Genesis 1:27 – So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Please note that there is a Part II to this sermon). You have in Paul’s letters, I Timothy most prominently, that have been interpreted and implemented in a fashion that would tend to severely limit the role of women in the church. I have to be honest, Paul’s statements in those letters are indeed vexing to me, a person raised in the full gospel tradition that has long afforded mostly equal roles to women. I try hard not to fall into the trap of insisting that things that I agree with in the Bible be interpreted and applied as strictly as possible while being very liberal concerning things that give me problems. If I do that regarding the role of women in the church, cannot thieves, murderers, sorcerers, idolators, etc. do the same?One thing that gives me comfort is that Paul’s specific statements stand out in stark contrast to how God – including Jesus Christ – treated women. Indeed, Paul himself prominently mentions and praises several women in the Bible for their work in what were clearly leadership roles in the church. And then there was the case of Lydia, whom Paul personally converted, that founded the church in
Philippi. As Paul wrote the Book of Philippians, he obviously was not troubled by her role (and please note that unlike most of the early Christians who were noted for their poverty and marginalization,
Lydia was a wealthy prominent businesswoman before she converted).
So, then, it is clearly appropriate to attempt to apply context to Paul’s statements regarding the role of women in the church when Paul’s statements, divinely inspired as all the rest of the Bible, clearly contradicts not only what is written about women in the rest of the Bible (And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit Joel 2:28-29.) Now the religious establishment mostly ignores the many places in the Bible where it lays out the obvious spiritual equality between men and women in order to latch onto what is given in I Timothy. In doing so, they are making the Bible divided and double – minded against itself and rendering it of no effect. Instead, the Body of Christ should be doing their best to put what I Timothy says about women into CONTEXT with the rest of the Bible, so that God’s Word and not the doctrines of men will be true. After all, God’s people are supposed to be DIFFERENT from the world. The world has proven itself to be very capable of dehumanizing and marginalizing women. Even – and in some cases ESPECIALLY – the feminist movement has led to women being more violated than before. So in order to show that Christianity is not only diverse from but BETTER THAN the world, we should be an example of how true followers of Christ elevate women as Christ elevated Mary Magdalene.
That’s right, Mary Magdalene. She was the first person to see the risen Christ, and the first person who bore witness of Christ’s Resurrection to others. And it also goes deeper than that. It is not recorded in the gospels, but many people who have done historical research into the period have revealed that women were more likely to follow Christ than men, and that it was women who earned money to give financial support to Christ and His disciples. What the Bible does record is that during Christ’s darkest hour, when the men abandoned and even denied Christ out of fear, the women never left His side. While the men were in hiding, the women were with Jesus Christ at the cross, and they went to anoint His Body with spices immediately after the Sabbath. Some say that “it takes a man to do a man’s job”; well, it was because the WOMEN did not allow FEAR OF DEATH to intimidate them from doing a WOMAN’S JOB – preparing a body for burial – that THEY were the first ones to see the empty tomb! There is no record in the gospels of any woman ever denying Jesus Christ as Peter did, or betraying Him as Judas Iscariot did, or failing to believe in the Resurrection as Peter and Thomas did. And note that among the people who Paul listed as having turned on him and having created false doctrines, not a single woman was listed! And even the pagan wife of Pontius Pilate prevailed upon him to release Jesus Christ, but in his weakness he heeded her not. None of this is ever mentioned by the woman – bashers in the church. Why? Because so many leaders in the church want to emulate the misogyny of the world. They take what is against the Will of God and the Bible, what is sinful and wrong, and call it holy. That is what religion does for you, my people! Now that is why the original full gospel movement was so accepting of women. Not only were there FAR MORE WOMEN in the early full gospel movement than men (a 3 to 1 ratio!), but the full gospel movement cast aside the old traditions and dogmas in order to build something new. Now regrettably the full gospel movement has become religious denominational Christianity just like all the rest, but restoring women to God’s original intent has been one thing that they have kept. But the rest of the Christian world looks at the opportunity to show how much better we are than the pagans who sacrifice female babies (see
CHINA) and the Muslims who terribly demean women, and the secularists with their glorification of pornography, and shrugs. They would rather be LIKE those worldly people than DIFFERENT from them.
