Let us take a moment to remember that those whose hearts have been regenerated by Christ Jesus have a very special status. We are members of God’s holy Kingdom. We have been adopted into His family as His brothers and sisters. We will be His spiritual bride for eternity. I am reminding you of this, because we, as men and women who have been given the undeserved gift of eternal life, should live our live with dignity, reverence, and fear of the Lord. The world of Satan pulls at us from every direction and tries to convince us that dignity, reverence, and fear of God is old-fashioned. The world wishes to change our minds about God, so that we will be more compatible with its many tolerant codes of conduct. We are not to be people who tolerate sin, but people who have hope and trust in Jesus.
Paul offers clear instructions for the true church. These instructions are just as relevant for us today as they were for Timothy. Satan worked tirelessly to assert his leadership over the church in Ephesus and he continues to work just as hard today to weaken and disable any church that attempts to teach the brothers and the sisters to conform their lives to Christ.
In 1st Timothy, we find Paul needing to teach some basic standards of behavior for the people who worship and fellowship with Timothy. Paul’s instructions to Timothy have withstood the test of time as being wise and meaningful, and they will help us separate ourselves from Satan’s leadership in matters of church life today. Paul explains the purpose of his instructions in Chapter 3.
1 Timothy 3 (NASB95)
14 I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; 15 but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.
There is much instruction in Chapter 2, which must be carefully studied, because liberal churches have dispensed with much of it, while legalistic churches have turned it into a list of do’s and don’ts. Chapter 2 is filled with encouragement and excitement. It brings order into a disorderly world and brings blessing to those who love God.
1 Timothy 2 (NASB95)
2:1 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.
This chapter begins a lengthy discussion of what it means to live in all godliness and dignity. It begins with an instruction to be thankful and to be in prayer for all men, including kings and for those in authority. In order to do this, we must dispense with prejudices and political partisanship. If we divide the world into groups of people we like and those we don’t, or divide the world into camps who agree with us and those who do not, then it will be very difficult to follow this instruction. Paul is saying, pray for Everyone! This includes those we dislike and those who persecute us.
Matthew 5 (NASB95)
44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
I have been in many churches where I have heard halfhearted prayers offered for presidents and world leaders. And I must admit, that I have said such prayers. I am repenting for such careless praying, because God knows the heart and can identify a sincere heartfelt appeal. He has no interest in listening to insincere prayers that are designed to satisfy a legalistic response to biblical instruction.
To pray a sincere prayer for the people that Paul identified, we must repent for the pride of believing that we are smarter or more caring than the people we are hoping the bless with our prayers. We must see ourselves as sinners living under the gift of God’s grace and remember that it is only because of God’s mercy that we are now living lives that are qualitatively different from people of the world.
1st Timothy 2 (NASB95)
3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
Paul states the basic facts of the Christian life that should cause us to bow our heads in reverence before a holy and just God who loved us enough to give everything for us so that we would not have to die in our sins. We are called to have deep gratitude for what God has done and for what God is doing. We can also be grateful for Paul’s courage to tell the truth and to keep telling the truth no matter what the consequences might be.
Paul now moves on to speak in very specific terms about the conduct of men and women. Paul’s teaching regarding men and women in the church has been under fire for at least 50 years and probably longer. The modern world hates Paul’s teaching on the subject of men and women almost as much as it hates Jesus.
When we consider church life today, the world of Satan wants us to adopt the policy that a woman should be free to do anything that a man can do. Satan has orchestrated society so that women have no limitations. Paul is causing us to pause and carefully examine the clash between the teaching of the world and the teaching of scripture.
Of course, women are just as intelligent as men, and women can and could do anything that a man can do in terms of developing certain skills and performing various jobs. Also, the life of a woman is just as valuable as the life of a man in God’s eyes. Men and women have equal value in God’s heart and His love is equally shared with all of His children in the Body of Christ. Men and women are equal participants in the Body of Christ as the following scripture points out.
1 Corinthians 10 (NASB95)
15 I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say. 16 Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? 17 Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.
We must remember that Paul is setting forth practical principles for organizing church activities in this letter. These instructions follow holy standards and have been inspired by God. Each of us, whether a man or a woman, must work through our own baggage to reach a point where we become willing to follow Paul’s detailed instructions. This is just as difficult for men as it is for women. There may be different challenges for men and women, but the level of difficulty is just as great.
