as stated to them in this passage.

jayfersgirl said...

Maybe it would help if you would better explain what you mean by "authority." I hope you're not meaning it the way it sounds, though I have a feeling that sadly you are.

Seth McBee said...

Jayfersgirl.

It is apparant that you have not read the whole series, but you have read this one post and have drawn a lot of conclusions. Why don't you read the rest of the series and then come back and ask questions. You talk about men's roles, which was handled in the first two posts of this series, you bring up singleness and actually put forth that these posts were titled wrongly, when my last post deals with those who are single.

So, please read the series instead of coming and drawing many wrong conclusions and putting forth arguments that hold no water as I have discussed thoroughly in posts within this same series.

After you read the series, if you have questions, please ask them then.

Again, any man who holds there authority over a woman like a caveman or as a slave owner would, needs some serious help understanding the Scriptures. And by you writing that people focus too much on the woman in Eph 5 and not on enough on the woman holds no water here as the men were dealth with first, and I even put forth my agreement with you in those posts.

I think you came over looking for a fight in this instead of trying to read my thoughts on the Scriptures.

In the end, you will still have to deal with the Greek terms that are used in the passage that speak of the husband being the head and the woman being in subjection. Look to the Greek to see what those terms mean and then we can talk again.

Hope you continue to delve into the Scriptures and bend your knee to them, the same thing should be said of myself too.

May God be praised.

poopemerges said...

Cara,

It grieves me that you neither understand the passage or what we believe about authority and the radical example that Jesus set for us...by using his authority to die for his bride. This is what we are called to...To die for our wives and to lead our homes in a way that puts their needs before our own. I am reading nothing into the passage...I am reading the passage. This passage is first and foremost about Christ's relation to the church and the example is marriage (not the other way around) and the point is that Christ is head of the church. He is the church's leader. If what you assert is true, the the passage is totally meaningless, because the example of the husband leading the wife is false.


Your politicized stance on the passage is stealing both from the beauty of Christ and the beauty of marriage.

I am so confused what this means to you: Ephesians 5:23 "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. "

That is authority. Anyway you want to slice it. And this is what God calls the husbands to...a completely self sacrificial love that is willing to die...and calls the wife to submit for her own pleasure and and joy because the husband leads her to her greatest happiness....

jayfersgirl said...

Poop ~
I agree with your last paragraph's description of what husbands are called to do. That's why I wanted you guys to clarify "authority." Authority sounds like "Wife, you need to clean the house today" and "Husband, can I have your permission to buy myself this shirt?" If you're defining authority as the husbands sacrificing for their wives, I completely agree.
Seth, I looked at the Greek. I'm the one who first mentioned the Greek in this discussion.
I don't have the time to sit and go thru this entire series, Seth. I was basing my comments on what I saw written here, and I disagreed with it. I don't think that reading the rest of the series will make me suddenly say "Oh, he's right! A woman is in subjection to her husband" (again, cringe!)
I still wish you'd describe what you mean by that, like Poop did.
I think the difference here is this: When I read Ephesians 5:23 I do not bring "authority" into it as you do. You say "Christ has authority over the church, therefore, that's exactly what is being described here." I see that what is being talked about is Christ's sacrifice and love for the church, not his authority over it. I'm not denying Christ's authority over the church, I'm just saying that's not what I think is being talked about here.

I know you'll probably both disagree and tell me how grieved you are and how I don't understand, but you're wrong. I do understand how beautiful this image is in relation to Christ and the church and to marriage -- I think making it into "husband has authority, wife is in subjection" makes it a very ugly picture indeed. There is beauty in a husband sacrificing himself for his wife and in his wife voluntarily submitting to him. There is no beauty in your description.

Seth McBee said...

Jafersgirl:

You say you looked at the Greek, well you might want to do some reading of what "subjection" and "head" means in the Greek. Pretty clear.

As far as "beauty"

Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder, but beauty is what God deems as beautiful.

I think if you agree with David's last paragraph you would agree with what I am saying.

Again, by you not reading all the posts, you aren't going to understand this post as a stand alone. Simple as that.

You would see what I mean by authority and what I see as the role of the husband. I even make fun of those husbands who take this passage to mean, "SUBMIT WIFE!" like some sort of caveman.

Next time I would do more research before you go on rants of someone's description of the woman's role. This post was one out of five posts.

Exegetically it is sound, politically...it is not.

messynester said...

Thank you for speaking truth. I'm a young homemaker and people think its ridiculous for me to be in this position because we don't have kids yet.

Society tries to fit scripture to itself instead of letting scripture shape society.

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