Now it is fascinating that one of the most powerful statements AGAINST the Christian marginalization comes from the hand of Paul in I Timothy 2:13-14. Paul said that it was not Adam who was deceived, but rather Eve. What that means: Eve did not truly sin so much as she was tricked. But ADAM? He was not tricked. He made a CONSCIOUS DECISION to rebel against and reject God! That is why even though EVE was the first to eat of the fruit and that EVE was the one who have to Adam who then ate, it was through ADAM and NOT EVE that sin was transferred into mankind! And that was the reason why it was THE SEED OF WOMAN (Mary) that God used to create Jesus Christ with no MAN involved, and also why God TOLD EVE that HER SEED (not Adam’s!) would war against Satan and deliver mankind (Genesis 3:16)! And this is obviously borne out by the different character shown by Adam in contrast with Eve in Genesis. When God confronts them about their sin, Eve takes responsibility (“the serpent tricked me and I ate”) but Adam put all of the blame on Eve AND God (“the woman that YOU GAVE TO BE WITH ME gave me the fruit and I ate”). And when Eve had children, she credited – and can even be said praised – God for them “I have gotten a man child from the Lord” even AFTER being driven from
Eden. But Adam? He gave no respect to God; as a matter of fact nothing is written of anything that Adam said after blaming Eve and God for his fall, because obviously he said nothing worthwhile for God to record through Moses (who wrote Genesis) afterwards. And that began a consistent theme throughout the Bible where the character, strength, and courage of women generally exceeded those of men. Which is not to say that there were no evil women or that righteous women did not sin, but only that there were far more evil men and their evil was far greater. Does this denote that men are inherently more evil than women? No. As a matter of fact, it can be noted in the Bible that the wicked kings generally had wicked or pagan mothers. Instead, it should be considered by those who wish to rise up against the false doctrine that women cannot hold positions in the church. Should women hold positions over men? In general, Biblical example states that such is not expedient. But just as Lydia founded the Philippian church, Deborah judged
Israel. Some have argued that such was required in exceptional circumstances where no suitable male leaders were available: well look at the present day situation where men are increasingly absent from church – and from families – and claiming that those circumstances are not now often present is ridiculous. Spiritually and morally incompetent men running churches when much better qualified women are available is the root source of so many ills in the church today, and yes it spills over into the families, schools, and communities with negative effects.
Even in churches where there are spiritually qualified male leaders, women should not be excluded so long as the male is the ultimate authority. Indeed, many full gospel churches have excellent arrangements where the man is the head pastor and the woman is the assistant pastor. Such arrangements can be made down the line: where the main official is male who has females under his charge. For a man to then claim that this violates I Timothy because no woman should have a position of authority over any man – that the least of men should be higher than the greatest of women – well then Paul violated that position himself by his continued support of a church founded by a woman. So either Paul was a liar or the position based on his words are not a faithful rendering of the true intent of his words.
And yes, there is precedent for this. Paul stated in one of his early letters (in response to Judaizers who were attempting to get the new Christians from pagan backgrounds to abandon the gospels for the law) that the only one of the Jewish traditions that they needed to respect was not eating things sacrificed to idols. But later, Paul stated that if certain circumstances (i.e. to gain and retain converts among the pagan) required eating things sacrificed to idols, then go ahead and do it! Paul then explained that though it was not sound practice and should not generally be done for various reasons, what a person ate was truly not a spiritual concern anyway. This echoed the words of Jesus Christ Himself in Matthew 15:1-20. Rather, the prohibition against eating things sacrificed to idols was merely sound practice due to the times that they were living in: the need to both separate themselves from the pagans and to avoid unnecessarily offending Jews. But even in those times there were situations which required abandoning what was never a spiritual law anyway, but rather merely a sound practice. If the same can be said with regard to not eating things sacrificed to idols, then it can be said regarding women in the church in I Timothy. Paul’s statements regarding women were never spiritual law, else he would have never dealt with
Lydia or the church that she founded. So, they can be viewed as a sound practice considering the times they were in; Roman (and Jewish) societies that were exceptionally repressive to women (with the Romans even more so than the Jews … a Roman had the right to kill his wife and children at any time for no reason as they were his property). But we are not in that time today, so that practice can be discarded in a manner that still respects the spiritual principle that the woman is subject to the man as man is subject to Christ as Christ is subject to the Father. Now what of Genesis 3:16 where God tells Eve that man will rule over woman? Well, that was a curse due to Adam’s sin. After a man and woman accept Christ into their hearts, just as all sin is removed, the curse of that sin is removed also. So, a couple married in Christ should be restored to the original state that Adam and Eve enjoyed in the garden, with man and woman as equals with the man having loving respectful authority and the woman’s voluntary submission. Indeed, Paul says as such when he charges men to love their wives as Christ loved the church, and admonished men that their bodies do not belong to themselves but their wives. Again, this is also in I Timothy, so even by the words of Paul, the curse upon women – and also upon men, for no decent man should want to be an oppressive ruler – wrought by sin was defeated by Christ on the cross.