1st Timothy 2 (NASB95)
8 Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.
The word “dissension” in the previous verse is also translated as “doubting” or “quarreling.” The Greek word “dialogismoú” that is being translated here seems to communicate the idea of a man having evil thoughts. It is not hard to see how evil thoughts under lie dissension, doubting, and quarreling. Paul is saying that men must not pray when they are holding on to evil thoughts and anger. Repentance is required as preparation for leading corporate prayer. Men are to hold up “holy” hands. These are hands that are connected to a heart and mind that has been purified from sin. It is so easy to think that if our sins are invisible to others that God does not see them. This is an egregious deception. God sees and God knows everything that is in our heart. And by the way, the Holy Spirit shows our brothers in sisters much more about our supposedly hidden sin than we would dare to imagine.
In this passage, Paul also instructs men to pray with raised hands. The word used for hands refers to the entire arm from the shoulder to the finger tips. In other words, men are to raise their arms up to God and pray. The gesture is very similar to what a toddler does when he looks up to his father and raises his arms straight up with a longing smile that says “Daddy, please pick me up and hold me in your arms.” We as men must learn to have this type of childlike dependency when we approach God. Partially the gesture of raising ones arms will remind us of our absolute dependence upon God. It is a physical picture of Godly submission and reverence. Such a gesture is not done for God’s sake, but is offered as instruction and inspiration for women, children, and the unsaved.
Matthew 18 (NASB95)
3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
1 Corinthians 16 (NASB95)
13 Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.
Men show their strength and love by demonstrating their submission to God. Our corporate praying and general conduct within the context of church life and family life should meet the standards of childlike vulnerability and faith. Additionally, we are to constantly exercise watchful protectiveness over our wives and over all the women and children in the church. The strength of our faith should come from a heart that is being conformed to the nature of Christ, and is to be expressed through our actions and love for all of our brothers and sisters in Christ, and for those who are about to be saved.
Finally, I would like to add this final challenge for men. It is to imitate Paul, as he commanded us to do in various epistles. We are to teach with humility and to depend upon the Holy Spirit for our strength. We are to believe and act as if that our total conduct and disposition towards others really matters, because it does really matter.
Titus 2 (NASB95)
2 Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance. … 6 Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; 7 in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, 8 sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.
We, as men have been failing to meet these standards in the church of America for more than 50 years. If we were doing our part as God intended us to do, then there would be no empty place within the formal aspects of church life where women would feel that they need to occupy. Women can often identify a dead and dying church long before men do. No true Christian wants to participate in a church on the verge of death, because of false teaching or because there is an absence of courage on the part of men to preach the true gospel. When men fail to preach sin and repentance and refuse to address difficult issues of worldliness among believers, then they undermine the stability and security of the church and leave the door open to all manner of deceptions. When this happens, the spiritual life of women suffers and they want to do something about it.
After Paul tells Timothy what he wants from the men of the church, he goes on to tell him what he wants from women. I will use the King James Bible for this next verse, because modern translations leave out a few key words in the effort to make the passage more politically correct. Paul goes onto state:
1st Timothy 2 (KJB)
9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;
I continue to be amazed at how Paul’s instructions are equally applicable today as they were two thousand years ago. In the case of women, modesty continues to be an issue in the church.
In order to discuss modesty, it is essential to understand the way that God has made men. By nature, men are easily stimulated by women. We as men might like to think we are able to not have sexual thoughts when we are around women, especially when we are in church, but if we think we are above such things, then we have deceived ourselves.
It is the curves and contours of the female body that stimulates sexual excitement in the male. The more that a woman reveals the curves of her body, the more she becomes a source of temptation for men. I am not trying to state that women are the cause of male erotic fantasy and sin. Men are responsible for submitting this pattern of sin to God through repentance when it occurs. However, the ways in which women reveal their body does make it harder for men to stay out of sexual sin. The call for modesty by Paul is a call for placing things in their proper relationship.
Sexual thoughts and sexual behavior have their proper place, which is in the context of marriage. The various ways that husbands and wives relate to one another within the privacy of their home is a gift from God and is to be cherished. However, when that gift, in the form of a woman’s sensuality is displayed for men other than her husband or is publically displayed by an unmarried woman, then she is misusing the gift of physical beauty that God has given her.
