Our, ‘What About?’ series, aims to answer the most common questions we get asked as a Christian Church in Texas.
Watch the sermon or read the manuscript to find out where we stand on Women in the Christian Church.
What About, Women?: Sermon Manuscript
This morning we are going to launch into a new series called, “What About?” You can look through the devotional to see where we are going over the next 9 weeks, but we are going to talk about women, racism, sex, politics; all the things you are not supposed to talk about anywhere.
But the reality is that these conversations are happening all around us. These conversations are coming up in school, music, movies, news, workplace, social media, and we can all come together on Sunday morning, and act like it isn’t happening, or we can acknowledge they are there, their happening because these conversations are important, and throughout this series we want to wrestle with how God’s Word engages these conversations. That’s our goal throughout this series.
I am sure there is a lot of nervousness that swells up in all of us when it comes to these conversations, and I want to encourage you to know you’re not alone.
Not everyone is going to agree with everything I say, and really this series isn’t designed to tell people what to believe or not to believe, but more so help us to feel more comfortable when we find ourselves in the midst of these types of conversations.
This morning, if you haven’t looked ahead already, we are going to talk about women, and I understand it might be uncomfortable for a man to talk about women, because there is a narrative in our culture that we have to experience something to talk about something. Do you hear that?
There is some merit to that narrative, but if we take that logic to its fullest measure then we just end up in segregated circles unable to learn from one another.
Therefore, I am not presenting myself as the sole expert on women, but simply initiating a process that hopefully helps us all hear and learn from one another about women, because the conversation around women is important.
I am sure we all see the pressure women have in our culture today as women are expected to be all things. Women are expected to be mother’s, work outside the home, physically fit, winning personality, and a great sense of fashion. That’s a lot.
I see the pressure women feel as our culture calls women to fight, speak up, and then God’s Word calls women to have a gentle and quiet spirit, which can be confusing.
I see the stories where women are still experiencing inequality, abuse, neglect, and as followers of Jesus we need to fight for women, so this is an important conversation.
I wish I could tell you we are going to address all your questions in life about women, but instead we are just going to focus on three questions: 1. Why Is This Question Important? 2. Where Do Our Culture’s Answers Break Down? 3. What Does This Look Like Practically? Let’s start with our first point; 1. Why Is This Question Important?
- Why Is This Question Important?
The question around women is important, because women are important. Our culture is rallying around women with messages from the #MeToo Movement in 2017, women’s salaries, and most recently what’s our role with women’s rights in other countries like Afghanistan.
But God’s Word has always been Pro-Women. Genesis 1 teaches us male and female are created in the image of God, so that somehow, I am not sure how, but somehow the image of God is both masculine and feminine, because male and female are made in the image of God.
In addition, in 1 Peter 3, write that in your notes, we see that male and female are both co-heirs to the grace of life. In that same chapter the Apostle Peter calls women in Christ to influence their unbelieving husbands, because the Lord is going to move through the wife to bring about a transformed life in their husband. That’s written in the first century. That’s incredibly pro-women!
Therefore, as followers of Jesus, when a conversation comes up about women, equality for women, protection for women, opportunities for women, a voice for women, we want to speak up for women as a fellow image bearer.
In no way do we ever want to give the connotation that women are second-class, or less than, because when we look throughout Scripture we see a progression of women continually being placed in a position of honor. Did you catch that?
This phrase “progression of women being placed in a position of honor” is important to understand. Write that down. Right now, our culture is creating a narrative that the Bible is oppressive toward women, and that message is everywhere.
You used to hear that accusation at the college level from a professor taking a shot at Christianity, but today the narrative that Christianity is oppressive toward women is in Disney, television, education, and it’s not true.
Yes, you will see verses in Scripture that will make you wonder, and we will talk about that in a minute, but generally speaking when you read Scripture as a whole you will see a progression where women are being placed in a position of honor.
It’s possible you push back and say, “Why a progression?” It all starts in Genesis 1. In Genesis 1 we see “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” and in verse 27, “Male and female are made in the image of God.” That’s the plan. That’s the dream. Everything is perfect. Heaven on earth.
But, in Genesis 3 sin enters into the story and everything falls apart, which means from Genesis 3 on murder, death, and bloodshed is the norm of humanity. I need you to sit in that with me for a second.