Another thing that we should consider in the curses given to man and woman in Genesis is in relation to mentioning how
Lydia was a successful businesswoman. In Genesis 3:17-19, God put a curse on male economic activity. Now even though Christ also broke that curse on the cross, it still lives in a man’s flesh until such time that he submits to the workings of the Holy Spirit so that by the Holy Spirit it can be overcome. Like anger, hate, fear, doubt, rage, violence, lust, lying, etc. that curse can take real time and effort for a man to overcome, just as it takes time and effort for a man and woman married in Christ to overcome the “rule over thee” curse and become one flesh. But please note: THE FEMALE ECONOMIC ACTIVITY WAS NEVER CURSED! Therefore, this idiotic notion that women should not work outside the home – or receive fair reward for their labor – has never been sound doctrine or practice. First off, it is a class and culture – biased argument anyway. In poor and middle – class families, women HAVE to work, or else the family will starve, and the same is particularly true of nations where life is a struggle. Only upper class and wealthy westerners have had the luxury to try to impose the notion on their women that they should not work. Many of these same Christians promote this doctrine while they themselves employ underclass women as domestics. People also forget that when Christianity originated, a large percentage of the new believers were female SLAVES! This is not to say that women should not do what is in the best interests of the family, children, marriage, and church when deciding whether to have or continue a career or not. Then again, what prevents a man from sacrificing HIS career to strengthen the marriage, children, or church in Christ? Indeed, a big problem in Christian churches and homes is men neglecting their wives, children, homes, and ministries seeking high incomes and the esteem of men that comes with it. I have to be honest, things would honestly be a lot better off if a lot of Christian men would drop out of the full – time work force for a time so that they can be with their wives, children, and at church during times of crisis. Men fool themselves into thinking that they can solve their family problems by making more money when the truth is that sacrificing financially is what will demonstrate to their family that A) they love them more than they love their money or career and B) they trust in God and not their job or money to take care of them. Acting in such a fashion would cause the now sky – high divorce and abortion rates in the church to PLUMMET. Instead, the church should preach and practice the Biblically sound doctrine that a Christian man should marry a Christian woman and allow himself to be blessed financially through her. Consider Proverb 31; it speaks of how a virtuous wife is such a blessing to her husband and her whole house with her work ethic and prudent financial actions and judgment. Now if this were so under the old covenant when that Proverb was written, how much more true is it under the New Covenant? It is interesting to note that the nations that cruelly oppress women (third world countries and similar) are wretchedly poor even when there is the potential for significant wealth (huge mineral reserves and rich farmland, for instance) while even nations that have far less intrinsic economic or strategic value but yet afford some degree of economic liberty to women are far more prosperous! And does it honestly appear as if the full gospel ministries that allow women to contribute their labor are now outstripping the traditional churches? It is a sound Biblical principle in action.