The preacher and Bible teacher Paul Washer says that the clothing of a woman should draw attention to her face. When it does this, it is modest. When her clothing draws attention to other parts of her body, then she is putting herself in the position of becoming a source of temptation for men. Does this mean that I am advocating that women wear a uniform of some type such as a Muslim burka? The answer is no. I believe that the apostle Paul is simply calling for voluntary restraint in the area of clothing. Every woman needs to seek God’s help to closely examine this issue.
Clothing manufacturers go out of their way to design clothing that is “sexy.” They sell clothing that is designed to make women feel sexy and to feel like they have the power to arouse a reaction in men. The Apostle Paul is calling us to step away from the norms of the world and achieve a much higher standard of modesty.
Those who are over 55 years old will remember a time in their early lives when women wore dresses and men wore pants. It would have been a very unusual situation to see a woman in public wearing pants before 1960. Those who are younger than 55 may have grown up assuming that pants are unisex. The transition of women wearing pants happened in the 1960s during the so called sexual revolution. It was during the era of bra burning and free love that women were liberated from their skirts and dresses and were encouraged to put on pants just like the men and to compete with them in every aspect of life. It was a sign that women could be like men in every way possible with the single exception of child bearing. The wearing of pants was a result of rebellion against God’s orderliness concerning men and women. Culturally, we may be offended if we see a man wearing a dress, but think nothing of a woman wearing pants. In actuality, both situations are equally offensive to God. To reinforce this point, I offer the following scripture.
Deuteronomy 22 (NASB95)
5 “A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.
The same Hebrew word “t?????h” (8441 ) that is translated as abomination, in the preceding verse, is also used elsewhere in the Old Testament to describes the offensiveness of idolatry, child sacrifice, intermarriage by the Jews, and homosexual acts. The use of the word “abomination” in these other contexts gives us an indication of the seriousness of cross dressing from God’s point of view.
Lev 20 (KJB)
13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
I realize that many men and women will disagree with me on this point. Please remember, the disagreement is not with me, but with God. The standard argument that is given in support of women having the “right” to wear pants is that the Old Testament and Paul in particular was only speaking of the customs of the day. Customs and fashions change and we should be flexible and adapt to changing trends. This line of thinking is straight from Satan. It is the same line of thinking that says that homosexual activity is OK today, because we know so much more about human beings than those old ignorant people of Bible times knew. God’s call for sanctification and orderliness within Christian life has not changed. God still believes that homosexual activity is an abomination. What do you believe He thinks about the abomination of cross dressing?
The styles and preferences of the world should not be the test of Christian conduct. Just because Madison Avenue marketers say that women should wear pants and sexy clothing to display their sensuality for everyone to see, does not mean this standard should be followed by Godly women or encouraged by Godly men.
I would like each woman who wears pants to think about two points. First is it possible for a man to look at your legs without his eyes moving up your legs to the area of your genitals? That is what men do. Even if we try not to do it, it happens. Is that what you want? When a woman wears a longer length dress, men’s eyes cannot follow the contours as easily. When you wear a top with a low cut or plunging neckline, the eyes of men will automatically follow the neckline and focus on your breasts. This is the intention of clothing designers. Is this what you want? The second consideration is that God really does care about what you wear. It is not accidental that men and women have historically worn different types of clothing and have worn their hair differently.
No woman should change anything about her appearance, because of what I am saying. Such changes must come through the power of the Holy Spirit. If you make changes just because of what I have said, then you may be making a legalistic change, which will be of little benefit to you and only of moderate benefit to the Body of Christ. However, if you make changes in your appearance, because of the conviction of the Holy Spirit, then you are being refined and sanctified by God. I do not advise you to ask other people whether they think your clothing is too revealing or whether you should stop wearing pants. I strongly encourage you to prayerfully present the question to God. I encourage you to pray through the scriptures that discuss the appearance of women and the instructions that the Bible gives regarding modesty, clothing, and hair. Women who do this will find that they will begin making changes. You might have to fight against certain fleshly desires and you may have to work hard to find appropriate clothing, but God will not forsake you in the effort to be sanctified through your pursuit of modesty.
There are a few more words that need to be discussed in verse 9.
1st Timothy 2 (KJB)
9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;
I do not need to go into an extensive discussion of the phrase “not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array,” because I will leave it up to God to help women determine these standards. I will simply note that it is not a sin for a woman to braid her hair. However, when hair care and appearance becomes a matter of pride, then it is a problem. Apparently, complex braded hairdos were used in Paul’s time to display the jewels and gold that a woman possessed. Today, women display their wealth and express their pride in slightly different ways.
