What Does Paul say about Women?

The Bible is full of the subject of men/women, marriage, beginning with Genesis, which Paul quotes to substantiate his teachings.  There will be gender in heaven; Jesus only said we would not be families there, but just one perfect family of God, brothers and sisters in Jesus, members of His “Body”.

The Bible is NOT male-prejudiced.  It is we, including the Church, which have not lived up to what it teaches.  Wherever the Bible has gone, women have been elevated, marriage honored, and celibates respected.  Three primary references in Paul to these subjects are 1Cor. 7,11,14 and 1Tim 3:8.  In the first he strikes a blow for “women’s lib” by exalting the unmarried.  There is more to womanhood than marriage and child-bearing.  The unwed (man or woman) is even capable of more “spirituality” than the married.  In this same chapter, Paul argues for the indissolubility of marriage (which is “in the Lord”), which shows he was in favor of women in his day (as well as today) where women pay the highest price in divorce.  At the same time, he allows for divorce in certain instances or circumstances, which is also in women’s favor.  Paul was not a marriage-and-women hater; he may have been once married, and nobody speaks in loftier praise of marriage, a picture of Christ and the Church.  Jesus and Paul honored celibacy by themselves being single.  (1Cor. 9:5)

In 1Cor 11 Paul says that women MAY prophecy and pray in public.  He would not contradict himself in the same letter!  As regards proper adornment (it is not certain whether he is talking about hats or hair-do’s) we all agree that the MANNER of showing respect is not important.  (A woman might wear 5 hats and be a hussy, and vice-versa.)  What is more, Paul is plainly speaking about husbands-wives, not men-women.  And besides this, he is talking about the relation of husbands and wives in church, at worship.  We have gone way off in reading into this that women must show respect to ALL men (sisters to brothers, etc.), may not be “over” men (especially in “teaching”) and are even inferior to men.  Nonsense!

In 1Cor 14 Paul does not exclude women from vs 26.  Women helped him in his work; Priscilla even corrected the famous preacher Apollo.  (Acts 18:26)  The New Testament mentions many women-preachers. (Acts 21:9)  In vs 34, he means “judging” others’ preaching; speaking on church “business”, particularly if it contradicts her husband.  (One practical point is that women and men sat separately.)  If she agrees with her husband, by way of discussion at home, let him speak for the family.  Eve’s great mistake was acting unilaterally.

In 1Tim 2:8, Paul is not thinking of ordinary teaching, even religious subjects.  Nobody does any more teaching of any kind than women, particularly mothers.  Herein lies their great opportunity, power, and prestige.  Satan would like to have them neglect that in favor of men’s “lesser” prerogatives.  Paul does not want women to boss their men/husbands.

All this means that Paul is interested in two big principles regarding a good home and marriage: 1. That it be united, a true partnership, a complementary whole.  He does not want husbands and wives to go off in opposite directions, much less cross-purposes.  2.  That unity is best achieved by the simple device of system, or good order.  One expression of his is a wive’s assumption of his name upon marriage.  His family is not necessarily better, or his name nicer.  It might have been the other way, but somebody has to be “first”; much like numbers and letters in the alphabet.  All this God pictured prettily in creation of man and woman, husband-wife.  This does NOT mean that women/wives are IN ANY WAY subordinate, secondary, inferior to husbands/men, whether physically, spiritually, mentally, etc.  A chairperson is not smarter than his peers over whom he presides.  As an example,  the “priority” of the three Persons in the Trinity, which marriage reflects.  Submission in marriage is mutual, reciprocal, and relative.  (1Cor. 11:11,12;  Eph. 5:21,22,25-31; 1Cor 7:4) Love, honor, maintain – SUPPORT!  Male chauvinism in the Bible is NOT normative, but a factual report of sin so that we will not perpetuate it.  Women’s-rightists have justified grievances, and their best hope lies in getting all of us to obey what God says in His Word.

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