One thing that I have noticed from the Bible: originally there seemed to be a lack of polygamy. Adam, of course, had only one wife, as did Job and Noah. Abraham only took a second wife, Hagar, at the demands of Sarah, and of course the result of that was the Ishmaelite influence that God had Abraham cast out of his house and has warred against the people of God even to this day. Isaac, meanwhile, only married his second wife after Rebekah died. And Jacob (
Israel) never wanted to marry both Rachel and Leah, but only did so because of the treachery of the pagan Laban (who tricked Jacob into adhering to his pagan customs). By contrast, Esau, who never gained favor in God’s sight, practiced polygamy (and with pagan women, including an Ishmaelite) by choice. And like Abraham, Jacob’s having two wives was a source of unending misery, including Jacob being forced to marry his wives’ handmaids because of the rivalry between Leah and Rachel to see who would have the most children for Jacob. Further, Joseph had only one wife, as did Moses. Now realize that when Israel went against God’s Will and demanded a king, the kings of
Israel emulated the custom of other pagan kingdoms: the king having many wives and concubines. Now David brought sin into his own house by taking another man’s wife though he had many already, and there was division among David’s children of various wives that resulted in a half – brother raping his half – sister and being killed in revenge by Absalom, who then attempted a coup against David, during which he publicly raped David’s concubines. And then David’s son Solomon did even worse than David by marrying pagan women and becoming pagan himself, thereby introducing that sin into the line of kings, and it never left until the kingdom was destroyed by the Babylonians. Incidentally, after the destruction of Israel by
Babylon, there was no more mention of polygamy being practiced by Jews (or Christians as it were) in the Bible. So while it was never specifically mentioned as a sin in the Bible, it is clear from every single one of its recorded examples that polygamy was never God’s plan and that no good ever came of it. Why? Because marriage is supposed to be a union of equal partners with one partner voluntarily submitting to the other’s benevolent authority, and if a man is married to several women, that removes the equality between the man and woman and instead significantly degrades the worth and status of the women. Further, there can be no voluntary submission to a single benevolent authority; instead all the women must by design and in essence by force submit to the male because of a lack of an alternative. And instead of wielding his God – given authority with love, mercy, and patience with an equal partner, the man has to exercise strict control over entities with status and worth that are less than his. And rather than a woman being only under a man who is under God, the women themselves have a hierarchy, with the oldest woman having dominion over the rest, and status and power is also “earned” by the ability to have the most children and to contribute economically. And of course, with the women being so devalued in this arrangement, the result is that her own male children – and the male children of his other wives – wind up having more worth and ultimately dominion over her. So, the fact that polygamy obviously violates God’s original intent for a man and woman (and let us not forget, came about in pagan cultures in the sinful world that sprang up after Adam fell) is proof that men and women are spiritually equal in God’s eyes and are hence suitable for roles that are spiritually equal in accordance to God’s Will and Design. Jesus Christ came to set the captives free! Therefore, Christians should give women a degree of liberation and empowerment unseen anywhere else in the world so that the world may be blessed by Christian women. This includes, of course, Christian men, who are also set free from the curse of having to rule over women instead of having the voluntary gracious loving submission of a woman. Just as it is far easier for a king to preside over a kingdom of loving subjects, it is far easier to run a household with a wife who voluntary submits than with one who is held in an inferior position against her will by a curse. Instead of one being superior and another being begrudgingly inferior, you will have a situation where both are co – equals, and one graciously accepts being under God’s authority and the other also graciously accepts being under God’s authority by submitting to the one that God told her to. Also, in the prior arrangement, a woman is subject not only to her husband, but to all males, including her own sons. As a man, how does it make you feel if any other man can just boss your wife around? Especially if you are a man whose wife has to work, if a woman is under man’s dominion against her will, what gives your wife the authority to resist her male boss’s sexual aggression? But in a redeemed relationship, the woman is under God alone, who then using HIS divine authority places under YOU alone (not as a footstool, but as a very competent and respected helper, such as a vice president or a chief operating officer). So, she is subject to no one but God or you, and she therefore has all power through the Name of Jesus Christ to resist both her boss and those demons of lust and rape in him! Isn’t that what you WANT, man of God? Or is it that you would rather deny her the fullness of what Christ went to the cross and overcame death, hell, sin, and the grave to give your wife (and your mother, sisters, and daughters) on the cross? If so, that is not the love of God working in you, but rather the abomination of religion taking the place of God’s Word. Whatever place you are in right now that is causing you to reject God’s Word and Divine Plan in your life, then it is your responsibility to move. If you fail to do so, then you will be held accountable on judgment day. Will it keep you out of Heaven? No, but you will not inherit the glory or the place that you would have otherwise received. Now your wife on the other hand, well as one who was made last by you in this life as one suffering under the cruel yoke of your unGodly false doctrine, will be first in the next. If she was a good, faithful, virtuous wife to you despite your ill treatment of her, then her reward in Heaven for having held on in the face of her persecution at your hand will be great indeed. Please read Part II of this important message!
Prayer:Father God in the Name of Jesus Christ, please overcome this false doctrine that has demeaned and subjugated women and is no credit to men that exists among many in the Body of Christ. Please send preachers, prophets, teachers, preachers, and evangelists with true, sound interpretations of The Word to use them to help people, set them free, and preach and do works against the false doctrine and the evil effects of it. In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Deliverance:The demons that work in this area are false teaching, false doctrine, and worldliness. It is regrettable that so many people associate the church with oppressing women and the world with liberating them when the opposite is true. Please read the Basic Spiritual Warfare guide to learn more about how to go against these demons to help set captives free and win battles in the name of your God through the power, authority, and victory given to you by his Son Jesus Christ and by his blood shed for you!