When I was a babe in Christ, and just beginning to learn all about God’s perspective, there were many things that surprised me. One of which was God’s divinely ordained roles for men and women. Like every unregenerate person, I had allowed the culture in which I lived to dictate to me what those prescribed roles entailed. I had swallowed the women’s lib movement hook, line and sinker. I have a distinct memory, much to my shame now, of editing the marriage vows for our wedding so that they were more egalitarian. I totally omitted the “obey your husband” line. None of that for me, no sir! Little did I know that at that time I was living out God’s curse on Eve (and all women to follow) found in Genesis 3:16 “To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”” Got Questions has a great explanation of this verse:
God is saying that Eve would desire to rule over her husband, but her husband would instead rule over her. Replacing the mutually interdependent relationship the Lord had created was a desire for one spouse to lead the other. Sin had wrought discord. The battle of the sexes had begun. Both man and woman would now seek the upper hand in marriage. The man who was to lovingly care for and nurture his wife would now seek to rule her, and the wife would desire to wrest control from her husband. It is important to note that this judgment only states what will take place. God says that man and woman will live in conflict and their relationship will become problematic. The statement “he shall rule over you” is not a biblical command for men to dominate women.
The article goes on to explain that believers are instructed in the New Testament to correct what sin had created by living according to God’s Spirit. This is found in Ephesians chapter 5, where Paul outlines the husband and wife roles of mutual submission. Ladies, we are called to willingly submit to our husband’s leadership in the home. And we can safely do so because husbands are called to love their wives as Christ loves His church: sacrificially. Each spouse is to obey this command out of love for Christ. It’s based on obedience to God, not on whether or not we feel that our husbands act in a way that is deserving of respect. It’s not about him, but rather about Him. I know this is hard. It’s a battle against our sin nature. It’s hard for those of us who came out of the world, where we are told just the opposite. It is especially hard for sisters who do not have Christian husbands, who may not conduct themselves in a way that elicits respect. But even so, in so much as it does not require you to sin, you are commanded to submit to your unsaved husband. In this way, perhaps he will be led to repentance and faith. (1 Peter 3:1-6)
God also has divinely ordained roles for men and women in the Church. This is where it gets real. I do not expect unregenerate people to understand or willingly submit to God’s design for men and women. It wouldn’t make sense to them, and without a new nature they cannot. But what I find astonishing is the willful rebellion of professing believers to God’s mandate for His Church. Since the creation of man, God has made plain His design for the sexes and their roles within relationship. God made Adam first, and then Eve to be his helpmate. When God established the nation of Israel and gave the Levitical law and instruction for worship in the tabernacle, He made plain that men were designated for leadership in worship. I can hear the protestations already: “but that was the culture”. People, this is God we are talking about. He does what He pleases (Psalm 115:3), and He has gone against cultural expectations and norms many times. He does nothing arbitrarily. If this was your mental protestation to reading the above, might I gently suggest that it is worldly influence talking for you right now?
When Jesus established His ministry, it was men he chose as His disciples. And the Apostle Paul makes plain in his epistles that women are not to teach or hold authority over a man (in the Church) 1 Timothy 2:11-15. Church leadership, and corporate teaching are reserved for men. Again, if you are in the habit of reasoning this away due to “the culture” I would again remind you that not one jot nor tittle in the Bible is there by chance. God is sovereign and fully capable of communicating precisely what He desires. If it is in the Bible, it is there for a reason.
This does not mean that God sees women as inferior. That is a worldly explanation/conclusion. The scripture is rife with examples of women being valued and cherished by God. Jesus crossed all kinds of culturally normative boundaries in His elevation of women. God is clear that women have vital roles in His kingdom. He entrusts women with the raising and nurturing of children. It was to a young girl that God gave the mission of mothering Jesus Christ, God incarnate. It was to Mary Magdalene that Christ first appeared after His resurrection, before the disciples. No, women are not inferior in God’s perspective just because He has ordained that men are to be the leaders and teachers when the Church gathers together. It’s just His design. One is not superior to another. God in His infinite wisdom has decided for men to do some things and for women to do others. Is it not enough for you, Christian, that God has said? God is God, and we are not. When it comes down to it, a true believers only response should be submission to His authority. Be careful that it is not the culture you have grown up in that is deciding and dictating how things should be. God’s truth is timeless and applicable for every generation. It is not beholden to any cultural norms. God is perfectly holy, perfectly truthful, perfectly loving and perfectly wise. You can trust Him.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Further Reading and Study:
God’s High Call For Women by Grace to You
Can Women Preach by Got Questions
Men’s and Women’s Roles by John MacArthur