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Men and women do not always have the same consideration within the Church. Not that this is necessarily God's will, but there is often a difference in the way men and women are regarded.
Some Christians improvise themselves as representatives in God's place, and assert all sorts of ideas.
But what is God's opinion in all this?
How does God see things for His Church?
It would be easy to take examples from the Bible showing either that men and women have equal responsibilities, or on the other hand that there is a difference between the two.
There is nothing in the Bible that expressly says that men and women can have equal responsibilities, or that women cannot have the same responsibilities as men. The problem is that people will always find a counter-example taken out of context. We then have the choice to continue in endless discussions, some of which have been going on for more than 2000 years, or to take on our own responsibilities.
Although it would be easy to explain each biblical example in context, there will always be people who will use passages to corroborate their theories.
For decades I have been hearing everything and its opposite. Some people have said to me: "Paul expressly said that a woman should not teach in the church".
Or: "Women can teach children, but not adults".
One day I even saw three Christian ladies who made a teaching video to say that women should not teach. That's the last straw!
The fact is that we have to be consistent with ourselves, and with what the Bible tells us. If, for example, we decide to say that women cannot teach men, then women should not be allowed to talk about the Gospel to men anywhere. This would be like saying that a woman would be forbidden to talk about the Gospel to her husband who is not born again, for example.
Ridicule would go far in this case, and this is just one example among many.
As I said earlier, there are examples where Paul talks about the status of women in relation to a very specific context. But there are many other examples where the same Paul talks about women teaching in their homes, or teaching men and women at the same time.
In the same way we can find other passages that speak of the condition of women in various fields. For example this one:
1 Corinthians 7:14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.
Many Christians do not have the best vision of these words of Paul. Many of them think that a husband who is unbelieving would be saved through the salvation of his wife. But this is not at all what Paul says.
I take this example because indeed if we just read it literally, we could think that the unbelieving husband is sanctified, that is to say made holy through his wife. Some people deduce from this that Paul says that the unbelieving husband could be brought to salvation through the faith of his wife, without the need for him to have faith himself.
But the problem with this kind of inference is that it obscures other passages that are very clear, where for example Peter says the following:
1 Peter 1:9 (NIV) for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
So it is now clear that salvation can absolutely not be obtained through another person, but only through our own personal faith.
But then what did Paul mean in 1 Corinthians 7:14?
Quite simply that if a woman who has been born again lives her life as Jesus taught, then she will naturally lead her husband with her. After a while he will be deeply challenged by his wife's lifestyle, attitudes and words. Thus by his wife's attitude, he will be sanctified, that is to say, brought to salvation. His salvation will then be the fruit of his own decision, but this decision will have been greatly motivated by his wife.
This is all that Paul says in this passage.
I demonstrate this simply to show that sometimes we can deceive ourselves by trying to give a purely literary explanation to a text, without taking the context into account.
There are other passages which concern women and which can be confusing. But we are going to see that here again, a little common sense reveals all the ridicule that can come out of a purely literary interpretation.
1 Timothy 2:12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.
It is still the apostle Paul who speaks and teaches Timothy. In this passage, if we stick to a literary interpretation, it is very clear that Paul says that the woman has no right to speak. She cannot speak either in the church or anywhere else, because Paul does not specify any particular place related to this statement. So if we were to apply this passage to the letter, i.e. in a purely literary way, then all women who are born again would no longer have the right to open their mouths to speak until they die. It would indeed be total nonsense if we applied this in the Church of Christ throughout the world.
But we have to admit that nobody applies this words of Paul, fortunately!
These few evidences that I have just given you, simply show us that the explanation of a Bible passage must stick with the whole spirit of the Bible before being taken for truth in its interpretation.
Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 5:31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
Not only does God make no distinction between men and women in terms of their values, responsibilities, or positions. We can even see that when a man and a woman are married, they form a single being. They re-form this complete Adam before the creation of woman.
So there is no mention of men or women in God's thought. The only distinctions between men and women were given by the apostles according to the societies, customs and morals of their time.
