Chapter 23: Women
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 we see that creation begins with wide swaths. (footnote below) 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 ESV
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 ESV
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 ESV
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 your capability.
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 honour’ The definition of honour is, “To regard or treat with honour, 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 honour 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 honour my wife today?”
3. This is all very important so that, “Your prayers may not be hindered.” 1 Peter 3:7
Peter is making a pretty strong case for being understanding and honouring one’s wife, declaring even that if a man does not honour 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 honour 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 honour to women. Thank-you for the women in my life; my Mom, my Sisters, my Aunts and my Wife.”
In this month’s course focus we have been working at restoring and making right our relationships. Today’s study begins to bring all the pieces together.
It is important that each of us discern our involvement in keeping women in a lowered position. It is not just the men who have done this. World-wide women participate in the mind-sets and abuses against women. Therefore, each one of us must ask the Lord to reveal to us how we might be part of the solution towards and for women, and not part of the problem.
Specifically, we bring what we have learned about practical confession and repentance (from the first chapter – forgiveness), we bring what we have learned about our thoughts unto good deeds (from the second chapter – compassion), and we look at our trust level with the women in our lives (from the third chapter – service), do women trust us?
1. As we learned in the application portion of the Forgiveness chapter, in regards to women it is very necessary to fulfill the natural requirements of justice.
Especially here, in regards to women, there are things we have done that need to be spoken out loud and that must be confessed, both to God and to women we have offended and harmed.
2. Second, these offences require that we do what we can to make them right.
Coupled with this we bring forward what we learned about the thoughts we have unto good deeds towards women in general and towards the specific women in our lives. What are the thoughts we have that are compelling us to do good to the women around us, and are we following through on these thoughts?
3. Finally, and most important of all, we discern if we are a trusted individual for women. Trust is the bedrock of all relationships and this shows up nowhere else as clearly as in our relationships with women. Do women trust you? Does your wife trust you? Does your daughter trust you?
If not, then you have some serious work to attend to. The tenor and tone of your relationships reveal the kind of person that you are. You may know the word of God and you may know how to make church happen, but if you are not loving the women that God has placed in your care then you are defaulting on a great trust that God has given you. (footnote #2 below)
1. So, for this application, revisit Healing Actions as taught in the Forgiveness Application and work through that process in regards to the different women and girls in your life.
2. Then, we consider the thoughts and compelling unto good deeds for the women in our lives. What have you not done that God was compelling you to do? Make a list of the things you have not followed through on, in regards to your wife, your mother, your daughters, etc.
Take this list and begin to work at doing these things. Make this your top priority over the next couple of weeks. Complete these compelling thoughts that are directing you to good deeds for the women you know.
3. Finally, go back to the Compassion Application regarding Trust, and with great courage ask yourself and the Lord some really hard questions – do the women in your life trust you, and if not, why?
Ask the Lord how you might begin to rebuild any trust issues that have been broken. Most of all, do not blame the women for your inability to be a trusting individual. Rather, take responsibility for your actions and for the way you have been doing life and relationships. From this point on you can begin to make the changes you need to make and life can become better.
NOTE: These things will take time. You must be ready to put in a lot of effort and to go the long haul to rebuild trust and to make right what has become wrong. But it is well worth it, and as you are faithful in this the Lord will begin to inhabit your life and prayers and ministry like never before.
God is all about relationship and so we must also be all about relationship.
Summary – women
Both male and female represent God. Genesis 1:27
In the Kingdom of God gender does not matter. Galatians 3:28
Men, live gently with your woman. 1 Peter 3:7
Be humble with your wife and make things right with her. Malachi 2:13-14
footnote #1 – as written in Captivating, by John and Stasi Eldredge, 2005, 2010, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN
footnote #2 – Women are made to be reflectors. Like a mirror they reflect the kind of care they receive, the consideration that come to them, the respect give to them, how much they are loved, and more. We can tell the quality of her man by the light, her countenance, and the way she carries herself.
A woman who is well loved and regarded walks in a strong beautiful way. A woman who is beaten down, disrespected and ill-used also reveals this in her manner, in the way she carries herself and the countenance of her face. She is the mirror that reveals the true character of the men around her.
Men, you have great power to impact your wife. If you treat her well, if you regard her well, if you respect her, if you ask her how her day is going, if you serve her by helping her when she is overwhelmed or exhausted, if you look her in the eyes each day and tell her you love her, if you give her non-sexual touch that affirms your care for her, she will shine.