I want to go on to say a little about the words “shamefacedness” and “sobriety” as they are used in verse 9 of this chapter. Both of these words have been removed from modern Bible translations. The word “shamefacedness” means to physically look downward with the eyes or to cast down one’s glance. It does not mean to be ashamed of yourself because you are a woman. It means to understand the power that God has given you with respect to stimulating and exciting men. It means to humbly conduct yourself in a way that does not become a temptation for men. Women can easily express their sensuousness through the face, and Paul is encouraging women to develop a sober countenance. This does not mean that women should have blank and lifeless faces that do not express emotions. It is a warning against the possibility of offering enticing or seductive glances. Women are to consciously counter this tendency.
Before moving on to verse 10 and the rest of Chapter 2, I want to make mention of a few more instructions that Paul has given to women from his other letters. I am doing this, because the door has been opened to this topic and I would like to provide the opportunity for women and men to consider other important instructions in the council of God. Let’s talk about the head and the hair.
1 Corinthians 11 NASB95
3 But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. 4 Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. 5 But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head. 7 For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. 8 For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; 9 for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake. 10 Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.
Up until the sexual revolution of 1960, women wore hats and head coverings in church. At the time of the Protestant Reformation and prior to the 16th century, most women wore coverings over their hair as a standard part of their daily dress. There are paintings in the catacombs of Rome that illustrate the head coverings that women wore in the first centuries of Christianity. Is it a sin for a man to pray with his head covered or for a woman to pray with her head uncovered? Is this just an optional instruction or did Paul really mean it? I invite you to spend time with God to seek answers to these questions. Please also consider these verses as you pray about this.
1 Corinthians 11 (KJB)
14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? 15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.
The following section of text draws attention to the glory of a woman’s hair and her repentant encounter with Jesus.
Luke 7 (ESV)
36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.
I realize that it does not require long hair for a woman to repent for her sins at the feet of Jesus. However, this scripture reveals a beautiful picture of submission and repentance. This woman took the God given glory of her hair and turned it into a rag for wiping off the smelly sweat and dirt from the feet of Jesus. This is true humility and true submission to God. My heart is touched by what she did with her hair.
Let’s return to 1st Timothy and move on to verse 10. I will go back to the New American Standard Bible 1995 translation, because the language is easier to understand on the first reading. Verse 10 needs to be understood in relationship to verse 9, so I will start with 9.
1st Timothy 2 (NASB95)
9 Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, 10 but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.
Paul is explaining that women should adorn themselves with the attractiveness that comes from doing good works. We know that good works do not earn salvation, however, good works are the fruit of faith and contribute to the attractiveness of a Godly woman.
A woman’s true and lasting beauty will come through the way she lives as a Christian woman. Her attractiveness comes through the exercise of her God given work in the family and in the Body of Christ. This beauty comes from a life submitted to Christ and a heart that has been broken at his feet. This beauty radiates outward from the heart and is visible in the face. No amount of makeup, perfume, or other adornments can imitate this beauty. It is God’s gift that is given to women who serve Him within the orderliness that He has established. Paul will have more to say about this in verse 15 at the end of this chapter. At this point, we need to go on and consider verses 11 through 14.
1st Timothy 2
11 A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.
If men are doing their God given task of being the spiritual head over women while they are living on this Earth, then women should be well fed. If men fail in their duty, then women will feel neglected and starved for spiritual nourishment. This is true whether we are speaking of the home or the church. Paul is calling for the proper submission of women to male teachers in the church. He is not calling for submission to false teaching, or submission to men who are afraid to speak with courage. Paul is calling for the establishment of God’s order of authority within the Body of Christ. He expects men to teach and preach with the clarity and power that is needed to sustain, enrich, and edify women. If men are paying attention to the complete range of spiritual needs of women in the church, then women can happily and quietly receive the blessings of teaching and preaching with an attitude of submission. When men fail to be a proper spiritual head over women, then women will fail to submit with respectful silence. The problem is not so much non-submissive women as much as it is weak minded men who do not have a healthy fear of God.