God’s Design was heaven on earth but in our sin, we rejected God’s Design so that humanity is broken. That happens in Genesis 3, so that in Genesis 4 there’s no systems of support for women. There’s no 911 to help women. There’s no police set up to come to their aid. There’s no social structure to provide support. There’s humanity living off the land, trying to survive, and life was brutal for men and women.
The idea of attaching a female to a husband or a father was a means of protection in that day. In our 2021 eyes it sounds condescending and offensive, but in the context of the day the laws were set up to keep women safe and alive. Does that make sense?
Throughout this series I want to try to provide some principles on how to engage the cultural conversations of our day and there is a term called “Rhetorical Context” we are going to reference throughout this series when we talk about history.
Rhetorical Context refers to the circumstances surrounding an act of reading or composition, therefore, when we go to the Bible and read verses where women are commanded to marry their rapist (Deuteronomy 22), or polygamy practiced by spiritual leaders, or Genesis 21 where a man could have numerous concubines, and it’s confusing, because we wonder “Why would God allow that?” but we have to remember the rhetorical context of the passage.
The idea of attaching a female to a husband or a father was a means of protection in that day. In our 2021 eyes it sounds condescending and offensive, but in the context of the day the laws were set up to keep women safe and alive.
None of that is what God wanted. The God of Scripture wants Genesis 1 and 2, male and female made in the image of God, responsibility to care for creation, be fruitful and multiply, all under His care and provision. That’s what God wants.
But humanity rejects God’s Design (Genesis 3), and from that moment on we see the God of Scripture on mission to restore and reconcile His creation to Himself, while at the same time working in the context of murder, death, and bloodshed. Let’s look at our second sub-point; 2. Where Do Our Cultures Answers Break Down?
- Where Do Our Cultures Answers Break Down?
Again, there is a narrative in our culture right now that the Bible is oppressive toward women so much that we might find ourselves thinking, “I have to either support women or support the bible.” Does that make sense?
Do you ever feel that pressure? The reason that narrative exits is because you can go through history and pull-out references from early church leaders in 200’s, 400’s 1500’s – probably 2021, and hear men make absurd comments about how women have very little to offer, and that’s infuriating.
I am not going to pretend that people haven’t said dumb things throughout history, because they have, but all those comments ultimately discredit and discount the very people Jesus laid down His life, and all those comments are inconsistent with God’s Word.
In fact, that leads us to another principle we want to be on guard against as we engage these cultural conversations of our day, which is “cherry picking.”
It is common right now for people to pick 3-5 events on a historical timeline that might true, and then make a Tik-Tok, flash those 3-5 events on the screen and say, “See Christianity is oppressive toward women.”
But we need to look at the whole of Scripture, and throughout Scripture you see a progression of women being placed in a position of honor.
Jesus interacts with women throughout scripture and constantly elevates them to positions of honor. Jesus heals women, Jesus leads through women, involves women, empowers women, and does so at a time when women had little to no value. Rhetorical context matters.
- Luke 8: The Twelve were with him, 2and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; 3Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.”
- Mark 7: The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.
- John 19: Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
- Mark 16: Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
- Luke 7: Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.
There are some in our culture who will also tell you, “Well, Jesus might be okay, but that Paul guy was horrible.” The only problem is that the Apostle Paul is just an extension of Jesus, because Paul also has women in leadership throughout scripture and they are used in pivotal ways to advance the kingdom of God, again at a time when women had little to no voice.
- Phoebe as a deacon
- Priscilla and Aquilla as leaders
- Tryphena and Tryphosa who work hard
- Euodia and Syntyche are called his fellow-workers in the gospel
Proverbs 31 is another great example to see the heart of God toward women. When you read the passage on your own you see a godly woman is entrepreneurial, employs multiple people, works hard, strategic thinker, learned, cares for the poor, commands respect, loved by her family, creative, physically strong, encourages others, so that when you read Proverbs 31 you are probably thinking, “I could never live up to that calling” but you’re definitely not thinking Scripture teaches women to get back into the kitchen. No Proverbs 31 was light years ahead of the feminist movement, and it’s because God’s Word is pro-women.
In fact, throughout history and around the globe the gospel hasn’t oppressed women, but elevated women. Wherever you’ve seen the gospel flourish in countries, you’ve seen women in those countries flourish in education, human rights, social services, so that God’s Word is the foundation of women being elevated and honored. Let’s look at our last point; 3. What Does This Look Like Practically?