Another passage, again from the apostle Paul, tells us that men should not touch women. In other words, Paul says that men should not have physical relations with women.
1 Corinthians 7:1 Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.
This is a good passage to quote, ladies, when a man prevents you from taking certain responsibilities. A literary interpretation of Paul's saying that men should not have physical relations with their wives is as ridiculous as saying that women should not teach men or have a responsibility similar to that of a man.
There are such stupid situations that can be created by giving literal interpretations to certain biblical texts. For example:
1 Timothy 2:9-10 I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
Here also, and once again, if we take Paul's words to Timothy to the letter, we should conclude that women must remain naked!
Paul says here that it is not appropriate for women to be dressed in sumptuous clothes, with pearls necklaces, jewellery, or beautiful hairstyles. Instead Paul says that women should put on decency and modesty as clothing.
In a purely literary way women should therefore remain naked, and have only their prudishness and modesty for clothing.
You are now beginning to see and understand how ridiculous and even harmful thoughts can be if we content ourselves with interpreting the Bible in a literary way without digging into the context, or the original text?
Then of course, these last few examples are clearly wrong in a literal interpretation. But what I want to show by this is that simply by misreading and interpreting without a revelation of the Holy Spirit, we end up with errors that are sometimes profound with very negative consequences.
In 1 Timothy 5:1-2:
"Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity".
When Paul counsels Timothy, he asks him to treat people with respect and love.
This is just to give us a quick context, but my point today is elsewhere in this same passage.
It is very interesting that in this passage Paul is talking about older men or older women. At least that is how it has been translated in most versions.
But not in all versions... KJV does not for instance.
If we take the word translated as "older man", it is the original word: "presbuteros". This word certainly gives the notion of an elderly person, but also of an elder in the sense of responsibility, of one who presides over the assemblies, of a bishop.
So far, nothing particularly surprising here.
But if we look at the original word translated as "older women" in this same passage, it is also the original word: "presbuteros".
It is therefore quite possible that Paul was speaking here about women who were "elders", bishops, or who presided over assemblies.
This makes sense when we know that Timothy had been appointed leader of the church in Ephesus, which included at least hundreds of house churches in the locality. Each house church had a leader who could be either male or female.
Sisters, I have good news for you, God will never reproach you for making a decision knowing that you are not doing wrong.
Do you want to teach the Gospel?
Do you feel that God is asking you to start a ministry to spread the good news?
Starting a Bible school?
Teaching children, women, men?
Or whatever you have on your heart, go for it!
Of course you must have received many confirmations that you will consider as coming from God on this subject. Not every day will be easy, as you will have to deal with the growth of your ministry, as well as the opposition of some men in the Church. This is why you need several words from God to lean on in difficult times.
But I can tell you that you will be more reprehensible by not following God's plan for your life than if you had created a ministry, or another Christian structure which God did not ask you to do because you are a woman.
God loves people who are bold, even if they are not always in the best perspective.
You feel and have firmly considered that God has a plan for you in some ministry, so go for it!
Don't just stand there hesitantly, you will regret it for the rest of your life. Do what you think God wants you to do, even if it involves the responsibility of a local church, teaching men, or anything else. God will not blame you for doing wrong.
The worst thing that can happen to you on earth is that the Holy Spirit comes and tells you: "This is not what I asked you to do, your gift is elsewhere".
But if you don't do what God has called you to do, then when you will be standing in His presence, He will have the right to say to you: "I had shown you that I had a plan for you in such and such an area, and you didn't follow it for fear of others, for fear of doing wrong".
But I guarantee you that God will never reproach you for having saved men's lives, for having taught men in order to help them in their spiritual walks, or any other spiritual thing that someone might try to prevent you from doing today.
Choose to follow God, to follow what you think He has put in you, not some men or women who try to run your life for you and to whom you are not accountable.
Our TRGN will always be more than happy to help you with advice or answer any questions you may have on this subject.
Bye for now.
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