Men are empowered when they submit to God as their head. Every aspect of a man’s life must be submitted to God’s headship. When this is done in the church, then women will recognize this fact and will respond appropriately. The problem in most churches is that men take the title of pastor or elder and expect women to submit to them, because of their title. This is no different than the idolatry of the Roman Catholic Church, which requires everyone to submit and obey the Pope, because he is Pope. Godly women can submit to the teaching of Godly men in the church, however, when men fail to be Godly, then women will find it very difficult to respect men and receive their teaching. When this happens, women will have a difficult time being submissively quiet.
I need to briefly mention that the primary head of a married woman is her husband. For unmarried young women it should be their fathers. The men of the church, especially those who serve in ministry activities must be very careful not to supplant these relationships. In cases where women do not have husbands or fathers, then the men of the church may need to fulfill a stronger role in the lives of these women. However, such care should not be the responsibility of an individual man. It is too easy for one man to begin acting like a husband or father, which can quickly lead to inappropriate behavior. It should be remembered that men are not the only people who can attend to the spiritual needs of women. As will be soon discussed, women also have a powerful ministry to share with their sisters especially when their younger sisters do not have husbands or fathers.
Is there a pattern of Godly living and ministry that has been designed for women? Paul answers this question in the last verse of this chapter. I will quote this last verse from four different translations. Each offers a slightly different flavor, because of the choice of English words selected by the translators.
1st Timothy 2 from the New American Standard 1995 edition
15 But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.
1st Timothy 2 from the King James
15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
1st Timothy 2 from the English Standard Version
15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.
1st Timothy 2 from the 1599 Geneva Bible
15 Notwithstanding, through bearing of children she shall be saved, if they continue in faith, and love, and holiness with modesty.
I want to start by examining the Greek word “sés?smai.” It is either translated as “preserved” or “saved” in all four of the preceding translations. This word is not related to salvation. It simply means to be saved or to be preserved. Women do not receive salvation, because they give birth to children. However, the Godly capacity to bear children, and the God given gifts of mothering and nurturing, are what preserves and saves women from going astray. It is intended to save them from the dangers of worldliness and make them whole. The design of a woman as child bearer and the many gifts that she has been given by God to serve this function were not intended to be a minor part of her life – they are intended by God to be the core of her life. While women are on this Earth, the natural core of womanhood will keep them close to God’s will if they do not deny the importance of their role and responsibilities as women.
(Definition of “sés?smai” adapted from: The Complete Word Study Dictionary, New Testament, Spiros Zodhiates, electronic edition, G4982.)
In other words the God given capacity to give birth, to nurture children and to nurture others in need should be at the heart of a woman’s life and ministry. A woman’s life and ministry is rooted in her procreative function, but it is not limited to procreation. It is simply grounded in this God given capacity. When women accept and celebrate the truth of the gifts of womanhood, and their ministry flows from this truth, then they grow in Godly beauty. The Godly beauty of women is to shine forth in the church and in the world, and it is to be a reminder of God’s power to create life and nurture life.
To summarize what Paul is saying in verse 15, we can say that when a woman accepts and expresses her nature as a woman, she will:
- continue in faith,
- continue in love and charity,
- continue in holiness and sanctity,
- and will do so with sobriety, modesty, self-control, and self-restraint.
Those who cling to the politically correct way of viewing womanhood will scoff at the preceding statements. Some will say “What about my career?” “What about my right to not have children?” “What about my freedom to live the kind of life I would choose?” Well, one must be very careful when attempting to insert certain freedoms into the Body of Christ when those freedoms have their origin in the activity of Satan. The freedoms that Satan has injected into the worldly social order should not have a place in the Kingdom of God. We should be very careful to not replace biblical instructions with teachings from the world of Satan.
Let’s step back and look at a few facts before going further. Men did not create women, and men did not establish biblical orderliness. God created us male and female. He established functions and tasks for us at the moment Adam and Eve were removed from the Garden. These tasks and these functions are of His making. I have learned from my own protests against God’s sovereignty, that He is much wiser than me. I no longer fight God on points that make me uncomfortable. Instead, I challenge God to refine my nature and to conform me to His liking.
The life and ministry of a woman is not a peanut sized afterthought of God. It is a vast and glorious calling! Consider this description that comes to us from Paul’s letter to Titus.
Titus 2 (NASB95)
3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4 so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.
I personally do not see how these instructions from Paul could be seen as degrading or offensive to women. I was once part of a church where women were not available to serve in the ways that Paul just described. The church suffered greatly from this lack. There were plenty of women in the church, but they were all either working in fulltime jobs outside of the home or were disabled in one way or another. The younger women were left on their own to raise children, and even most of these young mothers were working fulltime outside of their homes. No one was available to do the important work that Paul described. Paul’s instructions go very deep and they push hard against the beliefs and practices of modern culture.