- What Does This Look Like Practically
On page 36 in our devotional, we see a passage from 1 Timothy 2, and in our last question I am going to walk us through that passage and how that would apply here at North Village Church.
1 Timothy 2:8-9, “8 Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension. 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,”
First, were dropping into 1 Timothy 2, and we need to engage the context a little. 1 Timothy is known as a pastoral epistle. 1 Timothy is written by the Apostle Paul to a younger pastor, Timothy who has been left in Ephesus to spiritually care for the local church.
In chapter 1 we see Timothy is discouraged, primarily from false teachers in their community, therefore the Apostle Paul admonishes Timothy to persevere, trust in Christ, and pursue peace as he navigates this tension.
In verses 8 and 9 we see examples where we can ask ourselves, “Is this a principle or a command?” Do you see it in verses 8 and 9?
We see a description of “lifting hold hands” and “women with braided hair” and we need to ask ourselves, “Is this a principle or a command?”
One way to know the difference is to ask if verses 8 and 9 are specific? The phrase “lifting hold hands” is somewhat general. In fact, it’s a figure of speech to capture one’s posture in worship.
In addition, “braided hair” isn’t offensive to God, but more so the Apostle Paul is giving us a principle not to rely on physical appearances. Does that make sense?
This might feel a little tedious, but this is going to help us understand the rest of the passage. Let’s keep reading.
1 Timothy 2:10-11, “10 but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness. 11 A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.”
What does that mean? At first glance these verses could lead us to slam the Bible shut and reject anything it has to offer, but first we need to be aware of our personal bias when we read this verse as a 21st Century American in Austin, TX.
We as a people are a product of Civil Rights Movement, Suffrage, #MeToo, movies, songs, literature that are fighting for women, which is great, therefore, whether we like it or not, we are going to read those verses with a bias that makes it easy for us to get triggered. Does that make sense? So, we need to go slow.
Second, the Apostle Paul, who is often villianized in some circles, is calling women to “good works” in verse 10. In fact, he is admonishing women to not get too swept up in physical appearances, at a time when almost every culture would have valued women for their physical appearances, but instead the Apostle Paul presses women into living meaningful lives of good works. Does that make sense?
And, then third, in verse 11 we tend not to be able to take our eyes off of the word “submissiveness”, but we need to see that the Apostle Paul is admonishing women to good works (10) and learning, which again, would have been counter cultural for women in the first century.
In the Roman world in the first century, women were thought to be intellectually second-class. It was widely accepted that females were mentally inferior, so that most learning systems were designed for men, not women, but the Apostle Paul is encouraging women to learn.
Now, let’s address the word submission. Yes, verse 11 also includes two phrases that are uncomfortable; “learn quietly” and “submission” and I am sure that many of us who have images of women in Afghanistan in the news who are being forced into segregation, and as a result we have a natural impulse that pushes back, but lean in with me for just a second.
The admonition to “learn quietly” is simply to pursue a quiet and peaceful life. It isn’t an admonition to never speak unless spoken to, and this same admonition is given to Timothy in verse 2 to lead a quiet and peaceful life, because of all the false teaching, gossip, and slander that is taking place in their culture.
The word “submission” is often difficult for us to hear, because the word “submission” has a negative connotation in our culture, but we need to remember when we see “submission” in Scripture our ultimate submission is to the God of Scripture where men and women are called to submit to God and love one another, therefore, there is no concept of submission in Scripture that is intended to be abusive, heavy handed, or toxic in any capacity.
In fact, the best picture of submission in Scripture is captured in the Trinity between the Father, Son, and Spirit as they mutually submit to one another, so that submission isn’t a connotation of value, but order as we all submit to the Lord. Let’s keep reading. Let’s look at verses 12:
1 Timothy 12, “12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.”
In verse 12 we see a verse that can trigger some emotions, so I just want to give us a beat to acknowledge our bias, and lean in with me.
The context of verse 12 doesn’t apply to all women and all men at all times. The idea that Scripture teaches all women to stay home, be quiet and make babies is offensive, because we see countless of examples of women in Scripture leading and influence in all areas of life.
