It is pressing upon me to today take a look at what the Bible says about women. There is much assumed and categorized when it comes to women. Much that is not in line with the heart of God, and while there is not time or space to look at everything we might discuss about women, we will look at a just a couple of thoughts today.
The Bible begins with the creation of the world, (and as John and Stasi Eldredge brought to our attention in their book, Captivating), we see that creation begins with wide swaths. Like a giant brush painting a large picture, a grand work of art, the first strokes lay out the background and the vistas of creation; light and dark, land and sea and sky.
Creation continues with God filling in the details. Plants and trees, animals and birds, fish and creatures of the sea, are added. Then comes mankind. A stunning representation of God himself. Mirroring both male and female God makes mankind.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27
With mankind we find the finesse and attention to detail a wonderful thing to behold. Breathed through with the breath of God mankind carries a spirit that is more complex and specialized than any other creature on earth.
And with one final sweep of creative energy, the soaring finale to creation, woman arrives on the scene. She is the glory added right at the end. Like a shining pinnacle of a grand mountain, woman adds the finishing touches to creation. Simply by who she is, woman reflects the glory of God in spectacular wonder.
Women are born and bred to carry the glory of God; to reflect God’s stunning beauty. Women give testimony of the majesty of our creator.
But Satan was the original one who was most beautiful, something he lost, something that woman gained.
Ever since Satan has hated SHE.
And ever since there has been unprecedented attacks and confounding over women for centuries upon centuries. Over no other people group have the oppressions been so profound and long-lasting.
And the Bible has a few things to say about this. We read first of all in Galatians that there is no male or female in the body of Christ.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
Paul had written here a short list of all the ways we discriminate as human beings. At the time of this writing a common way to discriminate was to hate Jews if one was Greek, and to hate Greeks if one was a Jew. Then there was the discrimination around those who are slaves or those who are free, and that we still have to this day in many places, then, into the conversation another discrimination: that of being male or female.
It is no secret that world over, that still today, male babies are considered the better of the species, and that men are superior to women. Even today there are babies aborted because they are female. Even today there are new-born baby girls killed simply because they are female. Even today, we have much prejudice and discrimination in the world over women, simply because they are female.
Yet, “In Christ Jesus there is no male or female, we are all one”
What difference does this verse make to you?
How might this change the way we do life in our families and work places?
In Peter we find this,
“Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” 1 Peter 3:7
This verse has been misapplied time and again. We miss that the ‘weakness’ of women as described here is about the body (the vessel). It is a woman’s body that is weaker than a man’s body. Having only two layers of muscle where men have three layers of muscle, a woman’s body is literally not as physically strong as a man’s body.
And therefore Peter gives a few explicit directions.
1. ‘Live with your wives in an understanding way.’ In other words, get it that your wife is not as physically strong as you are. She cannot do as much hard labor as you are capable of.
In terms of how this might play out in life, there are numerous applications depending on culture and circumstances of life. Yet regardless of each scenario, it sounds to me that Peter is saying to men, “Serve your wife. Make life a little easier for her, knowing that she is not as physically capable of hard work as you are.”
Peter is also making a case here for being gentle with women. Where two men might literally wrestle or physically fight over a disagreement, Peter is saying to understand that because of the weaker nature of a woman’s body, she should never be physically hit or fought with. She is not on-par with a man in this way, she is the physically weaker vessel, and therefore physical violence is not the way to act with her.
Violence has no place in a marriage, if for no other reason than the woman is not as physically strong. Violence is an injustice to women.
2. ‘Showing honor’ The definition of honor is, “To regard or treat with honor, esteem, or respect; to revere; to treat with deference and submission.”
I don’t know how it is in other parts of the world, but in North America men show honor to women in a number of ways; things like holding open doors for women, giving women the best places to sit, carrying the heavy things so that women are spared the weight and strain on their bodies.
Within individual cultures, it comes down to a man simply asking the Holy Spirit for direction, “How might I honor my wife today?”
3. This is all very important so that, “Your prayers may not be hindered.” Peter is making a pretty strong case for being understanding and honoring one’s wife, declaring even that if a man does not honor his wife his prayers will go unanswered. That is pretty strong language, and pretty profound consequences.
We all need our prayers answered. Simple as that.
“God we come before you today simply requesting your mercy. All of us (women included) have been part of the enemies attack over women. We have abused and discredited a most important part of your creation. We have taken for granted the beauty that you have given us in women. We have heaped piles of responsibility and hardship on women. God have mercy on us.
Please teach us to honor women. Help us to deeply love and care for the women you have placed in our lives. May we be conduits of your love and respect and honor to women. Thank-you for the women in my life; my Mom, my Sisters, my Aunts and my Wife.”
How might you honor your wife today?