God's Perfect Design For Men And Women
As we look at the world today we find that many times women are considered inferior to men. And as believers we may want to ask God the question. “Is this Your design for women, God? Did You create women as inferior beings compared to men or has something happened to cause women to be treated as inferior beings?”
The answer can be found in God’s Word. In Genesis 1:26-28 the creation of the man and the woman is recorded where we read:
“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our Image, in Our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish of the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God made man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
From the above text we understand that God gave both the man and the women equal status; they were to rule over creation together. They were not to rule over each other but together they were to rule over creation.
We can be certain that this would have happened just as God had designed it. This means that the man and the woman would have ruled over creation together in perfect harmony as a team on an equal basis.
So what could have happened to cause disruption to this wonderful design of God for men and women for we certainly do not see it functioning today. Scripture gives us the answer in Genesis 3 where we read about a certain event called the Fall. In the chapter, we read that the first man and woman disobeyed God by eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the one Tree from which they knew they were not to eat.
Consequently, everything changed. Sin entered, causing the man and the woman to become separated from God and separated from each other. Life from that moment on became very hard for them. The woman in her now sinful state began to turn to the man to have her needs met, rather than turn to God to have her needs met. The man in his now sinful state began to rule over the woman. We see that still happening today.
In the midst of this hopeless situation God gave a promise of the woman’s Seed which was, in fact, the very first Messianic prophecy. At the right time this prophecy was fulfilled when Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ was born and at the age of 33 was crucified. By dying on the Cross He became a curse on behalf of men and women as we can read in Galatians 3:13
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”
His death had made it possible for men and women to be restored to God and to be restored to one another on an equal basis.
Both men and women who have become believers are new creations according to
II Corinthians 5:17
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.”
As believers, both men and women have the Holy Spirit living on the inside of them who gives them gifts to serve others according to I Corinthians 12:4-11
“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit……All these are the work of the one and the same Spirit and He gives to each one just as He determines.”
Jesus made it very clear though that believers were not to use their gifts to rule over each other, to lord it over each other, but to serve each other, as we can read in Matthew 20:25-28
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them. Not so with you. Instead whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
As believers, we cannot make excuses such as “But Lord, I am too old.”, or “But Lord, I am too young.”, or “But Lord the circumstances are too difficult.”
We cannot even use excuses which seem to have come straight out of the Word of God. For instance:
“A woman is to be silent”
This statement is taken from I Corinthians 14:34-35
“Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission as the Law says. If they want enquire, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the Church.”
This is quite a confusing passage since the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 11:5 had written:
“And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonours her head.”
So Paul allows women to pray and prophesy in I Corinthians 11:5. How then are we to understand I Corinthians 14:34-35? The key to understand that passage is to realise that these words are not Paul’s own words, but are a quotation from a letter he had received. His answer in the form of a rebuke can be found in I Corinthians 14:36-38
“Did the Word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? If anybody is a prophet or spiritually gifted let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored.”
This passage really starts with an exclamation which has been left out by most translators and can best be translated as “nonsense” or “utter rubbish.” Paul made it very clear thereby that he was not in agreement with the statements of these people who had written this letter, and who wanted women to be silent in the churches.
Another excuse we might have is the statement
“A woman is not to teach or to have authority over a man”
This statement is taken from I Timothy 2:11-15
“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing – if they continue in faith love and holiness with propriety.”
Paul starts this passage that a woman or women should learn. That means she cannot teach. The original text indicates that Paul did not allow her to teach at that time, because she had to learn right doctrine first. And she is to learn in a quiet and submissive manner so she can learn well.
Paul then mentions that “She is not to have authority over the man.”
The usual Greek word for “authority” is “exousia” but Paul used here the word “authenthein” which is not used anywhere else in Scripture. This word has always had a very negative meaning, including that of domineering.
Therefore, Paul is not saying here that women cannot have rightful spiritual authority over men but that this woman, or these women, cannot behave towards men in an inappropriate manner.
Their attitude may well have come because of false teachings this woman/these women had received in relation to the Creation Account and the Fall. According to these false teachings, the woman had been created before the man, and the eating of the fruit had been a good thing because by eating of the fruit they had received special revelations about God.
So Paul set the record straight by declaring that the man had been created first before the woman and that the eating of the fruit not been a good thing for the woman had been deceived and had become a sinner.
Moreover, according to false teaching, marriage, and consequently motherhood, took a woman away from a close walk with God. Paul corrects this teaching by explaining that marriage and motherhood, or childbearing,are blessed by God and do not prevent a woman having a close relationship with God, if done in faith, love and holiness withpropriety.
Clearly, this passage applies to a certain woman, or certain women, who were part of the church in Ephesus at a particular time, and do not apply to all women everywhere at all times.
Moreover, we see women function in many ways in the New Testament. For instance:
We read of a woman teacher named Priscilla in Acts 18:26.
We read of a woman deacon Phoebe in Romans 16:1-2.
We read of a woman apostle Junia in Romans 17.
We read of women co-workers Mary, Tryphena, Tryphosa and Persis in Romans 16:6 and Romans 16:12.
We read of women overseers in 2 John.
We see then women functioning at every level in the New Testament Church, in accordance with their God-given abilities and callings. This gives us a very clear picture that men and women are to serve alongside one another in the cause of the Gospel. May that be the case for us today.