In our world today, half of all children are being raised by single working mothers, because men have abandoned their families. Men continue to abandon pregnant women and leave them to seek abortions at the rate of thousands per day. Men hand over women to the authority of other men in the workforce without a second thought, and are glad to receive the extra income they earn. In doing so, men are encouraging women to abandon their God given roles in the home, in the kitchen, in the nursery, in the sick room, and in the garden. Because of the lifestyle choices that many men and women are making, women are being denied access to the daily fellowship they need from other women. When marriages and relationships become stressful, men and women quickly separate and go their own way to pursue what seems right to them.
The destruction of Godly order in the family is being fed by worldly values that challenge the headship of men. The world is teaching men to submit to women rather than to lead women. Women are being taught to take control of their lives. All this is the consequence of departing from biblical instructions and Godly orderliness, and loving sin more than God.
Paul is calling both true Christian men and true Christian women to withdraw from worldly ideas about the roles of men and women. He is calling us back from confusion and disorder and instructing us to conform our lives to biblical orderliness.
Before I move into the closing section of my message, I want to make note of the difference between what goes on in the teaching and worship ministry of the church when it gathers for formal meetings, and what goes on at other times. When Paul gives the instruction that women should remain silent in church, I understand Paul to mean that women should not be put in the position of leading worship or conducting teaching activities where men are present. Men’s voices should be heard exclusively at those times. Of course, within the context of formal meetings, both men and women should sing songs, recite prayers and use their voices to worship God. Similarly, during times of Christian fellowship, or when only women gather together for worship or teaching, women are not to be silent. When men and women assemble for informal Christian fellowship, then women should feel welcome to speak freely and to contribute from the wealth of what they have learned through their ministries and their lives. Paul did not micromanage church life by laying down rules for everything we do. He spoke about particular problems and he established standards of behavior that have proven to give strength and longevity to the church.
Sometimes Christian fellowship also takes place by e-mail or phone. Men and women should feel free to share their knowledge and their life experiences by means of these forms of communication. The elders should exercise leadership when it comes to monitoring doctrinal discussions, but everyone can and should participate in the blessing of true God centered fellowship.
I want to close this message by drawing attention to Proverbs Chapter 31.
Proverbs 31 (ESV)
10 An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. 11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. 12 She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. 13 She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. 14 She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. 15 She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. 16 She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. 17 She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. 18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. 19 She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. 20 She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. 21 She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. 22 She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. 23 Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. 25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. 26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 27 She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” 30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.
Proverbs 31 paints a beautiful picture of the life of a woman. It needs to be stated that the idealized woman who is described here is not doing all of these activities at once. This would be more than any human being could possibly do. Proverbs 31 describes the Godly ways that a woman can function as a wife, mother, and household manager. There are seasons in the life of a woman’s life. There is a time for bearing children, a time to nurture them, a time to care for the elderly, a time to minister to younger women, and sometimes there is a time to engage in money making activities. God has established times in a woman’s life for doing these activities and it is God’s Holy Spirit that should guide a woman through the phases of her life’s work.
The blessings that women can bring to their husbands, to their families, and to the families of others, are immeasurable! When women are able to act in this way, they radiate with the glory of God’s love, and are a glorious blessing for the Body of Christ. Women do not need a self-designed improvement program or to follow the feminist customs of the world. In fact the more that women stray from the Christian foundations of womanhood as established by God, the less satisfaction they will enjoy in life. God’s love blesses the lives of His daughters and He uses them to pour out His love into the Body of Christ and the greater community. Paul’s call to women is a beautiful and far reaching call. It calls women to be salt and light in the world. It calls women to be a holy blessing to women and men in the Body of Christ. It calls women to fear and obey God.
To the women, I say, please take Paul’s call to heart and pray that God will give you new opportunities to fulfill the ministry that God is giving you as wives, mothers, grandmothers, and sisters in the Body of Christ.
To the men I say, please ask God to show you how you can take up new responsibilities in the Body of Christ that will bring better orderliness to the church. In other words, I invite the men to pray with me, and ask God to help us do what men were created to do, so that women can more easily do what God has created them to do. For together — We Are the Body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 11 NASB95
11 However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God.