The context of verse 12 is specifically in the local church, and specifically at the elder level, because again, false teaching is taking place in the culture, and the elder is where spiritual authority and teaching is taking place so as to guard the spiritual health of the local church.
This is why when you turn the page to chapter 3 in 1 Timothy, we see this position of influence isn’t given to all men, because they are male, but it is given to specific men who embody the characteristics of an elder described in 1 Timothy 3 to shepherd the flock.
This is the model that we follow at North Village Church, and the natural push back to that response is what we discussed earlier in verses 8 and 9 which is, “Isn’t this just cultural? Isn’t this outdated? Does this really apply to today?” Great question. Look at verses 13-15:
1 Timothy 2:13-15, “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. 15 But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.”
In verse 13 the Apostle Paul grounds this instruction not in culture of the day, but in creation, and points us back to Genesis 1-2 where Adam is given spiritual responsibility, and Eve is invited to be a “suitable helper.”
It’s possible that the phrase “suitable helper” in Genesis 2 is confusing, but again the word, “Helper” might have a negative connotation in our culture, but the word “Helper” in Scripture is almost always used of God in Scripture.
In John 14 Jesus is praying for the Father to send a “Helper” and He is referring to the Holy Spirit, second person of the trinity. The idea of “Helper” isn’t someone who is quiet in the corner, but someone who is bringing powerful influence.
I can’t think of a decision in my life that doesn’t involve my wife’s powerful influence. She probably speaks into my life more than any other person. Every Saturday I read through the message with her, and she has powerful influence.
There are times on Sunday morning you hear her say, “Amen” and “That’s Right”, and most of the time it’s because those words are her words, she told me to say.
The wives of our elders speak into our plans every year and provide powerful influence. We invite the whole of our church, men and women, to speak into the plans of our church family.
We have women leading us in worship, leading our finances, leading in ministry at every level, women who spoke into this message, able to lead groups, breakout sessions, and it’s because our church family needs spiritual women, mothers, and sisters reflected in the life of our church.
The limitation of the elder role isn’t because women aren’t able, but because verses 13 and 14 are pointing us back to a re-ordering of life under His care like it was in Genesis 1-2.
Genesis 1-2 is a picture of husbands taking responsibility, spiritually leading, and wives providing powerful influence and support, so that the home and the local church are a reflection of one another under His care.
Listen to me, we don’t need to apologize about inviting husbands to take spiritual responsibility of his family. We are living in a day where husbands are encouraged to act like children, and all the pressure is placed on the wife to be responsible. That’s not good.
We fully believe a more engaged husband living under the rule of Christ is going to provide a better marriage. We believe when a wife sees that husband leading, she will find rest and peace, so that she blossoms into her fullest expression of a woman.
It’s possible that you are here this morning, and you say, “I don’t believe that, or I can’t believe that” and that’s okay. I am not trying to tell people what to believe, but what would be most important for you to hear today is that our value in life, and your value to this church family doesn’t come from possessing one particular title, or serving in one particular ministry, but our value and identity comes from being a son and a daughter in Christ, who came at great cost to Himself to live for you, die for you, and rise for you.
Jesus is the One who died for you, Jesus is the One who came for you, Jesus is the One who sends us out to “look around” for others so that they also might be reconciled to Him.
If you have yet to trust in Jesus, then please do that today. These conversations are important, but not near as important as it is to know Jesus, therefore, meet Him today. Will you pray with me?
North Village Church
This sermon is brought to you by North Village Church, a non-denominational church in Austin. established in 2009 and built around Jesus and Bible teaching.
Are you looking for a church in Austin? At North Village Church we put Jesus at the center of our church family. We worship together every Sunday at 10:30am, encourage Christ centered fellowship through groups, and host special events such as Bible studies and Theological Training, to ensure that we are rooted in in God’s Word. We also serve our local community in association with several Austin based organizations.
North Village Church is made up of professionals, married couples, singles, and families who are wanting to experience the life-transforming power of Jesus. If you are a family with children or teens, we can support you with either or both our Kids Ministry and Youth Ministry.
You are welcome to contact us if you would like more information.
Unable to attend this Christian Church in Austin? Don’t worry, because, through God’s provision, we have created NVC online, an Online Church streaming a worship service every Sunday from 10:30am Central Time. You can also watch our short, powerful sermons on demand and follow us on Instagram for daily Christ centered content.